Suzette Wanninkhof (from left)

Suzette Wanninkhof (from left)

Americans ride 8,000 miles to raise awareness about distracted driving

In memory of their partner, brother and friend, four Americans are cycling 8,000 miles to raise awareness about distracted driving.

In memory of their partner, brother and friend, four Americans are cycling 8,000 miles to raise awareness about distracted driving.

The four stopped in Williams Lake this week, where they were hosted by Mayor Walt Cobb and his wife Lynnette.

“They were a great group of kids with a very worthy cause,” Cobb said. “It takes a lot of nerve and perseverance to embark on a trek that long even in a car let alone on a bicycle and camping out all the way.”

Before their departure from the lakecity Thursday afternoon, Rachel Hartsell told the Tribune her deceased partner Patrick Wanninkhof, also a cross-country cyclist, was killed last year while completing a charity ride across the United States.

“Patrick was struck and killed by a woman who admitted to using her phone while driving,” Hartsell said.

While their trip is in memory of Patrick, it is also about raising awareness of the dangers of driving while using a cellphone.

In the United States, there are six times as many collisions with distracted driving as there are with drunk driving, Hartsell said.

Patrick’s sister Suzette Wanninkhof said after people find about the ride and tell the riders they are crazy, they then ask what they can do to help.

“We tell them to put down their phones,” Suzette said. “When you are starting your car, throw your phone in the back seat. If you need to look at it, pull over and stop.

It’s not worth looking at it when your eyes should be on the road.”

Rider and bike mechanic Megan Ryan completed a cross-the-U.S.-trip similar to the one Patrick was on when he was killed, but never met him.

All four riders come from the same cycling community and they know things can change so quickly on the road, Greg Powell added.

“It could have been any one of us or anybody else on the road instead of Patrick that got killed, so that’s something to keep in mind,” Powell said. “It could be a loved one you care about or yourself.”

While they are riding the four hope people seeing them along the way will be inspired to stay off of their cellphones.

Along the journey, the four have been hosted by friends and complete strangers, Hartsell said.

They ended up at the Cobbs’ home in Williams Lake because Quesnel city councillor Ed Coleman hosted them and called Walt to ask if they could stay with him.

“Walt is a great all around accommodating guy and we got to spend time with him and his wonderful wife Lynnette. We didn’t even know each other 24 hours ago,” Hartsell said.

Cobb said he wished them good luck and a safe journey.

From Williams Lake the riders hoped to make it half way to Clinton Thursday and reach Vancouver by next week.

“If people would like to follow along with our journey they can go to our website which stands for Patrick Rides On 8,000 miles.

“The ride serves a few purposes: to fundraise for his upcoming learn-to-bicycle nonprofit, to share stories of his life, and to grieve,” the web sited notes.”It’s exactly the adventure Patrick would have embarked on. So, join us. Whether on your bike for a few hours of riding, at your house to host us, or simply to spread the word, we would love for you too to Ride On.”



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler comes off a night shift on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Our Hometown: The doctor is in the house

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler was born and raised in Williams Lake

The Williams Lake Trail Riders Arena is slated to have a new roof installed this spring after funding from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Trail Riders Arena, stable stalls, to get new roof at Stampede Grounds

Some of the stalls currently aren’t able to be rented out due to leaks in the roof

A sign is seen this past summer outside Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Yunesit’in First Nation completes second round of vaccinations

A total of 26 people have since recovered from COVID-19 after having tested positive

A 100 Mile RCMP officer stands watch at the intersction of Highway 97 and Horse Lake Road. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Volunteers, police search Highway 97 for articles related to high-speed chase

Search will stretch from Canco Gas Station in Lac La Hache to 150 Mile House.

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read