STONINGTON, Conn. — A longtime custodian at Stonington High School and an avid bicyclist is being remembered after a terrible tragedy.
Police said Gary Piver, 70, of Stonington was hit by a car and killed Monday night, just one before his birthday.
"It happened so close by so it’s just sad to hear," said Austen Linicus, a junior the high school.
The school has been filled with an empty void after their longtime custodian died.
"He would always be there, he’d have a smile, I’m pretty sure he loved his job," added Linicus.
Mary Anne Butler, the superintendent of Stonington Public Schools issued a statement in reaction to the tragedy:
A lifelong resident of Stonington, Gary Piver was a dedicated member of the Stonington Public Schools community. He began his tenure as a substitute teacher in 1978. After pursuing an education in microbiology and career goals in research, Gary returned to Stonington as a part-time custodian in 2006. Gary was known to most as being a “gentle giant”. He was a kind and compassionate person to those he worked with at Stonington Public Schools. Gary was always accommodating when asked to perform any task. He would always greet people with a smile and often share a story or two and talk about his college days in Colorado or stories about his life. He was a known history buff and able to share many tales about the Village of Stonington Borough. Gary loved coffee and was often seen riding his bike with a cup of coffee in one hand and a handlebar in the other. He would ride his bike to work every day no matter the weather conditions and never missed a day in his seventeen years of service. Gary was an integral part of our district and will be dearly missed.
Stonington Police said the crash took place shortly after 10:30 p.m. on Monday when Piver headed home from the high school. At the time, the car that hit Piver had driven away.
However, on Wednesday, police found the car in Stonington using town and private camera and license plate readers.
Police did not say if the driver has been found.
"He was an intellectual, quiet, reserved, brilliant and we always saw him on coffee shops, on the road cycling very hard," said Jenifer Lacker, president of Bike Stonington.
Flowers and a ghost bicycle in memoriam of Piver were placed in the area of where the crash happened.
Piver's tragedy struck a serious conversation about bike safety.
"It could’ve been prevented with better bike infrastructure, with a bridge, a pedestrian bridge could’ve been built here, better signage," added Lacker.
"My husband rides his bike to work and I don’t ever want to get a call like this," said Allison Palmer, co-owner of the Mystic Cycle Center.
According to Bike Walk Connecticut, a non-profit that works to improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians, the number of deaths has increased since the pandemic.
"We need to put infrastructure in place to protect people who have the right to ride their bikes instead of taking their cars," added Palmer.
The Town of Stonington also held a moment of silence Thursday night in a Board of Selectmen meeting.
Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
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