Lawmakers remember colleague killed in motorcycle crash

LANSING, Mich. -- Prayer before each state House session begins is customary. However, a special prayer and a moment of silence took place for state representative Peter Pettalia. The 61-year-old died in a motorcycle crash Monday afternoon.

"He loved life. He loved his family and his job," said Rep. Ed McBroom.

Michigan State Police said a pickup truck turned in front of him in Northern Michigan. It caused his motorcycle to hit the truck broadside.

Flowers now decorate Pettalia's desk. He has represented the Alpena area in the legislature since 2010 and supported the 2012 helmet law which allowed bikers to choose if they wanted to wear one. He was wearing a helmet Monday, according to police.

Rep. Rob Verheulen told FOX 17, "He was loved by all of us."

"Pete was a great legislator, very solutions oriented, pragmatic person. Really was in this for the right reasons and wanted to make the state a better place," Rep. Tim Greimel said.

Rep. Brandt Iden said, "I think that one of the things that I remember most about Pete, he just had the biggest smile in the world. The guy was just always friendly. Always willing to be a mentor, friend and would help you out no matter what situation you were in."

His colleagues also remembered him as a family man.

"He was just so proud of his grandchildren. I just remember him showing the pictures of his grandchildren. It was so dear to his heart... and that why he was serving for," Rep. Roger Victory recalled.

Rep. Winnie Brinks said, "It's the second loss this term of a colleague. So that, of course, is making a big impact on all of us."

In June, state Rep. Julie Plawecki died of an apparent heart attack while hiking in Oregon.

Verheulen said, "We tend to focus on our day-to-day business, bills that are coming up and this just sets us... we realize how fragile life is and what a great loss that we and the family and the state of Michigan has sustained as a result of this."

Police said the driver of the pickup, a 59-year-old woman, wasn't hurt. The legislature didn't take up any bills today because of Pettalia's passing. However, they'll resume tomorrow.

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