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Hundreds ride for swim victims

– Some 300 motorcyclists drove from the central Indiana hometown of a teenager hospitalized in critical condition to the site of the swimming accident that killed two of her high school friends.

The fundraising ride began Sunday in Franklin and paused for several minutes of silence on a bridge overlooking the Big Blue River at Edinburgh where 16-year-old Sarah McLevish was swept over a small dam on June 6 and friends from Franklin Community High School tried to rescue her.

The rescue attempt killed 17-year-old Jason Moran, whose body was found by a diver two days later near the dam’s base, and 16-year-old Michael Chadbourne, who died the following week after being hospitalized in critical condition.

McLevish’s mother, Bobbi Hubbard, took part in the motorcycle ride and told reporters her daughter remains on a ventilator and has had brain swelling.

“She’s showing a little bit of improvement every day as far as automatic reflexes, opening eyes, coughing, gagging, yawning,” said Hubbard, who added that she was inspired by the turnout for the ride. She has spent most of the past two weeks at the hospital.

Cheryl Cash, an organizer of the event, said many people wanted to do something to help the teenagers’ families.

“Everyone has a time of need, and they’re in a time of need right now,” Cash said. “Heavy bills, medical bills, and so forth. It’s our way of giving back to the community.”

Organizers are planning another ride in October, specifically for McLevish’s medical expenses.

Shelly Hartwell, one of Sunday’s ride participants, said the stop near the dam about 30 miles south of Indianapolis was poignant.

“I have a son who fishes at the river and it has broken our whole community’s heart to see what the families went through,” she said.

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