Politician who opposed mandatory helmet law dies in motorcycle crash

Michigan Rep. Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) died Monday in a motorcycle crash, Michigan State Police said.

Pettalia was the sponsor of the 2012 law to repeal Michigan's mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists.

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Authorities said that Pettalia was riding his motorcycle Monday when a pickup truck turned left into his lane. Pettalia broadsided the truck.

"We are all devastated to hear the news today about Rep. Pettalia," House Speaker Kevin 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."

According to Michigan State Police, 138 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2015,  a 23 percent increase from the number of motorcycle fatalities in 2014 and the highest number of motorcycle deaths in a year since 1985.

Researchers said the repeal of the helmet law almost certainly played a role in the increase, Michigan Radio reported.

Michigan is one of 28 states that do not require all motorcyclists to wear helmets, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Pettalia, who was serving his third and final state House term, was 61 years old. He was wearing a helmet when he died.

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