ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis bicycling community is mourning one of their own, after a cyclist was killed over the weekend during a race.
"They would gravitate to his personality" said Maurice Hessel. "I don't think he ever met a stranger. He's just a genuine, great person" he said.
29-year-old Casey Saunders was killed Sunday in a tragic accident while riding in the Tour of Kansas City. Police say Saunders crashed into a metal pole or barrier along the race route, later dying from injuries to his head.
"He had so much life in him... " said Hessel. "Just to find out suddenly that that life is gone, that's the part that really hurts. That's the heartbreaking part of the whole situation" he said.
Saunders worked at the Big Shark Bicycle Company in Richmond Heights for years.
"Casey was our glue" said owner Mike Weiss. "He was the guy that showed up on time, left late everyday, work more than a fair day everyday... his work was perfect" he said.
Just as perfect as was his work, those who knew him say his athleticism and growing career as an elite racer was unmatched.
"In any other sport, he would be a household name he was that good" Weiss said. "He was definitely one of the top three or four guys in the area and in the region, he could race at a national level and a professional level and in every possible discipline" he said.
"You want to aspire to be somebody like that you want to be somebody that when you're not here people will say we were lucky we knew him" Weiss said. "I think that's how we feel about him. We're just really grateful that we had him for so long".
After rounding a corner and hitting the barrier, other racers and first responders tried to help him.