Hundreds of cyclists join memorial 'ghost ride'

Posted at 5:40 PM, Feb 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-06 18:17:13-05

ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Hundreds of cyclists rode from Lunken Airport to Kellogg Park for a “ghost ride” in honor of Michael Prater Saturday

Prater died Monday after being struck by a hit-and-run driver, Melinda Woodall, who police said appeared to be under the influence of prescription drugs.

Prater’s fellow cyclists remembered his as a popular member of the close-knit biking community who would give his time to help others.

“He was very interested in helping teenage riders learn how to ride a bike,” Queen City Bike President Frank Henson, a friend of Prater, said. “He would spend his off-work time helping 15, 16, 17-year-olds how to be safe and secure on a bicycle.”

As a memorial to Prater, the MoBo Bicycle Co-op prepared a white “ghost bike” for the event.

Cyclists riding Saturday said they also hoped to get the message across to drivers that they need to share the road.

“It could be any one of us,” Cincinnati Cycle Club President Derek Driftmeyer said. “It could be my brother, my best friend – it could be me – and there’s nothing at all that Michael could have done to prevent this.”

Police said that Woodall’s SUV drifted out of the lane when she struck Prater Sunday. She left the scene, but police caught her not long after and found she had three bottles of pills, as well as five syringes with residue, a metal spoon and a tourniquet that were used for heroin, they said. She was initially charged with aggravated vehicular assault, drug possession, driving under suspension and failure to stop after an accident.

After Prater died Monday, officials added a charge of aggravated vehicular homicide.

“There’s a sense of justice that’s missing in these hit-and-run cases,” attorney Steve Magas said. “There’s a feeling that it’s better to hit-and-run than to hit and stay, and until we reverse that in the motorists, then you’re going to get more hit-and-runs.”