Family mourns couple killed in motorcycle accident

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 22, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — Family mattered to Mark and Suzette Jones, relatives said.
Whether the Jones family was sitting down to dinner — something that could have been planned as early as breakfast that day — or board games together, the Joneses wanted everyone to feel welcome.
It’s a feeling that’s lasted even after their death.
Mark, 47, and Suzette, 48, were killed Sunday night, authorities said, when a drunk driver swerved off the road and crossed into their lane, hitting their Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
They were pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver, Khalil Farook, a convicted murderer, fled from the scene, investigators said, but turned himself in two days later.
He was arrested on several charges, including two counts of felony death by vehicle, and was jailed on an $800,000 bond.
Family members said they aren’t focusing on Farook.
The justice system, they said, will handle itself.
“We have two lives that are very valuable that the family is concentrating on,” Garrison Jones, Mark’s oldest son, said Friday. “We were not worried a single bit about that guy, because he wasn’t worth worrying about to us.
“We’re concentrating on honoring the two people that we love.”
Good sports
Garrison and Daniel Jones, Mark’s sons, and Brittney Smith, Suzette’s daughter, spoke with a Post reporter about their parents at a Salisbury home Friday morning.
On a table in the center of the living room was a partially finished Monopoly game.
Without 15-year-old Daniel cheating to win and Mark catching him, Brittney Smith said, it was one of the most “civilized” games of Monopoly they’ve ever played.
Mark and Suzette enjoyed playing cards or board games with their kids.
Disc Golf, a frisbee game, was also a popular choice in the family.
The Joneses loved to compete — even though Suzette’s frisbee throws were sometimes comically bad — but no one ever got angry.
Garrison said Mark, a big fan of East Rowan athletics, helped coach most of their sports’ teams as they grew up.
Mark always taught them the importance of respecting the game, Garrison said.
Legacy of love
The Joneses celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary at Biker Week in Myrtle Beach on May 20.
Between them, they had five children, and Garrison said they were “second parents” to probably a half dozen of their friends growing up.
When Brittney left for Germany, where she is stationed in the Army, her friends from Rowan County continued to come over to see her parents, she said.
The 19-year-old was on a plane within an hour of hearing the painful news. She arrived the following day.
Mark and Suzette left a legacy of love and support, their children said.
That support now comes from the community.
“It’s been overwhelming at some points. It’s been wonderful,” Garrison said. “I can’t think of a time after the accident where we’ve had an empty house.”
Family, service, cycle
Mark and Suzette Jones typically took the motorcycle out on Sunday nights.
Sometimes it was just to cruise. Other times they visited family members.
They frequently rode from their home in Granite Quarry to Tamarac Marina for lunch, relatives said.
Garrison joked that the family loved to eat. It was widely known that dinner was one of the most important times of the day, he said.
“We would seriously wake up for breakfast, look in the refrigerator and wonder what we were going to eat for dinner that day,” he said, smiling.
Mark and Suzette purchased the Harley-Davidson about two years ago.
Mark, a National Guard veteran, was a member of the Patriot Guard, a national organization of motorcycle riders who attend funerals of U.S. military veterans.
The couple completed several notable biker accomplishments since getting the Harley. In August, they rode to Sturgis, S.D., for one of the largest biker gatherings in the United States.
But when they weren’t on the bike, they wanted to be around family.
Brittney said sometimes they would “ground” her for no reason.
It wasn’t the traditional punishment.
“They’d be like, “You’re in trouble. You can’t go out this weekend,” Brittney said.
“Why?” she would ask.
“Because we want to see you.”
‘Never be alone’
One of the most difficult times since the crash, Garrison Jones said, was picking pallbearers for his father.
Mark was “everybody’s best friend,” he said.
“I wish we could have 20 pallbearers for each,” Garrison said. “That would make things a lot easier.”
A visitation will be held for the Joneses Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Powles Funeral Home.
The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Monday at Faith Baptist Church, followed by burial at the National Cemetery on Statesville Boulevard.
Mark and Suzette always wanted to make those around them feel like family, Garrison said.
Since Sunday night, the community has taken a page out of their book.
“Because of how outgoing they were toward their family and how outgoing they were toward their friends — yes, we don’t have a father now, and she doesn’t have a mother and father now — we have people that love us just the same and love us as if we were their own,” Garrison said.
“They left us in a situation where no matter what happens, we’ll never be alone.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.