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Family of killed cyclist warns of dangers

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Updated: 8/13/2014 11:05 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- It's now been five years since Tupelo teenager John Paul Ferer was killed when a passing car struck his bicycle, and for his family, their hearts are as broken now as the day they lost him.

But despite their broken hearts, they're determined to make sure he didn't die in vain.

"It's never easy," said John Paul's sister, Danielle. "It never really goes away."

He died on August 13, 2009, one day before he would've started his senior year of high school.

Instead, without warning, he was gone. But his death is not in vain.

Ever since the accident, his family has worked to raise awareness across the state and helped get legislation passed, like Mississippi's Three Feet Law, which requires drivers to leave at least a three feet distance between them and cyclist - all to make sure the fate John Paul suffered never happens again.

"It's bitter sweet of course, but we just want to get the word out so no one has to feel the pain we felt," Danielle said.

But some cyclist say far to many drivers ignore the Three Feet Law.

"Here recently, we've had a lot of instances with aggressive driving that's kind of worried us," said cyclist and John Paul's friend, Adam Morris.

Just last week, a van struck a cyclist from behind. That cyclist was Morris' friend. He lived to tell his story, but others aren't so lucky.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates every year about 700 cyclist get struck and killed by cars.

Many times, it's because the car driver is in a rush.

"I think everybody's life is worth just a few seconds," Morris said. "Just give us a couple of seconds to clear an intersection instead of passing us."

Morris said it takes effort from both drivers and cyclists to prevent accidents.

He just hopes people listen before tragedy strikes again, before someone else loses a friend as good as the one he lost.

"I just want every body to remember that we're somebody's son, father or somebody's daughter or mother that you're meeting on the road," Morris said.

He said cyclists should also be aware of road laws. He said they need to wear the right gear, bright colors and make sure they're following bike protocol.

And his plea, along with the Frerer Family, is that drivers slow down, pay attention and look out for others.

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