Friends of motorcycle accident victim grieve, crowds attend funeral

Abigail Barefoot

“Truly living for his friends,” and “always ready with a smile;” friends relive memories of Daniel Breuer, an ISU student who died in a motorcycle crash.

Rachael Larkin, senior in kinesiology and health, met Breuer, senior in mechanical engineering, through St. Thomas Aquinas Service and Justice Team her freshman year. Two years later, she lived across the street from him, in what Rachel described as a “coed dorm floor,” because Breuer and their friends were constantly at each other’s houses.

Both Larkin and high school friends describe Breuer as being a friendly and kindhearted person. “He was the type of person who would give at a drop of a hat,” Rachel said.

One instance of his giving nature occurred during winter break, when Larkin’s roommate heard noises coming from the kitchen. When she investigated the noise, she found Breuer washing the dishes.

She asked what he was doing, to which he replied he was grateful to the girls for allowing him to store his motorcycle in their garage because he didn’t have one. He’d snuck into Larkin’s house and washed the dishes to show his appreciation.

“He would do the most discrete things to show he cared for his friends and family,” Larkin said.

Josh Peterson, a high school friend of Breuer, said he was the type of guy who was nice to everyone and always had a smile on his face.

“He never said anything negative about anyone,” Peterson said.

Breuer was involved in everything during high school, from playing the trumpet to working on sets for the school play. In college he continued this attitude by working in his church’s service and Justice Team, which does community service. He also participated in band and helped throw barbecues at his house.

Breuer was described as a quirky guy who did random things for fun. He loved shooting off fireworks at his house, and his computer features a photo album with a photo of every T-shirt he wore.

The girls once found a dead squirrel in the tree outside their apartment, and they called Breuer and his friends to get rid of it. Only after his death did the girls find out that Breuer put the dead squirrel in the tree so the girls would come to them to get it out, simply because they hadn’t hung out in awhile.

“He truly lived for his friends,” Larkin said.

Breuer’s favorite thing was his motorcycle and giving people rides on his bike, and he was always surrounded by 10 to 15 people, Larkin said.

“He said he wanted to die young, doing what he loved; and he did,” Larkin said.

Breuer was killed in a motorcycle accident July 8. The accident occurred shortly after 5 p.m. on Interstate 35, near exit 97 in Ankeny.

Another accident in the area had slowed traffic, and Breuer’s motorcycle collided with the back of a car. A Life Flight helicopter transported Breuer to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines.

Breuer had been wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, but he had severe brain swelling and didn’t survive.

Larkin found out about Breuer’s accident when Breuer’s roommate called her. He told her not to come up because the hospital room was packed and to come up the next day. Breuer died before Larkin and friends could visit him.

“I was in disbelief; I had ridden on that bike before,” Larkin said. Safety was always a concern for Breuer, both for himself and others when they rode with him.

For Larkin, it was a hard thing to comprehend that her friend was gone.

“It was just a shocker,” she said. “I mean, we just saw this guy yesterday. It shows how quickly things changed.”

That day Larkin and friends went to St. Thomas Aquinas to grieve together.

“Breuer wasn’t much for prayer, so we sat around to bullshit and have as much laughter as possible,” Rachel said.

Friends gathered Friday at Breuer’s church to have a prayer service and relive their favorite memories. Later they went to Breuer’s house to have their traditional barbecue while sharing more memories of their friend.

“You know he wouldn’t want to see us cry. So we tried to laugh as much as possible, doing what he wanted while still grieving,” Larkin said.

Later more than 30 ISU students traveled to Western Union to attend Breuer’s visitation.

At his funeral, a 55-motorcycle procession was held in his honor as friends and family made the drive from Holy Name Catholic Church in West Union to St. Joseph Cemetery in Raymond.

“It was emotional. Dan never thought of himself as popular or rememberable, but here were all these people here for him,” Larkin said.

More than 400 people packed into the church to say their final good-byes to Daniel Breuer.