A marker for a life vanished
If you don’t know it’s there, it’s easy to miss: a silver bike propped on the inside of — and almost blending into — the silver guardrail. It seems ephemeral, ghost-like.
And that’s what it is, a ghost bike, near milepost 46 on the southbound side of U.S. Highway 50 in Kannah Creek. It stands near the spot where Eunjey Cho, 25, was killed Wednesday when, according to the Colorado State Patrol, Tonie Rosales, 29, of Palisade hit him with a Chevy Blazer. Rosales was on her way to a Delta County hearing for a June impaired driving arrest, the State Patrol reported.
That Cho was so young, that he was on a cross-country bike trip with a friend, that they were raising money for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, was particularly poignant to area cyclists, explained John Hodge, who is among their number.
“It was George Manning who originally suggested that (placing a ghost bike at the accident site) would be a good opportunity,” Hodge explained. “We don’t want (Cho’s family) to think that everyone around here drives around drunk or on drugs.”
Hodge said that many cyclists, who get organized via social media, supported the ghost bike idea. According to ghostbikes.org, the first ones were created in 2003 in St. Louis, and are placed at the site where bicyclists died. Hodge said Brown Cycles donated an old 10-speed, which he spray painted silver and placed at the crash site Friday afternoon.
“It’s intended to be more than a memorial,” Hodge said. “It’s also there to raise awareness for anyone driving by to maybe realize how fragile folks on bikes are.”
Cho and his friend, John McGuin, were riding from Seattle to Cho’s home in Princeton, N.J. The two men had finished a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest (jvcnorthwest.org) in Spokane, Wash., and were trying to raise $2,400 to support two more volunteers in their year of service (volunteers are encouraged to live simply on $100 per month). According to firstgiving.com, the pair had raised $3,105.
In response to Cho’s death, Jesuit Volunteer Corps staff wrote on their website, “JVs and staff remember Eunjey as an individual full of life — beloved by all who knew him. While serving as a JV in Spokane, he quickly became known for his generosity, his gentleness, and his keen sense of humor.”
Hodge said the ghost bike is a memorial to the person Cho was and a way to honor what he and McGuin were doing.
“We see this, hopefully, as something we can do to make the best of a horrible situation,” Hodge said of himself and other cyclists. “I’d like to never see it again, and I hope it’s a reminder to everyone on the road that this person’s safety is in the hands of everybody who drives by.”