Erin Shaffer became a 28-year-old widow on Feb. 21 when her husband, Jeff, collided with a pickup truck at the perilous intersection of MLK Jr. Boulevard and Commanche Street.

Jeff Shaffer liked to rev his motorcycle engine as he pulled into the driveway in front of his Mary Esther home.

That was his way of letting his young family know he had arrived.

“We would all be minding our business, but the minute we heard that motorcycle, we knew daddy’s home,” said Erin Shaffer.

Erin became a 28-year-old widow on Feb. 21 when Jeff, driving the motorcycle he was so fond of, collided with a pickup truck at the perilous intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Commanche Street. Shaffer, 33, also left behind four children, ranging in age from 11 to 1.

He is one of 10 people killed in Okaloosa County this year in motor vehicle accidents. The county has averaged 26 deaths a year since 2012.

Erin knew the intersection of Commanche Street and MLK Jr. Boulevard was a dangerous one, having seen wrecks there often. And she didn't think too much about the one she came upon that fateful February morning, until she saw her husband's motorcycle lying shattered in the road.

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“I was literally 10 feet from that motorcycle, and I went into something like shock. People were honking at me, telling me to go, but all I could do was focus on that bike, it was just a mess,” she said.

Erin said she tried to tell herself the motorcycle wasn’t Jeff’s, but somewhere inside she knew the truth. “I started to beg God, ‘please don’t take my husband,’ ” she said.

Later that morning, a state trooper met with Erin and other family members to confirm that Jeff had died. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 70-year-old Johannes Korver of Fort Walton Beach was driving a 2006 Dodge Ram pickup truck when he turned left from Commanche into the path of Shaffer's 2007 Honda that was eastbound in the outside lane of MLK Jr. Boulevard.

“I was told it was really quick. He didn’t suffer. That brought some peace,” she said.

Erin recalls Jeff as a good, hard-working man. She and their children miss having him to turn to. She struggles without his advice, support and love, and credits him with making her a better person.

“He would do anything and everything for anybody,” Erin said. “He was such an incredible man.”

A green, wooden cross, topped by Jeff’s motorcycle helmet, stands vigil these days at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Commanche Street. Friends have etched notes on the wood of the cross to let their friend know he’ll be missed.

Erin said she makes it a point every now and again to drive by the scary intersection, where one day soon, in part because of Jeff’s death, a traffic light is to be erected.

 "I don’t know why it’s so comforting. I just have to drive by there. It’s comforting in a sense,” she said.

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