Schemmel to honor 112 victims on ride
Jerry Schemmel’s solitary bike ride Thursday, down the Front Range from Littleton to the Air Force Academy and back again, will give him plenty of time to think. And there is a lot to think about.
The Rockies radio announcer plans to ride exactly 112 miles to honor the 28th anniversary of the crash of Flight 232 in Sioux City, Iowa — one mile for each victim. Schemmel was a passenger on a United DC-10 flying from Denver to Chicago on July 19, 1989, when the plane lost hydraulic power and a rear engine exploded. It crashed in cartwheels through a cornfield, killing 112 people on board.
“It’s my way to personally honor the victims of the crash and the families who were left behind,” Schemmel said Tuesday at Coors Field before his broadcast of the San Diego Padres-Rockies game.
A game day Wednesday, on the anniversary, will delay Schemmel’s ride to Thursday, but this is the 10th year he will make the six-hour ride.
Incredibly, 184 people survived the crash, including Schemmel. He walked back into the burning debris when he heard a baby crying. He has been reluctant over the years to talk about the crash, until three years ago, when he attended a 25th anniversary remembrance in Iowa. Schemmel described a chaotic scene of smoke and fire and debris, with bodies thrown from the plane.
Schemmel, 57, is an accomplished cyclist, having completed the Race Across America two years ago, a seven-day, transcontinental bike race that he finished in a two-man relay over more than 3,000 miles. He rode that route in part to raise money for an orphanage in Haiti.
“A part of me died in that crash,” Schemmel said Tuesday. “It took a chunk of my heart. But cycling makes me feel alive again.”