No one knew whose idea the bike trip had been. Killian Leary credited her youth pastor, and favored her with a friendly pat on the back. Brian Dahl blamed Jimmy Gough, his youth group’s treasurer and a star athlete. Nathan McGivers barely gave the issue a second thought.

Wherever the idea came from, it was soon a reality. Three of the area’s church youth groups united to provide a weekend of camping, hiking, and biking to help build ‘community ties’, and more importantly, to have a good time.

Thus, Brian along with Killy, and Nate–as Nathan and Killian preferred to be called–found themselves biking on the back roads of Jasper County in the summer of 1997. The initial pack of cyclers thinned out rapidly, leaving these three strangers in the rear.

Killy, attired in shorts and a t-shirt in her school colors, her long dark hair secured in a ponytail, took her time–biking was pleasant and relaxing compared to the volleyball camp she’d just come from. Gradually, Killy lost sight of the person in front of her, but was confident that she knew the way.

Brian, rather unwisely clothed in a heavy black t-shirt and cut off jean shorts, struggled on gamely behind her. He was completely unprepared for either the length or the strain of the ride, but was determined to impress certain members of his own group with his endurance.

Nate rode easily behind Brian, determined not to let him fall behind. He was more concerned with the scenery–great swaths of second-growth forests and wild, untended fields–than his performance.

Killy pressed on, and the others followed, barely noticing the bike tracks turning left, or the sudden change from pavement to earth. That is, until Killy rounded a blind curve and ran into a large mud hole in the middle of the road.