89.1 WEMU

Michigan State House Remembers Late Representative Peter Pettalia

Sep 14, 2016

Black ribbon and a spray of flowers cover the desk of the late state Representative Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle), who died Monday evening in a motorcycle accident on his way to the legislative session in Lansing.
Credit Rick Pluta / MPRN

There are now two desks on the floor of the state House draped with black ribbon and bedecked with flowers. 

Lawmakers returned to the state Capitol Tuesday to the news that state Representative Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) was killed Monday evening in a motorcycle crash.  The desk of state Representative Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights) also remains vacant after she died this summer from a heart attack.   House Speaker Kevin Cotter said Pettalia would be missed by many.


“Representative Pettalia was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, colleague, and friend.” 

State Representative Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) remembered Pettalia’s warmth and sense of humor as he delivered a prayer and eulogy at the opening of the day’s House session.


“I think about how he loved to be in everybody’s business.  He went around and got to know us all because he was so nosy.  And, if he were here, he probably would have asked to read the prayer about him first.” 

Pettalia was killed Monday evening in a motorcycle crash on M-33 in northern Michigan’s Montmorency County.  Pettalia sponsored a bill that helped to lead to the repeal of Michigan’s mandatory helmet law, but the Michigan State Police say he was wearing a helmet when he was killed. 

The House’s business for the day was largely scrubbed, and plans for roll call votes were canceled as staff, friends, and colleagues mourned.   House Speaker Kevin Cotter said this of Pettalia.


“We are a tight-knit group of colleagues who often feel like a legislative family, and no one made you feel more like part of his family than Representative Peter Pettalia.” 

Pettalia chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  He was in his third and final term serving in the state House.  Before serving in the House, he was a local elected official, small business owner, and volunteer fireman.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org