CHATSWORTH ( — A grieving family is on a mission to make San Fernando Valley roads safer after a decorated Marine died in a motorcycle accident Saturday in Chatsworth.

Jesse Wilkes, 27, who served two tours in Afghanistan, was on his bike heading eastbound on Devonshire Street when a driver in a Honda Civic made a left-hand turn onto Winnetka Avenue and cut right in front of him.

“He misjudged how much time she had. He skidded and hit her. And died on impact,” said Wilkes’ mother, Kimber Lee.

Bill Cassetter, the victim’s stepfather, said, “What a good number of the riders are terrified of is that last minute left-hand turn in front of them and that’s exactly what happened to our son.”

In the midst of mourning, the family said they want to raise funds and lobby lawmakers to get left-hand turn arrows installed at dangerous intersections.

“It didn’t need to happen. And I don’t want to see it happen to anyone else,” said Kimber Lee. “That’s why we’re working so hard to make some changes.”

Wilkes recently graduated from Cal State Northridge.

He was a member of Silent Native, a motorcycle riding club made up of his military buddies.

“He took 120 percent out of life and everything he did,” said friend Cheyenne Thompson.

A vigil is planned Wednesday evening at the spot Wilkes died.


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