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Holliston Bicyclist Killed On Charity Ride In Ohio

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OAK HARBOR, Ohio (CBS/AP) — The State Highway Patrol says a 21-year-old bicyclist from Massachusetts was struck and killed in northwest Ohio while riding across the country to raise money to benefit people with multiple sclerosis.

Troopers say Emilee Gagnon, of Holliston, Mass., was struck from behind by a sport utility vehicle Monday evening in Ottawa County, about 15 miles southeast of Toledo.

The patrol says the recent Westfield State University graduate was wearing a helmet but suffered fatal injuries.

Westfield State released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

We are deeply saddened by the news of the accident which took the life of Emilee Gagnon. Emilee was a May 2013 Westfield State University graduate and a Commonwealth Honors Scholar, the most prestigious recognition in the public higher education system. Emilee majored in Art and minored in both French and Ethnic and Gender studies. She left an indelible mark on the faculty, staff and students of the Westfield State art department and in the Honors Program with whom she regularly interacted.

“Emilee was literally a walking piece of art work herself. She wore vibrant beautiful clothes and did a lot of creative, colorful things with her hair. She was a wonderful, wonderful student who provided a lot of positive energy, joy and talent to the art department. She will be missed,” said Professor Jamie Wainright, Chair, Westfield State’s Art department.

“Emilee’s Senior Honors Project, “Revolutionary Beauty: Five Twentieth-Century Women Artists’ Challenges to the Western Art Canon,” reflected her passionate interests in art history and gender equity,” said Professor Vanessa Diana, assistant director of the Westfield State Honor Program. A piece of Emilee’s original artwork is on display in Westfield State’s Honors Center, which is located in Mod Hall.

Heartfelt sympathies from all of us at Westfield State University are with her family and many friends whose lives she touched so meaningfully.

Troopers say the 49-year-old Martin woman driving the SUV was facing glare and was adjusting her sun visor when she hit Gagnon.

The SUV driver wasn’t hurt.

Emilee was a member of her church, and volunteered at the town library, when she wasn’t at college.

“What was a 21-year-old doing riding her bike for MS? It’s because she was wise beyond her years,” said Rev. Bonnie Steinroeder of the United Church of Christ of Holliston. “Just look at what she was doing. She was caring and compassionate and independent.”

“How was it that Emilee was so special? Her whole family is special, very devoted to this town and the people here,” said Rev. Steinroeder.

Police says speed and alcohol aren’t considered factors in the crash.

There was no immediate word on any charges, and the investigation is ongoing.

WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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