LIGONIER — The passing of a West Noble High School teacher is rallying the community together around his family, his memory and a scholarship in his name.
Former West Noble cross country and track coach Chuck Schlemmer, 58, of Ligonier, passed away on Wednesday night, Aug. 21, following a drunk driving accident on Aug. 16.
Schlemmer had reportedly biked to his mother’s house after school let out.
He was on River Road when he was struck by a U-Haul van driven by Ryan Gravit, 46, of Ligonier, according to police. Gravit did not stop following the collision, police said.
Schlemmer was taken to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne.
The van was later located after being observed leaving Ligonier with heavy damage to the windshield.
Gravit was arrested for operating while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury, a Level 4 felony.
Schlemmer was hospitalized with broken bones, a collapsed lung and extensive trauma to the head, which left him with no brain activity.
While Schlemmer was in the hospital, his family created a GoFundMe to help with medical bills. It raised $8,000 in the first 24 hours and the goal was increased to $25,000. According to the page, the family intends to take any additional funds from the GoFundMe and create a scholarship fund in Schlemmer’s name. The GoFundMe goal will likely be raised again, since it’s nearly reached it’s new goal as well with over 300 donors.
Due to the extensive injury to the head, the family decided Schlemmer’s quality of life would be diminished to such an extent that he would never recover satisfactorily. The decision was made to pull him from life support, after making plans to allow him to be a tissue donor, although organ donation protocols prevented him from being an organ donor since he did not pass within 90 minutes of being removed from life support systems.
He passed away about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night.
The GoFundMe Page is still active and encouraging donations for use with the future scholarship program.
Memories can be shared at the Team Schlem Facebook Page.
A celebration of life will take place at the West Noble High School Track Field on Saturday, Aug. 31.