Motorcyclist did 'the right thing' in final moments

SAINT JOHN • As he suffered a heart attack while riding over the Harbour Bridge, Michael Breau, an experienced motorcyclist who put safety first, was still thinking of others in the final moments of his life, according to his family.

Breau tried to take control of his bike – a Suzuki GSXR-1000 – and pull over on the bridge on Oct. 22 while he suffered a heart attack in order to avoid injuring anyone, said Shannon Fredericks, his former partner and mother to their son. She said passengers in the car behind his motorcycle saw him try to park his bike, but he fell and "slid into the median."

A Saint John Police Force press release said at the time of the accident that Breau had allegedly lost control of his motorcycle on the bridge, leading to a collision with a concrete barrier that resulted in his death.

The 48-year-old left behind Fredericks and their 19-year-old son Wiley Fredericks, his parents and a sister. He was predeceased by a brother.

Shannon Fredericks said the family was "all very pleased to know, as sad as we were, that (Breau) wasn't careless driving or being non-attentive. It was natural causes."

She said Breau always reassured his family that he would be safe and never crash his bike, and she tells her son now that "(his father) held true to his word, he tried to get off that bike and stop," without speeding or injuring anyone else.

Breau was mindful of safety while riding his street bikes, always checking tire pressures and doing oil changes to keep his machines up to date, she said. In fact, on their first date, they rode a street bike together and Breau ensured the helmet he borrowed for her was CSA approved.

Breau grew up thinking about people's safety as his father worked as a firefighter with the Saint John Fire Department, she added.

Breau himself worked several jobs throughout his lifetime. He was a reservist for the Canadian military for some time, as well as worked on the Alberta oil rigs and at the oil refinery along with "a lot of different jobs."

"He was a really hardworking guy, like he never found a long-term career, stayed at one particular place, like he went out west for a while, he moved around. But he always was known to be very hardworking and a good worker," Fredericks said.

"Any chance he got to try new things or change careers, in every aspect of Michael's life, any chance he got to learn and try new things, he always embraced it."

Fredericks met Breau in college. They dated for about 10 years and went on to become parents of son Wiley. The pair remained close friends for 30 years.

Breau was a family-oriented man, she said, and his death has been hard on his son and his parents.

She said she and Breau "worked really hard" towards their son's upbringing. After working for some time in Alberta, Breau moved back to the Maritimes to be more involved with his son and his parents, the latter of which were getting older, she said. He encouraged their son Wiley to play several different sports and they shared a close bond, she added.

In addition to riding his motorcycle, Breau had a four-wheeler, as well as had a love of cars and hunting. He enjoyed being around people.

"He accepted everybody for who and what they were, unconditionally," Fredericks added. "He was just a happy guy that liked to make people happy and enjoy life."

The day of the accident, Fredericks said she was on her way to drop some stuff off at Breau's apartment when she passed by fire trucks on the bridge. Upon arriving at the apartment, she said her son, who had stayed the night to watch movies together and hang out with his father, told her that Breau had gone over to Canadian Tire and was headed back to go for dinner.

Instead, Fredericks said, her phone rang repeatedly as Breau's parents called with the news and they went to the hospital to say their final goodbyes.

Fredericks said Breau's mother was told, when she went to collect the bike and personal belongings, that her son could have injured a lot of people if he had been speeding or reckless on his motorcycle at the time of the crash. Fredericks said Breau's final actions of being thoughtful have comforted the family and also made them proud.

"It's nice to hear your son, they leave your sight at, even at 48, it's nice to hear your son wasn't lying to you," she added.

"I would want to hear that about Wiley at 14, 48, you know, like he cared and tried to be responsible and do the right thing."

Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal