FINLEY -- It was tough for Steve Davis and his girlfriend Angie Freeman to pick up the broken pieces of their friend's motorcycle on the stretch of Highway 397 in Finley where Coby Hale was killed early Tuesday morning.
But it was something Davis felt he had to do.
"I'm going to have to drive by that road every day going to work," he said.
Davis had known Hale just over a year through their mutual work at Sandvik Special Metals, but in a short time, Hale had come to be a close friend and role model for Davis.
"He was cool. He made everything funny," Davis said. "He was generous. If you went out, he wouldn't let you pay for your own bill. He was the type of guy you'd want your daughter to meet."
Hale, 31, of Kennewick, was killed about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday after he missed a turn and hit a tree just off the highway between Lechelt and Piert roads, the Washington State Patrol said.
The state patrol listed the cause of the crash as speed. Hale was not intoxicated and was wearing a helmet, troopers said.
Davis said Hale was on his way home from work. He would have finished his shift at Sandvik just a few minutes earlier.
From the wreckage he recovered, Davis believes one of the tires on the 2000 Kawasaki that Hale had ridden for more than a decade blew out, sending the bike careening off the road.
He said Hale had just bought a new tire and planned to have it put on the motorcycle the day he was killed.
"He was going on a road trip today to go see a Mariners game," Davis said.
The trip was part of an extended birthday celebration Hale had planned for himself. He would have turned 32 on Friday.
Davis described Hale as generous and smart. Herald archives show Hale was an honor student at Kamiakin High School in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
He also was adventurous and loved the outdoors, Davis said. The two friends had spent time camping and rafting, and Hale was an avid huntsman who made sure others knew how to handle guns safely.
Hale dreamed of getting his pilot's license, and buying a house so he could find a nice woman and start a family, Davis said.
Hale had gone through a rough patch, especially after losing his mother and sister, Davis said.
When Davis first met Hale, he was living in his truck while he saved money for a new truck and a stable place to stay. He had achieved both of those, and was excited to be turning his life around, Davis said.
Davis and Hale's other friends in the Tri-Cities will miss the man they knew as a jokester, and as someone kind-hearted who would always help another human being.
"He was living in his truck because he helped everybody else," Davis said. "He was a very generous guy."
On Friday, Davis and Freeman plan to return to the spot where Hale died and plant a tree in honor of his birthday.
"He sure is going to be missed by my family," Davis said.
Richland man arrested on suspicion of car theft
A Richland man was arrested on suspicion of stealing a car early Monday.
Justin Rucker, 21, reportedly was spotted driving westbound on Highway 240 near Highway 225 in north Richland in a 1995 Honda Accord that had been stolen from the 2000 block of Lee Boulevard, police said.
Richland officers followed the car and pulled Rucker over at the Yakima barricade at 240 and Highway 24 just after 2 a.m.
He was booked into the Benton County jail on the theft charge as well as on suspicion of possessing a stolen car and car theft tools.
Brush fire at Hanford blackens a square mile
An estimated square mile in the southwest corner of the Hanford nuclear reservation burned Tuesday morning.
The Hanford Fire Department began fighting the brush fire about 4 a.m. and was mopping up by 8 a.m.
No buildings or radiological waste sites were involved. The cause of the fire is unknown.