CRANBERRY TWP — Hundreds gathered Sunday at the corner of Rochester Road in the township, many of whom were decked out in neon clothing as they took a brief break from a six-mile bicycle ride.
Outshining all of their green, yellow and orange Day-Glo attire was a white bicycle, adorned with messages on pink ribbon. That bike fastened to a lamp post honors the life of Alek Teimouri, who died after being struck by an alleged drunken driver last month.
It was a fitting tribute to a man who, like the bright pink streamers against the white bike, shined a little brighter.
“It's powerful,” said Christina Teimouri, Alek's mother. “I'll be able to look at it every day on my way to and from work and think about him. I'll be thinking about him anyway.”
It was an emotional afternoon for the family, who led a pack of hundreds of cyclists as they departed from Graham Park and made their way to Rochester and Haine School roads. That intersection is where police say David Lohr, 51, was driving drunk Dec. 26 when he struck and dragged the bike operated by Alek Teimouri, who was riding home from his job at Mad Mex. Lohr faces a number of charges, including homicide charges that were filed last week.
It cut short a life of purpose and caring for others. Alek Teimouri, 22, had dedicated himself to giving back. A recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Teimouri planned to enlist in the Air Force and aspired to be a special forces paramedic. Because of that, it was meaningful for Christina Teimouri to see representatives from the Air Force as well as Cranberry Township Fire and EMS among those riding.
“To see the love and support coming back from the community, it really helps our heart to know there are other people going through this with us,” she said.
Alek's sister Aryelle Teimouri said that local support has been “truly incredible.”
“It's just really touching how many people want to continue the legacy of his life,” she said.
Jim Logan, who organized Sunday's ride, said he hoped the family could find a sense of comfort from those gathered and through the “ghost bike” memorial on Rochester Road — an international symbol for a person killed while cycling that is meant to remind motorists to be attentive.
“I hope it's very healing for the family to see the community come out and support them at a time like this,” he said.
Logan said he experienced a similar loss of a daughter at a young age, and Sunday's ride was a way to “pay it forward.”
“I appreciate that community support when bad things happen,” he said.
The type of empathy and caring that Alek Teimouri was known for was on full display Sunday among those gathered. Stacie Breathauer of Cranberry Township said a majority of those riding likely did not know Alek personally. A triathlete and member of the cycling community, Brethauer said that her son worked with Alek at Mad Mex, and was there when Alek departed the restaurant that night.
“There's quite the group of kids there — and they're all really, really close,” she said.
Brethauer said that connection was enough to get her outside for the ride on a sunny and brisk Sunday, as was empathy for the Teimouri family.
“As a mom, I can't even imagine (what they must be going through),” she said. She added that her son is also a cyclist, and the thought of a similar situation was impossible to comprehend.
“I knew Alek indirectly, and probably most people here didn't know him in any capacity, but we understand what it means if we end up not showing up at home at the end of a ride,” she said.
The fleet of cyclists departed Graham Park and made their way two-by-two to Rochester Road, where they gathered at the memorial. Christina Teimouri was overcome with emotion as she greeted well wishers, many of whom simply placed a hand on the ghost bike in remembrance of Alek Teimouri.
The pack then made its way to the Teimouri household, where they completed Alek Teimouri's journey from the night of the accident. It was a sense of closure for the Teimouri family, whom Christina Teimouri said are trying to “accept it, move on and go forward.”
“That's what Alek would want,” she said.