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Motorcycle deaths prompt safety warning from Cloverdale mother

Natalie White’s son died in an accident this June; she’s hoping other drivers won’t share his fate
Andrew Futerko, who died in June from a motorcycle accident. (Contributed photo)

A Cloverdale mother who lost her son to a motorcycle accident in June is calling for motorcyclists to be more safety conscious.

Natalie White’s son, Andrew Futerko, was driving home on 181A Street on June 20 when he was in a fatal accident.

Last week, two more fatal motorcycle accidents happened in Surrey. Within three days, two 23-year-old men died in separate incidents. The news was “overwhelming,” said White. “People need to be very careful when they’re out there. There’s so many bikes on the road.”

On Aug. 14, Bryce Pengelly died from injuries sustained in a collision between his motorcycle and a pick-up truck at 64 Avenue and 168 Street. On Aug. 16, another 23-year-old motorcyclist died after hitting the centre median on Highway 10.

Investigations into all three accidents remain open.

According to an initial RCMP press release, Futerko was in an accident with a stopped SUV at the 61B Avenue intersection. White said it later looked as though her son had been cut off at the intersection.

RCMP Cpl. Elenore Sturko said in an email that the initial release was sent out early in the investigation, and that investigators can’t confirm if there have been any changes or updates to that information until the case is closed.

There have been four motorcycle fatalities in Surrey this year, and all of them happened in the afternoon or evening. All the motorcyclists who passed away were in their early 20s or late teens.

Futerko died of his injuries from the June 20 crash.

He was 19, two days away from finishing his first year apprenticeship as a glazier. He had gotten his motorcycle licence earlier that day.

On June 27, his family and friends held a celebration of life at the Beaverlodge, the clubhouse for the Surrey Beaver’s Rugby Association in Cloverdale.

“There was so many people, they were standing outside,” White said. His teachers from Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary came; his mentor came; his school friends came. They came to remember a young man who had been a part of Cloverdale all his life, going to Don Christian Elementary and LTSS, and working at The Vault as a teen.

White remembered her son as a practical joker, who tied an elastic around the faucet hose so it would spray her in the face in the kitchen and who use saran wrap to cover the toilet seat.

“He loved to scare me and put it on Snapchat,” she said. “He liked to be silly I guess.”

He was full of energy, she said, and had been part of the Lord Tweedsmuir rugby team when he was at school. Before his death, he had taken up fishing and snowboarding, and had always been good at video games.

“He had a special place in a lot of people’s hearts, I think,” White said. After that fateful motorcycle ride, she didn’t know what to do with hers.

“How do you live?” she asked. “You take care of this person all these years and all of a sudden that person’s gone. He’s not coming back.”

Futerko’s family have kept his memory alive with a scholarship for rugby players at LTSS. Now White is hoping his memory will remind others to be careful while riding motorcycles.

Because Futerko had his licence for less than a day before his accident, she’s hoping stricter regulations will be able to go in place for learning motorcyclists. But she’s also reminding the riders they are not as visible as they think.

White believes that poor visibility may have contributed to her son’s accident.

“Andrew had reflective gear. If he had that on, you know, maybe he would have seen him,” she said.

“He was a really good kid, and he was on a good path. He was doing all the right things,” White said. “But he wasn’t very smart about that bike.”

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Andrew Futerko (with ball) playing rugby. (Andrew Futerko Facebook photo)