MSP: State Rep. Pettalia was wearing helmet in fatal motorcycle crash

LANSING - A Republican state lawmaker from northern Michigan was killed late Monday afternoon when a truck pulled out in front of his motorcycle, the Michigan State Police said in a news release Tuesday.

Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, was wearing a helmet at the time of the 5:30 p.m. crash, the MSP said.

The lawmaker was southbound on M-33 in Montmorency County when "a pickup truck driven by a 59-year-old woman from Fairview turned left, directly into his lane of traffic," the MSP said in a news release. "His motorcycle struck the pickup truck broadside."

The accident happened on M-33 in northern Michigan when Pettalia was on his way to Lansing for Tuesday's session of the House of Representatives. The House convened Tuesday, but officials said it would not be voting on pending bills out of respect for Pettalia's sudden passing.

Tributes continued to pour in Tuesday for the 61-year-old lawmaker who chaired the House Transportation Committee and was completing his third and final two-year term in the state House. Lawmakers and others sent condolences to his family.

Rep. Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, said on Facebook that Pettalia was "a great legislator and even better person."

"It didn't matter how heated things got or how long we were there, Pete had a way of always keeping the mood light and remaining positive," Leonard said.

Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, said on Facebook that "Pete was a truly great public servant." Though "we didn't always agree ... he was honest and sincere in all he did" and "he had a great sense of humor that could lighten many tough situations.

Pettalia is survived by his wife, Karen, and two adult children.

One of Pettalia's daughters, Anna, expressed gratitude on her father's Facebook page for the outpourings of sympathy.

"This is a very difficult time and we are still in shock and a little lost," she said. "He was a wonderful husband, father, papa (grandfather) and we always knew he loved us, no matter how difficult the time."

Pettalia "loved Northern Michigan and loved working for you to make this a great place for all of us," she said.

Though Pettalia wore a helmet, the lawmaker sponsored a bill in 2011 to abolish Michigan's requirement that all motorcycle riders wear helmets. His bill, House Bill 4608 of 2011, was not the version that ultimately became state law in 2012.

(2016 © Detroit Free Press)


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