By David Stevens: CNJ Managing Editor
The accident happened more than six months ago. Shellie Lasiter is still writing letters, encouraging others to write letters, still making telephone calls, still speaking to anyone who will listen, determined to keep her husband’s memory alive, determined to challenge stereotypical images about motorcycle riders.
“Sometimes people make the mistake of making assumptions about a person based on one fact,” she wrote in one letter to the newspaper.
“It is a fact that Tim was a biker. But it is also a fact that he had a personal relationship with God. He had a wife of 11 years, a 4-year-old son and a 7-week-old daughter. He had a strong work ethic and a job he appreciated. He had family and friends that admired him.”
Tim “Patch” Lasiter of Clovis, 33, and Johnnie VanKleek, 44, of Lovington, died Nov. 30 after their motorcycles collided with a tow truck near the intersection of Norris Street and Mabry Drive.
Shellie Lasiter believes the truck driver was responsible for the wreck, though police did not issue any citations. Witnesses said the motorcyclists were traveling at a high rate of speed and may have been drag racing.
Shellie Lasiter said she’s exhausted her efforts in asking law enforcement to hold the truck driver responsible for the deaths of her husband and their close friend. She will not give up her quest for motorcyclists’ rights on the roadway.
“I’m looking for stricter penalties for those who kill or maim motorcyclists,” she said. “I’ve written letters to state, federal and local (lawmakers) and I’ve made up some fliers. If people have the attitude that a biker is less of a person, the laws make it easy to pass over him.”
Traffic laws, she said, are too discretionary. She wants them to be mandatory.
The rest of her mission is to make sure the world understands motorcycle riders are no different than, say, softball players or water skiers.
“I need to help people get past the stereotype that Tim was biker trash,” she said. “Some people think, ‘Oh, they’re just bikers. They probably got what they deserved.’ Tim didn’t deserve that.
“My husband was president of the Clovis Chapter of the Brotherhood 74 (motorcycle club). He lived and breathed his club, but he also was at the beck and call of his family. Tim took our son to school every day on his motorcycle.”
Tim Lasiter wore a patch over his right eye after a bull kicked him in the face in a 1992 accident. So he could even look the part of a tough-guy biker.
But he also worked for New Mexico American Water Co., was a member of Clovis’ First United Methodist Church and had served in the U.S. Navy as a gunner’s mate during Desert Storm.
Patch Lasiter was just a regular guy who touched a lot of lives.
“If you were to ever sit and talk with him you couldn’t help but be impressed with how well spoken and intelligent he was,” Frank Lacey of Denver, a friend, wrote in a letter to the newspaper early this year.
“On a motorcycle trip to Wyoming last summer, he told me about the promotion he had gotten at work. I could tell he was proud, but he said he didn’t understand why he had gotten it. He didn’t see himself as anything more special than his fellow workers. I knew, though, that this man deserved every good thing that happened to him.
“Patch was a man of integrity, a true brother, one who would give if you were in need.”
Most of us will never know exactly what happened at 1:15 a.m. last Nov. 30 near the entrance to the Curry County Fairgrounds on Mabry Drive. Shellie Lasiter hopes we will at least know this much: Her husband Tim was not just a biker.
“He was a good friend, a great husband and a wonderful father,” she said. “Some people are surprised when they hear that and they shouldn’t be surprised.”
David Stevens is editor for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. He can be contacted at 1-800-819-9925. His e-mail address is: