Communities rally to support multiple motorcyclists killed and injured during charity toy ride

AURORA, Mo. – Several area communities are urgently mobilizing to help after four motorcyclists were killed and six others critically injured when an allegedly impaired driver crossed the centerline, striking a caravan of cyclists in a charity toy drive June 3 near here.

Aurora and Marionville, just a few miles apart, have come together to support the victims’ families after both communities were utterly shattered by the tragedy. 

This Saturday, June 17, the Mulberry Tree Saloon in Marionville will hold a benefit event featuring local musicians playing outside while a DJ hosts karaoke inside. Guests can also expect raffles, a pool tournament and silent auction, with all proceeds going to victims’ families. Barbecue starts at 11 a.m., music at 5 p.m. and other activities at 7 p.m., culminating with a raffle of a Honda Fury motorcycle.

Jimmy Michel Motors of Aurora held a benefit car and bike show June 10, raising thousands of dollars for the victims. Company salesman Taylor House says the money will be distributed evenly between the families. 

“It’s very heartfelt to see this community that is such a tight-knit family come together to help those who need help,” House said. “It’s what, in my opinion, is expected of us to do to take care of them. We pray every single day for these folks because they sure need it.”

Multiple businesses also have donated money, time, business space and items to help support the victims’ families.

Barbi Phillips, co-owner of Mulberry Tree Saloon, says the motorcyclists were participating in an annual event benefiting the Linn Thornton toy drive when they were struck down. The saloon was one of the ride’s destinations.

Phillips says she was one of the first to hear the tragic news about her friends.

“It was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. I knew them all,” she told The Heartlander. “Four of them immediately impacted were friends of mine. I literally fell to my knees. I went outside and was not able to function properly for a long time. It has not only affected the entire community every day, but some of us are impacted every minute. You feel helpless and hopeless, which is why I am trying to do everything I possibly can. When I am not working, I am working.”

The Missouri Highway Patrol says Theresa L. Manetzke, 51, of Aurora, failed a field sobriety test on the scene after the 11:15 a.m. crash, which involved five motorcycles being hit, and has been charged with felony DWI resulting in the death of two or more people. Reports indicate Manetzke told patrol officers she had taken several antipsychotic medications before the crash. 

Pronounced dead at the scene were Kameron L. Hale, 28; James R. Olmsted, 59; Linda G. Anderson, 61; and Kadence Harris, 17.

Injured were Krista D. Trueblood, 30; Darrel J. Trueblood, 37; Cody J. Zielinski, 35; Jessica Zielinski, 35; Jesse W. Clinkingbeard, 54; and a 16-year-old female passenger.

“All medications come with some sort of disclosure and warning. If that’s the case, then she shouldn’t have been driving,” Phillips told The Heartlander.

Any vendors willing to donate to the cause will be permitted to utilize free space outside of Mulberry Tree Saloon for the duration of Saturday’s event. Locally famous Bama Man BBQ will kickstart things at 11 a.m. by selling pulled pork, sides and racks of ribs until they are gone. 

“Everything I can do is the least I can do,” Phillips said. “No amount of money will ever help this situation, but it sure can help some worry. You couldn’t ask for better community support. I’m either crying or have chills five or 10 times a day. The outpour is overwhelming, intense and beautiful all at the same time.”

Jimmy Michel Motors also has set up an account at First Independent Bank in Aurora for those who would like to donate. Trusted community member Carol Holland has organized a Facebook group called Community Fundraisers for Fallen and Injured Bikers from Aurora, Mo. More information can be found there.


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