TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A memorial in honor of a young boy who died while riding his bike was stolen days after it was put on display.It’s been 40 years since a young Topeka boy named Bobby Taylor Jr. died after crashing his bike into a semi. The memorial is located near the intersection of 15th Street and Adams Street. Bobby Taylor Jr. died in 1977 and the bike on display is similar to what Bobby used to ride around town on.
Taylor’s closest friend, Shawn Woods is the person who created the memorial. The bike was put in place on November 9th, then over the weekend it was stolen. Woods said the bike ended up at Herman’s Excavating Inc., on November 11th, where the thief was trying to sell the bike for scraps. Workers noticed Woods’ contact information on it and bought the buy the bike, so no additional damage would be done.
Woods said he and Taylor’s friendship began when they were about seven years old. Woods said he would always wait at a gas station at 15th and Adams for Taylor to come down the hill on Adams Street on his bike. But on September 8th, 1977, Woods never got to say a proper goodbye to his friend. He said he saw Taylor coming down the hill and crashed into a semi-truck turning on 15th Street. Taylor unfortunately died at the scene leaving behind his best friend and his family.
“I feel like I haven’t done enough,” Woods said. “I feel like even after I’m gone, I hope there will be someone that will take my place and look after him. He died way too young. He never got to hear rap music. He never got to meet a girl…”
Woods said he’s channeled his emotions by working in cemeteries for 30 years now. He said he got into the business so he can take care of other families’ loved ones like he takes care of Taylor at Mount Auburn Cemetery, but his memory of Taylor will stay with him forever.
“I never got to meet the kids that he could have had,” Woods said. “I’ve got two girls and grandchildren and he never got to meet them. He’s just a big part of me. I’ll never let him go.”
Woods said he decided to make a ghost bike after seeing one on the Landon Trail in Topeka.