Kyle Bennett, a cyclist who performed for the United States BMX Olympic team in 2008 died in an automobile accident on Sunday. The Oct. 14 incident occurred early in the mooring in Conroe, Texas, Bennett’s hometown, according to a statement from USA Cycling.
"All of us at USA Cycling were deeply saddened to learn this morning of the tragic and untimely loss of Kyle Bennett," USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson said in the organization’s statement. "Kyle was a pioneer in Olympic BMX and an inspiration to those of us that knew him. He will be sorely missed, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones."
Bennett, 33, was engaged to be married and had a young daughter named Kylie. Before his death, the cyclist had won three BMX world championships, and had earned himself an automatic spot on the first U.S. BMX Olympic Team.
"He made it big-time and made good money and a great living, but he never forgot where he came from," said former owner of Armadillo BMX, Keith Arnst, who was also a family friend of Bennett’s, an article in the Houston Chronicle said. The newspaper noted that Bennett was a role-model to younger cyclists who appreciated his technique. He was inducted into the BMX Hall of Fame for his work in the inaugural BMX Olympics.
Investigators believe Bennett was heading westbound on Old Highway 105 at about 2:15 am when the accident occurred, the newspaper said. The BMX Olympian lost control of his 2006 Toyota Tundra after driving at a high speed and was sent off the road, flipping the truck through a ditch and into a private residence; he was pronounced dead at the scene.
"He was a genuine, great guy," says Mike King, BMX program director for USA Cycling, told the Houston Chronicle. "He was always there to give back, which I think is his story. He was a bigger person off the bike, but he also was able to inspire people to try to be like him. It would be the ultimate compliment to say that you ride like Kyle Bennett."
Bennett took a great amount of pride in the sport. The cyclist felt that it was a misunderstood craft and hoped the 2008 Olympics would bring in new audiences to BMX.
"People don't know what BMX is," Bennett told the Houston Chronicle in 2008. "They think of tricks, but we don't do that. We're racers. It will be huge to show the world what we do."