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Canadian bicyclist on international fundraising trip dies after being struck by driver in South Dakota

After biking nearly 400 miles and raising nearly C$18,000, Jean-Pierre Petit was struck north of Brookings.

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Jean-Pierre Petit, 53, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, takes a selfie as he crosses into South Dakota on his international bicycle trip to Hot Springs in an effort to raise money for his granddaughter, who suffers from kidney disease.
Photo courtesy of Cycle4Eveline
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BROOKINGS, South Dakota — A 53-year-old man biking from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in an effort to raise money for his granddaughter's medical condition has died after he was struck by a vehicle on Interstate 29 last week.

Jean-Pierre Petit, 53, of Winnipeg, has died as a result of injuries he sustained in the June 9 crash.

According to the South Dakota Highway Patrol, on June 9, Petit was riding his bicycle on I-29 roughly 17 miles north of Brookings when a 2015 International straight truck struck him along the fog line.

Petit was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, but sustained life-threatening injuries. He was transported to a Sioux Falls hospital, where he died Monday.

In an effort to fundraise for his granddaughter, Eveline, who has suffered from end-stage kidney disease since her birth, Petit was inspired to bike a route from Winnipeg to Hot Springs.

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Petit ran his first-ever 100 mile ultra-marathon in Hot Springs. While in town, he saw Kidney Springs, a natural spring that detailed how the minerals in the water promoted kidney health.

After Eveline was born, Petit said he was inspired to make the trip again. He first thought of running, but realized it would take too long. He settled on biking a roughly 800-mile route, instead.

After kicking off his trek on June 4, Petit biked roughly 62 miles each day, before reaching Watertown after five days.

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Jean-Pierre Petit crosses into the United States on his bicycle, on his way to Hot Springs while raising money for his granddaughter's medical condition.
Photo courtesy of Cycle4Eveline

It was on day six, after biking nearly 400 miles and raising nearly C$18,000, that Petit was struck north of Brookings.

Since the crash, family and friends have taken to the Cycle4Eveline Facebook page to mourn the loss of Petit, also known as JP, together.

"JP has always been focused on the health and safety of others. He leaves behind an amazing legacy of this which includes his recent support of his son and granddaughter during their kidney donation experience, and then his fundraising plan in support of Eveline’s kidney transplant and for other kids who need nephrology care," a post written by his family reads. "And now, with this legacy ride, he is donating his organs to help save more lives."

From the beginning of Petit's journey through Wednesday afternoon, over C$22,000 (roughly $17,000 USD) has been raised, slightly more than the original goal of C$20,000.

Petit's family said on Facebook those wishing to honor Petit can direct donations to Cycle4Eveline. He is survived by his wife, their three children and many grandchildren.

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The driver of the truck that struck Petit, 65-year-old Mark Akkerman, of Brandon, is facing charges in connection to the fatal crash.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate the crash.

Dunteman covers general and breaking news as well as crime in the Mitchell Republic's 17-county coverage area. He grew up in Harrisburg, and has lived in South Dakota for over 20 years. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 after earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reached at HDunteman@MitchellRepublic.com, or on Twitter @HRDunt.
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