Local community members are reeling from the deaths of four local men in a vehicular accident in South Dakota.
“It just T-boned them. It was just a terrible, terrible accident,” said Jack Brown, recorder for the Detroit-area Moslem Shriners in Southfield. “Three guys from the Moslem Shrine that we lost, they were just great guys.”
The South Dakota Highway Patrol reported that five Michigan men were heading east on Highway 20 near Mellette, S.D., just after 5:40 a.m. Nov. 7 in a Ford Excursion driven by 71-year-old Wesley Frasard of St. Clair Shores. Frasard failed to stop at an intersection with U.S. Highway 281, and the vehicle was hit by a southbound semi-truck.
Frasard was killed in the crash, as were St. Clair Shores residents Ledger John Frasard Jr., 68, and William Edward Petrocy, 77, along with 69-year-old Nikolaos Andreopoulos of New Baltimore.
The fourth passenger, 52-year-old Thomas Thorngate of St. Clair Shores, sustained life-threatening injures and was hospitalized in Aberdeen, S.D.
The 50-year-old North Dakota driver of the truck, Doug Carnahan, received minor injuries.
Brown said Petrocy, Andreopoulos and Thorngate were all Shriners, and Wesley Frasard had just joined the organization.
The invocation of new members was scheduled for Nov. 3, but Frasard was sworn in during a separate ceremony so he could attend the pheasant-hunting trip, Brown said.
“Bill Petrocy … he was potentate [president of the organization] back in 1988,” Brown said. “I can’t say enough good things about Bill — very effusive Shriner, very happy-go-lucky, very positive.
“Such a great guy. He’s the one who put together this trip. They were having a fantastic time, from the pictures we’ve seen of them before the (accident).”
Petrocy was the owner of Nick’s Jewelry on Greater Mack Avenue. Andreopoulos owned Nick’s 22nd Street Steakhouse in Shelby Township and Catch 22 restaurant in Algonac.
Brown said the E.J. Mandziuk & Son Funeral Home in Sterling Heights was packed Nov. 12 with those who knew Andreopoulos.
“You could not move,” Brown said. “It’s just a testament to how well-liked and respected he was.”
Services for the other three men occurred the same week.
Brown said Thorngate has suffered extensive injuries from the crash and is still hospitalized in serious condition. The Shriners have set up a fund for his support through Fifth-Third Bank, under the “Tommy Thorngate Fund.” Anyone can donate through a local branch of the bank.
“His injures are extensive. He was thrown from the vehicle, and that’s probably why he lived,” Brown said.
He said the Moslem Shriners are working to plan more fundraisers for the families of the other men killed in the crash, as well.
For more information, visit www.DetroitShriners.com.