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Motorcyclist killed Sunday was a seasoned bike enthusiast

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com

It had been an exciting few months for Nick Prianos, a 47-year-old motorcycle enthusiast. He’d recently gotten engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Hendrix. And the pair had just celebrated the grand opening of their motorcycle shop in June.

But over the weekend, the couple took a break from their busy lives in Fayetteville to visit his sister in Cornelius. Prianos never made it back home.

While riding their motorcycles back home Sunday around 4 p.m. on Interstate 77 at I-85, the couple sideswiped each other as they traveled south on I-77, right before the I-85 underpass, Sgt. Jeff Nash with the N.C. Highway Patrol said Monday.

Both bikes hit the median wall, bounced back across the interstate and hit the shoulder wall on the bridge over I-85, Nash said.

Hendrix, 38, was thrown from her bike and landed in the travel lanes of I-77. She was able to get up and move off the road, Nash said.

Prianos was thrown from his bike and fell onto I-85 northbound, Nash said. He died from the impact.

Hendrix is being treated at Carolinas Medical Center–Main. A nurse said her condition was good, and she was expected to leave the hospital Monday.

Nash said Hendrix and Prianos were wearing helmets. He said state troopers don’t believe speed was a factor in the crash.

The crash remains under investigation.

On Monday, Tony Prianos recalled how his brother developed a love for bikes at an early age.

Nick Prianos spent much of his free time riding dirt bikes. “He wasn’t the type to take a lot of risks, but he loved to ride,” said Tony Prianos.

After high school, Nick Prianos went to automotive school in Montana before joining the Army and training to work on helicopters.

When he got out of the military, Prianos started working for civilian companies with government contracts. He worked as a civilian trucker in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a military helicopter mechanic in Kuwait during the first Gulf War and a helicopter mechanic in Iraq.

On his LinkedIn page, Prianos noted that he had more than 25 years of maintenance experience and “can complete any task at hand. I have worked on many types of military aircraft and engines all over the world.”

In recent years, he’d worked as a contract worker at Fort Bragg.

Prianos and Hendrix opened their motorcycle business in Fayetteville earlier this year. Gin’s Speed Shop specializes in custom motorcycle sales and services.

“Jennifer and Nick were persuaded by other established members of the biker community to open a shop that combined Nick’s experience with custom bike building and engine building with Jennifer’s in-depth knowledge of parts and ability to provide customers with great friendly service,” the company website says.

Hendrix is the store owner. Nick Prianos worked as service manager and custom bike builder.

“They were doing pretty well,” said Tony Prianos. “Just like any new business, they were putting in a lot of hard hours, but they were doing well.”

Tony Prianos, who lives in Florida, said he’s still in shock about the fatal accident.

He said his brother was a generous man who was always enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge of mechanics and motorcycles with others.

“He was just the type of guy that would give his right arm if you asked him to,” said Prianos, his voice cracking. “He had a heart of gold.”

Staff researcher Maria David contributed.

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
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