Local News

Man dies in motorcycle crash hours before ride for slain uncle

Posted October 22, 2012
Updated October 23, 2012

— The family of a retired Durham firefighter who was killed in his home in July is dealing with another tragedy.

Donald Kemp Watson, 74, was found dead on July 9 in what authorities have said is a homicide. The crime remains unsolved.

Watson's nephew, Rodney Watson, 41, of Hillsborough, was killed this weekend in a crash, hours before a fundraiser that he had planned in his uncle's honor.

Police said he was riding a motorcycle on N.C. Highway 55 in Durham shortly after midnight Sunday when he rear-ended a Jeep.

"It's more than I thought we could ever handle," Rodney Watson's sister, Melissa Stigall, said Monday, of her brother and uncle's deaths.

Family members say Rodney Watson was a big man with a big personality and a big heart.

"He was a fun-loving, full-of-life kind of guy," Stigall said.

His uncle, Wayne Watson, said his nephew had been moved to do something to honor his slain uncle and had arranged a motorcycle ride in his memory for Sunday.

"Donnie was sort of his second dad," Wayne Watson said. "He looked to Donnie as a father."

The memorial ride in Donnie Watson's honor still took place Sunday. Eighty riders participated, and they even changed the route so that they could pay tribute to Rodney Watson at the spot where he lost his life.

Rodney Watson's funeral will be Friday at 2 p.m. at Hudson Funeral Home, 211 S. Miami Blvd., Durham. The family will receive visitors at the funeral home from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday.


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  • sssh.. whisper Oct 23, 2012

    very sad what the family has had to deal with. They're in my prayers. But remember to NEVER drink & drive; it never ends up good

  • Runt over again Oct 23, 2012

    I love climbing on the back of a bike providing cushion for the other rider. People that say it is dangerous just don't have what it takes to get out on the highway looking for adventure and whatever comes my way.

  • shortcake53 Oct 23, 2012

    We ride motorcycles as well. But in the last few years it has become much more dangerous because of the heavy influx of traffic. Just to get to the outskirts to ride is a major hassle. It takes all the enjoyment out of the ride if your constantly worried about the distracted person beside you changing lanes without looking or being on a cell phone or doing lord knows what. Riding used to be the best way to enjoy Raleigh, now its just downright scary.

  • redwarrior Oct 23, 2012

    While I understand what you meant, my daughter was killed in a traffic crash at noon on a beautiful Friday... albeit, not a drunk but you can die at any moment, any time, any day...

  • chrisnrali Oct 23, 2012

    This mans death is sad but please please please if you care for you life or your ability to walk, breath under your own power or to live the rest of your natural life to see you loved ones grow old, stay off motorcycles on public roads. I love to ride motorcycles, I love it. But there are FAR too many bad drivers and simple accidents that if you were in a car you would have minor or no injury, but if you are on a bike, you will suffer severe, most likely life altering or ENDING injuries. These are the FACTS. I don't like it, but it's just the way it is and short of banning all cars/trucks from the same roadways as bikes, this will never change. RIP big guy.

  • tiredofwaste Oct 23, 2012

    Rest in Peace!! Very sorry for your losses Watson Family

  • DaveTonyNC Oct 23, 2012

    Mercy to all of you, May the Love of God and his Peace flow from this loss. Prayers, solace and peace to anyone connected to both men.

  • bettyboop40 Oct 23, 2012

    so sad, prayers to this family

  • writetanisha Oct 23, 2012

    R.I.P God bless the family.....stay strong!

  • aspenstreet1717 Oct 23, 2012

    I used to ride a bike. But never Saturday night. Much better to get up early Sunday and go for a ride. All the drunks and crazies are asleep by then.