Paige Hicks '11 was killed July 20 while leading a cross-country bike trip, raising money for affordable housing.
Hicks, of Chesterfield, Mo., was struck by a tractor trailer on U.S. Highway 18 in South Dakota, said Lt. David Berkeley of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Hicks had pulled over on the side of the road to check messages on her cell phone.
Berkeley said she had stopped in an area of rolling hills, near the badlands region of the state — "kind of out in the middle of nowhere."
The tractor trailer was hauling a combine, and though the driver, Scott Wenzel, tried to swerve out of the way, he did not see Hicks in time, Berkeley said. He said a final investigation of the accident is not yet complete, but charges against Wenzel are unlikely.
Hicks was serving as a group leader for Bike and Build, a nonprofit program that raises money for affordable housing. She was one of four leaders of the 31-person group biking from Providence to Seattle.
Hicks was "someone who was friends with everyone," said Jesse Cohn '10, a close friend who participated in a Bike and Build trip in 2008. She describing Hicks as incredibly "enthusiastic and motivating."
She had an amazing ability to get people excited about things, said Haley Hicks, Paige's older sister. Haley said that the Bike and Build program brought together athleticism and social activism — two values that Paige held strongly — and noted how important friendship and community were to her sister.
Friends and family members repeatedly described Hicks as passionate and driven, pursuing her interests with a unique positivism, confidence and spirit.
She was a human biology concentrator, but pursued a strong interest in medieval and religious studies, Haley said.
Hicks played on Brown's Ultimate Frisbee team, a "very close-knit community," said Cohn, Hicks' teammate. About 40 team members flew out to St. Louis this weekend to attend memorial services, Cohn said. Teammates also held a dinner in Providence shortly after receiving news of the accident, and wore commemorative purple ribbons on their jerseys at a tournament on Saturday.
"She was always wanting to make sure everyone was having a good time," Cohn said of Hicks. When members of the Ultimate Frisbee team could not attend the traditional Gala dance this spring due to tournament scheduling, Hicks planned an alternative formal party, making sure that people did not feel they had missed out.
The Bike and Build program originally sparked Hicks' interest with the promise of physical challenge, according to a letter she wrote on the program's website while abroad in Spain last spring. "I like to earn my views, so these tour buses and trips up the Pyrenees in cars are killing me," she wrote.
But over the course of her first trip last summer, she became more interested in housing policy and history. "What I want to learn more about are some of the root causes of homelessness and how we could work to attack the problem from the base up," she wrote.
President Ruth Simmons sent an e-mail notifying the University community of Hicks' death on July 22. A memorial service for Hicks will be held on campus in the fall, Simmons wrote.
Please check browndailyherald.com for further updates.