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Ex-messenger killed

Motorist charged with DUI in fatality

By David Conti
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 29, 2004

A bicycle enthusiast pedalling home from work was struck and killed by a motorist whom Pittsburgh police accuse of driving drunk.

Robert Hemelrick, 32, of Hazelwood, died at 12:20 a.m. Wednesday, about 40 minutes after a Ford Expedition driven by Eunice Bates slammed into him on Irvine Street, just a few blocks from his home.

Edward Hemelrick, of West Alexander, Washington County, said his son was riding home from a local restaurant where he worked as a cook.

"Ever since he was a kid, he'd tear bikes apart and make new ones the way he wanted them," Edward Hemelrick said. "He rode a bike wherever he needed to go."

Police charged Bates, 47, of Winston Street in Hazelwood, with driving under the influence after she refused to take a breath test.

Refusing to take a breath test in Pennsylvania constitutes automatic grounds for being charged with drunken driving.

Bates could be charged with other offenses if police determine she was at fault for the wreck, investigators said. She was in the Allegheny County Jail yesterday on $16,000 bond. She faces a hearing Wednesday in City Court.

An investigator said it did not appear that Tuesday's ice and snow storm played a role in the crash.

The impact severed an artery in Robert Hemelrick's chest, according to the Allegheny County Coroner's Office.

Police were called to the 4100 block of Irvine Street in Hazelwood at 11:38 p.m. Tuesday. Investigators said Bates was driving on Irvine Street when she hit Hemelrick. It was too early to determine if Hemelrick rode into the Ford's path, police said. It will take several weeks for the police accident investigation squad to complete its analysis of the crash.

Edward Hemelrick recalled his son as a "hard worker" with an outgoing personality.

"He was a bike courier for a couple of years, which was great for him, because he was on his bike and got to meet friends," he said.

Robert Hemelrick grew up in Washington County and moved to Pittsburgh after graduating from McGuffey High School. He attended art school for a while and lived alone as he bounced between jobs, most recently working as a cook and a security guard, his father said.

"He worked with his hands with art and the bikes," Edward Hemelrick said of his only child.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today and Friday at Michael Heinrich Funeral Home in Claysville, Washington County. He will be buried Saturday in Prosperity Cemetery.


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