Cary News

Friends, co-workers remember biker killed in I-440 hit-and-run

Memorial chair: Friends of Thomas Anstey, who was killed in a Jan. 19 motorcycle wreck on Interstate 440 near Glenwood Avenue, placed a chair at the spot where Anstey usually parks his Honda Valkyrie while visiting the MacGregor Draft House in Cary. Anstey would have enjoyed sipping on the brown-bagged Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, friends said, and the flowers. A memorial was held Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, at the bar.
Memorial chair: Friends of Thomas Anstey, who was killed in a Jan. 19 motorcycle wreck on Interstate 440 near Glenwood Avenue, placed a chair at the spot where Anstey usually parks his Honda Valkyrie while visiting the MacGregor Draft House in Cary. Anstey would have enjoyed sipping on the brown-bagged Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, friends said, and the flowers. A memorial was held Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, at the bar. tgrubb@newsobserver.com

Tom Anstey didn’t have any children, but he had a big family, friends and acquaintances said Saturday at MacGregor Draft House.

More than 200 neighbors, co-workers and friends showed up to celebrate Anstey’s life and the impact he had on theirs. The 50-year-old was killed early Monday when a car slammed into his beloved Honda Valkyrie motorcycle on Interstate 440 near Glenwood Avenue.

He had just celebrated a birthday Jan. 14, friends said.

Police said the woman charged with killing him – Kiera Jo Sprouse, 23 – was driving an estimated 113 mph and had a blood alcohol content of 0.13 at the time of the wreck. Her car was left at the scene, and police arrested her at home several hours later.

Sprouse, who has a previous DWI conviction and is due in court in March for another DWI case, faces charges in Anstey’s death, including driving while impaired, second-degree murder, aggravated death by motor vehicle, and felony hit and run causing death. She is in the Wake County jail without bail and could appear in court Feb. 9.

Anstey didn’t deserve what happened to him, friend after friend said. It doesn’t make sense that someone could just walk away after hurting a person like that, they said.

J Martin said Anstey was one of the first people he met in Raleigh. Martin worked with Anstey, an information technology specialist with Caterpillar Inc., and said he also was a manager at Wingstop in North Raleigh. Anstey rode his motorcycle in rain, snow and sleet, Martin said.

He’ll miss seeing that smile just over the cubicle wall, Martin said, but the good times they had at the bar, just talking about life, will stay with him.

“Not only did he sit and listen to you, but he heard what you had to say,” Martin said.

Besides his love for motorcycles, Anstey was an amateur photographer. He also saved thousands of children through his support of The Fishermen Relief organization in Raleigh, said founder Alex Gowen. The group helps orphaned children and landmine cleanup efforts worldwide.

Anstey was divorced but stayed friends with his wife of 30 years, friends said. He moved to the area from Wisconsin in 1992 and lived in Cary – just around the corner from MacGregor. He was a regular there, friends said, but he also frequented Hooters restaurants and other local bars.

Infectious smile

Hooters employees teared up as they shared stories of Anstey’s caring personality and infectious smile. He encouraged them to pursue their dreams and took photos for their calendar and modeling work; some of his photos still hang in Hooters restaurants, they said.

“Some of them are the best photos we’ve ever taken,” Hooters employee Rebecca Griffin said. “We would have never taken them if he hadn’t pushed us and given us the confidence.”

The Hooters staff has signed a Green Bay Packers shirt – Anstey’s favorite team – that will hang at MacGregor in his memory.

Starr Williamson, who also works at Caterpillar, said Anstey photographed her daughter’s wedding last year and many others. In fact, friends said, Anstey captured most of their memories, from company events to Halloween costumes at the bar.

“He was just a laid-back and friendly guy,” said co-worker Vickie Stanley.

But he didn’t need the spotlight, MacGregor general manager Jeremy Fisher said. Anstey would come into the bar, take his spot in the corner and enjoy a Pabst Blue Ribbon, Fisher said.

Fisher, an Air Force veteran, recalled how Anstey showed up one Memorial Day to find the shot of whiskey Fisher had set on the bar in honor of fallen service members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The next year, Fisher said, Anstey dropped by, put down $10 and offered to buy the shot.

“He said, ‘It would mean a lot to me if I could buy that shot for your brothers that died,’ ” Fisher said. “That’s who Tom was, and I know he was that to a lot of people in this room. He found out what it was that you needed, and he found a way to meet that need.”

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