Charges: Texting and driving killed bicyclist, mother of 2 in McLeod County

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"I'm very, very upset to have to tell you," Ryan Verdeck said in a

" target="_blank">post on his wife's Facebook account earlier this year, "that on Sunday the 26th of April, Penny was killed while riding her bike for the first time of the year. She was struck by a car."

The driver of that car – 25-year-old Emily Givens, of Prior Lake – is accused of texting at the time of the April 26 collision that killed Penny Verdeck, a 40-year-old mother of two, KSTP reports.

She's facing three felony charges related to distracted driving, after Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators found evidence of text messages received "less than a minute" before the crash, the news station says.

According to the Star Tribune, Givens told McLeod County Sheriff's deputies that she was not on her phone at the time of the accident; however, Verdeck's family say they don't feel a harsh prison sentence is necessary.

The victim's sister told the paper she would rather see Givens perform community service to warn others against texting and driving.

Penny Verdeck was described as a "community leader" in Glencoe, Minnesota, and an avid triathlete who was passionate about cycling, KSTP reported in the days after her death.

Commenting on the station's piece about his wife's death and the criminal charges, Ryan Verdeck said he's glad the story is "out there, if we can prevent just one more tragedy like this, the pain of reliving it will seem more bearable," according to a Facebook update.

Distracted or "inattentive" driving plays a role in at least 70 deaths and hundreds of "serious" injuries every year in Minnesota, according to the Department of Public Safety.

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