EVANS (WKBW) It was a quiet but an emotional day in Evans as a small community and a small department mourn the loss of one of their own, after an off duty police officer was struck and killed on his motorcycle on Friday.
A patrol car turned into a memorial sits in front of the Evans Police Department to honor 24 year old Officer Frederick Garassi of the Evans Police Department. Garassi was off duty riding his motorcycle on Route 5 in Hamburg when he was struck by a vehicle driving the same direction.
Throughout the day on Saturday, family, friends, and community members came to pay their respects.
"An incident like this, even though he was off duty, he deserves the respect no matter what," Evans resident Karen McDonald-Abraham said.
"Somebody out there protecting you and being there for you and then you see something like this, which is, you still can't believe it," Evans resident Mary Miranda added.
Kandace Chrostowski went to high school with Garassi, and came to place a wreath on his patrol car Saturday morning.
"He was a great kid, he was friends with everybody. You see him in the hall he had a big smile on his face, just a good good guy, great police officer too. It's just a shame, he was just a good good guy," she said.
And as the weather gets nicer, the motorcycle traffic increases, and local political leaders and safety groups came together to push for safety on the roads for those on four and especially two wheels.
"We need to do a better job, each and every one of us, when we get behind the wheel or get behind the handlebars of a bike to ensure that we are protecting not only ourselves but the other people who are on the road," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.
Hundreds of riders then took to the streets, many with orange ribbons on their bikes to honor those killed while riding. Those like Officer Garassi and Kristia Frederick's husband Michael.
"I often think about the driver who hit Michael, if he had just looked one more time before driving if Michael would still be here, I'd still be happily married and my kids would still have their father," Frederick said.
The main message of Saturday, on the heels of the crash in Evans, was simply to be aware and be safe to save lives.