Thursday, September 07, 2006

Family mourns crash victim
Morelock, 56, killed by pickup, loved music, fishing


As a kid, Gerry Morelock vacationed with his family at Sebastian Inlet every Christmas.
The family traveled from their Dayton, Ohio, home to the inlet for swimming and fishing. Morelock always said he would move to the Sebastian area when he got older. Not only did his wish come true, but he also worked there as a park ranger for the past seven years.

Gerald V. Morelock's life was cut short Sunday night when he was struck head-on by a pickup that was passing cars illegally on State Road A1A, police said. He was 56.

"He loved the Sebastian Inlet," said his brother Byron, a 52-year-old financial adviser from Indialantic. "We fished there with our dad. Being able to live around there and work there was the perfect heaven for him."

The deadly crash happened about 9 p.m. Monday south of Melbourne Beach and near Ballyshannon Street. Investigators said the impact came after Billy Lane -- a custom motorcycle builder featured on Discovery Channel's "Biker Build-Off" and "Monster Garage" -- crossed a double yellow line to pass two other vehicles.

Lane's custom-painted black Dodge Ram pickup slammed head-on into Gerald Morelock as he rode a moped, officials said.

This was not Lane's first road incident this year.

In June, he was arrested by the North Carolina Highway Patrol and charged with drunken driving. Police said Lane was riding a motorcycle the wrong way on a two-lane road without a helmet. Lane refused a Breathalyzer test. The Rowan County clerk of courts confirmed that he is to appear in court on Oct. 5.

Under investigation

Morelock, who was wearing a helmet, was killed instantly in Monday's collision, which the Florida Highway Patrol is investigating. A blood-alcohol test was conducted on Lane and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement state lab in Orlando for evaluation. Test results, part of the traffic homicide investigation, could take up to eight weeks to return, although agents are asking for the tests to be given priority.

No charges have been filed in the case.

"Just the fact that he crossed the double yellow line and hurt somebody, let alone killed him is enough. There is no doubt in my mind that if it was me or you we would be in jail," Byron Morelock said.

However, Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Kim Miller said investigators are making sure they build a strong case before filing any charges.
"Let's say we write him a ticket for crossing the yellow line and he goes to court. He could pay a fine and that would be it. We couldn't go back and charge him with the most serious charge in this case," Miller said. "The goal is not to put him in jail as soon as possible. We have to prove criminal intent, that he knowingly passed the double line and that alcohol was involved."

'The coolest cat'

Byron Morelock described his brother as a sensitive, fun-loving man who had quit his job as a child psychologist because he hated to see children suffer.

"Gerry was just the coolest cat," said Morelock. "He could really make you laugh."

Byron Morelock said he was awakened when police rang his doorbell at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning.
"They told me he was brutally killed," Morelock said. "I was distraught, and the police stayed with me for an hour. They assured me the truth would come out. I just couldn't believe it. We were close."

'It was too late'

Marilyn Howe, a Melbourne Beach resident, said she witnessed the accident as she made her way home from a soccer function for her two children. Howe said she was in the lead car that investigators believe Lane was attempting to pass.

"It was pretty dark but still lit up. I just saw (Lane's) headlights coming up in my rearview mirror," Howe said. "I also noticed there was a little motorcycle coming up and then a horrific crash. It was just horrible."

Howe said she went back to see if she could provide CPR to Morelock, whose body was sprawled on the side of the road near his moped.

"It was too late," Howe said.

Morelock's mother, Dolores Morelock, still resides in Dayton, along with his sister, Dawn, and her family.
"Gerry has countless loved ones here that are grieving his loss," Dawn Morelock wrote in an e-mail. "We all are in total shock and disbelief over the tragic accident that took his life. We will never forget him."

Fishing and music

Morelock spent much of his free time taking his 16-year-old nephew Sean snook fishing at the inlet and playing his guitar.

"He was good at fishing, but what I'll miss most is just seeing him and hanging out with him," Sean Morelock said. "He knew my friends and he would talk to us and give us advice."

While he played classic rock tunes a few times at the Sebastian Beach Inn, Morelock loved playing for those he loved. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, Morelock would take his guitar over to his brother's home and strum all night for the family.
On Tuesday night, Byron Morelock began clearing his brother's home.

"He was a great musician, and, man, when I had to move about 10 guitars out of his house, it really made me sad."

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