Durham County

Cyclist’s death compounds family tragedy

For Tony Morris Turner’s family, his death in a hit-and-run accident last Saturday only added to a tragic litany. Turner, 56, was struck while riding his bicycle on North Roxboro Street about 8:30 p.m.

In 2012, Turner’s sister, Naomi Turner Wright, was murdered at her job at the J.T. Tire Store.

In 2013, Turner’s neice, JoAnna Wright, died of kidney failure.

“And then Tony gets killed tragically. It’s quite hard,” said Turner’s sister, Phyllis Turner Lutterloh of Durham.

“I don’t understand,” Lutterloh said, her voice cracking. “I know God knows what he’s doing and I know God’s in control of everything and he’s bigger than anything that’s happened. But we’re human and it hurts so bad.”

Turner’s funeral is at 2 p.m. Friday at Tabernacle of Life Church, 2400 Soverign St. Turner had no insurance, Lutterloh said, and relatives have started an online appeal ( bit.ly/1AoU9rF) for donations to help cover funeral expenses. As of Thursday afternoon, the appeal had raised almost $2,400.

Turner was the third Durham cyclist to die as a result of a traffic accident within the past six weeks. Kent Winberry died Oct. 27 from injuries he suffered Oct. 18 when struck while riding east on Duke University Road. Pamela Lane was killed Oct. 3 in Chapel Hill as she rode on a sidewalk along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The cyclists’ group Bike Durham is holding a public forum on actions to take in Durham for better bike safety, at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Bull City Coworking, 112 S. Duke St. The meeting is to be followed by a memorial ride in honor of Lane, Turner and Winberry. For information, see bit.ly/1BRmJUq.

Durham police are awaiting a toxicology report on Turner, but Lutterloh said she saw him about 7:15 p.m. last Saturday and he showed no sign of being impaired in any way.

“He was a wonderful brother, a sweetheart,” she said. “He just had a way about him to win you over. ... He’d do anything he could for anybody.”

Turner had one child, Dylan, who lives in Mebane, Lutterloh said.

“He loved his son more than anything in the world, he was his pride and joy,” she said.

Police on Thursday had no new information on Turner’s death. They believe he was hit by a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and that the vehicle may have damage to the front end.

“I just don’t know why somebody wouldn’t stop just to see if they could help him,” Lutterloh said. She said her brother lived with a great deal of pain from an automobile accident, and walking or riding his bicycle was recommended therapy as well as pleasure for him.

Anyone with information about the accident should call Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases.