OCKLAWAHA – Thomas Dunkle, a Marion County snowbird who split his time between here and Minnesota, had dreamed of getting a motorcycle. Two years ago, he bought a 2012 Harley-Davidson.
Dunkle, a 58-year-old mechanic who spent part of the year with his sister in Ocklawaha and the rest with family in Minnesota, loved riding the motorcycle. He also enjoyed working on older model vehicles, said his sister Wilma Glover.
When he did not come home as nightfall was approaching on Wednesday, Glover said she became worried.
“When I didn’t see him, I knew something was wrong,” she said.
Dunkle was on his way to his sister’s home in Ocalawaha on Wednesday when, witnesses told Florida Highway Patrol troopers, a 2016 Kia Soul turned left in front of Dunkle and hit his Harley-Davidson.
The crash occurred at County Road 42 and Southwest 105th Avenue in Summerfield around 4:40 p.m.
The witnesses said Dunkle, who was traveling west on County Road 42, tried to stop the motorcycle but was unable to brake in time.
Dunkle, who was wearing a helmet, was pronounced deceased at 4:51 p.m.
FHP troopers said the crash remains under investigation.
Glover said her brother was born and raised in New York and was the second of five children. After he finished high school, he joined the U.S. Army and was a mechanic who worked on tanks. She said he left the military after four years and married and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. She said he was a welder at a Caterpillar company there and later worked at a concrete company. He has an adult son and daughter, and three granddaughters.
Within the last two years, Glover said, in addition to staying with his son in Minnesota, her brother decided to spend some time with her in Ocklawaha. She said he enjoyed the warmer climate.
She said one of his dreams was to own a motorcycle. Since he got the Harley, she said, he often went on rides and with Wednesday being a beautiful day, “he was taking advantage of the good weather.”
She said he also had been tinkering with a 1974 Dodge Charger.
“He was a happy, easy-going, down-to-earth, loving man,” she said.
As to what she will miss most about her brother, Glover said, “everything.”
“I enjoyed his company,” she said. “We used to joke a lot.”
According to FHP records, there have been 75 traffic fatalities in Marion County this year. There were a total of 71 in 2016. So far this year, there have been 10 fatalities involving motorcycles; in 2016, the total was six.
Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118, [email protected] or @almillerosb.