PACIFIC JUNCTION - More than 2,500 people gathered at the Mid America Motorplex Saturday evening to pay their respects to four motorcyclists who lost their lives in a collision Aug. 9 on the southbound lane of Interstate 29 near Little Sioux.
Dennis E. Chaney, 62, of Glenwood; Dale E. Aspedon, 49, of Glenwood; Steven L. Benscoter, 62, of Pacific Junction; and Jay C. Bock, 48, of Omaha, were returning from the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., around 6 p.m. when a northbound pick-up truck crossed the center line and collided with the motorcyclists who were traveling together in a close pack.
The driver of the pick-up, Andrew Schlichtemeier, 21, of Murray, Neb., survived the crash and is expected to face criminal charges after results of blood-alcohol tests are released.
Three of the four victims - Chaney, Aspedon and Benscoter - were members of Harvey T. Rimel American Legion Post 141 in Glenwood. They also rode with the Legion Riders, a group of motorcyclists known for their visible support at the funerals and memorial services of military personnel and veterans.
Saturday evening’s gathering attracted supporters from dozens of motorcycle clubs and American Legion posts. Some of the motorcyclists traveled hundreds of miles to get to the service.
“It’s just overwhelming and awesome. There’s really no way you can really describe it,” Legion Rider Larry Pratt said. “We didn’t expect this big of a crowd, but we’re proud to have them here.”
Pratt said the turnout at the Memorial Service was reflective of the outpouring ofsupport the victims’ families and the American Legion post has received. “The support from the community has been overwhelming,” he said. “It’s been really hard trying to get through this, losing four people that you’ve known and rode with for years, but the community support has been one of the best things we’ve had to get us through this.
“In Hamburg last night for Dale Aspedon’s service, two-thirds of Hamburg showed up and the other third was standing outside.”
Pratt and fellow Legion Rider Keith Callaway said the three Mills County motorcyclists that died in the accident were actively involved in the American Legion. Both men said it will take the work of seven others to fill the void left by Chaney’s death.
“It’s going to have a lasting impact. Denny was so active with the Legion. He was the lounge manager and building manager,” Callaway said. “With the riders, Steve and Denny were always one of the first ones to volunteer for any mission we had or any ride we wanted to do.”
Saturday night’s tribute attracted over 2,500 people and raised over $10,000 for the victims’ families.
On Aug. 28, a memorial motorcycle ride is being planned to raise money for a memorial to the fallen motorcyclists. Pratt said the ride would likely start and finish at the motorplex.
“We’re going to try to build some kind of memorial, either in Glenwood or out here,” he said. “Suggestions have included an eternal flame, a bronze flag and a bench at the park.”
The victims’ families have suggested individual memorial funds in honor of each of their lost loved ones. Callaway said donations for the victims’ families can also be made through the Veterans Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Foundation account at Glenwood State Bank.