Schem­mel to honor 112 vic­tims on ride

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Groke

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.”

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