Breaking News
More () »

'His life mattered': Cyclists honor Perry man who was killed in hit and run

Last July, John Houser was killed while riding his bike. Ellen Mazzerella says that she wanted to do something to honor his life.

PERRY, Ga. — The most recent data from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety shows Georgia is seeing a spike in bike fatalities.

In 2020, 32 bikers were killed in the state. That's the most between 2010 and 2020.

One woman says she's concerned about that number rising. She's honoring a fellow cyclist who lost their life last summer in Perry.

John Houser was riding his bike along Larry Walker Parkway just last July. 

Ellen Mazzerella says that she remembers hearing about it on the news. John was hit by a car, killed, and then the car drove away from the scene.

"He was still a human being that was taken before his time," she said.

Mazzerella says she rides her bike almost everyday.

"I do go out to just get groceries, to just go on fun bike rides," she recalled.

She says she bikes along highways just like the one Houser was killed on.

"The fact that it happened here and that I know that something similar could either happen to me, or someone else in the community that I know-- that's what hit home for me," she said.

Mazzerella says she didn't know Houser well... but his life mattered.
She says she wants to honor him and advocate for bike safety.

"I want people in the community to see this memorial and maybe just for a split second think, 'oh yeah there are people out here who have died doing something that they've loved,'" she said.

CEO of Bike Friendly ATL, David Matthews, says Mazzerella is just one of many folks who reach out to him to put up a 'ghost bike memorial.'

"I disassemble them, so that there's not parts that someone could take, sand them down paint them white. Leave some flowers, some silk flowers attached to it," Matthews said.

Matthews says he started making these memorials on his own dime to honor their fallen friends after he was hit by a car while riding his bike in 2011.

"I split my upper lip, I had nine stitches in my chin, lost my three front teeth," he recalled.

Matthews says some aren't as lucky as him.        

He says he's placed 100 ghost bikes all around Georgia and Florida in the last 10 years.

"We're losing good people. All they're doing is trying to get exercise or go from home to their job. I hope that it gives some people a little compassion towards each other-- that we can get along," he said.

The bike placing will be on Sunday at 5:30pm at the intersection of Larry Walker Parkway and Ball Street, where Houser was killed in the hit and run.

Before You Leave, Check This Out