IU East professor of history dies after bicycling accident

Photo: IU East

RICHMOND, Ind. (WTHR) - An Indiana University East professor of history died Monday morning after police say he was involved in a bicycling accident.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Department says they responded to the 2700 block of Minneman Road Monday around 6:40 a.m. That stretch of country road is very hilly and doesn’t have any lights.

Police say 65-year-old Eugene Cruz-Uribe of Richmond lost control of his bicycle for an undetermined reason resulting in the crash. Investigators say he was thrown between 20-25 feet from his bike in the accident. Authorities say Cruz-Uribe was wearing a helmet when he crashed.

Since there were no witnesses, police are trying to figure out whether he lost control by himself, was hit, or something else. Now there are flowers laying along the road in the spot where he was found.

“He did have some facial injuries,” said Wayne County Lt. Randy Retter. “And he did have another head injury we discovered later that was more significant.”

Medics transported Cruz-Uribe to Reid Health in Richmond and then to Methodist hospital in Indianapolis where he died.

“We’re going to continue until we get to the bottom of this,” said Retter. “This is certainly a tragedy and we want to get the family some answers.”

Anyone with information relating to the crash is encouraged to contact the Wayne County Sheriff's Department at (765) 973-9393.

Cruz-Uribe is the husband of IU East Chancellor Kathryn Cruz-Uribe. He also worked there as a history professor, but retired from teaching classes last summer. Cruz-Uribe was still involved with other research projects and recently returned from a trip to Egypt.

The University issued a statement about Cruz-Uribe's passing:

"The IU East family mourns the passing of Eugene Cruz-Uribe. Gene was very active on campus and in the community. His outgoing personality and zest for life provided inspiration to many students, colleagues and friends. As a campus, we extend our greatest sympathy to Chancellor Kathy Cruz-Uribe and her family."

Cruz-Uribe was also actively involved with the Wayne County Historical Museum, where he was the board chairman. The museum has a special section with Egyptian history that Cruz-Uribe was drawn to after moving to the area.

“Gene always had a smile on his face,” said Jim Harlan, who is the executive director of the museum. “He made things fun and everybody enjoyed being around Gene.”

When Cruze-Uribe came to the museum, he worked with another Egyptologist to figure out the backstory of the mummy they have on display. He also had a great sense of humor. Cruze-Uribe dressed as a mummy for a Halloween event at the museum. People who knew him say he was vivacious, full of life and had a big laugh.

Friends tell us Cruze-Uribe was also an avid bike-rider and went on daily rides around the area where he was found. Even after his death, his legacy lives on through his research and the people who will never forget him.

“We’re going to miss him,” said Harlan.

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