Message in a motorcycle: N.C. man to retrieve late brother's prized bike from Myrtle Beach man

Message in a motorcycle: N.C. man to retrieve late brother's prized bike from Myrtle Beach man

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – All it took was two wheels and a pair of handlebars to bring two men together; one in South Carolina, the other in North Carolina.

It may have been chance or it may have been fate that a certain Harley Davidson motorcycle ended up in Jim Montgomery's garage.

"If you think of the odds of all of the motorcycles - this one was actually from Florida, went to Ohio, back to Florida and ended up here in Myrtle Beach - there must have been a reason for that," Montgomery said.

He had only owned the bike for a few days when a stranger, through a photo and a note, offered to buy it.

The letter read, "This motorcycle belonged to my brother that passed away Dec. 6, 2015. I have tried to save it but have been unable to due to ongoing legal proceedings. This bike was his most prized possession. Please call me, and I will buy it from you."

It was like a message in a bottle to Montgomery and he answered the stranger's plea.

"You just can't not call. It's the right thing to do," Montgomery said.

The author behind the note, Jonathan Estry, lived 170 miles away in New Bern, North Carolina.

He said he was stunned to hear from the man that had ended up with his late brother's motorcycle.

"What do you say when something like that comes back out of the blue?" Estry said.

He had given up hope on ever finding the bike after leaving notes and photos inside the motorcycle's battery cover and under the seat.

"It [the motorcycle] felt like a piece of him that we weren't able to preserve," Estry said.

Daniel Carl Estry, Jonathan Estry's brother, was known to those close to him as DC. He was an Army veteran who loved the roar of a good motorcycle, a good meal from Olive Garden and his family.

They were the ones hurt most by his suicide.

"Losing him in such a manner, I experienced every negative emotion - anger, sorrow, just confusion," Estry said. "Having someone do that is the most terrible way to lose someone you love."

Karen Estry, DC's mother, was in Florida on the day her son died, while he was in Ohio. She said she knew right away he was gone.

"I knew in my spirit he was gone and my heart broke," Karen Estry said.

DC took his own life in the midst of a nasty divorce, leaving his family to fight for his most prized possession through the court system.

Karen Estry said she badly wanted to hold onto the bike after her son died. According to her, Harley Davidson gave her three options – surrender the bike; pay it off and the title would be issued to the registered owner and sent to the last known address; or do a rider-to-rider transfer.

"None of those three options insured I would receive the bike or be able to hang on to it," Karen Estry said. "So I surrendered the bike with tears in my eyes."

"I was afraid of letting it go, that it wouldn't come back, and I thought it wasn't going to," Jonathan Estry said. "It's one of those things you have to accept sometimes. But it's come back now, which is amazing."

The question remains as to what Jonathan Estry thinks his brother might say about his efforts to regain the beloved motorcycle.

"I'm sure he would be sorry he did it," he said. "I'm sure if he realized what it was going to do to my family, my sisters, myself, my mom … I don't think he was thinking straight and realized what it was going to do the rest of us."

For Jonathan Estry, the bike will be a reminder of the good times he had with his brother.

"It will be something, another memory of my brother, something I will have, probably never ride it - maybe once a year to keep it lubed up and running," he said. "I can preserve that piece of his life and I will keep it as long as I can."

For now, in Myrtle Beach, Montgomery is holding onto the motorcycle until Jonathan Estry has the money to buy it back.

"This way I know that he is going to get his motorcycle back," Montgomery said.

Until then, he will be riding the roads with the memory of Army Specialist DC Estry.

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