Mick Secrest used to get together with Jeff Garske every Sunday during football season to watch their favorite team — the Packers.
Garske, Secrest said, would crack open a Heineken, his favorite beer, and game day would begin.
“I brought my Packers hat today,” Secrest said Thursday as he stood outside of the Long Cove Club where Garske’s funeral would begin in a matter of minutes. “It’s just a sad day.”
Surrounding Secrest were over 100 bicyclists who had just completed a 7-mile ride from Honey Horn to honor Garske and bring attention to the tragic way his life ended.
Garske, 66, died Aug. 18 after a hit-and-run crash on the Cross Island Parkway near Marshland Road on Hilton Head Island. He was riding his bicycle eastbound in the right shoulder when a 2011 Ford pickup driven by Richard Alford, 64, allegedly ran off the roadway and collided with Garske before Alford left the scene and was later arrested, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
“I saw the article about someone getting hurt (that day),” Secrest said. “If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.”
The loss of Garske was not only felt by his friends and family. It was also felt by those who had never met him.
“I came out today in memory of him and respect for him,” Ron Fitch said of Garske. “As cyclists, we certainly understand some of the tragedies that can happen.”
“As a cyclist, you always know that something could happen,” Lori Martin said before the ride began. “When something does happen, it affects us all.”
Garske was a husband, father and grandfather. He was also an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine doctor.
He and his wife, Donna Garske, survived the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Donna Garske, Secrest said, had been out for a ride on her bike Thursday morning before the funeral.
“She’s doing better than me,” he said.
During the half-hour ride, Secrest said many in the group patted each other on the back before they stopped at the spot where Jeff Garske lost his life to say a prayer. They kept the pace around 12 mph and were escorted by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
“I think this is the way he would want to be memorialized,” Jannet Secrest, Mick Secrest’s wife, said. “It’s sad that this was the right way to tell him bye.”
Richard Alford allegedly left the scene of the crash, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, and was later located and charged with felony driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death of cyclist Jeff Garske. He remains at the Beaufort County Detention Center on a $50,000 bond.