Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Nov. 23—The Athens man killed when his 2019 Harley-Davidson was struck on U.S. 31 by a motorist authorities say was driving under the influence of alcohol was remembered Monday for his exuberance for life, military service and passion for motorcycles.

Troopers said James Ben Crowley, 53, was traveling northbound on U.S. 31 in front of Calhoun Community College about 7 p.m. Saturday when the crash occurred. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“He just loved people. He would always give us hugs,” said Joan Green, office manager for Natchez Trace Harley-Davidson in Tuscumbia where Crowley was a technician. “If he knew you were going through a bad day, he would take out of his time to show his feelings for you.”

The crash occurred when a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta driven by Amanda Leann Asuncion, 37, of Meridianville “turned southbound in a northbound (lane), striking Crowley head-on,” according to a news release from troopers and an affidavit filed in Limestone County District Court by Trooper Brandon Colburn. Asuncion, who was not injured in the crash, was arrested at the scene and later charged with DUI and manslaughter.

She was released from Limestone County Jail on Sunday after posting $102,500 bail. District Judge Matthew Huggins on Monday set a hearing for Nov. 30 on a motion filed by Asuncion to leave the state Dec. 2-7 to attend a wedding in California while out on bail.

Crowley’s co-workers were still dealing with the shock of his death Monday. The crash Saturday occurred while he was on his way home from work.

“He was the best,” Green said. “He was very safety conscious and wanted everybody to be safe. If you came in and you just needed an oil change but your tire looked like it was about to pop because it was so thin, he’d tell you that you need a new tire.”

Green said Crowley was hired by the company in August 2016 as a technician, an occupation he had worked at previously for other Harley-Davidson dealerships.

“Motorcycles were his life. They were his passion,” she said. “He constantly studied them and wanted to learn everything he could about them.”

No matter the circumstance, she said, Crowley put customers first.

“The technicians don’t talk to the customers a whole lot, but if he felt like he needed to speak with a customer who maybe didn’t listen to the service writer about something, then he would speak with them,” Green said. “He would come out from the back and show them exactly what was wrong with their bike.”

Crowley, known as Scooter by his family, friends, and co-workers, also loved to fish on the Tennessee River and attend wrestling matches with his wife, Starr, at the Brass Monkey bar in Florence.

Jim Bob Kern, another technician at Natchez Trace Harley-Davidson, said he and Crowley fished off the bank at Wheeler Dam on their days off.

“Me and him used to always take off and go fishing,” Kern said. “That was our best thing, when we got away from motorcycles for a while, we went fishing and we did a lot of fishing.”

Kern said that Crowley had bought the motorcycle that was involved in the crash just days earlier, on Nov. 15.

“He had a 1999 Heritage Softail Fatboy and he had put almost 100,000 miles on it,” Kern said. “He just wanted something more comfortable for him and his wife to go riding on so he bought a 2019 Harley-Davidson Road Glide, which was one of the bikes we had here. He and Starr (his wife) were planning on getting out and traveling more this summer.”

Kern said Crowley also had served his country.

“I know he served in the Navy back during Desert Storm,” Kern said. “He was a good family man, a good father and grandfather. I know he has one son that lives in Minnesota, which is where (Crowley) is originally from.”

When Kern and his coworkers finished their shifts at 6 p.m. on Saturday, he remembered telling Crowley to be careful driving home and said he was the only one to drive his bike to work that day.

“It was pretty cold that day. I remember Scooter put heated grips on his bike that afternoon,” Kern said. “The location where he wrecked was pretty close to his home.”

Will Fretwell, salesperson at Natchez Trace Harley-Davidson and owner of Brass Monkey Wrestling, said Crowley was one of the biggest fans to show up at the wrestling events every weekend.

“He and his wife Starr actually spent their 27th wedding anniversary here just a few months ago,” Fretwell said. “We actually brought them into the ring and celebrated their anniversary.”

Fretwell laughed as he remembered Crowley getting animated while watching the matches.

“Oh Lord, Scooter and his facial expressions,” Fretwell said. “Someone would take a big bump in the ring, you could watch him cringe or jump. If someone gave their opponent a big chop, he’d be holding his chest. It was great.”

Fretwell remembered Crowley’s last day at work as joyful and positive.

“All day long he was laughing and cutting up,” Fretwell said. “I remember the last time I saw him, he was getting on his bike to leave and I looked at him and said, ‘Hey, be careful,’ and he said, ‘I always am.'”

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