Amy Thier's life revolved around her love of friends and a deep compassion for dogs in need of help, her husband, Leo, said Friday.
The 45-year-old founder of Splash Dog Inc. in Des Plaines was riding her bicycle home to play with her own dogs during her hourlong break Thursday evening when she was accidentally struck and killed by an express Metra train near the Cumberland depot on Northwest Highway.
"She was just the greatest person in the world," a tearful Leo recalled in front of their Des Plaines home Friday. "She had the biggest heart."
Amy was long involved with dog rescue, and the Thiers' own three dogs were rescued animals.
The couple were inspired to build Splash Dog -- a canine hydrotherapy and wellness center -- after their experience with their dog Bailey, who lived for 15 years, Leo said. They'd discovered how effective swimming was in extending the life of injured and aging dogs.
Though they'd recently sold the business, Amy continued to be strongly involved with its operation, Leo said.
"I don't know what they're going to do with her not there," he said. "She was the heart and soul of that place."
Amy grew up as Amy Stenholt in Park Ridge and was an All-American in soccer while attending Maine South High School. She maintained her friendships from high school and college through the rest of her life.
"All of her friends know what kind of a person she was," Leo said. "Friends were the most important thing to her."
The couple met in Edison Park through mutual friends 23 years ago and were married for 19 years.
Amy is also survived by her mother and two brothers. Her sister died from cancer a few years ago, Leo said.
Des Plaines police and paramedics received the call of a bicyclist struck by a train near the Cumberland depot about 6 p.m. Thursday. Amy was pronounced dead at the scene, and her death was ruled an accident on Friday by the Cook County medical examiner's officer.
Metra spokesman Tom Miller said train 639 had departed Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago at 5:12 p.m. Thursday and was not scheduled to stop at the Cumberland depot at 485 E. Northwest Hwy.
Safety devices including lights, bells and gates were found to be functioning normally, Miller said.
All Union-Pacific Northwest trains were stopped for about 80 minutes while the accident was being investigated, but service resumed about 7:20 p.m. Thursday.
No further information was available from authorities Friday. The accident remains under investigation by both Des Plaines police and Metra.