Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS - The cycling community is mourning the loss of one of their own.

Two triathletes, competing in this weekend's Ironman race, were struck by a car while riding their bikes

along the Ironman course on Highway 90 near Venetian Isles Friday morning.

It's a gut-wrenching image for all cyclists -- a race bike cut in half by a car and pieces of what remain scattered in the road.

'I ride a lot and that could have easily been me or somebody that works here, you know, or a customer of ours,' said avid cyclist and Bayou Bicycles employee Zachary Thomas.

Thomas rides Hwy. 90 often and says it's a popular training route for all the local cyclists, but Friday the normally safe, sparsely-traveled road was the scene of a deadly crash.

'In my experience, Chef Highway is usually a pretty safe place to ride,' said Thomas. 'People are pretty aware of the riders out there.'

New Orleans police say the driver of the car struck two cyclists from behind killing Frank Guinn, 36, a veteran firefighter from Atlanta and critically injuring his 40-year-old brother-in-law.

Both were triathletes preparing for Sunday's Ironman 70.3 race.

'Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victims,' said Executive Director Naomi Doerner of the bike advocacy group Bike Easy. 'It's very tragic.'

Barry Edwards, a long-time Ironman triathlete and triathlon coach here in New Orleans, will be among the hundreds competing in this weekend's race.

Edwards said he was at the the Ironman Expo when he heard there had been an accident.

'We started calling our local triathlon team making sure everyone was accounted for,' said Edwards. He says the tragedy sent shock waves trough the close-knit group of athletes.

'It really was just a sad moment and it really hit home because we are out there every week,' said Edwards.

While it will not stop road bikers from hitting the road again, cyclists say they hope police hold the driver accountable.

'Even if the person was distracted or something like that or had a phone in their hand, there has to be consequences to that,' said Thomas.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what led to the crash, and police say no charges have been filed against the driver.

After learning of the tragedy, Ironman triathlon officials released this statement, 'We have learned that a group of cyclists were struck by a car on the Chef Highway. We are deeply saddened to learn that one of our athletes, scheduled to participate in this Sunday's triathlon, has passed - while another is critically injured. Our sympathy and thoughts are with all who have been affected by this tragic event.'

Late Friday night, the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department released this statement,'Sgt. Guinn's brothers and sisters in Atlanta Fire Rescue are devastated at this news,' Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran said in a statement. 'He was a dedicated professional devoted to his family. As a department, we will wrap our collective arms around his wife, Kim, and his beautiful girls. We ask that you keep them and Sgt. Guinn's entire family in your thoughts and prayers.'

According to the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, Sgt. Guinn was a nine-year veteran with the department and leaves behind a wife and three daughters

Read or Share this story: