Today, I am speaking with Byron Morelock. Byron, is the brother of Gerald Morelock the motorcyclist killed on September 4th 2006 when he was hit head-on by an oncoming Dodge Ram pickup in a no passing zone on State Road A1A in Melbourne Beach, Florida. It was later discovered that the driver of the Dodge pickup, William D. Lane, did not have a valid driver license and was driving while intoxicated. Lane and female passenger Erin Derrick were injured in the crash, but were released from the hospital later. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab reported that Mr. Lane’s blood alcohol level was at .192 which is higher than the legal Florida limit of .08. Mr. Lane’s driver license was under current suspension for refusing to submit to a breathalyser test in June of 2006 after he was pulled over by State Police in Rowan County, North Carolina for driving on the wrong side of the road and not wearing a helmet.
There has been quite a bit of local news coverage on the crash of September 4th in Brevard County, Florida that took the life of Gerald Morelock because as fate would have it William Lane, known as Billy Lane of Choppers Inc. is a motorcycle builder based in Melbourne Florida and he is popular in the motorcycle industry. It was later discovered that Billy Lane did not own the Dodge pickup that he was driving when the crash occurred. The Dodge Ram pickup was one of 3 promotional vehicles owned by
DaimlerChrysler Corporation and had been loaned to Lane to promote Dodge products. All 3 vehicles had custom paint that prominently displayed the Dodge name, Choppers Inc., Billy Lane and the Dodge ram trademark.
One of the most important issues in this tragedy has lacked news coverage and that is what are the thoughts, the feelings of the family that has lost a loved one. That is what I want to discus with Byron Morelock today. I did this interview by telephone, but was invited out to meet with Byron and his son Sean on Melbourne Beach. To meet them in person and talk was very touching. Sean is very quiet and walked off while his father and I spoke. I took Cindi along and she took some pictures as we talked. The following is the interview that took place by telephone.
Good afternoon, Byron
Byron: Mike, can I say a word or two first to clarify something??
Byron: Thanks.. I have always been a slightly shy kind of a guy. Not bothering anyone and expecting that in return. We all dream about being a movie star or getting in the news for doing something great…Maybe its just a human thing.. I never would have dreamed in a million years that I would have to stand up and publicly Talk about and defend my family and our situation.
I guess that it is something that I must do. Too much hurt and pain have interrupted our lives. The sword has been passed to me. Mostly , we have heard from thousands of caring souls telling us that they too have lost a loved one and that somehow sharing our problems with others might help some one else. That’s why I’m here with you Mike. I wish I wasn’t,. not that you are a bad guy or anything !! I mean that I would much rather be fishing on some beach, waiting for Gerry to come walking up and saying “Hey Bro…whats up”
Ok ..fire away !
MNO: Where do you live? Are you from Florida?
Byron: My son and I live in Indialantic ,Florida now. My daughter Chelsey also lives in Melbourne. Actually Mike, I have been coming down to Florida since I was a baby. My Dad had an Aunt that lived locally so we were drawn here by family. We grew up in Ohio.
MNO: When did you move to Florida?
Byron: I moved to Florida in 1992.
MNO: Gerald Morelock was your brother?
Byron: He sure was….
MNO: Where did Gerald live? Was he from Florida?
Byron: Gerry lived 3 miles south of us in Melbourne Beach. Gerry was from Ohio like me.
MNO: When did Gerald move to Florida?
Byron: Gerry moved down here in 1988. We were always close so I moved down a few years latter.
MNO: Was Gerald older or younger than you?
Byron: Gerry was my big brother…always my big brother. Even though I became a bit “bigger”I always looked up to him as my big brother.
MNO: What was Gerald like in his youth?
Byron: Gerry was always into music & art. We both grew up with the most beautiful Mom & Dad. Kinda like a Rockwell painting. Dad always took us out fishing & hunting. We both loved the outdoors..
MNO: Are there any other brothers or sisters in your family?
Byron: Yea, I have a little sister “Squirt”…I mean DAWN….She always wanted to hang out with us so Gerry & I started calling her Squirt.
MNO: And where does she live?
Byron: She lives up in Ohio about 10 miles from MOM.
MNO: Tell me about your parents, are they both still alive?
Byron: Mom is still kicking….that’s for sure!! Dad died in our arms in
1984 with pancreatic cancer. That was horrible…but I was glad that we were there for him… Dad brought us into to this world and we thought it was our duty to help him out…..Gerry too. Matter of fact …I thought at the time that it was the worst thing that would ever happen to me ……unfortunately ……I was wrong …………As for our Mom: (I call her “BUG” because her name is JUNE )….get it ??? “JUNE BUG”Well she is my saving grace…Always there for both Gerry & I as well as my family. She fell in love with my Dad as a teenager and stuck with him …even to this day…she never remarried. She always says: “Once you’ve had the best …you don’t want the rest!!”
MNO: And you, do you have a family of your own?
Byron: I surly do. My son Seany lives with me and I have a beautiful daughter ,Chelsey , that has her own “pad” now. My ex-wife Carmen lives locally and is always involved with her children.
MNO: So your son, Sean lives with you? Tell me about him.
Byron: Well ….Seany and I are about as close as God allows. I know that sounds strange
to some of you but that’s the truth. If he is feeling sick then I start to feel sick. if I am worried then he too, worries. We are a kindred spirit. Everyone that knows us , tell us that they have never seen such a closeness of two souls. Lately though…..I have noticed him quiet, wanting to just slam our door closed when he comes home .maybe to escape our reality….. I don’t know exactly how to put into words. We constantly get bombarded with the realization that Gerry will never be here again. For me, it‘s horrible!!
…but to see my beautiful boy struggling to figure out all this crap just kills me.
MNO: I see, so this tragedy has had a big effect on Seany, your son?
Byron: Mike…..I don’t know you very well…….but I have to tell someone and I trust you ….my brother Gerry was not just an uncle to Seany…..He also represented his Grandpa, as well as a good understanding friend. Seany always would sit with Gerry and find the answers that he needed to hear. He would call him weekly .
You see, Gerry always helped both Seany and me in so many ways. He would LISTEN to us without judgment and try and understand how we felt . Sometimes a Dad & a son or daughter need Individual space , to be free to say what’s on their minds to someone that cares . Gerry always opened his heart to help us .
MNO: What other changes has all this brought to Sean’s life? School? Hobbies?
Byron: Both Seany and I were paralyzed when we were awakened at 2:59 am by 3 policemen pounding our door down last Labor Day. I didn’t sleep for 7 days…Seany finally passed out 5 days latter on the couch. My Mom flew down As fast as she could to help us. Everywhere we went , people would hug us and cry and ask us how we were doing.
Our phones rang and rang. Emails after emails. All of these wonderful people were truly concerned about us. Seany could not make himself go to school. His school tried to fail him because of all this. He was devastated. I had to call the Governor’s office and vehemently defend my boy’s reasons. Three days latter I got a call from his school telling me that
Seany was welcome back to his school…….This was an awful thing for him. How dare anybody dictate a time for grieving !!!!!!!!!!
Especially to a beautiful boy caught up in a horrific tragedy. Both Seany and I really haven’t wanted to go out much since Gerry was killed. We use to always go to Sebastian Inlet and fish and play like we were on a deserted island. Build a campfire, and cook (hopefully) fresh fish and then Gerry would come over and eat and talk. I try to be a good example to my son Mike……
But I just can’t hide my pain and he knows it. Too many nights we both just lay in my bed….looking at the ceiling….not saying a word but knowing how much we need each other….He lost more than an uncle……that’s all I can say.….
(Cell phone rings)
Byron: Excuse me Mike.
MNO: Sure, go ahead.
Byron: Sorry, That was Seany….He calls me 5 to 8 times a day since Gerry’s death. We both always say I Love You a hundred times a day. I am not complaining at all . I truly love that boy so much ! He seems to be scared of …”WHATS NEXT ??” syndrome.
Maybe he is frightened with the possibility of loosing me ya know?….
MNO: And you? How has Gerry’s death effected your life?
Byron: (long pause)…
Gerry and I were not just brothers…we were best friends. Confidants of life. He would listen till 2 in the morning about all the crap I went thru and still not be judgmental. He studied all the religions in the world and always would come up with the perfect idea. I still almost stop by his place every day to say hi but then I remember…
Gerry didn’t like to cook , so Seany &I always did for him. If we were making killer lasagna, we would double the amount and take it over to uncle Gerry’s every week. A lot of the times Gerry would come over and bring his guitars and play the most beautiful music while Seany & I would be cooking.
Matter of fact, he played the most beautiful version of “GREENSLEVES “ in the whole world. Every time I would ask him to play that………… This Christmas did not come to Seany & Me .We both would get tears in our eyes listening to music….especially Greensleeves on the radio .14 years… we cooked for him and he always would say to me “I m so proud of you brother”…I miss that in my life now a days.
MNO: Do you think that this has been harder for you, your son and family because Gerald’s death involved a celebrity?
Byron: Of course,. So many more people know of the famous Billy lane. I mean , the first newspaper article barely mentioned my brother Gerry. They were more interested in the famous man that killed Gerry.
MNO: Did you know who Billy Lane was before this incident? Sean?
Byron: No. I really didn’t know of him. Seany and his friends new OF him.
MNO: And the rest of your family? What feelings have they expressed?
Byron: Mom has been devastated by all this !!! She doesn’t know what to think or do .She basically now hides in her home and tries to not think of this tragedy. Thank God that my little sister Squirt lives close by.
Mom doesn’t drive so Squirt picks her up and brings her to her home .Mom still just cleans around the home and worries about our families reality now that Gerry is gone. I am embarrassed to say that Mom probably worries too much for Seany & me and what we go thru here in all of this mess. I love my Mom so much and worry that this tragedy has broken her heart and the will to keep on.
MNO: Did anyone from the media try to talk to your Mom at her home in Ohio, I mean outside of Florida media?
Byron: No , I don’t think so Mike but then again , I am afraid to talk with her like I always use to. I don’t want to take a chance of getting her more upset.
MNO: And you? What was the media attention like when this all first happened?
Byron: From the day after Billy lane killed my Bro all hell broke loose in our lives: .Reporters, photographers, journalists , policemen, coroners, lawyers, prosecutors, Florists, funeral homes, Doctors, …Ya get it ???
Reporters at Seany’s school, waiting for us at home,…a nightmare
Byron: Still get hundreds of emails from all over the USA everyday, and phone calls and letters and blogs …. Mostly supporting our cause.
MNO: I’d like to hear more about Gerald. Can you tell me what kind of a person was he?as a Brother?
Byron: He was my friend, my best friend as Seany let me know. You see , I have been a single Dad with my kids for along time. I happen to believe that my kids came 1st.
Therefore I didn’t go out a lot . I stayed at home and mostly spent time with Gerry. Yea, he was my big brother…and I mean big too. Every single time I saw him , he would give me a big Viking hug and say :”I’m so proud of you !!”
I was lucky I guess to have a bro and a friend in one .Gerry always tried to help. I mean help anyone. I really don’t believe that he knew just how much he helped so many others. To be truthful…I even didn’t know until he was gone myself how I depended on him just to be there.…We have gotten thousands and thousands of people around this great country telling us how Gerry and all this has helped them some way , some how. Many have told me that they have lost a loved one in a traffic tragedy like us. I only hope and pray that my sweet brother can see how much good he had done.
MNO: Did Gerald have a wife? Kids?
Byron: He was married at one time. His only kid you might say is my boy Seany. They had a wonderful relationship !!!!!!!!
MNO: And Gerald was a park ranger?
Byron: He worked at Sebastian Inlet Park and loved it ! Our Dad took us there as kids all the time when we vacationed from Ohio. I guess that’s like a big circle.
MNO: We know that Gerald had a Yamaha motor scooter. Did he have any other bikes?
Byron: He had a big ol BMW.
MNO: When did Gerald first start riding?
Byron: Not long I guess. Maybe a few years. He liked the wind in his face. But ya know what he really loved about bikes and bikers? He loved the idea of being a part of a group. A comrade. He would always tell me how great it felt when a bunch of Harleys would go by and WAVE to him……And now so many more are waving and supporting him and us……he was right,………..bikers are more than cool !!!
MNO: Gerald wore a helmet when riding?
Byron: The 1st day he got his bike I came over. We both went out
and found a killer helmet! He looked really cool in it too.
MNO: So, Gerry enjoyed riding motorcycles. Other articles I had read said that Gerald was thinking about selling his scooter?
Byron: Well , I was always trying to talk him into getting a sports car with some more METAL around him. He loved the feeling of a bike though.
MNO: I think I read somewhere that before this incident, you and Sean did not know much about the biker community?
Byron: I grew up with a lot of bikers but for some reason I was afraid to
ride myself. I always liked most of the bikers I met, kinda like fishermen….
MNO: And these days, what are your feelings towards bikers?
Byron: Both Seany and I as well as my Mom And Squirt now have only love and good feelings towards bikers all over this great country !!
MNO: Byron, you have a computer, correct? How long have you been “on line”?
Byron: Yes , got 2 of them. I’ve been on line for several years now. why??
MNO: I was wondering if you have been reading these forums, blogs and on line articles about what happened?
Byron: That’s a 2 bladed answer my friend.
MNO: Okay, have you become active in any of these?
Byron: Some….mostly to defend my brother!!!
MNO: Some of the threads seem to get out of control and it appears that you might have been hurt by some of the things said. Is there anything you might want to say about that?
Byron: What has happened to me and my family has happened to way to many others before us. Trying to get thru day by day is bad enough. But to get emails from all over with comments to look at a blog because of a hurtful remark is heartbreaking all over again…
I am at awe with the maybe millions that seem to be supporting our cause in this tragedy. From all our locals here on the beach, friends, M.A.D.D. and B.A.D.D. members from Germany to Japan!!! At the same time it only takes a few bad remarks or false statements said to bring this big Ohioan to tears. Maybe some do not understand the whole situation.
MNO: What about the way some have chose to turn certain threads into a mob scene and hateful remarks against Gerald, you or your family?
Byron: There are several reasons that I will respond to a few hate mails towards my Bro or my family.
One being that I promised my Son, Seany, that Labor Day night that I would never give up , NEVER
The other reason is to try and turn this tragedy into something positive to help others…Gerry would want that. But I guess the single and most important reason that I will fight for our cause is very simple and plain…..
” A BROTHER”S LOVE>>>IS A BROTHER”S LOVE”
MNO: And those who do so against Billy Lane?
Byron: I think that it is wrong. The man that killed my Brother has to go thru our legal and civil system. I once said this statement but not many picked up on it except you Mike..: “ No matter what happens …..Everyone looses in this tragedy “
MNO: I know you can not answer many questions about the civil action filed against Billy Lane and DaimlerChrysler, but I want to just point out some things. Would that be okay? If I ask something that you can not answer, just tell me so.
MNO: Your mother has filed an auto negligence suit against Dodge and Billy Lane for the wrongful death of your brother Gerald, correct? Ur, well I should say DaimlerChrysler I guess.
Byron: Yes. Against Billy Lane because he was driving and broke the law, Dodge because they owned the pickup that he was driving when Gerry was killed.
MNO: So Dodge is involved because it was their pickup that Lane was driving?
Byron: Yes, but that is all I can say for now.
MNO: Byron, thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak with you about all this, I know it is a hard thing for you to talk about.
I did a post on Gerald Morelock back in November of 2006 that includes many pictures of Gerry and his family. You can see that post by clicking here.
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