GEORGETOWN — The man accused of hitting and killing a Lexington bicyclist might have a drinking problem, his wife said Tuesday as her husband pleaded not guilty in Scott District Court.
Odilon Paz-Salvador, 29, was charged with murder, wanton endangerment, leaving the scene of a fatal accident and failure to render aid after the death of Lexington lawyer Mark Hinkel, who was struck Saturday during the Horsey Hundred cycling event in Scott County.
Hinkel, 57, was hit head-on and landed in the bed of Paz-Salvador's Dodge pickup, police said. Paz-Salvador traveled three miles with Hinkel in the truck before Georgetown police spotted Hinkel and stopped Paz-Salvador. Hinkel died shortly after at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.
Judge Vanessa M. Dickson said Tuesday that Paz-Salvador was a flight risk and a danger to the community, and she kept his bond at $100,000. Paz-Salvador told police he had drunk six beers and smoked marijuana.
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Joy Paz said she has been married to Paz-Salvador for five years and has been with him for eight. He ran because he was scared, she said.
"He's a really good guy," she said. "He may have had a drinking problem, but he would do anything for anybody."
Paz-Salvador has been charged with driving under the influence at least once before, in 2010 in Scott County. In that case, he'd had 12 beers and a blood-alcohol content of 0.3, according to court documents.
In Kentucky, the blood-alcohol limit is 0.08.
Paz-Salvador's stepdaughter and niece echoed his wife in their descriptions of him as a "good guy."
"Nobody's going to believe it," niece Amber Florentino said.
"He didn't do it on purpose," said Selena Ortiz, the daughter of Joy Paz.
Paz-Salvador works for a concrete company and had just gotten off work before the accident, Joy Paz said. He was near home when he was stopped by police. She disputed a police claim that her husband admitted smoking marijuana.
By traveling on both sides of the road, the bikers participating in the Horsey Hundred were "just asking for an accident to happen," Joy Paz said. Hinkel was struck on Lemons Mill Road.
Randy Thomas, president of the Bluegrass Cycling Club, which sponsors the Horsey Hundred, said riders would not have been on both sides of the road during Saturday's ride.
"It was a horrible statement to make, especially when we understand based on police reports that he was impaired," Thomas said.
Thomas said the club tries to plan routes so riders are not going in both directions at the same time. But in some cases, he said, that is necessary for short distances.
"It doesn't matter if there are bikes in both lanes," he said. "We are a part of traffic. Just like anybody in traffic, you have to deal with them."
The Horsey Hundred attracted 2,500 riders. It has been held for 38 years in Scott, Fayette, Franklin and Woodford counties and before Saturday had never had a fatality.
Police have said Paz-Salvador dropped off the right side of the road, then crossed both lanes of traffic and hit Hinkel head-on.
Paz-Salvador was assigned an attorney Tuesday, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 2.
Hinkel, who was married to Mary-Lynn Minton Hinkel for 35 years, was a graduate of the UK Law School. He was a partner at the Lexington law firm Landrum & Shouse LLP. A father and grandfather, Hinkel also was athletic director at Christ the King School. His funeral is Thursday.