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Ride pays tribute to motorcyclist

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Posted: Friday, May 22, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:06 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Victor O'Brien

Killeen Daily Herald

Many weekdays Orlando Rivera Paz and Tony Fontanez cruised from work at Tony's Autotech repair shop to Joker's Icehouse for a cold beer.

The ride and the drink soothed away their labors. While Fontanez unwound in front of a bar stool, Rivera Paz, always wanting to know everyone, hopped from table to table making new friends out of strangers, Fontanez said.

Fontanez will make that evening ride alone now. On Thursday, he took his final ride with "Ollie," as Rivera Paz, 48, is known by friends and family.

Rivera Paz, a member of the 65th Infantry and Southern Cruisers motorcycle clubs, was killed in a hit-and-run motorcycle crash Saturday night.

The Chisholm Trail Riding Club coordinated a memorial ride in Rivera Paz's honor Thursday to tell the driver who fled the crash that local riders are revving their engines and cruising the roads with a purpose.

"We want this guy to know that all motorcycle riders are brothers in arms ... sooner or later we're going to spot the vehicle, get the plates and turn him in," said Eduardo Perez Paz, Rivera Paz's brother.

Rivera Paz was riding his 2002 Honda motorcycle east in the 2700 block of East Veterans Memorial Boulevard about 8 p.m. Saturday when a driver in a maroon vehicle traveling west turned in front of him.

Rivera Paz laid his motorcycle on its side before striking the vehicle's passenger side, a Killeen police news release stated. The vehicle ran over Rivera Paz when he slid under the vehicle as it sped away onto Hillside Drive. The driver, possibly in a Dodge Intrepid, fled the scene.

Rivera Paz died after being airlifted to Scott & White Hospital in Temple.

The memorial ride was part of Rivera Paz's funeral Thursday. More than 20 riders gathered outside Texas Proud Custom Cycles, next to Joker's Icehouse, at 3:30 p.m. They rode to Chisolm's Family Funeral Home in Copperas Cove to caravan with the hearse carrying Rivera Paz's body and meet with more area bikers.

They then returned with the body to Killeen for funeral services at the Iglesia Cristiana Monte Sinai Church on Stan Schlueter Loop.

When the services ended, they took their final ride from the church back to the funeral home, where Rivera Paz's body was to be cremated.

"This was a guy where all you had to do was ask, no matter what day of the week, and he would come over to help," Luis Rivera said. Rivera Paz helped Rivera, a disabled veteran, with yardwork.

Rivera planned to call Rivera Paz for help Saturday, but the rain stopped him from asking for help.

"I think if I would have called him and the day would have been different, he might still be alive," Rivera said.

While Rivera Paz's last ride provided some comfort to the family, more comfort will only come when the driver is in police custody.

"If he turns himself in, he would be much better, to give some comfort to his wife and my brothers," Perez Paz said.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Killeen Police Department at (254) 501-8830 or CrimeStoppers at (254) 526-8477, also at www.killeencrimestoppers.com

Texas Proud Custom Cycles in Killeen established a donation fund for Rivera Paz's family at First National Bank.

Contact Victor O'Brien at vobrien@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468.

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