published Thursday, July 7th, 2011

State authorities investigating cyclist death in Alabama

  • photo
    The paint-splattered arms of Christina Genco shows the results of her work as she joins a group of volunteer bicyclists participating in the 4,000-mile Bike & Build program in Athens, Ga., in this June 3 photo. Genco was on her bicycle in Rainsville, Ala., on June 6 when she was hit from behind and killed while enroute to a build project in Decatur, Ala., according to the Rainsville Polce Department. (FIle Photo)

Alabama authorities are conducting a traffic homicide investigation into the June 6 death of a bicyclist struck and killed by a Rainsville, Ala., driver as she was leading a cycling team on a cross-country charity ride.

Some of Christina Genco’s fellow riders hope the driver will be charged, one of her friends said.

“Prosecuting doesn’t bring Christina back, but there needs to be a level of justice done,” said Jeremy Story, also a cyclist.

Genco, 22, of Boston, was killed while traveling up Sand Mountain on state Highway 35 with 33 other members of Bike and Build Inc., a nonprofit organization that raises money for affordable housing.

Craig Chandler, a former DeKalb County deputy sheriff and 911 dispatcher, hit her with his truck, killing her instantly.

After the investigation began, 9th Circuit District Attorney Mike O’Dell asked the Alabama Highway Patrol and Alabama Bureau of Investigation to take the case to avoid any connection to local law enforcement.

“I insisted on an independent investigation to handle this matter,” O’Dell said in an email.

State troopers are conducting an investigation that will outline the entire incident moment by moment, spokesman Chad Joiner said.

“Everything is done to scale,” he said.

In the initial accident report, Chandler told police he saw a cyclist ahead, but as he was looking in his mirror to cross lanes he struck the bike from behind.

But Bobby Reynolds, who was driving behind Chandler and saw the accident, told police he saw the truck drift toward the white line at the shoulder and slam into Genco.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Reynolds, who lives in Grove Oak, Ala., said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “It just looked like he wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing.”

Chandler didn’t return calls seeking comment.

The case now is up to the highway patrol and the state attorney general’s office. Rainsville Police Chief Charles Centers said he turned over all the evidence he had to the state.

“We want this to be fully investigated,” he said. “We don’t have nothing to hide.”

Meanwhile, Story said, Bike and Build’s 4,000-mile ride across the country has continued, but the trip isn’t the same.

“Not having [Christina] there has been difficult,” he said.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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NoMyth said...

The majority of residents on Sand Mountain are guilty of routinely exceeding speed limits and other traffic laws, to the point of gross negligence. It seems that the more rural the location, the larger vehicle, the faster the driving, the complete lack of consideration for bicyclists or another other use of the road, and a complete lack of a local law enforcement presence. Sadly, this incident appears to be complicated by cronyism and failure to investigate a likely crime of gross negligence that should result in a manslaughter conviction. The residents of Sand Mountain would do well to both honor this patriotic, charitable bicyclist and shun, the many non-patriotic, non-charitable, gas guzzling scofflaws that inhabit the area.

July 7, 2011 at 1:13 a.m.
dave said...

To NoMyth,

I would suggest that if you don't like the way they drive on Sand Mountain you should keep off there. Perhaps the motorists on Sand Mountain would just as soon YOU and YOUR bicycle stay HOME.

July 7, 2011 at 7:31 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

Joy, you need better copy editors:

Why was a woman car driver from Rainsville leading this bike ride? Perhaps::

""Alabama authorities are conducting a traffic homicide investigation into the June 6 death of the leader of a bicycling team engaged on a cross country charity ride who was struck and killed by a Rainsville, Ala., driver."

July 7, 2011 at 8:23 a.m.
Salsa said...

Maybe Dave should keep off this site if he doesn't like what others post.

July 7, 2011 at 9:43 a.m.
NoMyth said...

Thank you, Salsa. It appears that Dave supports ignorance and lawlessness....he must be a pillar of the community.

July 7, 2011 at 9:12 p.m.
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