WASHINGTON - Two D.C. cyclists on a mission to bike across the globe were among four people killed in a terror attack in Tajikistan.
Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin began their journey in July 2017. They documented their experiences on their blog, simplycycling.org.
Geoghegan and Austin were cycling with a group in Khatlon Oblast on Sunday when terrorists rammed a car into the group and then got out and attacked them with knives. Along with Geoghegan and Austin, two Europeans were killed.
Geoghegan’s family released a statement Tuesday:
“We are focused at this difficult time on the joy that Lauren brought to us, to her sisters, and to everyone she encountered.
“The yearlong bicycle adventure Lauren and her partner, Jay Austin, were enjoying was typical of her enthusiastic embrace of life’s opportunities, her openness to new people and places, and her quest for a better understanding of the world.
“Lauren’s sisters are deeply saddened by the loss of their older sister but treasure their rich memories of her love and of the example she set for them.
“We want to thank the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, for their capable and compassionate assistance to our family at this difficult time.
“We ask the media and others interested in speaking with us to please respect our need for complete privacy and ask that you provide us the space and time to process our profound loss.”
Geoghegan, 29, was a graduate of Georgetown University where she majored in Government and minored in Spanish and Arabic. She worked in Georgetown's Office of Undergraduate Admissions, serving as a senior admissions officer.
In response to the news, Georgetown University Dean of Admissions Charles Deacon released the following statement:
"We are heartbroken to hear of Lauren's passing in this devastating tragedy and have expressed our deepest condolences to her family. Lauren was a valued colleague and dear friend to many at Georgetown and an overall treasured member of our community."
Austin worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
On their Facebook Page, Boneyard Studios - Tony House Community wrote:
"The tiny house world just lost a beautiful soul. Jay Austin, of the former Boneyard Studios, left this world doing what he loved (connecting with people and cycling the world) with the person he loved (Lauren Geoghegan).
"This video of Jay building his house captures his spirit so wonderfully.
"Jay, you didn't only build a house, you built a home for yourself and for so many around you. Thank you for all the beauty and light you brought into this world."
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Tajik officials have pointed to another extremist group in that country, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. According to Tajik’s Interior Ministry, the Islamist extremist was banned several years ago for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.
The U.S. State Department said it is working closely with Tajik authorities to investigate the attack.