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National Guard master sergeant dies in head-on crash

Stewart Lee Bowles was riding home from work when he was struck by car

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 58-year-old man riding a motorcycle home from his job as a crew chief with the Florida Air National Guard died Tuesday afternoon when state troopers said a car veered into his lane on Lem Turner Road near Interstate 295.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a Hyundai Genesis was headed south on Lem Turner near Terrell Road about 2:30 p.m. when the car veered from its lane and entered the northbound lane, hitting Stewart Lee Bowles' Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Bowles, of Jacksonville, died at the scene. Charges are pending the driver who struck Bowles, according to the FHP.

A single cross now stands at the site of the crash.

Family members said Bowles, who went by the first name Lee, was a loving husband, father and grandfather.

Allen Rutland told News4Jax his stepfather also loved his job as a master sergeant with the 125th Fighter Wing of the Florida Air National Guard.

"To find out he was gone, it just broke me. I just couldn’t help but cry. I’ve never lost someone close to me, so it was a new experience" said Rutland, who is a sophomore in high school. "He loved me with a full heart and never stopped. He loved anybody. He could probably walk up to you now and make you smile in an instant."

Bowles had served with the Guard for 32 years and was nearing retirement.

"My heart goes out to the family and loved ones of Master Sgt. Bowles," 125th Fighter Wing Cmdr. Col. Jerry Reedy said. "Lee was a mentor and role model for our entire maintenance community, and we will miss his leadership, friendship and smile."

Rutland said he's proud of his stepdad and knew he loved God with all his heart and was passionate about his country. Rutland said his father was very active with American Legion Post 137 and was there nearly every weekend supporting veterans.

"One of my greatest memories with him will always be the time I went with him to his work and hung out with him the whole night and watched him work on the jet," Rutland said. "And then go see it take off right next to it, right where it took off, it looked so amazing and I understood why he loved doing that job."