Sunday, March 8, 2015

Paths of peril: Werner Gattinger

News-Press Sunday 3/8/15 Bike Safety Feature: Paths of peril

Janine Zeitlin, Melanie Payne and Laura Ruane,,

Each Southwest Florida bike death is a different, heartbreaking story...this is Werner Gattinger's story.

Werner Gattinger, 67

Crash date: Dec. 13, 2014

Werner Gattinger
(Photo: Cristie Harold/Special to
Werner Gattinger told Cristie Harold, his friend back in Virginia, he wasn't a huge fan of Naples. 

"Nothing's real, from the trees, to the sidewalks, to the women," he joked.

He did relish riding his bike to the beach, sitting on the sand and taking in the Gulf of Mexico.

Some years earlier, Gattinger had sold Harold his photo studio at a resort in Hot Springs, in the mountains of Virginia. He had hired her two decades before as an assistant photographer. He became a mentor and friend.

Austrian-born Gattinger came to Hot Springs to be a ski instructor and lived there nearly 40 years, said his obituary in the Virginia newspaper, The Recorder. He had two daughters, three grandchildren and a wife.

He spent winters in Naples and loved to hike and ski in his native Austria other parts of the year, Harold said.

"He was very encouraging to live life, have fun, to do what you want to and have a good time," said Harold, 44. "His body or his spirit did not represent his age."

Gattinger was hit Dec. 13 by a swerving Cadillac SUV along Gulf Shore Boulevard North in Naples, shortly before sunset. The driver, Jacqueline Ribes, 58, smelled of alcohol and stumbled, reports said. Ribes was arrested on DUI charges. After Gattinger died in January, the state attorney's office added a charge of DUI manslaughter.

Related: Woman faces DUI manslaughter in bike crash

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