Atlanta Police looking for leads in cyclist caseFile photo: Atlanta Police Lt. Rod Woody holds up a picture of a vehicle that matches the description of a vehicle that allegedly struck a cyclist on Monday, June 9. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
Atlanta Police are asking for the public’s help in tracking down the driver of a red SUV who allegedly ran down a cyclist.
Lt. Rod Woody on June 11 held a press conference at the Atlanta Police Zone 2 precinct in Buckhead.
Witnesses told police that Gregory Germani, 50, was riding his bike down Montgomery Ferry Drive on June 9 when he was almost hit by a red SUV that was turning onto the road from Flagler Avenue.
Woody said investigators believe the driver intentionally chased Germani down Flagler Avenue after the two men got into an argument following the near-collision on Montgomery Ferry.
“We believe the bicyclist was struck intentionally,” Woody said. “We believe that there was some words between the motorist and the bicyclist, and we believe the motorist went down and turned around and came back and struck the bicyclist intentionally.”
Germani, who also runs the Atlanta Time Machine website, was severely injured and transported to Grady Hospital. A friend of the family on June 11 posted a message about Germani’s condition that was widely shared on social media. The message said he is stable and in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Woody said investigators haven’t been able to interview Germani, under the circumstances.
Investigators interviewed several witnesses, including one who saw the driver hit Germani, but details on the driver and the vehicle have been scarce.
The investigators believe that the man was driving a red Dodge Nitro, Woody said. He said the vehicle would likely have some damage on its front right side, but investigators aren’t sure about the extent of it.
“The gentleman on the bicycle was knocked several feet down the road, so it could have some very significant damage on the front of it,” Woody said.
Witnesses described the driver as an “under 30 year old African American male.” Woody said there may also be some video of the incident, but the investigators are “having some issues” with the recording equipment.
“What we’re really doing is asking for the public’s help,” Woody said. “If they may have seen this vehicle that day, anywhere through that stretch right there, (we ask) that they contact Crime Stoppers.”
People with informaiton can submit anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers by calling 404-577-TIPS (8477), visitng www.crimestoppersatlanta.org or by texting CSA and the tip to CRIMES (274637). You do not have to give your name or any identifying information to be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of suspects.
Woody said contrary to initial reports, police are treating this case as an aggravated assault, not a hit and run, because it involved a weapon, the red SUV.
“You hit somebody with a three, four thousand pound vehicle, you’re seriously trying to cause them some injuries,” Woody said.
Jim Durrett, Executive Director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District, is an avid cyclist. The CID focuses on transportation issues in a Zip code that’s notorious for gridlock.
Durrett said “more and more people” in Atlanta are using bikes to get where they’re going. Durrett said he always makes a point to ride in groups. He said drivers have taunted cyclists during these group rides, tossing objects at them or driving quickly past them and shooting the bird.
He said news about what happened to Germani, “Made me sick to my stomach.”
“I realize we’re at a tipping point in Atlanta where more and more people are cycling,” Durrett said. “Atlanta has just been so automobile-centric, and we are going to have more cyclists out there on the road. We need to collectively learn how to get along. Cyclists need to learn how to behave appropriately on the roads and motorists need to learn how to accommodate cyclists. We’re going to need to learn how to coexist. We’re going to have to.”