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Harley washes up on BC coast


Natalie Thomas, reporter
May 8, 2012 — On March 11, 2011, a Japanese man lost his treasured Harley in the devastating tsunami that killed thousands of people. This weekend, it washed up on a BC island. Natalie Thomas has the story.


The Harley was in need of some serious repair after a 7,000 km trip across the ocean
The Harley was in need of some serious repair after a 7,000 km trip across the ocean

A Japanese man is set to get his favourite Harley restored and returned --- more than a year after it was swept out to sea in the deadly earthquake and tsunami that claimed three family members.The 2004 Harley Davidson washed up on BC's Haida Gwaii Islands this weekend.

It's another item in a long list of debris washing up on the BC coast from last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Motorcycle enthusiast Ralph Tieleman was the man to find the bike on the beach.

"I just couldn't, couldn't leave that bike laying there on the beach," he said. "It just didn't seem to be an option." 

Ralph brought the bike to a Harley dealer in Victoria, with the hopes of somehow returning it to its owner. 

"Ralph had shown me quite a few photos of it, you know," explains Steve Drane who owns the Harley shop in Victoria. "But, seeing it in real life, it's obvious it's had a long time at sea here." "It's been floating around for a year and did a 7,000 km trip over to here," he continues. "So the least we can do is return it to him."

The Harley's owner lost almost everything in the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami
The Harley's owner lost almost everything in the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami

The owner of the bike, Ikuo Yokoyama of Yamamoto, lost three family members in the March 2011 tsunami.

"Considering what the individual's been through, from what I heard losing his family members, home, all his belongings and stuff, I thought, you know, in my own humble way it's probably the least that we could do, is try to restructure his bike and get it back to him," Ralph says.

Though the front wheel spokes have pretty much disintegrated, the handlebar streamers, etched Harley-Davidson logo, and licensing information written in Japanese remain visible.

Steve's dealership is going to pack up the bike and ship it overseas, where Harley-Davidson Japan will then take over, fix it up at no charge and return it to its owner.

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