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Friends gather to mark Spokane grandmother’s loss

Thu., June 11, 2009

Drunken driver killed man, 29, three years ago

The stainless steel cross bearing a photo of 29-year-old Robb Long, placed where Sprague Avenue crosses under Interstate 90, no longer stands.

In its place the state Department of Transportation erected a “Don’t Drink and Drive” sign in memory of Long, the Costco pharmacy technician killed by a drunken driver while driving home from work on his moped in 2006.

While the original memorial shrine is gone, memory of Long lives in those who remember him as the “guy who would give you the shirt off his back,” as one friend, Jason Schumacher, said.

More than a dozen people gathered Tuesday for a candlelight vigil, marking the third anniversary of Long’s death. Employees from nearby Costco warehouse, neighbors and friends huddled against the wind on the sidewalk under the freeway.

“Really there isn’t a day goes by that we don’t think about him,” Schumacher said. “He had a great sense of humor and infectious laugh.”

Members of the Minions Scooter Club came in support of all those who choose to use two-wheeled transit. Long had purchased his scooter as a cheap commuting alternative just before he was killed.

But mostly, friends gathered in support of Elise Long, Long’s grandmother and the woman who helped bring his killer to justice.

Christopher J. Lynch was sentenced in February to 34 months at a minimum-security facility in Airway Heights for killing Long. Long died of massive head and chest injuries after Lynch smashed into him after running a red light on East Sprague. Lynch drove away from the scene and remained at large for months. He later admitted to drinking “a gallon of beer.”

Elsie Long never gave up her pursuit of Lynch, through the media and other outlets. Eventually a tipster spotted Lynch’s silver Dodge Intrepid in Mica, Wash., and he was arrested.

Elsie Long calls the death of her only grandson “senseless tragedy.”

“I will never understand, why him?” Long said. “He still had so much life left to live.”

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