Friends hope lessons can be learned from friend's motorcycle death in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- Friends of a motorcycle victim are hoping others can learn from a weekend accident in Milwaukee.

Edgar Ramirez, 30, was killed while driving a motorcycle near 11th & Madison Saturday. His girlfriend was on the back of the motorcycle and suffered serious injuries.

They both were wearing helmets. 

"It was shocking," Frank Sheldrick, Ramirez's best friend said. "Devastating. It hurt. Reality smacks you in the face."

Sheldrick says he's been friends with Ramirez for the last 19 years. The two even lived together. They were so close, Ramirez actually taught Sheldrick how to ride a motorcycle last year.

"He's the one who taught me how to ride," Sheldrick said. "He taught me from scratch. I never jumped on a motorcycle before. Never really sat on one. He taught me." 

Sheldrick says Ramirez had ridden motorcycles for the last seven years and was a very skilled rider who took all of the precautions to be safe. It was actually Sheldrick who took more risks. Just last year, he says he was riding his motorcycle without a helmet when he lost control. He flew over the handlebars and tumbled onto the street. He had some minor scrapes but nothing serious. It was the wake-up call he needed to take things seriously. 

"That put things in perspective for me," Sheldrick said."Take it seriously and respect the bike. Them things are fast. They're powerful. I always wear my helmet. It's unfortunate this had to happen."

The irony is Ramirez was on the same bike Sheldrick crashed last year. Sheldrick says Ramirez would frequently borrow his bike to ride around town. Now, Sheldrick wishes he spoke up this time. 

"I felt regret for letting him use my motorcycle," Sheldrick said. "I still do. It's still fresh. The feelings are still fresh. It doesn't matter how good of a rider you are. Mistakes happen and can cost you your life like it did to my little brother."

Milwaukee County is the worst in the state for motorcycle crashes. Over the last five years, there have been 52 motorcycle deaths and 13 percent of the state's motorcycle injury crashes happened here. Both of which, are highest in the state.

Milwaukee Police say this should be a wake-up call for everyone, not just those on four wheels, to pay attention to motorcycles. 

"Everybody commutes," Sgt. Joe Honzelka with the Milwaukee Police Department's Motorcycle Unit said. "If you commute on a motorcycle, do it safely. If you commute in a car, do it safely. We need everybody to step up their game. It's going to be nice weather out, so more people on motorcycles, more people on bicycles, pedestrians, children playing when school is done. We need to pay attention so we're not getting into crashes."

But for Sheldrick, he is in a dilemma. He loves riding a motorcycle, but after seeing what happened to his friend, he's second guessing whether it's a hobby he wants to maintain.

I don't think I'm going to ride anymore," Sheldrick said. "I have a lot of emotions running through and that kind of thing. Just not worth it. It's a high price to pay. Being on a motorcycle and having fun on it, that's what it is. It's an adrenaline thing. It's a release. It's fun and it's something cool to do. Something that made all of us feel good. [But], it's a hefty price to pay. I don't know if I'm going to indulge in that stuff anymore."

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