CHICAGO — Friends and relatives of a young bicyclist killed in a River West crash gathered on Wednesday at a suburban family home, remembering the victim as a loving and artistic person.
Lisa Kuivinen, 20, was riding a bike in the 800 block of North Milwaukee Avenue when the student was hit by a truck and killed Tuesday morning. Kuivinen had been an undergraduate student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, studying in the fine arts program.
"She was a wonderful person," said Silma Kuivinen, Lisa's mother, speaking from the family's home in Rolling Meadows. "She was uplifting."
Silma Kuivinen described her child as a "creative person," who was studying animation at SAIC.
"She was an artist, a dancer, played all kinds of instruments," Silma Kuivinen said. "There's so much to her life. I loved her so much."
The family has received a lot of support from Chicago's bicyclist community, but Silma Kuivinen said more needs to be done to protect bikers.
A group of some of Lisa's oldest friends visited their home in Rolling Meadows, where the group of about 10 kids would regularly hang out after school at Rolling Meadows High School, they said.
"This was our hang out," said Amanda Ciezak. "We were always in her garage. She is the reason we're all close friends."
The group described Lisa as a friendly and adventurous person whose wide range of interests and extracurriculars lead the diverse group to become best of friends.
Lisa may be remembered as an artist with a bright future in animation, but friends said Lisa also joined the water polo team and was a lifeguard in their spare time.
"We all have different interests, talents," said Dan Lindberg. "She brought us together."
"She was an exceptional person," Lindberg said.
On Facebook, some recalled Kuivinen as having a "smile and laugh that just lit up the room."
Added another poster: "Lisa was such a wonderful friend and artist. I can't believe Lisa is gone and I'm going to miss their smile and laughter."
Kuivinen, who preferred to use the pronouns "they" and "them," had danced at Fred Astaire Dancing Studio. In a post to Facebook, an employee of the studio said Kuivinen was a "talented, beautiful and passionate dancer."
Lisa "was a star up on that stage. A radiant and shining star," the post said. "We will miss [Kuivinen] so much. There are no words to explain the sorrow and sadness we feel."
Officer Laura Amezaga, a Chicago Police spokeswoman, said the cyclist was "struck by [a] semi" and taken to Northwestern Hospital where Kuivinen was pronounced dead. The driver of the 18-wheel flatbed truck, a 37-year-old man, remained on the scene after the accident and was issued two tickets, police said: one for driving in a bike lane, and one for failure to take due care with a bicyclist.
The driver has a September traffic court date at Daley Center, police said.
A statement issued by the School of the Art Institute said, "We are shocked an saddened to learn of the tragic loss of a member of the SAIC family. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Lisa's family and friends during this very difficult time."
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