Family, friends mourn loss of OTR business owner killed while riding bicycle
Friends and family are mourning the passing of 61-year-old Bill Rust, who is being remembered on Tuesday at his business in Over-The-Rhine.
Rust was riding his bike eastbound on U.S. 52 when Steven Sickle veered into the shoulder, hit Rust and then left the scene, deputies said. It was just before 6 p.m. Deputies said in a news release that Sickle drove to a campground and one of the campers saw him and drove him back to the crime scene.
"He admitted to us that he had purchased and used heroin after work within an hour of leaving work and then traveling along 52 and striking the bicyclist," a Hamilton County deputy said Tuesday at Sickle's arraignment. Sickle's attorney denied he had used drugs and said he believed he had hit a buzzard.
Rust and his wife, Mary, owned The Candle Lab on Vine Street. The employees said he fell in love with the idea of the shop after visiting a similar one with his daughter. They said they couldn't have asked for a better boss.
"He was really great. He was always really fun to be around. He was really funny," said Toni Broerman, manager of the store.
Amanda Miller also works at The Candle Lab. She said Rust stopped in yesterday to check on things and drop off bottled water. She said Rust had mentioned wanting to ride his bike to get back in shape.
"He had a zest for life. Every time he came in, everyone could feel his presence. Even the neighborhood kids love him," Miller said.
Mary said Tuesday that her husband knew no strangers and everyone loved him. A member of the Covington Business Council told Local 12 News that Rust attended their meetings and was well-liked.
Rust was hit near the same area where Michael Prater was killed by a driver who was also high on drugs last year. That driver received a 13-year sentence. Attorney Steve Magas represented Prater's family and other cyclists who've been injured and has fought for tougher penalties for people who hit cyclists.
"This is not a cyclist issue. It's an addiction issue, it's a motorist issue, it's how do we protect everybody who wants to be within 50 feet of a public way," Magas said.
Judge Brad Greenberg set bail for Sickle at $600,000. Sickle's case will be presented to the grand jury later this month.