CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — May is Motorcycle Awareness month and for one family that’s made it their mission to advocate for more safety on the roads, the topic hits close to home.
Casey and Ronda Ruenger lost their daughter, 26-year-old Sherrena Ruenger-Wullner in 2014 after a driver made a lethal left-hand turn in front of her.
“Look twice for motorcycles’ someone’s whole world is on that bike.” reads a sign marking the exact spot Sherrena was killed along Miller Ave. in southwest Cedar Rapids.
Look twice, a message the Ruenger family has been spreading ever since their daughter’s death said mother, Ronda Ruenger, “So her motorcycle struck the front of his SUV and so she landed actually right here in front of us.”
The car was turning left into a parking lot when he struck Sherrena’s motorcycle.
“At the time of the accident all four of his wheels were in her lane in the eastbound lane and she hit head-on and his words were ‘I thought I had more time’,” added Sherrena’s father, Casey Ruenger.
According to her parents, Sherrena had around 20 years of experience riding, as she grew up competing in motocross. At the time of the accident, Sherrena was reportedly going under the speed limit and she left behind two young daughters and a fiance.
This year the family is making their message bigger and bolder in the hopes to prevent another lethal motorcycle accident. Billboards can be seen throughout Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls reading, “May is motorcycle awareness month. Look Twice.”
Ronda and Casey brought Sherrena’s two young girls to visit the billboard located near 4640 1st Ave NE. “The youngest one was like, there’s mommy looking down on us, she sees her little girls,” said Ronda, adding “It’s great to have them get involved and be able to take them up there, and remember their mom and let them know their mom is out there still watching over them.”
“They know mommy’s watching over them and now they know to watch for motorcycles,” said Casey.
“It’s not just looking for the motorcycle, it’s looking for the motorcyclist, there’s a person attached to that bike,” said Ronda.
Part of the awareness program is advocating a 3 seconds rule, to share the road equally, and put down distractions.
“Taking that 3 seconds to look before you make that decision to turn into a lane or do a left-hand turn or turn into traffic,” said Ronda, adding that due to motorcycles smaller size, it’s hard to accurately judge their distance in a split second.
Casey Ruenger said these rules apply to everyone on the road, motorcyclists alike. By taking just an extra three seconds to look twice, you could save a life.
“I know Sherrena is looking down on us and is very proud,” said Ronda.
The family said another way to help prevent accidents is to keep grass clippings out of the road after mowing your lawn. According to the family, a pile of grass clippings is like black ice for a motorcyclist.
The Ruenger’s raised money to pay for the billboard signs.
The family does have yard signs available for display. Requests can be sent through the In Loving Memory of Sherrena Ruenger Facebook page.
There are multiple motorcycle awareness rides across Eastern Iowa during the summer.
On May 18th, ABATE of Iowa District 16 will hold an awareness ride. The registration begins at 10 am and riders leave around noon. The ride starts at Mary Lou’s Bar and Grill and ends at Silver Eagle Harley Davidson’s spring fest. Information about that can be found here.