Lawmaker who opposed universal helmet law dies in motorcycle crash

A Michigan state lawmaker who voted to repeal universal helmet laws has died in a motorcycle crash, according to Michigan State Police.

Rep. Peter Pettalia was riding southbound on M-33 in northern Michigan late Monday afternoon when a pickup truck turned left into his lane. His motorcycle broadsided the pickup. Pettalia was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, police said. The driver of the truck, a 59-year-old woman, was not injured, police said.

Pettalia, 61, a Republican from Presque Isle, was an advocate for motorcyclists’ rights and had served the state’s District 106 since he was elected in 2010.

In 2012, he voted to repeal universal helmet laws for all motorcycle riders over the age of 20. Michigan is one of 28 states that do not have laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter called his death shocking.

“We are all devastated to hear the news today about Rep. Pettalia,” Cotter said. “Pete was a dear friend and longtime colleague who was well-known for his expertise, his hard work, and his love for the great outdoors.”

Pettalia chaired the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and was vice chair of the Financial Services Committee. He is survived by his wife and two grown children.