'He loved his country and his family': Family remembers veteran killed by street racers

Rollin Gray

SPANAWAY, Wash. -- Rollin Gray's family is grieving for the 61-year-old Vietnam veteran who died Thursday, two days after he was hit on his motorcycle by a car deputies say was involved in a street race.

The Pierce County Sherriff's Office says they cited two drivers at that Spanaway crash. They believe the teenagers were street racing in their cars.

Rollin Gray was not involved in the race. He was returning home after dropping off his partner, Tina.

"We said 'I love you' as we always do," Tina Austin said. "He was special to everyone who knew him."

Austin sat at a table covered with photos and medals Friday. She says Gray was a veteran of the Vietnam and Gulf Wars who also beat cancer. He has a 17-year-old son who's still in high school.

Now she's left wondering why two teenagers would be so reckless on the road.

"I'm angry right now," she said. "keep your street racing on the race track, not a public road."

Tina remembers a free spirited man, who loved playing the banjo, and always smiled. She says his corneas were donated after his death.

Gray's last adventure was the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, where he pursued his passion of motorcycles with many other veterans who became family.

"He's my brother," Gary Dejaurlis said, clutching Gray's vest while sporting his own. "This is all I have left."

Dejaurlis says Gray would do anything for other people. He cites his own experience, claiming the 61-year-old convinced him to seek treatment for issues that stem from experience in the military.

"I went from a zero rating to 100 percent because he kept pushing me and pushing me," Dejaurlis said.

The Sheriff's Office says the teenage drivers will more than likely be charged for their roles in the crash. The Pierce County Prosecutor's Office said Friday that they have not received any information from police yet, but they expect to early next week.

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