Town rallies on memory of Brianna Schmittel

'She was going to set
the world on fire'

Brianna Schmittel joined the Hardly Angels - a women's synchronized motorcycle team - in 2013. Enlargephoto

Courtesy/The Mancos Times

Brianna Schmittel joined the Hardly Angels - a women's synchronized motorcycle team - in 2013.

Mancos has rallied around the family and memory of resident Brianna Schmittel, who died in a crash Wednesday morning while riding her motorcycle to Durango.

"Brianna was a very bright, intelligent, beautiful young lady," her older sister, Kendra Gapp, told The Durango Herald last week."She was a free spirit. She loved being on her motorcycle. I don't think she would have wanted to go any other way."

Schmittel had a semester left in her pre-law program at Fort Lewis College.

Friends and community members remembered her this week as a passionate young woman with lots of potential.

A teacher and friend, Cathy Cullicott, met her in 2003 and taught her as a science student at Mancos Middle School and in her Aikido martial arts classes. Cullicott had anticipated her succeeding in law.

"She was going to set the world on fire, and I was really excited to watch," said Cullicott.

Schmittel had also worked as an intern for Montezuma County District Attorney Will Furse, and he said he valued her energy and determination.

"She had a no-nonsense attitude and always spoke with grit and confidence - attributes that any good lawyer must possess," he said.

Her former Girl Scout leader, Gina Roberts, described how Schmittel grew up from a child with a mind of her own into "a strong-willed woman that speaks her mind and fights for the underdog."

John Pilcher trained with Schmittel in karate for three years and remembered that they had the same attitude toward martial art.

"We always tried to find the lighter side of why we were doing it," he said.

The president of the Hardly Angels team, Kathy Thayer, said she met Schmittel at a retail store where she worked in a mall about two years ago. Schmittel asked Thayer her about her Harley-Davidson shirt. Thayer explained she was a member of the Hardly Angels team, which is all women's motorcycle drill team, and the two stayed in touch until Schmittel got a motorcycle and joined the team in 2013.

"Anybody that rode with Bri was very glad that they had the opportunity," she said.

The team has planned a memorial ride for Schmittel that will leave Durango at 4:45 p.m. Friday. Four other motorcycle clubs plan to participate.

Dylaina Morelli, who attended high school with Schmittel, described her as bubbly and fun person who helped many.

Morelli is planning a community spaghetti dinner to benefit Schmittel's family at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Mancos VFW post, 136 W. Grand Ave. A $10 donation for adults and a $5 donation for children under 12 is suggested. There will also be a silent auction. To donate food or items to the silent auction, contact Dylaina Morelli at

Memorial services for Schmittel will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, June 27, at Boyle Park in Mancos.

A fund has been set up by the Mancos Valley Lyons Club to help the Schmittels with funeral expenses. Donors may visit Mancos Valley Bank and state that they want to donate to the Schmittel fund.

Contributions may also be mailed to the Mancos Valley Bank in care of the Schmittel family at 138 N. Main, Mancos, CO 81328.

Proceeds from the Mancos Days volleyball tournament on Thursday, July 26 will also be donated to the Schmittels.