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Crash Kills Atlanta Sculptor Picked For Martin Luther King Statue

MONTGOMERY, AL - MARCH 25:  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking before crowd of 25,000 Selma To Montgomery, Alabama civil ri
MONTGOMERY, AL - MARCH 25: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking before crowd of 25,000 Selma To Montgomery, Alabama civil rights marchers, in front of Montgomery, Alabama state capital building. On March 25, 1965 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images)

An Atlanta sculptor chosen to create a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. for the Georgia Capitol grounds was killed this weekend when his motorcycle was hit by a pickup truck driven by a man charged with drunken driving, authorities said on Monday.

Sculptor Andy Davis, known for his statue of singer Ray Charles in the performer's hometown of Albany, Georgia, was selected last month to make the statue of the slain civil rights leader.

Davis, a 53-year-old father of two, was stopped on his motorcycle at a traffic light in an Atlanta suburb on Saturday when he was hit from behind by the pickup truck, the Georgia State Patrol said.

The 20-year-old driver of the pickup truck was charged with drunken driving, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and failing to drive at a safe distance, authorities said.

"One thing that we know, is that he would want everyone to think on his life works, his wild, loving heart, and his heroism that was so apparent in his barefooted steps," the sculptor's family wrote on his Facebook page.

The Georgia Legislature in 2014 authorized the commissioning of a King statue to replace one of Thomas Watson, a former U.S. senator known for his racist, anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic views. The statue of Watson, who died in 1922, was moved in 2013 from in front of the Capitol to a less prominent place in a park across the street.

"I'm deeply saddened by the death of Andy Davis," Governor Nathan Deal said in a statement on Monday. "He leaves behind a legacy of excellent work, and I regret that will not include a statue on our Capitol grounds that many generations of Georgians would have admired."

King, a leader of the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, was born just a few blocks from the Georgia Capitol. He was assassinated in 1968 at age 39.

There is a portrait of King inside the Capitol building, but there is no other monument to him in or around the site.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Will Dunham)