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Motorcyclist killed in hit-and-run crash was ‘big teddy bear’

About five years ago, Morgan “Big Show” Arvizo got word that one of his friends had never had a birthday party. So he decided to change that.

In two hours, Arvizo gathered his friend’s loved ones at his then-Las Vegas home for a surprise celebration, and even transported the cake on his motorcycle.

“They were blown away,” Tawnya Rosenthal said on Monday, two days after Arvizo, her close friend and former roommate, was killed by a suspected impaired hit-and-run motorist in the central valley.

The 35-year-old was remembered as a “3 a.m. friend,” who would drop everything to tend to those in his large group of friends.

At the time of his death Saturday, the Ely resident who visited Las Vegas every weekend was on his way to a memorial ride to honor a late friend, Rosenthal said.

Arvizo was riding his Harley-Davidson FXSTB on Rancho Drive at about 7:15 p.m. when a Dodge Ram turning onto Turquoise Lane crossed into his path, police said.

The driver of the Dodge, Armando Alcantara-Pichardo, fled on foot before he was arrested in the area, according to police. An arrest report alleges that the 38-year-old suspect smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot and watery eyes, and an “unsteady gait.”

He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on one count each of DUI, duty to stop at the scene of a crash, and a misdemeanor violation, according to jail records.

A judge on Monday set bail for Alcantara-Pichardo at $100,000, according to court records. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

‘A Teddy bear’

“Morgan was the friend you knew you could count on no matter the time of day or what you needed,” his oldest sister, Julie Arvizo, wrote in a prepared statement. “If he had $10, and you had zero, he would give you the $10 and tell you he was good, even if that meant he would go without.”

Arvizo is survived by his grandparents, parents, two sisters and a nephew.

“With this tragedy we ask that on behalf of our family, everyone stops to think before drinking and driving, and if you are making a left hand turn please stop and look so that you do not have to endure what our family is going through,” the statement continued. “His absence is going to be missed by so many.”

Rosenthal met Arvizo a decade ago during a motorcycle ride with a group of riders who randomly decided they wanted to try a meal hundreds of miles away.

Rosenthal, a single mother, and Arvizo, a California native, quickly became close friends, she said.

“He loved to cook and he loved to eat,” Rosenthal said.

Tall and bulky, Arvizo let out an “intimidating” aura that made his loved ones feel safe, but “when you got to know him, he was a big teddy bear,” his friend said.

Eventually, he moved to rural Nevada, but would visit Las Vegas on his days off work, and his dedication to the local motorcycle community did not waver.

When her significant other passed away, Rosenthal said, Arvizo stayed at her home “to make sure I wasn’t alone.”

‘American Dream’

Arvizo was an up-and-coming artist, working to start a marketing and art business, Rosenthal said. He dreamed of “settling down” and having children, she added, describing it as his “American dream.”

When Rosenthal started the “Rider SOS Accident Fund,” a nonprofit that raises funds for injured motorcyclists or family members of fallen riders, Arvizo was one of her biggest helpers, who assisted in developing the program.

In under three years, the nonprofit had raised funds for about 150 riders, Rosenthal said.

Arvizo had lost multiple friends to fatal crashes and, “every time” he heard of another death, she said, “it hit him very, very hard and very personally.”

By Monday evening, donors had raised nearly $7,000 of an $8,000 goal on Arvizo’s memorial page.

Asked what she wants motorist to know about motorcyclists, Rosenthal said: “Just look twice, listen, look again.”

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.

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