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Tree-Cutting Prank Takes Life Of Motorcyclist

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GRANVILLE COUNTY — Someone is deliberately cutting down tree branches and laying them on roadways across Granville County. The incidents have resulted in three wrecks and the death of one motorcyclist.

Pete Hicks was thrown 75 feet when his motorcycle hit a tree that was stretched across Mumms Road 12 a.m. Saturday. Friends describe Hicks as a man who loved his family and his Harleys.

"He was a hardworking, everyday type of guy that provided real well for his family, his children," says Hicks' friend David Kennedy.

The 18-inch tree trunk was deliberately cut so it fell across the road. Another driver swerved to avoid the tree moments before Hicks slammed into it.

Alvin Hobgood called 911 from his house about a quarter of a mile away from the accident. He says he was stunned when he learned the incident was no accident.

"You just go around asking yourself why, trying to reason why this would happen and why it was done," Hobgood says.

Minutes earlier on Highway 50, a car slammed head-on into a tree in the road. Another tree was cut on Old Weaver Trail in Durham County, but it did not fall across the road. Both trees were cut in the same fashion as the tree in Granville County.

Hicks' family and friends find it hard to comprehend why anyone would set a deadly prank. They say they want the suspects caught.

"If they think this is fun, maybe someone needs to strap them on a Harley and put a tree across the road and let them go across," Kennedy says.

Hicks would have celebrated his 40th birthday on Saturday.

Hicks' family and friends have put together a $7,500 reward for anyone that has any information about the crime. Investigators say that since the prank was so premediated and deliberate, a murder charge could be possible.