By Billy Hobbs
Leonard Slote enjoyed getting out and riding his bicycle any time he got the opportunity.
Last Saturday morning was no exception.
Neither he nor anyone else who knew him thought it would be his last ride, but it was as it turned out.
The 63-year-old Slote, who lived on Westminister Way in Madison, and had worked in the GIS mapping department in Greene County government for the past several years, was killed doing what he loved doing – riding his bicycle.
The tragic mishap occurred shortly before 8 a.m.
Slote and a friend, David Spangler, 50, Watkinsville, was riding their bicycles along Old Buckhead Road when they were struck by the driver of an SUV, according to Sgt. Tracy Webb of the Georgia State Patrol post in Madison. The accident occurred about two miles east of the city limits of Madison. Old Buckhead Road runs between Buckhead Road to the Georgia Route 24 Bypass.
Sgt. Webb identified the driver of the 2005 Ford Expedition that struck the bicyclists as Thomas Kephart II, 39, of Buckhead Road, Madison.
Kephart was traveling along Old Buckhead Road in the same direction as the bicyclists, westbound, Sgt. Webb said.
“He was a short distance behind the bicyclists,” Sgt. Webb said. According to Georgia State Patrol reports, Kephart told troopers that he was attempting to place a cup in the cup holder of the vehicle at the time of the incident.
Slote was rushed by ambulance to the emergency room of Morgan Memorial Hospital in Madison where he was pronounced dead a short time after he arrived there, Sgt. Webb said.
Slote’s riding partner was fortunate. He was hit by the passenger’s side mirror on the SUV and received what was described as minor injuries.
The two victims of the bicycle accident were treated at the scene by firefighters/first responders with Morgan County Fire Department, as well as personnel with the local ambulance service.
The accident investigation was worked by Sgt. Webb, along with the troopers with the Georgia State Patrol’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team.
The mishap remained under investigation Tuesday morning.
“It will be determined after (SCRT) their investigation what, if any charges will be brought,” Sgt. Webb said.
Slote worked in the Greene County Building and Zoning Department as GIS director for the last 12 years. On July 25 the Greene County Board of Commissioners started its called meeting with a moment of silence in honor of Slote. Slote is survived by his children Kevin, Derek and Sarah and a grandson James. A service for Slote is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 30 at the A.E. Carter Funeral Home in Madison.
–Additional reporting Patrick Yost. This story also appeared in the Greensboro Herald Journal.