Bicyclist leading charity ride struck by SUV and killed in Alabama

Bicyclist leading charity ride struck by SUV and killed in Alabama

June 8th, 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., on Friday. Genco was on her bicycle in Rainsville, Ala., on Monday when she was hit from behind and killed while enroute to a build project in Decatur, Ala., according to the Rainsville Polce Department. (David Tulis/Staff/david.tulis@onlineathens.com)

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Christina Genco was struck and killed by a vehicle while riding in Rainsville, Alabama. Christina was a member of Bike & Build, a group which organizes cross-country cycling trips, and members also work to build and restore homes along their journey.

A bicyclist leading a charity ride on a 4,000-mile trip was struck by a sport utility vehicle and killed in Rainsville, Ala.

When 22-year-old Christina Genco was traveling up Sand Mountain on state Route 35 on Monday, her bike was hit by the vehicle, killing her, said Rainsville Police Chief Charles Centers. Rainsville native Craig Chandler was driving the vehicle, Centers said.

Genco, of Boston, was traveling with 33 other members of Bike and Build Inc. - a nonprofit organization that raises money for affordable housing - from Rome, Ga., to Scottsboro, Ala., where the group had plans to stop for the night, Centers said.

"It's a sad situation," he said.

Police believe Genco was traveling along the white line of the shoulder when Chandler turned onto the highway and hit her, Centers said.

While police and the Alabama State Patrol are still investigating the wreck, Centers said it is unlikely that Chandler will be charged.

Chandler used to work for the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and the county's 911 Center, the police chief said.

"He's just tore up," Centers said.

Meanwhile, Genco's parents and the organization team leader flew to Alabama Tuesday to make funeral arrangements.

This was Genco's second time to travel across the country with Bike and Build and she was a team leader for a trip that set out on May 26, said Bike and Build program director Brendan Newman.

The trip began in Charleston, S.C., and was to end in Santa Cruz, Calif., a ride of about 4,000 miles since the group's route took it up through the Great Plains to Oregon, then down to Santa Cruz.

After the wreck, group members postponed the trip.

Newman said he will be involved in organizing Genco's memorial service but is still unsure where services will take place.

"We are all shaken by this terrible news and this will be a difficult time for everyone in our community," he said in a news release.

Genco was an experienced cyclist and had been trained through the organization's safety program, Newman said.

But Newman said this was the second accident Bike and Build members have been involved in since the group was formed nine years ago.

Contact Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.