Cyclist returns to Hotter’N Hell 3 years after being hit by semi

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 10:31 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - It has been three years since John Wheeler was training for the Hotter’N Hell Hundred when he was suddenly struck by an 18-wheeler. The cyclist is now back on his bike and gearing up for this year’s 100-mile race.

This is his story, not only about redemption, but how he is overcoming all odds and looking forward to this year’s big ride.

“I tell people this all the time,” Wheeler said, “I’m just happy to be alive.”

Wheeler was just 10 days away from riding in the 2019 Hotter’N Hell Hundred when he was suddenly struck by a semi-truck in Lawton, OK while preparing for the race.

“My plan was to go about 25 or 30 miles, take a shower and go to work,” Wheeler said. “About maybe 30 minutes into my ride, the accident happened and I never got to take a shower and never got to work.”

John doesn’t remember the accident, but luckily for him, there was an eyewitness that was on the phone with police that was concerned about the semi-truck’s driving.

“He said, you know, this guy is going to hit somebody,” Wheeler said. “Pretty much as soon as he said ‘he’s going to hit somebody,’ the next words out of his mouth he said like within the next second was ‘oops he just hit a cyclist.’”

Wheeler sustained serious injuries from the accident, but he said he’s blessed to be alive.

“If you look at me, I don’t look like somebody who got hit by a semi-truck on a bicycle,” Wheeler said, “I mean, you would expect wheelchairs or something but I mean my life is pretty normal. I mean God has blessed me in ways I can’t even verbalize.”

As the 3rd anniversary of the accident passed, John still gets emotional when he thinks about what his family went through.

“My youngest daughter called me on August 15 this year to wish me a happy anniversary and in our conversation she said ‘dad, I’m just so thankful you’re still here cause I still need you,’” Wheeler said

Wheeler now plans to complete this year’s Hotter’N Hell Hundred and has two words for anyone going through a similar situation.

“Never quit. I have a plaque back there that says ‘don’t you dare give up now,’” Wheeler said.