Friends, family push for tougher penalty after motorcyclist killed on I-55

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Friends and family of a motorcyclist killed on Interstate 55 are gathering to remember him Tuesday, and they say the woman charged in his death should face stiffer punishment. Curtis Watkins, a father of five, was killed while riding his motorcycle over the weekend in an apparent road rage crash.
Tia Christian
Tia Christian, 51, is out on bond on charges of vehicular homicide. “We’re hurt, we’re hurt. Our hearts are hurting,” said Steven Bryant, vice president of the Hellraisers motorcycle club. Bryant said he understands motorcyclists sign up for a certain amount of danger, but says what happened to his friend and fellow club member is unacceptable. “He has five children that now have to grow up without a father,” Bryant said. “His wife has to explain to them why they’re never going to see them again.” Bryant said Watkins, 31, was on his way to see fellow club members when Christian rear-ended him on his Harley motorcycle. Records say two witnesses saw Christian driving her car recklessly, riding the rear bumper of the bike, appearing to have road rage, ultimately hitting the bike and running over Watkins.
Christian claims Watkins slammed on his brakes and she couldn’t help but hit him.
Curtis Watkins
She’s out on a $15,000 bond on a charge of vehicular homicide, a felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison. She is also charged with reckless driving and failure to exercise due care. No one answered at her listed address Tuesday. Club members say there have been multiple motorcyclists hit within the last few days in the Memphis area. “Please look out for us, please look out for us,” Bryant said. “We have families, we have families, we have jobs, we’re humans just like you guys. We want to live as well.” Friends said they want to see Christian’s charges upgraded to murder. The district attorney’s office said charges could be amended if they are pending. “We’re going to fight, we’re going to fight to get some tougher penalties,” said Sunshine Stewart, Watkins’ godmother. Friends were set to gather on South Parkway at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday for a candlelight memorial for Watkins.

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