Iowa couple takes in injured RAGBRAI veteran after meeting in ER
Doug and Sue Swanson of West Des Moines were in the emergency room Tuesday night when Gary and Diane Chu, dressed in bike shorts and jerseys, were looking for a place to charge their phone.
Gary had hit a pothole on the RAGBRAI route near Indianola, causing him to crash. He and his wife, an Iowa native, were rushed by ambulance to a West Des Moines hospital, where he learned he had a fractured pelvis.
Discharged with pain medication and a plan to fly home the next day, the Wisconsin dentist was making his way back through the lobby when Diane informed him the local hotels were all booked solid.
The Chus, both RAGBRAI veterans, had nearly nothing with them, and needed to make a plan.
That’s when Doug and Sue chimed in: “Do you guys need a place to stay? We have a new townhome with a brand-new bed that you can certainly use,” Diane recalls them saying.
“We started talking to them and we found out they were in a real pickle,” said Doug.
A charter bus delivered Gary’s bag to West Des Moines that night, and drove Diane back to her crew. She continued her fourth RAGBRAI ride Wednesday as Gary traveled home.
But first, he went to church with the Swansons.
“We had a sandwich and he got a hot shower and stayed overnight and we took him to church in the morning and drove him to the airport,” Doug said.
Gary made it home safe and is recovering, Diane said, adding they felt fortunate his injury was not more dire.
“That’s why I love Iowa,” Diane said Thursday. “That’s why I love this ride. It’s this Iowa hospitality that’s unbelievable.”