Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 7, 2013

Ghost bike returned to Boyce memorial

BY MATT TROUTMAN mtroutman@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A makeshift memorial where Traverse City bicyclist Kelly Ann Boyce lay dying became a source of comfort for her family, but some neighborhood residents apparently grew tired of the reminder of her hit-and-run death.

Michelle Boyce often tends flowers, placards and assorted mementos that sprouted up in along Railroad Street since July 5, when an unknown motorist struck and killed her daughter. But last week she noticed the memorial’s centerpiece — a white “ghost bike” had disappeared.

In the bike’s place was a sign saying it was removed after complaints from neighborhood residents. Kelly’s older sister Nicole Nostrandt was not pleased, and she was not alone -- a massive social media outcry led to the bicycle’s return to the memorial on Sept. 5.

“The thing that upset me the most when I found out it was gone is it’s been two months and we still don’t know who did this,” Nostrandt said. “By taking it down, it’s just like they want to forget it.”

Kelly Ann Boyce, 29, was pedaling her bicycle home from work when a vehicle struck her in the 600 block of Washington Street and dragged her screaming for more than a block. The motorist remains at-large, despite a two-month investigation by Traverse City police and other local law enforcement.

Traverse City Police Capt. Mike Ayling said investigators went over the Boyce case “front to back” in a Sept. 5 meeting, but there were no new developments to report. He said detectives continue pursuing a tip centered on a man who splits his time between Traverse City and Alpena County.

“We’re still trying to exclude him, but haven’t been able to do it,” Ayling said.

Nostrandt said Boyce’s family knows police are working hard. She said the family believes the ghost bike is an important reminder to the public that the person who took Kelly from them remains free.

“We have that spot right now we’re to keep, maintain, and keep her memory alive and help find this person,” Nostrandt said.

Karen Dunnam, a bicycle safety educator in Grand Rapids who runs the Michigan Ghostbikes Facebook page, said the memorials serve as cautionary advisories to motorists and bicyclists, as well as tribute sites for family members. She said the same Traverse City residents who set up the ghost bike removed it and then returned it.

Traverse City Manager Jered Ottenwess said ghost bike and memorial sit in a public right-of-way but the city respects the family’s wishes to maintain the site. He said the city is in discussions with the family to erect a permanent memorial.

Nostrandt said the family plans to maintain the memorial until winter.

The ghost bike now stands at the site with a new sign that reads:

“It is the wishes of Kelly’s family that the ghost bike remain at this location until a perpetrator is apprehended.”

Members of the public with information are asked to contact the Traverse City Police Department at 231-995-5152 or the anonymous tip line at 231-947-TIPS (8477). A $50,000 reward remains in place.