Three Dead in One Week

As we were reeling from the violent death of Andy Gast near Lunken Airport last Tuesday, my inbox lit up a few more times.  On Monday a 46 year old cyclist, Thomas Leonard, had been struck and killed  in the Columbus, Ohio area.  Later in the week, a young cyclist, 18 year old Nathan Smith, was killed in Marion, Ohio.  Ohio’s ninth, tenth and eleventh cycling fatalities of 2012 came in one lousy week…

More than 550 riders showed up on Tuesday night for a Ghost Bike Memorial Ride  thus, again, reinforcing the power of social media.  I was in Columbus all day meeting a cyclist who had his collarbone fractured into 5 pieces by a careless motorist and dropping off a bicycle for an engineer’s inspection – a bike which “failed” catastrophically on the first ride.  My phone was blowing up with emails between the leaders of Cincinnati two biggest cycling advocacy organizations, ride leaders, and others trying to figure out how to get all these people from Point A. to Andrew Gast’s home, and back in a timely, efficient and, most of all, safe manner.

Given the large number of riders, and hte need for help, I decided to ride the Big BIke [BMW r1150RT] and try to provide some support through traffic control while documenting the ride through the camera lens.

The ride was an unparalleled “success” on so many levels.  First, I was able to meet Andrew’s family at Lunken Airport – we were all a bit confused about where the starting point was, but I was able to show them where the crash occurred, and what my “take” was from what I had seen the day of the crash.  The family subsequently was able to be driven along the route with the riders – and participate throughout the evening.

Two of our four TV stations had crews covering the event.  Channel 12 has been on it since Day 1 – Channel 19 had a crew there as well.  The Ride set out in smaller groups of 30 or so – teh “fast” folks leaving for a 14 mph ride first followed by slower groups… black armbands and the presence of the grieving family set a very somber tone… however, the stories about Andy Gast from his family and friends made it clear that he was a man who cherished life- and lived life large – the mood of the ride was outstanding…

I got a call around midnight following the ride from Tommy Broderick.  Tommy is a pretty tough 55 year old racer who had been whacked by a DRUNK DRIVER while riding home from the ride!  Tommy was knocked unconscious in Newport, KY, and taken to teh University Hospital Trauma Center where he was kept overnight and released this morning!

Channel 19 wanted to do a follow up story on Tommy’s crash this evening. I was able to meet the reporter on short notice at the ghost bike site, where we spoke on camera a few minutes while some rather ominous clouds formed all around us… we finished quickly and as he was clearing his gear I snapped some quick photos – I have been learning to use Photomatix HDR software and shot 3 bracketed photos of the Ghost Bike from the ground looking up… I loaded the photos into the software earlier this evening… I thought the final product turned out pretty impressive… below is a low res [<1MB] version of Andy Gast’s Ghost Bike as it looked before tonight’s storms…

I never knew Mr. Gast, but he has had a profound impact on my life…

Andrew’ Gast’s Ghost Bike

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