By Jim Finkelstein
Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, was killed in a motorcycle accident Monday evening, according to legislative leaders.
A Presque Isle resident since 1977, Pettalia is survived by his wife, Karen, and two grown children.
Pettalia, a third-term member of the House, was chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
According to the Michigan Information and Research Service, the Montmorency County Sheriff's Office and the Michigan State Police were working the accident scene.
According to a MIRS biography, Pettalia was elected in November 2010 to his first term in the Michigan House. He previously served as Presque Isle Township supervisor for 16 years and as a volunteer firefighter for East Grand Lake Fire Department for 15 years.
He was vice-chairman for the State Park Advisory Board for Negwegon, Rockport and Thompson Harbor State Parks. He was one of the founding members of the Presque Isle County Economic Development Commission and the Community Development Commission.
He and a partner operated an auto repair business for 33 years. He also operated a seasonal cabin rental business on Grand Lake, in Northeast Michigan.
Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement: "Sue and I were heartbroken to hear of the death of Representative Pettalia and send condolences on behalf of the entire state to his family, colleagues and friends. Peter's wife, Karen, their children and grandchildren are in our thoughts and prayers especially as they deal with this tragedy.
"Peter had a long career committed to helping the people he represented and served, whether as a volunteer firefighter, a township supervisor, or a state representative. He will be missed by many people here in Lansing as well as in his long-time home of Presque Isle and throughout his district."
Michigan Republican Chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel released a statement late Monday: "Representative Pettalia was a tremendous public servant during his far too short time in the Michigan House. He was a tireless advocate for the people of his district and their interests in Lansing. His commitment to his constituents cannot be overstated. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones during this difficult time."
House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, said in a statement: "We are all devastated to hear the news today about Rep. Pettalia. Pete was a dear friend and long-time colleague who was well-known for his expertise, his hard work, and his love for the great outdoors. His fellow Republican representatives elected him last year into a leadership position in our caucus, and everyone from both parties looked up to him as a senior member of the state House.
"Pete was also deeply involved in his local community. He was a township supervisor, a volunteer firefighter, and a fierce advocate for local parks and recreation. We will all remember his passion for Northern Michigan and the stories he would tell of family vacations and trips into the wilderness with friends and neighbors.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out today to Pete's wife, Karen, and their two children as they make sense of this terrible tragedy and remember a great man and a true friend of ours."
Snyder said he would order flags lowered in honor of Pettalia at the appropriate time.
The Free Press reported Sunday that Pettalia had reintroduced a bill vetoed by Snyder that would limit the use of aftermarket auto parts that aren't made by the original car maker. Pettalia agreed with Snyder's veto, saying the bill had gone beyond its original purpose to fix licensing and certification of mechanics.
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