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Henry County physician struck, killed while riding bike with group

A Henry County physician died Wednesday after he was hit by a motorist while riding with a group of bicyclists, police said Thursday.

A person driving a 2002 Infiniti was negotiating a curve on Lower Woolsey Road in Hampton when he came up on the cyclists and struck John A. Harsch from behind, Henry police spokesman Joey Smith said in a media release. Three other cyclists in the group were not harmed.

Emergency crews arrived about 6:40 p.m.

Harsch, 59, of Hampton, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where he died, Smith said.

Harsch was an avid bicyclist and a popular member of the Southern Crescent Cycling group.

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“It’s one of those things where you’re trying to believe it’s actually real,” said David Mills, a cycling group member who knew Harsch. Mills said there was a formal group ride Wednesday, but Harsch was training with a coach and other bicyclists on another route with less traffic.

Southern Crescent Cycling president Obie Ingram said: “Everybody is just in shock. I wish this was just a nightmare.”

Ingram remembers meeting Harsch about five years ago through a cardiologist who was a mutual friend. At the time, Ingram weighed about 350 pounds. He is now about 180.

“[Harsch] shared my story with his patients,” Ingram said. “John loved to see people better themselves.”

As news of Harsch’s death spread, the group canceled its Thursday evening ride, according to Southern Crescent’s Facebook page.

Updated with funeral information: Funeral Services will be  10:30 am Monday, April 11, 2016 at St. James The Apostle Catholic Church, 1000 GA Hwy 155 N, McDonough. Interment will follow at Eastlawn Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hands of Hope Clinic, 1010 Hospital Drive, Stockbridge, GA 30281. The family will receive friends Sunday, April 10 from 2-4 pm and 6-8: pm at Cannon Cleveland Funeral Directors, 2580 Hwy 42 N, McDonough, GA 30253.

There was an outpouring of sympathy for Harsch on the page.

“I recall that I once came into his office w/o an appointment and I was apparently very ill,” a man who identified himself as SirWilliam Hughes said in a post. “He took me to the hospital in his personal vehicle to save me $$ on an ambulance.”

Harsch’s Stockbridge office was closed Thursday.

The accident remains under investigation, and findings will be presented to a grand jury to determine if charges will be filed against the motorist, Smith said.

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