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Riding in memory of correctional comrade

Cyclists take to the road in support of the family of Jeffery Wroten

Cyclists take to the road in support of the family of Jeffery Wroten

June 12, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

From the seats of their gleaming machines, motorcyclists at a benefit ride Sunday took in the freedom of the open road past the prison where a fallen officer once worked.

"We're here to support Jeff Wroten's family," said rider Erik Barciz, who got to know the slain correctional officer while working at Roxbury Correctional Institution.

A ride to benefit Wroten's children raised more than $8,500, according to organizer Donny Seibert, a retired correctional officer. More than 400 riders and about 300 motorcycles rumbled from the event's staging area just north of Hagerstown's prison complex to Martinsburg, W.Va., where Wroten lived, Seibert said.

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A former RCI inmate is accused of killing Wroten in a shooting at Washington County Hospital in January. The longtime correctional officer was always friendly, Barciz said.

"I can't think of anyone who didn't like him," Barciz said.

Riders said they gathered for a good cause, even though not all of them knew Wroten.

Correctional officers do not get the recognition they deserve for the tough jobs they perform, Rodney Weidman said.

He turned out for the event aboard his cherry red Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

"It's just the freedom of the open road. You see so much more on a bike than you do in a car," said Weidman, 38, of Martinsburg.

If his wife could, she would ride all the time, said Barciz, 41, of Waynesboro, Pa.

"If she could put it in the bedroom, she would," Barciz said.

Kelly Barciz, 41, said she is learning how to handle a motorcycle herself, and while her husband drove a Honda two-seater to the event, she rode aboard a Suzuki. She said she is hoping to get her license this summer.

"I was going to ride on the back of his, but I really wanted to (drive) myself. It just means something to me," she said before the event.

According to Erik Barciz, Wroten was well liked.

A "No.1, A-1" person, Wroten always talked about his children, Seibert said.

During his rides, John Blanchfield, 61, of Martinsburg, pays tribute to his brother who died in the Vietnam War. A metal etching of Ricky's portrait adorns his customized black-and-silver 100th anniversary Harley-Davidson.

"You know what? This bike is like therapy to me," said Blanchfield, who served in the war at the same time as his brother.

Despite the lingering effects of injuries he received in an assault by an inmate, Seibert, the second officer for Southern Cruisers South Central Pennsylvania Chapter 39 riding club, which organized the event, said he takes his Harley-Davidson out as much as he can.

"An inmate wanted to kill a nurse. I couldn't let him do it, and I stopped him, but I paid for it," Seibert said.

Like many riders, Seibert, 46, of Falling Waters, W.Va., explained the enjoyment of motorcycle riding with one image:

"The freedom. I love being in the wind," Seibert said.

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