On July 11, 2017 Jeff Pierce dropped his son off at cross country practice and went for a bike ride. As he rode on his normal route, he was struck by a distracted driver who was speeding and talking on her cell phone. Jeff died at the scene.
Jeff was an avid cyclist and passionate outdoorsman. An adventurous soul, he enjoyed hiking, camping, and going to the beach to collect shark teeth. However, Jeff’s most fervent love was being a father to his two children, Chandler and Alex, which he did most of his favorite activities with. Two years after Jeff’s death, Chandler decided to bike a 75 mile marathon in honor of his father. Jeff’s wife, Renee said, “They both very much have their daddy’s heart, and I feel very lucky that I still have that.”
As a fifth grade teacher at Inman Intermediate School, Jeff loved being able to make a difference in the lives of young people. Renee said, “He just had a strong passion for them to be successful.” Jeff was a strong Christian, and Renee recalls him taking the initiative to mentor a young boy in their church community who was in need of a father figure. “That was just his personality, if someone needed something he didn’t hesitate to stop, he didn’t care what it was,” she said.
Since Jeff’s passing, Renee has taken up the fight against distracted driving. She shared her husband’s story on the South Carolina Senate floor in hopes to pass a Hands-Free law. Sadly, the bill did not get passed, but Renee will not let her activism stop there.
Renee plans to advocate to children because as an educator herself, she feels that the next generation must go on to the roads understanding the responsibilities they have behind the wheel. “When you look at your phone for five seconds, you can travel the length of a football field. When you’re driving distracted, you’re making a choice about someone else’s life that could take them away forever. My oldest son graduated from Clemson, started Vet school, got engaged and will be married in December. I started a new job, and my youngest son graduated high school. I can not share any of these things with Jeff. All of these were missed due to someone who chose to not pay attention while driving.”