Friends, family mourning loss of couple killed in West Ashley motorcycle crash

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WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCBD) – Friends and family are mourning the loss of a couple who was killed in a crash while on their motorcycle in West Ashley. Police said the incident happened on Magwood Drive just before 6:30 on Sunday, one day after Christmas.

According to the Charleston County Coroner, the victims were identified as 50-year-old Chad Belue of Johns Island, and 49-year-old Lea Cook of Walterboro.

A longtime friend of the couple, Mike Thurston, said they had been in a relationship together for years. He said they were passionate about riding motorcycles together and died doing something they loved.

“Chad was a fellow biker and guitar player,” said Thurston. “Both of them were the life of the party. They were really good people.”

Another friend tells News 2, Belue and Cook were the loving parents of a blended family. She said Cook was a dedicated mother and caretaker of her son who suffers from health issues, while Belue took on sole custody of his two youngest children.

The friend said Cook was a healthcare worker at MUSC, who was on the frontlines throughout the entirety of the pandemic. Belue dedicated many years of his life working in law enforcement, the friend told News 2.

Thurston said he planned to ride his motorcycle Monday evening in honor of his two friends, who he said will be missed greatly.

According to the Charleston Police Department, a Nissan Sentra traveling South on Magwood crossed the center line, hitting the couple head-on.

Police said the vehicle also hit another motorcycle, injuring the driver. According to police, the woman driving the Nissan was critically injured. So far, no charges have been filed.

Felix Nicolini is the coordinator for Lowcountry ABATE, a non-profit dedicated to protecting the rights of motorcyclists. He is also an advocate for motorcycle safety.

He said drivers should check their blind spots for motorcycles since they are smaller and can sometimes go unseen.  He also said to use caution when turning onto a busy road and make sure you know who is coming from the left or right.

He said distracted driving and failure to yield the right-of-way pose big threats to motorcyclists.

Nicolini said the biker community is tight-knit and they take losses like this hard.

“It’s always sad when you see somebody die, especially if it’s due to an accident that could’ve been prevented,” said Nicolini.

Police ask anyone with information on the crash to contact their Traffic Division at 843-965-4084.

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