Man Bicycling Across America Killed In Oklahoma Wreck

Thursday, July 30th 2015, 5:16 pm
By: Richard Clark

A man bicycling across America to raise money for affordable housing died after being hit by a car in western Oklahoma Thursday morning.

Patrick Wanninkhof, 25, was hit while riding on Highway 152 south of Elk City at 8:05 a.m. on Thursday, July 30, 2015, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. He died at the scene.

The OHP said another bicyclist - identified as Bridget Anderson, 22 - was hurt in the same crash. Troopers said she was stable when she was airlifted to OU Medical Center with a leg injury.

According to the trooper's report, Wanninkhof and Anderson were riding west when a westbound 2014 Chevy driven by Sarah Morris, 34, of Cordell hit them. She told troopers she was distracted by looking at her phone when she hit the bicyclists, according to the OHP report. Morris wasn't hurt, troopers said.

The report did not indicate whether Morris will be cited.

Anderson is from Port Orange, Florida. Wanninkhof was from Key Biscayne, Florida, but had been living in the Bronx, New York.

He was part of a group called Bike & Build, whose members ride across the country to raise money for affordable housing. This particular group had stopped in Tulsa on Sunday, July 26, 2015 where they spent time working with Habitat For Humanity.

Tulsa Habitat for Humanity said Wanninkhof was a group leader of the 26-member team that stopped in Tulsa. 

7/26/2015: Related Story: Group Bikes Across America, Stops In Tulsa To Help Senior Citizen Paint His Home

According to his Bike & Build page, Wanninkhof graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida in 2012 with a degree in Materials Engineering. He was then accepted into Teach for America and was teaching Physics and Computer Science at a public performing arts school in the Bronx. He said he earned a Masters in Teaching Adolescent Physics from Fordham University in 2014.

He wrote that he decided to bike from Maine to California after a student told him she and her mom had been moving between relatives' houses every week because they couldn't pay rent. "How on earth could I expect her to give her all to Newton's Laws when she wasn't sure where she'd be sleeping that evening?" he wrote.