JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a 22-year-old woman killed Tuesday night in a motorcycle crash on the Buckman Bridge is pleading for drivers to stay alert on the roads.
Stephanie Brooke Robinson of Fleming Island lost control of her motorcycle about 7:30 p.m. and crashed in the southbound lanes of Interstate 295 on the Buckman Bridge, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Investigators said she was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
Robinson's sister, Britani Robinson, said that before the crash, Stephanie was riding with a group of bikers to a memorial for a friend, Joseph Powell, who lost his life while riding a motorcycle on Sunday.
Stephanie’s parents, also avid motorcycle riders, said they will continue riding in her name, but are pleading for drivers to stay alert.
“When you buckle up, when you go down the road, take a minute to think that you may be taking someone’s baby away from them,” Stephanie’s father, Paul Norman, said.
Stephanie’s 23rd birthday would have been next week.
“She was my best friend,” Britani Robinson said. “She was very colorful, very outgoing. I mean, she would give you the shirt off her back.”
The reality is still setting in for Britani, less than 24 hours after her little sister was killed in a crash on her Suzuki motorcycle.
Britani Robinson said Stephanie started riding dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles, or four-wheelers, at a young age, and her love for them quickly grew into a passion for motorcycles.
“She thrived on it. She loved it,” Britani said. “I mean, she would work a 10-hour day, and she would come home, and she would get on the motorcycle, and she would just go.”
When she wasn’t on her bike, she was hanging out with her all-girls motorcycle club, One Love, Britani Robinson said.
She said her sister was a veteran motorcycle rider and there's no way she simply lost control of her bike on the bridge.
“She knew what she was doing 100 --1,000 percent. She knew what she was doing on that bike,” Britani said. “This was not a game for her. This was not a toy. She understood the power that she had at her fingertips.”
A fellow motorcyclist who knew Stephanie described her as a loving and joyful person.
"You could never say anything bad about Stephanie. If you looked at Stephanie, she start laughing, as you see in her picture. She was smiling," said Derrick Harris.
FHP continues to investigate the crash, which blocked the road for several hours.
Stephanie’s memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Russell Haven of Rest Funeral Home at 2335 Sandridge Road in Green Cove Springs and a memorial ride will follow.
A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help Stephanie's family.
Friend recounts riding next to Stephanie when she crashed
Another group of Stephanie's friends gathered in the San Jose neighborhood near Goodby's Creek Wednesday evening. They said they're distraught over Stephanie's death.
News4Jax spoke with her friend Joshua Hill, who was riding next to Stephanie when she crashed.
He said everything happened so fast.
"I can't remember exactly what happened. I was too focused on Stephanie at the moment. It was a terrible situation. It was unreal, still unreal. I can't believe this is even happening," Hill said. "All I saw was brake lights go on, the car in front of me slam on his brakes and Stephanie go down. And I tried to avoid hitting the car in front of me and was able to pull up next to her and jumped off the bike, threw my helmet off and went straight to her."
But Hill said he's thankful for the time he got to spend with Stephanie before she died.
"Ten minutes before this happened, I hadn't seen her in a while, and she showed up at the BP with us, and again, greeted me with the greatest smile," Hill said. "I'll never forget that smile when she got off the bike and gave me the biggest hug."
Hill said there will be a memorial ride for Stephanie and Joseph Powell at 2 p.m. Saturday. It will start at 904 Performance at 6293 Powers Ave.
Motorcycle club trying to cope with loss of member
One Love Lady Ryders, the motorcycle club that Stephanie was a part of, gathered Wednesday night in Northwest Jacksonville to rev their engines in her honor.
"We're just gathering around to basically plan our memorial for Friday, to plan our ride, and our meeting, just to commemorate her," member Kim Owensby said.
The group had six members until Tuesday night. Now, there is only five.
"It's hard, you know. I've had several close calls myself with cars coming close on me. And people need to look, just turn around and look because it's someone's mother, sister, daughter on a bike," member Samantha Patterson said.
One Love Lady Ryders will hold a memorial for Stephanie at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Lavilla Sportsman Club at 7977 New Kings Road.