Keeping fallen bike advocate, judges legacy alive

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 4:49 PM CDT
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RUSHVILLE, Illinois (WGEM) - Friday marks two months since Schuyler County Circuit Judge Ramon Escapa, 42, was killed while riding a bicycle on Father’s Day.

As a Ride Illinois Director, Escapa left behind a legacy that promotes community involvement and an active lifestyle. To keep his spirit alive, a committee has reconvened as part of the Schuyler County Economic Development Commission (SCEDC) to build a trail in Escapa’s honor.

SCEDC President Tim Ward said the trail will connect Schuy-Rush Park and Scripps Park. The project has been in the works for about five years but took a hiatus.

Ward said since the passing of Escapa, it’s time to make the bike advocate’s vision become a reality.

“We originally had five different plans, so five different route,” Ward said. “We can narrow it down to one or two and focus in on that, and the committee then will focus on grants, development and working with landowners.”

After thousands of miles spent on the bike with Escapa, Ward said the trail will also improve safety.

“To get from Schuy-Rush to Scripps you have to go down Highway 67 and this would allow runners, walkers, hikers and cyclists to be in green space and have that complete safety of not having to worry about vehicles,” Ward said.

Ward said five years ago the project called for $2 million in funding.

Fellow bike rider Tim Briney said that even though Escapa has passed, the community’s efforts keep his legacy alive.

“The trail is one of many things and he’s never going to leave us,” Briney said.

Briney and Escapa rode bikes the day before the accident. Briney said Escapa had just purchased a gravel bike which would have been safer than having to go on highways.

In a written statement to WGEM, Escapa’s family wrote:

“This is the place where Ramon built his home and his legacy and it means so much to us that the Schuyler County community is honoring him with this. We hope that this trail can stand as a testament to his strong devotion to this area so that his memory can live on and he can continue to inspire others for years to come.”

Escapa leaves behind his wife of almost 20 years, Michelle, and four children.

A community meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at the Wright Conference Center in Rushville. Ward said the meeting is being held to review maps of proposed routes, an action plan and enlisting volunteers.

Escapa trail map
Escapa trail map(SCEDC)

Related link:

Schuyler County judge killed in a vehicle and bike crash

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