Teacher cycling cross-country for charity killed by distracted driver

Wanninkhof earned an engineering degree from the University of Florida

CANUTE, Okla. (AP) — A New York high school teacher on a cross-country bicycle trip was killed on an Oklahoma highway when he was struck by a car whose driver acknowledged looking at her cellphone at the time, authorities said.

Patrick Wanninkhof was pronounced dead at the scene on Thursday, and another bicyclist was injured in the collision, The Oklahoman reported. The 25-year-old and other cyclists were traveling for Bike & Build, a nonprofit organization that raises money to build affordable housing.

The driver could face charges in the incident, depending on what investigators determine about the nature of her distracted driving.

“They drew blood on the driver, and they’ll wait until the report comes back on that and they’ve finished up the investigation to present it to the DA’s office, and she’ll present any possible charges,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. John Vincent said.

Wanninkhof had been working for around three years at Fordham High School for the Arts in The Bronx through the Teach for America program. His father, Rik Wanninkhof, said his son’s time as a teacher in the New York City borough gave him insight into the importance of affordable housing.

Because Patrick Wanninkhof earned an engineering degree from the University of Florida, the older Wanninkhof said he and his wife thought their son would get a job in that field.

“He did very well in his studies, and we were surprised that he didn’t go into industry work, but he wanted to do something that affected people’s day-to-day lives,” Rik Wanninkhof said. “So, he applied for Teach for America. We were very proud that he did that.”

He added that his son was a talented bass player and beat boxer, who gave a beat box performance at an open mic night while on the road to Oklahoma.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press

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