State authorities investigating cyclist death in Alabama

State authorities investigating cyclist death in Alabama

July 7th, 2011 by Joy Lukachick Smith in News

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.