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Motorcyclist who died in fall identified

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Mark Wenzl would get up in the morning and, if he wasn’t giving a co-worker a lift to the job site, hop on his bike, ride around and watch the sun come up.

“It was by far his biggest passion,” said his cousin, Chance Mara, 17.  

Wenzl, 19, died Tuesday afternoon after his bike hit a concrete wall on the Rosa Parks Way bridge and he flew over the wall and fell to a gravel parking lot below, near Seventh and J streets.

Lincoln police don't know yet whether he swerved to miss another vehicle or simply lost control of the blue Yamaha.

Wenzl, who graduated from Lincoln North Star High School, was a member of the Ravens Riding Club, a support organization of the Tribesmen Motorcycle Club, his cousin said.

He also was passionate about sports, family, the military.

“Just everything,” Mara said.

Officer Katie Flood said Lincoln police don't know how fast Wenzl was riding, but investigators don’t think drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash.

At first, police thought another driver might have hit Wenzl and sped off, but investigators think his bike ran into the wall on its own, Flood said. Some witnesses have contacted authorities, and police ask that anyone else who saw the rush-hour accident call them at 402-441-6000, or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 402-475-3600.

The accident happened near where Rosa Parks Way splits on the approach to and from K and L streets downtown.

By Wednesday afternoon, more than 40 members of the riding club had changed their Facebook profile pictures to one of Wenzl playing with a toddler on a motorcycle. Many had superimposed a halo above his head along with the words “Rest in Peace.”

Wenzl was working construction framing houses and was in the Army National Guard.

He grew up 35 miles southeast of Lincoln, but transferred to North Star his junior year after moving to town with his mom. He played football, baseball and ran track for the Navigators.

Football coach Mark Waller said Wenzl wasn’t a huge guy, but his quickness and athleticism landed him a spot as a receiver and cornerback. When the coaches needed a player to fill a certain role in practice, Waller said, Wenzl hopped in.

“He did everything we asked of him. He played with a lot of heart.”

His track coach at Sterling High School, Luke Boldt, said Wenzl helped break the school’s 1,600-meter relay record when the team went to state his freshman year.

Wenzl also did well in the classroom, and modeled what coaches and teachers describe as a student-athlete, Waller said, adding that he made friends quickly when he transferred to North Star.

“He was great to be around, fun to be around,” Waller said.

Mara said he and his cousin used to get together at RPM Motors at 17th and O streets on Friday evenings in the summer to watch cars and motorcycles cruise by.

"He’d always be there.”

They bonded over driving, Mara in a car, Wenzl on a bike. Mara said he wouldn’t let anyone else flank his cousin as he zipped around town.

“I was always trying to protect him the best I could," Mara said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7395 or jedwards@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSedwards.

 

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Local government reporter

Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.

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