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Tim Vandenack
Tim Vandenack
In Indiana Buzz, reporter Tim Vandenack blogs on politics, immigration, elections, taxes, errant geese and more.



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'May your spirit ride forever' — memorial put up to Pumpkinvine cyclist, but warning signs have yet to be placed

Dale Ewers of Goshen was hit while cycling the trail last year when he crossed C.R. 127 in front of a car. He died five days later.

Posted on June 11, 2014 at 4:03 p.m.

Wednesday June 11, 2014

A memorial has gone up to Dale Ewers at the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail crossing where the cyclist was hit by a car last year.

Warning signs advising motorists ahead of trail crossings, though, have yet to be installed. Initially, they were to have been put in place by the end of 2013, a safety precaution in response to the death.

Family and friends of Ewers gathered at the Pumpkinvine crossing at C.R. 127 northeast of Goshen on May 25 to remember the man and place the memorial. They also scattered some of his ashes.

Those who knew and loved Ewers wanted a place to visit and remember him, and now they have it, said his mother, Kelly Foreman, who’s from the Breman area. Ewers crossed from the Pumpkinvine onto C.R. 127 into the path of a car on Sept. 5 last year, dying five days later.

The memorial reads: “In loving memory | Dale E Ewers | 3-13-1975 — 9-10-2013 | May your spirit ride forever”.

WHERE ARE THE WARNING SIGNS?

Foreman lamented that the warning signs have not yet been put up. So did John Yoder, president of Friends of the Pumpkinvine Trail, a nonprofit group that promotes the path.

"I would really like to know what the problem is,“ said Yoder. The annual Pumpkinvine Bike Ride is set for June 21, and while guards will be placed at points where the path crosses county roadways, ”it sure would be nice to have those signs as well.“

Friends of the Pumpkinvine secured $1,000 in grant funds last year to put up the warning signs, meant to give motorists a heads up at the varied points where the path crosses county roadways, like the C.R. 127 spot. The Pumpkinvine meanders from Goshen to Middlebury to Shipshewana.

Scott VanOmmeran of the Elkhart County Parks and Recreation Department had said last November that the signs were to be put up by the end of 2013. On Tuesday, he said varied factors prevented that, such as cold weather, which made it too difficult to dig to place the signage.

Lately, the focus has turned to whether motorized modes of transport like mo-peds or golf carts should be allowed to give the disabled access to the path. ”It’s a very touchy subject,“ VanOmmeran said.

But the signs will still go up, he just doesn’t know when exactly. And at this point, he doesn’t want to hazard a guess.

’I DON’T THINK WE’LL EVER KNOW’

Meanwhile, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department inquiry into the Sept. 5 crash is complete. Capt. Jim Bradberry said no charges will be filed in the matter.

Toxicology reports show no indication Milton Bontrager of Louisville, Ky., was impaired. He was driving the vehicle that hit Ewers.

All along, friends and family have wondered why Ewers seemingly dashed without stopping into the path of Bontrager’s car. Bradberry indicated there may never be a definitive answer.

"I don’t think we’ll ever know why the cyclist went out in the roadway,” he said.

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.


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