Biker Bobby Gassett had a new patch pinned to his vest Tuesday, with red letters on a white background: “Life Behind Bars, Lion King Chuck, 1936-2009.”The bars referred to handlebars, and Chuck was Chuck King, killed Thursday night after a car hit him on LBJ Freeway in Garland. He fell and was run over by an 18-wheeler.
“It’s a testimony to Chuck,” rider Mike Malloy said of the turnout. He said it would be the biggest ride ever out of Keller’s even though it was on a weekday.
Malloy helped some other Rat Packers lash one of King’s motorcycles to a trailer for the run to the funeral home that would then make its way to one of King’s favorite eateries.
At Keller’s, Shanda Renee Wooten sat in the back seat of a car parked near the curb. The 34-year-old bike model from Lufkin said she was there when King died, riding just ahead of him.
“It’s customary for the woman to ride behind,” said Wooten, who said she was visiting King.
But for some reason, King opted to follow her this time. They didn’t have far to go.
” ‘I’m following you,’ he said,” Wooten remembered. “I said, ‘Are you sure?’ ”
After the crash, Wooten said, the driver of the car stopped.
“She stopped for about two seconds,” Wooten said. “She heard me say, ‘You killed him!’ ”
Then the car sped away, she said.
Garland police have charged Tasha Hayes, 18, of Richardson with failure to stop and render aid, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
There will be more events for King on April 26, when his friends ride again.
They plan to leave Keller’s at noon for a ride on Northwest Highway and LBJ Freeway to Fat Dawg’s in Forney, another of King’s hangouts.
On the way, they will pay their respects near the spot where King died and at a second place where another Rat Pack biker, Bart Miller, was killed in January.
Among the bikers assembled Tuesday, few could be found who hadn’t been in wrecks.
Richie Brice of Dallas said he came back from Vietnam without a scratch, but a too-long stare at a woman sent him tumbling end over end, landing with his bike on top of him.
That was the first of his three wrecks. It left him “bent over” for six months, but he had the bike rebuilt and got back on.
Mitch Hanson, a recently retired mail carrier from Garland, said he has been riding motorcycles since he was 15 and never had a wreck until he slid off a road in Arkansas in 2006.
That hasn’t stopped him from riding.
“You can’t explain it,” he said. “It’s a rush.”
Brice is fatalistic about riding.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a helmet or not,” said Brice, who does wear one. “If it’s your time to go, you’re going to go.”
Hanson agreed, saying, “There is no safe way to ride one of these things.”