By Johnny Jackson
Whenever Darrin "Lippy" McBride leaves his Molena, Ga., home, he is reminded of the automobile accident that took his wife.
McBride said his wife, Tanya Baugh McBride, was killed by an alleged drunk driver at an intersection near their home, on May 22. He said the accident occurred as the couple returned from a day of riding motorcycles with Tanya's 12-year-old son, Kristian Salazar. He and Salazar walked away from the accident, but she did not.
"I was maybe 500 feet from my driveway," said McBride. "I have to deal with that ..."
Family friends, Danny "Donk" Ellerbee, of Stockbridge, and his fatherm Eddie "Cooter" Ellerbee, of High Falls, Ga., are planning a motorcycle ride-along, charity event, to be held this weekend in Tanya McBride's honor.
Danny Ellerbee said the ride will help raise money for Darrin McBride, who is currently unemployed. He said he hopes it will also raise awareness of the dangers of driving while impaired. "It was important for us to show Lippy some financial support, and the community has reached out," he said. "If we could save one person through this, then, this ride will definitely mean something. Our main goal is to get seen and get heard, not only by our state officials, but by our community."
He said the ride-along will begin around noon on Saturday, at The Grove Bar and Grill, 4967 Bill Gardner Parkway in Locust Grove. He said the event, which will last until 6:30 p.m., will involve four other stops throughout the day -- in Griffin, High Falls, and McDonough.
Registration begins at 11 a.m., Saturday and will be $20 per bike and $10 per passenger.
Darrin McBride plans to participate in the ride honoring his wife of four years, who he said, inspired him to get back on his motorcycle, following an accident in August 2008.
"I'm still riding because of her," he said. "Tanya was determined to ride, even after my accident. I was laid up in a back brace, but she still wanted to learn to ride. I probably wouldn't have gotten back into riding, if it wasn't for her."
The widower recalls the day leading up to Tanya McBride's death as uneventful. He said she had her learner's permit and had been riding for about a year, but she was a good motorcycle rider. "She did nothing wrong that day," he said. "The last words I ever said to her... I told her how good she was doing on her bike. She did good."
McBride said they had just picked up Tanya McBride's son, Kristian Salazar, from a roller-skating party in Griffin. He said she had been riding a 1985 Honda Rebel 250 the family had recently purchased, while he rode their 1991 Harley Davidson Sportster 883, with her son on the back.
"She was following right behind me," he said. "We were making a left-hand turn into our street. I heard a tire screech and the next thing I knew, I was in the grass. I was already into the turn when I got hit. She got hit first. She took the brunt force of the hit."
Tanya McBride, 35, left behind four children -- Jose Salazar, 8, Kristian Salazar, 12, Omar Garcia, 15, and Antonio Garcia, 18 -- all now living in Forest Park, with their aunt, Pam Vallejo.
Vallejo, whose youngest child is 21, said she is starting over now, trying to raise her sister's children. She said she will remember her sister fondly. "We had a lot of good times," Vallejo said. "We also had our bad times, but that's all a part of being sisters. She was a handful and real strong-willed. But when it came down to it, she did what was right.
"I miss her wrestling around with her kids like she used to do," the sister continued. "She was always happy, and made everybody laugh. And she worked all the time. She worked as a security officer, helping support four boys."
Darrin McBride said his wife had rededicated her life to Jesus Christ just a week before the accident. He said their pastor, Tom Daugherty of Heatherwood Baptist Church in Riverdale, baptized Tanya McBride, officiated their wedding, and "ended up doing her funeral."