US: Florida gay leader killed after accident during HIV fundraiser

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The creator of a popular gay entertainment website in Florida has died, after a tragic accident during an HIV charity bike ride.

Mark Haines – who founded the website Mark’s List – was taking part in the SMART Ride, which raises money for a number of local LGBT and HIV/AIDS charities, including The Pride Center, AIDS Help and Pridelines Youth Services.

He had just completed the first leg of the 165-mile ride from Miami to Key West, and was on foot when he was struck by three vehicles, crossing a road in the Florida Keys.

A statement from his nephew Matthew Haines said: “I am heartbroken to report that Mark Haines, my uncle, the founder and CEO of Mark’s List, and a long-time leader in the Florida GLBT community, was killed last night.

“And yet, I tenuously reach for some ray of happiness in knowing that he died while doing what he loved most. He was participating in the Smart Ride with his brother (my father), Stephen Lang (long-time Mark’s List photographer), and hundreds of others.

“He died instantly, hit by a car while walking home from dinner after the best day and the best ride of his life.”

The Pride Center said: “Our hearts are breaking. Though we carry much gratitude at the finish of the SMART Ride, we are saddened to say goodbye to long term Center supporter, friend and community leader, Mark Haines.

“We’ve never seen him happier than when he successfully completed his first 100 miles last night.

“Our Pride Pack team and our entire community will never be the same. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”