Friday, July 31st 2015, 6:22 pm
A Florida cyclist killed in western Oklahoma by a distracted driver is being remembered as a generous young man. Sunday, he and several others in the group "Bike and Build" spent the day doing repairs on a Tulsa man's home.
I spent the day Sunday with this group of young people who have been riding from Maine to California lending a helping hand to homeowners all along the way. And it's a mission that has touched and inspired so many - even in such a short period of time.
"They were fun loving; they were laughing, they were all so polite. Just really, really good kids," said Bob Fowler. He spent Sunday with the group as they painted his house for Habitat for Humanity.
The group is made up of 26 young adults from across the country, including 25-year-old team leader Patrick Wanninkhof. Patrick was hit and killed near Elk City Thursday morning as the group was riding their bikes. They were headed to Amarillo for their next Habitat project.
Another cyclist, 22-year-old Bridget Anderson, was seriously hurt and is still in a hospital.
Paula Blalock with Tulsa's Habitat chapter spent time with Patrick and the other cyclists Sunday.
"We got to sit down and talk with him before they started their build in the morning, kind of get to know him, about where he is from and how was teaching in the Bronx," she said. "And just wanted to serve his community, make that awareness for affordable housing."
A conversation that stuck out in her mind when she heard the news.
"Such a tragedy, just shocking completely," she said. "I can't even - there are no words, really."
Troopers say the accident happened around 8 in the morning, when the car driven by 34-year-old Sarah Morris of Cordell slammed into the riders.
Morris told troopers she was looking at her cell phone and didn't see the bike riders.
It's a tragic accident those who came to know the volunteers, however briefly, are still trying to understand.
Homeowner Bob Fowler, now with a heavy heart, feels lucky to have had Patrick and the others ride into his life.
"I guess they got to know him, and they're better from that, just getting to know the man," he said. "I know I am."
Habitat representatives from Tulsa are visiting Bridget in the hospital this evening as she recovers from the accident.
Troopers say they're still collecting evidence from the crash but will be turning it over to the district attorney when they're done to see if any charges will be filed.
OHP Captain Paul Timmons said Morris admitted to looking down at her cell phone whenever it was going off. Although the texting law doesn't go into effect until November 1, there is a distracted driving law that is in effect now, he said.
July 31st, 2015
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