Friday, October 23, 2009

In Memory Of A Fallen Cyclist

Here is the Chicago Tribune's remembrance of Liza Whitacre:

Woman killed on bicycle loved freedom of riding
Loyola University student Liza Whitacre loved life -- especially one where she could roam freely through Chicago's streets on a bicycle.

But a freak accident ended her life on Wednesday as she and her roommate rode their bikes through the Lakeview neighborhood.

Whitacre, of the 4900 block of North Winthrop Avenue, fell from her bike, landed underneath a truck and was run over by the vehicle outside Hamlin Park on Damen and Wellington Avenues. Police said she was trying to pass between the truck and a CTA bus when she fell off her bike.

Chicago police today said no citations would likely be issued against the driver of the truck. After the accident at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Officer John Mirabelli, a police spokesman said, "The truck driver was apparently unaware that the woman had fallen underneath."

Whitacre was pronounced dead at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

"She rode her bike everywhere. She loved riding her bike," said Tony Dreyfuss, Whitacre's boss at the Metropolis Coffee Company, 1039 W. Granville Ave., where she worked.

Dreyfuss said Whitacre participated in Critical Mass, a monthly biking event that draws up to 3,000 cyclists who ride through Chicago's streets. But Dreyfuss, who has ridden with Whitacre, described her as a careful rider who wouldn't dart into traffic or travel in between moving cars.

Dreyfuss said Whitacre planned on making coffee her career. Whitacre worked as a retail and wholesale trainer at the shop, training other employees how to make specialty coffee drinks and promoting the shop's products to customers, he said.

The coffee shop was closed today because of Whitacre's death and expected to reopen Friday morning, Dreyfuss said.

Whitacre's family members said she was fluent in French, studying the language at Loyola University. She also enjoyed knitting, sewing and cooking.

Whitacre's younger sister, Lauren Whitacre, said she and Liza were inseparable while growing up.

Lauren, 18, said she and her sister always sat next to one another at birthday parties. As children when they'd ride bikes together, Lauren said, Liza would always hide in bushes and pop out from them just to scare her.

"I don't think we ever didn't do anything together," said Lauren, a student at Columbia College, who jokingly described her big sister as "bossy."

Liza Whitacre was born in Phoenix, Ariz., but spent her formative years in the northwest suburb of Palatine, where she attended Fremd High School.

Other survivors include Liza's mother, Cecilia Whitacre, her father, David Whitacre, a younger brother, Max, two grandmothers, a grandfather, two uncles and an aunt.

A wake is scheduled for Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Loyola's Madonna della Strada Chapel, 6525 N. Sheridan Rd. Her funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Willow Creek Community Church, 67 E. Algonquin Rd., South Barrington.

--Jeremy Gorner

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