Patrick Roach

Patrick Roach holds a photo of his late brother, James, who passed away on Feb. 24 in a fatal motorcycle accident on Gavilan Peak Parkway in Anthem.

Patrick Roach was talking to his older brother, James, in the moments before he left the house to pick up a few things from the grocery store. The two brothers planned to ride their motorcycles up to Prescott when James returned. 

Patrick, 49, said he heard the soft hum of his brother’s motorcycle as he rode off into the distance. 

“And that was the last time I saw him,” Patrick said. 

James lost control of his black 2007 Harley Davidson Road King motorcycle as he was heading northeast on Gavilan Peak Parkway approaching the intersection with Hidden Mountain Lane, according to Sgt. Monica Bretado, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office public information officer. 

“Just prior to entering the intersection and for unknown reasons, James lost control of the motorcycle causing the motorcycle to ‘lay down’ and James to be thrown from the motorcycle,” she wrote in an emailed statement. 

The crash took place at approximately 11:51 a.m. February 24, she stated. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.

A witness stopped at the scene and performed CPR on James until the Daisy Mountain Fire Department arrived and “took over life-saving measures,” she wrote.  

James was pronounced deceased on the scene at 12:13 p.m., Bretado’s statement said. He was 52 years old.

“There was no evidence found on scene to suggest James collided with any other vehicles. Based on witness statements, it is believed there were no other vehicles which caused James to crash, such as pulling out or turning in front of James,” it states.

The investigation is ongoing. 

Patrick said he believes someone may have cut off James in the intersection. Anyone with information is asked to call 480-WITNESS.

Patrick recalled the events leading up to finding out about his brother’s death. He said he became worried that the grocery store trip was taking so long. “My brother would have called me.”

Around two hours after James left, Patrick received a text message from his stepdaughter, Allie Johnston, asking if he was home, he said. Patrick responded “no,” and received another text from her asking if he was riding his motorcycle. 

“I knew right then,” he said. 

Patrick called her immediately, and she told him they just covered a body on the road and people were posting photos of the scene online. 

Patrick said he didn’t appreciate the fact that his family found out about James’ death from these online posts. 

He got in the car and headed to the scene with his stepdaughter still on the phone. 

Patrick said it was extremely upsetting that his brother’s body remained on the hot road for hours until the medical examiners showed up. 

He was also angered by the fact that many driving by looped around to get a closer look at the carnage of the accident. 

“He was my blood brother,” Patrick said. “It really hasn’t truly hit me yet.’

James was big, tall and covered with tattoos. Riding motorcycles was his identity. 

Many people referred to James by his last name, “Roach.” However, Patrick, his fiancée and James’ loved ones called him “Jimmy.” 

Patrick’s stepdaughter called James “a big teddy bear.”

 James was living with Patrick and his girlfriend at the time in their Anthem home after moving from Northern California last year.

James was previously staying with one of his motorcycle brothers North of Sacramento until they were displaced by wildfires, Patrick said. The two were placed in a hotel for three and a half weeks when Patrick and his brother decided it was time for James to move into his Anthem home.

James was suffering from end-stage liver disease and wanted to move in with Patrick to be closer to family, he said. Patrick also took care of his mother and father when they suffered from liver problems as well, he added. 

The family is still adjusting to his absence, Patrick said. 

Patrick’s fiancée, Jean Johnston, still finds herself walking down the hallway to ask if James wants anything from the store. He said when this happened recently “she got teary eyed, but a happy teary, because she was thinking positive about him.”

But his bedroom is “just a void now,” he said softly.

He leaves behind his friends all over the country who are grieving the loss of their motorcycle brother, Patrick said.

“People will remember my brother as being probably the realest person you could ever talk to,” he said. “If he told you he will do something for you, you could put it in your pocket like cash. That’s how real he was. 

“That’s how we were raised.”

James and his brother were extremely close, and the two grew up sharing a bedroom until Patrick was 15 years old, he said. Their family grew up all over the United States as his father was in the Navy and served in Vietnam as well as Korea.

James was an active part of the family, Patrick said. James captured a video of “me getting down on one knee and proposing to my lady.”

“He was recording that special moment, so that’s a big deal to us.”

James loved his family and would do anything to protect them. He stood up for people and would take people under his wing, Patrick said. 

“I loved him to death — literally,” he said. “He had a big heart, but he was one tough S.O.B.”

—Staff writer Sarah Donahue can be reached at sdonahue@timespublications.com