Friends and co-workers mourn loss of fatal hit-and-run victim

By: Lauren Fabrizi

Joanie Gates spent Sunday remembering the countless times her next door neighbor, Gabe Wilken, would drop whatever he was doing to lend a hand.

“If I had a problem with my motorcycle, he was on it,” Gates remembered. “Very kind, very caring.”

She said the 38–year–old loved to fix up bikes, but what he loved even more was riding his.

That’s what he was doing Friday night when his life was taken in what the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is calling a hit–and–run.

The crash happened near N.W. 48th Street and I-80 just after 7:30 p.m. Deputies said the driver who hit him did not stop. They said Wilken was dragged nearly two miles. His body was located near N.W. 27th and W. O Streets where he was pronounced dead.

“It was like wow,” Gates said. “I can’t believe that young to be doing what he loved so much. The way he left the earth, it wasn’t right.”

Wilken worked at Frontier Harley Davidson in the parts department for nearly 20 years. His coworkers said he was fun to be around and well-known in the biker community.

Customers like Jason Yaegar said he was more than just a worker; he was a friend. He said Wilken’s son and father would stop by the shop all the time.

“Real family man, you know,” Yaegar said. “Unfortunately now because of what somebody did, he’s not gonna be able to go home to his family.”

That’s why his loved ones are hoping you’ll help. Deputies are still searching for the driver responsible. They’re looking for a white two–door 1980 to 1990 Ford or Chevy pick-up. The driver was last seen speeding away westbound from the scene.

“The person needs to turn themselves in or someone needs to come and bring him to justice,” Yaegar said.

If you have any information, please call the Sheriff’s Office at (402) 441–6500.