More than 70 cyclists rode Saturday in a somber tribute to a 17-year-old John Burroughs High School student, an avid rider who died Dec. 22 in an accident.
Wearing black “We ride for Drake” T-shirts to commemorate Drake Holland, the cyclists chanted the Burbank resident’s name as they rode down the Chandler Bike Path.
“This is a celebration of his life,” said his mother, Joni Gillis-Holland. “This is what he loved to do.”
The circumstances surrounding Drake’s death remain a mystery. He and three friends were walking along Forest Lawn Drive, where he fell and severely injured his head, Gillis-Holland said.
His death is under investigation, she said.
Support poured in from throughout the community, with food and money donations to a local animal shelter, per Drake’s wishes.
But coping with Drake’s death has been challenging for many of his friends, said his uncle, Brad Hayes.
“They need to deal with this tragedy and find a way to honor him and remember him and express themselves,” he said.
Cyclists met at Mariposa Street on Chandler Boulevard and rode to Hollywood Way, where they lit candles and wrote messages on scrapbook paper in remembrance of Drake.
The organizer of the event, Danny Etter, 18, often rode bicycles with Drake and thought the best way to honor him was to organize a bike ride.
“I just felt like he would want to do this too, and basically, he is,” Etter said. “He’s watching us in bike heaven.”
Etter created a flier, posted it on Facebook and handed them out at high school, he said.
“No loss is a good loss,” he said.
Brian Shinn, 16, said Drake’s love of riding mountain bikes was known by all.
“He just loved to ride,” Brian said.
It hadn’t been easy to cope with the Drake’s sudden death, Brian said, but participating in the ride would allow him to reflect on the good times.
Drake’s spirit, his friends said, has also been missed in school, where at least one of his teachers has opted to keep his classroom seat empty for the rest of the school year.
Get in touch VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.