FERNDALE, Wash. — A Ferndale family hopes their tragic loss can also be an important life-saving lesson, after their 18-year-old son and brother lost his life in a motorcycle crash on his first ride.
“It’s a big tragedy for us, we weren’t expecting it at all,” Irina Yashchenko said Tuesday.
Her younger brother, Peter Shulga, 18, a Ferndale High School senior and one of 14 siblings, died Monday afternoon.
Investigators say Peter had all of about 30 minutes experience on a motorcycle, when he lost control around a curve on Monument Drive, hit a tree and then hit a light pole.
Investigators say Peter’s helmet didn’t fit properly and he wasn’t endorsed or permitted to ride a motorcycle.
“He wanted to learn how to drive a motorcycle and he sat down and drove a little bit. Then he thought he was confident in himself, so he brought up the speed and he lost control. That was his first and his last time,” said Irina.
At the site of the crash, Peter's family holds each other together, surrounded by balloons and flowers and broken pieces of the red motorcycle.
“Put on your helmets. Make sure they fit you and don’t speed,” says Irina.
Her warning is echoed by bike motorcycle enthusiasts around Western Washington. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s website, overall traffic fatalities continue to decrease in Washington, but motorcycle fatalities continue to rise. Motorcycles make up just 4 percent of registered vehicles, but account for 17 percent of fatalities between 2012 and 2014.
Peter’s family hopes their loss can be a life-saving lesson, too.
“We won’t see him anymore. He always brought the smile into our hearts. I just want to make sure that everyone out there on the roads, no matter where they are, be safe,” says Irina.
If anyone would like to donate for funeral expenses for Peter, a Go Fund Me page has been set up here: https://www.gofundme.com/funeral-funds-for-petr-shulga