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The 10th annual Cops Cycling for Survivors riders were in Decatur Wednesday during day three of a 19-day trek riding nearly 1,000 miles throughout Indiana. The event kicked off in downtown Indianapolis Monday as 53 cyclists participating in this year's ride began their journey in honor of fallen Indiana law enforcement officers.
Cops Cycling for Survivors Foundation is a group of active and retired police officers, law enforcement survivors, and friends of law enforcement who ride across Indiana to raise awareness and funds for officers killed in the line of duty.
Funds raised from the event are used to help support surviving family members and co-workers of officers who were killed, with a portion of the funds raised directly supporting the Indiana chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors.
While in Decatur, members of the group paused to remember three Indiana Troopers from the 56th ISP Recruit Academy, which graduated in 1998, killed in the line of duty within a 10-month period.
Trooper Richard Gaston was killed on March 4, 1999, when his patrol car was struck from behind by a semitrailer while he was conducting a traffic stop on the Indiana Toll Road.
Gaston is survived by his wife and daughter.
Trooper Cory R. Elson was shot and killed by Mark Lichtenberger on April 3, 1999, after making a traffic stop along 13th Street in Decatur.
Elson was shot in the leg as he exited his patrol car. After retreating to the rear of the vehicle for cover, Elson returned fire. Lichtenberger, who was armed with an AK-47, continued firing as many as 36 rounds, fatally wounding Elson and injuring an employee at the Decatur Advance Auto Parts, according to reports.
Elson was a roommate of Trooper Gaston at the ISP Academy and is survived by his wife.
Lichtenberger was convicted in the murder of Elson and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Trooper Jason Beal was struck by a vehicle on January 15, 2000, while assisting a tow truck driver who was removing a vehicle from a ditch on State Road 14, in Kosciusko County.
Beal died of his injuries three days later and is survived by his wife and son, who was born five months after his death.
The Cops Cycling for Survivors ride is scheduled to end on July 21 at the Crown Hill Cemetery at the Heroes of Public Safety section. There will be a ceremony during which a check will be presented by the riders to the Indiana chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors.