JUPITER, Fla. - What was supposed to be a moment of pride and patriotism turned into a time of grief.
An Honor Flight carrying dozens of local World War II veterans landed safely at Palm Beach International Airport Saturday night. But in a heartbreaking twist, a motorcyclist that was supposed to escort those veterans to and from the airport was killed in an early morning crash in Jupiter.
Holding back the tears, a number of Patriot Guard Riders try to stick to their mission to welcome dozens of south Florida World War II veterans back from a much-deserved, long-overdue trip to our nation's capitol.
"No matter what happened, today is their day," said Ride Capt. Alan Cole. "So if we have to bite our lip a little bit, that's to be."
That mission is made more difficult when one of their own, Jack 'Angel' Regan, was killed trying to get to event. "His road name was angel. And he lived up to that," said Cole.
Regan, 58, never made it beyond the stretch of Interstate 95 in Jupiter. The Coral Springs man was on his way to Stuart to escort the veterans' vehicles to PBIA. At approximately 3 a.m. Saturday, Regan's bike was struck by a vehicle driven by Amanda McClure, 24, of Palm City.
As they saluted our nation's heroes, the Patriot Guard Riders also gave silent tribute to their friend. "His family is grieving very much and they're not alone," said Cole.
At last check, McClure was in serious condition. Her two passengers sustained minor injuries.
Regan leaves behind a wife, Debbie, in Coral Springs who is said to be finalizing funeral arrangements for her husband.