GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. -
Bartender Dave Draugalis was a fixture at Z's in Grand Rapids for almost 25 years,
Wednesday night many of his friends and customers gathered at the restaurant to mourn his death, remember his life and support his family.
“He was the primary reason I would come down here,” said Kerry Price. “He would always remember us when we came in and want to know how we are doing.”
“It didn’t matter who you were,” says friend John Hunt. “When you came in he made you feel like family.”
Draugalis died 12 days after he was hit by a pickup truck August 9 while riding his bicycle down the White Pine trail in Cedar Springs.
Friends say he didn’t brake at the intersection with 16 Mile Road and the driver of the truck didn’t see him.
“If look at where the bike path crosses 16 Mile, I actually see it as dangerous,” says Hunt. “You cannot see the bikes. It’s like hitting a deer jumping out of the woods. It’s that quick.”
“Trees and shrubs obstruct the view,” agrees Michigan tribute bicycle ride coordinator. “It would have been at the last minute they would have seen the cyclist coming across the roadway. But it is still the responsibility of the trail user to heed the stop signs.”
Draugalis met his longtime companion and fellow bartender Nita at Z’s. They have been together for many years, but just got married a few weeks before his death. They have 5 children.
“Yea, we worked together for a few years before we got together,” says Nita. “We were good friends and all of a sudden it just kind of happened. Now we will try to piece our life back together as best we can. It’s hard. I don’t know how you do that.”
(© 2016 WZZM)