News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, Nov. 30, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Hundreds took to their Harleys on Friday for a fallen friend, hoping the ride would honor him and help them heal.
It's all about fellowship and awareness that riding a bike always comes with a risk.
"Please be careful! We don't need anybody else in an accident," friend and pastor Wayne Cheselka yelled to his fellow riders.
A loving warning before a ride to remember David Sheffield, a man who used to wear his leather motorcycle vest with pride.
Cheselka said the 30 minute loop around the city with their biker family was "to say goodbye to Shef. Because he loved riding so much, we figured it was only fitting that we do a ride in his honor."
Sheffield's brother, Thomas Sheffield, is not a biker, but he was on Friday.
"I knew he had friends in the biker community. I never could have imagined that 225 plus riders would show up to do a memorial ride," he said.
Just a few days ago, Sheffield died after deputies say a driver failed to yield while turning onto Wheeler Road.
Fellow riders say the news of the accident was a shock.
"He only had a motorcycle. He didn't own any car, truck, or anything, so he rode every single day, and he always made sure to obey all the rules of the road and watch out for the other drivers. So that's why it was such a shock," Cheselka said.
"Then we all headed to the hospital," friend and "Mother Hen" Jan Yu said. "The nurse came out, the doctor actually, and said, 'Who's family?' And in unison we said, 'We are.'"
Sheffield was riding his a blue Harley when he lost his life. Even though he wasn't one of the drivers tonight, the family says that wasn't his last ride.
A brother safely stowed Sheffield's ashes in the back of the lead bike so he could take one last ride.
Family came all the way from Florida to watching the send-off in tears.
"After he retired in '06 and we saw him on the Harley, his hair was a little longer, his grin was a little wider," his brother said.
After Friday's ride, friends hope motorcycle safety awareness spreads a little wider, too.
"We don't have the protection of all the steel that's around us," Cheselka said. "Although we may look and dress and ride different, you know, look different from the community, we're still human beings and we hurt."
The other driver in the accident was 78-year-old Thomas Michael Brown of Martinez. He's been charged with homicide by vehicle.
No matter the charges, the biker community is mourning another loss, and they hope the message finally sinks in.