Familes remember four killed in Van Zandt County crash




Posted on July 4, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 5 at 5:54 PM

Head-on collision

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CANTON - It was not the holiday that had the street in front of the home of Bruce and Shannon Bricker filled with cars. It was tragedy.

The Brickers were two of four motorcyclists killed Sunday when a Ford Mustang veered into their lane in rural Van Zandt County near Canton.

"My sister was amazing, very bright, fun-loving," said Kristen Ballard of her sister Shannon Bricker.

This was the second marriage for both Brickers, and together they were raising a 21-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter.

Mrs. Bricker worked for Auto Rescue; Mr. Bricker was a pharmacist at the Wal-Mart in Denton. 

Mr. Bricker's passion was riding motorcycles, and he owned a Victory Vision that was valued at $24,000 and was just three weeks old at the time of the crash.

He also loved to hang out at the place where he bought it, Strokers. Owner Rick Fairless said he knew everyone who worked there.

"He never enjoyed life any more than when he was on his Victory," Fairless said.

Another regular at Strokers was Mr. Bricker's friend, Steve Claterbaugh. He piloted the other Victory involved in the fatal crash. Sitting in the saddle behind him was the fourth victim, Claterbaugh's girlfriend Kathleen Smith, of Wylie.

Claterbaugh was a graduate of Dallas Bryan Adams High School. Ronnie Gordon has been his friend ever since.

"He was always there when I needed him," Gordon said. "He would do anything for anybody. He loved his kids, loved riding motorcycles and was just a terrific person."

The man police blame for the deaths of the motorcyclist is 31-year-old Jose Peña. He was arrested and charged with four counts of vehicular homicide.

The crash stopped Mr. Bricker from completing a good deed. He was working on setting up a meeting between Strokers' owner and reality TV star Rick Fairless and one of his patients who was dying of cancer.

Mrs. Bricker's last words were typed on her cell phone and were ones her sister Kim Lynch will never forget.

"My last text message, the last word was, ‘I love you all,’" Lynch said. "That’s one thing you just thank God that you have that because those words ... I will have them forever."

Email: greaves@wfaa.com