The owner of a motorcycle shop was a gifted mechanic, “just a good guy”
Body found after fire in Fort Pierce store
Police are investigating a body found Wednesday after a fire at a Georgia Avenue and South Third Street business.
Will Greenlee, Treasure Coast Newspapers
FORT PIERCE – Richard Benson was a talented and respected mechanic whose store – Fast Frank’s Cycle Concepts – was a hangout for bikers, friends said Thursday.
“If you needed a helping hand or a tool, Richard was there. He was the guy, ”said his longtime friend Dustin McRoberts. “And everyone I know right now, there are over several hundred people right in this area who are grieving right now.”
Friends said it was Benson, 57, who died after a fire on Wednesday at the South Third Street and Georgia Avenue business, just north of the Fort Pierce police station.
Police said they were reported around 9:05 a.m. for smoke coming from the building. In about 20 minutes, the blaze was extinguished, according to the St. Lucie County Fire District, and investigators reported finding a body.
Yellow police tape circled the scene on Wednesday and Thursday. The police there on both days refused to speak.
Police spokeswoman April Lee said by email on Thursday that an initial incident report was not available. She refused to answer questions.
McRoberts, 50, said he had known Benson since he was 17, shortly after Benson left the military.
“He had an IROC-Z and I had a Honda Magna (motorcycle),” McRoberts said. “He had a daughter who wanted to go on a date on a motorcycle, and I had a daughter who wanted to go on a date in a fast car, so we traded.”
Bud Smith, 68, said he had known Benson for about five years. He ended up hanging out in the store and helping answer the phones.
“He’s probably the best mechanic I’ve ever met in my life. And he was self-taught, ”Smith said. “If it was broken and he couldn’t fix it, it couldn’t be fixed. And it wasn’t just Harleys, it was anything from motorcycles to generators.
Smith said Benson was always busy, but never too busy for a friend.
“His reputation was honesty. He was just a good guy, ”Smith said. “He would help anyone. And I’m still in disbelief of what happened.
McRoberts said Benson taught him how to do wiring on motorcycles.
When McRoberts opened a store in 2013, he said he expected to work on Japanese and European motorcycles, but found himself working on Harley-Davidsons.
“I didn’t have the specialist tools so I called Richard and Richard was like, no problem, come on, come on and I’ll lend you what you need,” McRoberts said.
McRoberts said Benson, from Pennsylvania, was an avid cyclist, cycling 50 to 60 miles on weekend days. He also won the Drag Championship with a Kawasaki ZX-11 motorcycle.
Benson was more in the camaraderie of the biker community than necessarily always making money, McRoberts said.
“Richard would help you out or he would fix something before replacing a part,” McRoberts said.
Junior Pallin, 48, said Benson’s establishment was like a hometown cafe where people went to talk and hang out.
“People didn’t always go there to repair bikes,” he said.
McRoberts said that Wednesday night he was by to say his goodbyes.
“Knowing that Richard was on duty, I took a little American flag and put it in… his mailbox,” McRoberts said.
Will Greenlee is a last minute reporter for TCPalm. It also covers the weird, savage and bizarre crimes of the Treasure Coast in “Off The Beat”. Follow Will on Twitter @OffTheBeatTweet or contact him by phone at 772-692-8936. Email him at [email protected]
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