TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Friends of all ages gathered in South Tampa Sunday to remember a life taken far too soon.
The Bay Area Riders, a local motorcycle group, has more than 18,000 members.
Twenty-two-year-old Eric Gonzalez was young and full of life, according to his friends. He loved being on his bike.
As a member of the Bay Area Riders, Gonzalez was thought of fondly and enjoyed long rides throughout Tampa Bay.
Sadly, those days are now memories for his family and friends after the young man died on Dec. 6 in South Tampa after colliding with a HART bus near South Dale Mabry and Euclid Avenue.
“It’s just unbearable, the pain,” said fellow rider, Jessie Nemeri. “I thought of him like a son.”
A memorial, including candles and photos, now sits at the corner where the accident took place.
A spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department released a brief statement regarding the incident. The public information officer told 8 On Your Side’s Melanie Michael, “A motorcyclist was traveling at a high rate of speed when they struck the rear corner of the bus.”
“You really can’t describe the heartache of a 22-year-old who just passed away. Now, he’s not there,” said Nemeri with tears in her eyes.
Indeed, many riders thought of Eric as their own son.
“It’s not just losing a friend. There’s no words to even express,” Nemeri added.
The Bay Area Riders told 8 On Your Side they hope by gathering today, they would accomplish two things. They wanted to pay tribute to their young friend and also remind others on the road to watch out for motorcyclists.
“We just want all drivers to be safe, whether they’re on a bike or in a car, that’s our hope,” said Nemeri. “We just want people to pay attention. We all share the road. We want people to be grateful when they arrive alive somewhere. Just be grateful for life.”