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Evel Knievel rides into eternity

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP)—Evel Knievel is dead.

That sentence probably should have been written in 1968, when Knievel crashed his motorcycle spectacularly as he jumped the fountains at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and wound up in a coma.

It probably should have been written in 1974, when his rocket-powered cycle failed as he tried to jump the Snake River Canyon and he almost landed in the raging water. Or the numerous other times when, while trying to jump something bigger than ever, he splattered.

Instead, it was written Friday. Natural causes. Age 69.

“It’s been coming for years, but you just don’t expect it. Superman just doesn’t die, right?” said longtime friend and promoter Billy Rundle.

It’s amazing he was only 69. Photos show a man much older. But then again, few lived life harder than Evel Knievel. The women, the alcohol, the broken bones.

Last Easter, Evel told the masses at Crystal Cathedral that he’d had a middle-of-the-night encounter with God.

“I don’t know what in the world happened,” Robert “Evel” Knievel said. “I don’t know if it was the power of the prayer or God himself, but it just reached out, either while I was driving or walking down the sidewalk or sleeping, and it just—the power of God in Jesus just grabbed me. … All of a sudden, I just believed in Jesus Christ. I did, I believed in him! … I rose up in bed and, I was by myself, and I said, ‘Devil, Devil, you bastard you, get away from me. I cast you out of my life.’ … I just got on my knees and prayed that God would put his arms around me and never, ever, ever let me go.”

Godspeed.

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