Riding with the angels

Published on August 24, 2014
Motorcycles depart the Salvation Army Church in Summerside on Sunday before driving 100 kilometers across the county as part of the Yvette Arsenault and Paul MacLean Memorial Ride. Brett Poirier / Journal Pioneer
Brett Poirier photo.

SUMMERSIDE - More than 150 riders took part in the fourth annual Yvette Arsenault and Paul MacLean Memorial Ride in Summerside on Sunday.

The ride stretched 100 kilometers across Prince County and saw 116 motorcycles fill the roadways over a three-hour journey.

The event is in honour of Arsenault and MacLean, two avid motorcyclists’ who both died in separate crashes.

Marked on her calendar each year, Karyn MacLean never misses this event.

“It’s been four years since I’ve lost my husband,” said MacLean. “This ride never will get easy but it’s something I want to do.”

MacLean speaks highly of her late husband, saying he was a bubbly man who was always smiling.

“He loved his fellow riders. They made him happy and he was always so friendly with them and everyone else.”

Married in 1995, the couple were just months short of celebrating their 15-year anniversary before the fatal accident.

On a warm April day in 2010 the pair were returning to their home in St. Ann’s from Charlottetown when they were struck by a van on their bike.

The van was waiting to turn left at a green light, but what the young driving didn’t do was allow the motorcycle coming from the other direction to drive straight through.

“He turned left and we collided right there. My husband died instantly.”

Karyn broke her pelvis, arm, leg, shoulder, ribs, and two hips in the accident. Fighting for life was much harder without her partner by her side.

At Sunday’s event, Melanie MacKay was near the front of the pack. Selected as one of the navigators to lead the group, it’s a responsibility MacKay has never taken on before.

“I’m not very trained in this,” laughed MacKay. “My husband is at the back keeping an eye on everything so he’ll help guide me through this hopefully.”

MacKay, like many other riders, said the memorial ride is great for awareness.

For project organizer Roger Cassie awareness is the goal.

He lost his cousin, Arsenault, four years ago after a motorcycle crash in Bedeque.

“She was like a sister to me. After her accident we created this event.”

While bikers understand the potential risks of suiting up and going for a drive, Cassie said Sunday’s event was to educate and to reflect on those lost.

“We want people in cars to be more alert of the motorcycles on the roadways.”

The event raised $3,235, which will be donated to the Salvation Army Food Bank.

After four months in hospital, MacLean was determined to get back on a bike.

“I wanted to ride again because I know that’s what Paul would have wanted me to do.”

A year after the accident she was a passenger again, riding with other bikers across the Island.

“I was never scared to get back up and try again.”

The memorial ride may never get easy for her, but not being alone makes it better, she said.

“I know he’s up there smiling down on me.”