DES MOINES, Iowa — With burnouts and engines roaring, downtown Des Moines witnessed a celebration of life on two wheels.
“It’s unbelievable to know so many people we don’t know have supported us in this matter,” said Jami Matice, the widow of Troy Matice.
Organized by Iowa motorcyclists in the 515 Celebration Crew, more than 100 motorcyclists gathered at SW 7th Street and MLK Parkway to honor Troy, who died after a crash at the intersection last Saturday. Des Moines police say an unlicensed 15-year-old driver failed to yield to Troy’s motorcycle.
“My heart is broken and I feel like I’m missing half of myself. He was my best friend,” Jami said. “I want to be an advocate to tell people to slow down and pay attention to the road. Not only motorcycles, but cars.”
Troy and Jami had been married for over 30 years and shared a love for riding motorcycles. Jami said, “I can’t change what happened. I can only move forward and hope that no one else experiences what I experienced. It is gut-wrenching.”
Many of the motorcyclists paying tribute Saturday may not have known Troy or the Matice family, but they didn’t have to. They knew Troy’s spirit.
“It’s respect, love, loyalty. You respect anybody that respects you. You show love and show support. Too many people are dying. I’m glad this actually came together,” said Dale Widman, who organized the group.
Family and friends of Troy say he could often be found eating and playing pool at Kung Fu Tap and Taco, just one mile south of the crash site. It’s also where a cross, similar to one planted at the intersection and bearing his name, will have a home forever.
“My husband would be honored by this. I think he would have been blown away,” said Jami.
While Jami says Troy was a soft-spoken man, those who chose to honor his legacy Saturday made sure their memorial ride was anything but quiet. “Troy believed in right and wrong and doing the right thing and he would want everyone to remember him in that manner,” said Jami.
Troy’s funeral was held on Friday. A GoFundMe donation site has been set up for the Matice family to help with unexpected expenses.