Aaron Laciny, photo via Hopkins Hub

As police continue to investigate the fatal hit-and-run crash that took 20-year-old Aaron Laciny’s life on Monday evening, his family and peers have been sharing kind words about the late researcher, cyclist and outdoors enthusiast.

Laciny was headed southbound on his bike in the left lane of N. Charles Street on June 19 when he was struck by two cars, police said. The area was located just north of the city-county line near Eddie’s of Roland Park.

The first driver who hit him fled the scene, while the second remained behind and called police. Laciny was transported to Greater Baltimore Medical Center up the road, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Police said his bike wasn’t equipped with reflectors or lights, but that he was wearing a helmet.

Two surveillance videos form the nearby Exxon. The first shows Laciny heading down the road just before the crash:

YouTube video

The second shows the first car speeding away northbound, authorities say:

YouTube video

In the wake of his death, Laciny’s family, friends and colleagues have been singing his praises. According to a letter from his sister shared by local cycling advocacy group Bikemore, he was an avid camper, a “renaissance man” and “the Einstein of the 21st century” who, despite not having officially graduated from high school, scored a 4.0 GPA while earning his associate’s degree from Baltimore City Community College. While there, he was recognized for his research on the medicinal properties of the henna plant, according to a release.

Laciny had recently started working as a paid intern in the Johns Hopkins University’s NanoEnergy Laboratory in the Whiting School of Engineering, according to the Hopkins Hub. His summertime project was designing and building materials to be used for inexpensive solar cells and optical sensors. He was also applying to four-year schools this summer.

His boss and instructor, Assistant Professor Susanna Thon, told the Hub the 20-year-old “was one of the best undergrads I’ve ever mentored,” and that he “had a very promising career ahead of him.”

His sister said he would tutor other students for free. Questdrion Threat, a friend who attended BCCC with Laciny, told the Sun “he had a beautiful mind” and “wanted to make the world a better place.”

His death comes at a time of heightened tensions over safety and accessibility for cyclists around Baltimore. Community disputes in Roland Park and Canton have led to a legal battle with the city over one bike lane’s planned reconfiguration and calls to remove another that was only installed a little more than a year ago. (In the latter case in Roland Park, the neighborhood’s civic association has argued the curbside lane is obstructive to drivers and pedestrians, and too narrow and dangerous for cyclists.)

Bikemore issued a statement saying Laciny’s passing is “a tragedy that illustrates the level of callousness and disregard people riding bikes receive.”

His family has asked those who might send them flowers or grievances to instead donate money to the nonprofit in his name. Bikemore has set up a memorial page with an online donation box and his sister’s accompanying letter.

Baltimore County police spoke yesterday with a driver who “recalled striking what they believed to be debris left in the roadway” from the incident. Police think the citizen may have been involved in the crash, but are looking into additional leads.

Anyone with info on the tragic accident is asked to call police at 410-307-2020.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...

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