Angela Park — identified Friday as the cyclist who was killed in the West Loop earlier in the week — was an accomplished triathlete, personal trainer and mother of two young daughters.
“She believed in everybody. She was the ultimate motivator and coach and friend,” friend Tavia Gavinski said of Park, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher.
Riding north on Halsted, Park was crossing Madison when she was hit by the truck, which was making a right turn at 7:10 a.m. Thursday, police said. Park, 39, was pronounced dead after being taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The driver of the Lakeshore Recycling truck was ticketed, police said. Lakeshore Recycling did not respond to requests for comment.
At the time, Park was biking from her home in Bronzeville to Wicker Park Athletic Club, where she worked as a personal trainer. Park took Halsted to work instead of cutting through side streets because Halsted has designated bike lanes.
Park wore her bike helmet whether she was competing in a triathlon or just riding around the neighborhood, friends said. She was wearing her helmet at the time of the accident; it was later found under the truck after she was hit.
Safety was key for Park, Gavinski said. On a leisurely bike ride to see the recent Dave Matthews Band concert, Gavinski teased Park for insisting on wearing her helmet and taking full safety precautions.
“She was a rule follower, safety first [kind of person],” Gavinski said. “She did everything right, she always followed the rules.”
In addition to her work at Chicago Athletic Clubs, Park was a personal trainer — most notably to “Biggest Loser” winner Bernie Salazar — and coached other triathletes through her personal business, Spark Multi-Sport Coaching.
Park’s “positive energy” was a huge motivator and presence for her clients and loved ones, Gavinski said.
“You could feel it when she walked in the room,” she said. She had “an unconditional belief in everyone around her. She could pull the silver thread out of any situation.”
A USA Triathlon National Championship qualifier since 2010, Park competed in more than 100 triathlons and often finished among the top 3. Gavinski said Park had multiple future races booked at the time of her death. She planned to run this year’s New York Marathon in hopes of qualifying for Boston.
When she wasn’t running, Park loved spending time with her “greatest joys”: her husband, Eugene, and daughters Alexandra, 8, and Olivia, 3. Park met her husband while at Northwestern University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in human development and master’s degree in elementary education.
Park grew up in Kenosha, Wis., where she and Gavinski met each other in third grade. Before working as a trainer, she was an elementary school teacher at Chicago’s May Academy. Gavinski said Park was deeply passionate about humanitarian efforts and did everything she could to help the unfortunate, especially children.
Gavinski said Park was “constantly planning.” If she had any free time, she was probably on her laptop, planning the next destination race, date night, girls night, or even her kids’ playdates, Gavinski said. Though a hard worker, restfulness was next to godliness for Park. Gavinski said she insisted on getting nine hours of sleep every night.
Park was a fantastic mother, Gavinski said. She volunteered as often as she could.
“She had such a love for her two girls,” Gavinski said. “She saw their light and we can see her light in them.”
Funeral services were set for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at First United Methodist Church, 77 W. Washington.