1 year later: cyclist’s recovery continues, man accused of attacking him awaits trial
Greg Germani’s life changed forever on June 9, 2014.
Germani, an avid cyclist, was riding his bike home from his job at Turner Broadcasting. He had been riding his bike to work for 25 years. Witnesses told police that Germani, then 50, was riding his bike down Montgomery Ferry Drive when he was almost hit by a red Dodge Nitro that was turning onto the road from Flagler Avenue.
Investigators believe the driver intentionally chased Germani down Flagler Avenue after the two men got into an argument following the near-collision on Montgomery Ferry.
Police said the alleged driver, Joseph Alan Lewis, used his SUV as a weapon, inflicting a head injury so severe that Lewis is being prosecuted for attempted murder.
Germani is best known as the man behind the Atlanta Time Machine website, which publishes “then and now” photos of the city. One year later, his entire life has become a reflection on then and now. Friends and family say that while Germani continues to make improvements, they know that he will be recovering from the accident the rest of his life.
“It’s kind of crazy,” his girlfriend Beth Anne Harrill said on June 9, 2015. “I’m trying not to think about today too much. I would say that I am optimistic about there being justice and that … it will work its way through the legal system and we’ll get the right outcome. Greg’s life is changed forever. So many people’s lives have been changed forever, and there’s got to be a reckoning for that.”
Lewis’ case has yet to go to trial. It’s the same story for the case against his girlfriend, Shanelle Woodard, accused of helping him cover up the crime. Lewis, who moved to Atlanta from Michigan, is an aspiring musician and has pleaded not guilty. He retained the services of Dwight Thomas, a celebrity attorney who has represented the rapper T.I. Thomas has filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained from the search of the Lewis’ red Dodge Nitro, arguing the search was not legal.
Police recovered the vehicle when an employee who worked for Gables Midtown, Lewis’ apartment complex, noticed the vehicle was covered by a tarp. A Crime Stoppers reward of almost $30,000 was offered for information leading to an arrest of the suspect in Germani’s case.
When the employee pulled back the tarp and realized it was the same vehicle identified as the one used to hit Germani, the employee flagged down an Atlanta Police Officer. The police officer asked the employee to take him to the vehicle in the parking garage. Officers later obtained a warrant for the Dodge Nitro and Lewis’ apartment.
Attempts to reach Thomas, Lewis’ attorney, and an attorney for Woodard were unsuccessful.
District Attorney Paul Howard told Decaturish he does not expect the case to go to trial next month as scheduled and said he doesn’t know when the trial will begin.
“The case against Joseph Lewis is open and pending trial,” Howard said. “On May 26, 2015, a motions hearing was held before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Todd Markle regarding the defense’s Motion to Suppress. The Judge asked each side to submit written briefs which will then be taken under advisement upon receipt. At this time, the Judge has not ruled on the motion nor is there a timeline for his decision.
“On July 13, 2015, the case is scheduled for a trial calendar. However, we do not believe the case will be called for trial at that time because a new Judge will be assigned to the criminal caseload for that courtroom, as Judge Markle will be assigned to handle cases in the Family Court Division.”
The family of Germani remains confident that there will be justice for Greg.
John Germani, Greg’s younger brother, said the one year anniversary is a reminder of lingering uncertainty.
“It’s tough to put in words, really,” he said. “It’s still a big wait and see kind of thing. It doesn’t seem like we got any closure of any sort.”
He said with his brother, recovery is often one step forward and two steps back.
“But at the same time, we’re also lucky he can converse,” John Germani said. “His long-term memory is pretty good. His short term seems to have suffered the most. He’s making improvements physically and mentally as well. It’s a great unknown of brain injuries. We’re hoping things continue to get better. We’ve come to the conclusion he’s never going to be what he was. We hope for continued improvement.”
While the recovery has been slow and painful, there have been happy moments for Germani’s family. There was a May 29 fundraiser at Kavarna in Decatur. Germani remembers that one well, Harrill said.
“He was able to go in the door stand up and walk 20 feet with assistance,” she said. “He was so happy. He got a standing ovation. He’s still talking about the events a week and a half later, how wonderful it was.”
The family is still raising money to help pay for things like nursing care and making Germani’s home wheelchair accessible, things not covered by insurance. Donations can be made to a Go Fund Me account set up in Germani’s name. On the anniversary of his accident, the fund has raised nearly $65,000.