'The best person to me': Woman killed cycling in Saskatoon warmly remembered as wrestler, teacher and partner
Alexander Quon | CBC News | Posted: Thursday, May 25th, 2023 2:21 PM | Last Updated: May 26th
Natasha Fox identified as 33-year-old cyclist killed on College Drive Wednesday
Natasha Fox is being remembered as an incredible athlete, an inspirational teacher and a loving partner.
Family has identified Fox, 33, as the cyclist who was killed on Wednesday after being struck by a cement truck on College Drive.
"She was the best person to me," said Tod Fox, Natasha's husband.
Natasha was a teacher with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and was also an accomplished athlete.
Tod described Natasha as someone with a wicked sense of humour who put her heart and soul into everything she did.
He says her biggest passion was the sport that she dedicated much of her life to: wrestling.
Natasha wrestled for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, was named as an RBC Olympian in 2016 and represented Canada on the national stage for more than a decade, most recently at the 2021 World Championships in Oslo, Norway.
Natasha even dedicated her time to training the next generation of athletes, combining her job as a teacher with the sport that she loved.
Just two weeks ago she helped organize a wrestling tournament and had hundreds of students turn up.
Although she retired from competitive wrestling a year ago, Tod says Natasha spent a lot of her time coaching.
"She was helping for last-minute preparations for charity and trials for some other wrestlers," said Tod.
"She wasn't even competing, but she was there for them and her team."
Wrestling community in mourning
Condolences poured in after Natasha's tragic death.
Wrestling Saskatchewan, Wrestling Canada Lutte and Huskies Athletics all offered their sympathies on social media.
"Words cannot describe the feelings we have today. She will be greatly missed," said Tamara Medwidsky, executive director of Wrestling Canada Lutte, in a statement.
Those who knew her through wrestling say Natasha's death is a loss that will affect them personally and deeply change the wrestling community.
Shane Bradley began coaching Natasha in Grade 9 and worked with her throughout her time as a student athlete at the University of Saskatchewan and afterward when she began competing internationally.
As a high performance coach for Saskatchewan Wrestling and an assistant head coach with the University of Saskatchewan, Bradley spent nearly 20 years coaching Natasha.
He says Natasha was one of the rare athletes who was extremely coachable, fun to work with and was dedicated to encouraging others to love the sport like she did.
"You could just see in her the things that you wanted to see in all other athletes and, to be honest, all other people. She just had a zest for life," Bradley said on Wednesday.
Bradley has spent more than 35 years as a coach and says he has never met an athlete that loved the sport and its community as much as Natasha did.
"Young athletes wanted to be like her, senior athletes wanted to be around her, whether it was, you know, on her own teams here in Saskatoon or even nationally and internationally. She just brought that spark to everybody," Bradley said.
Derrick Kunz, a spokesperson for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, also offered the organization's condolences.
"All of us at Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools are greatly saddened to learn that a friend and colleague passed away yesterday while cycling as a result of a motor vehicle accident," said Kunz.
The fatal crash remains under investigation by Saskatoon police.
Investigators said the crash happened at about 4 p.m. CST at the corner of Wiggins Avenue and College Drive, one of the main entrances to the University of Saskatchewan
It happened during rush hour on one of the busiest stretches in the city.
Police said the woman who was hit, now known to be Natasha, died at the scene.
Natasha's two children were behind her on bikes. They were unharmed.
Traffic was diverted for several hours as police pieced together what happened.
James Arnold, a board member from a bicycle advocacy group called Saskatoon Cycles, said he's had a few "close calls" at the intersection where the woman died.
Arnold said there are signs telling people to share the road with bikes, but he doesn't believe that idea works.
"We're just in a situation where we're vulnerable when we mix with automobiles — and in this case, a very heavy truck," said Arnold. "We don't know the details, but it's a tragedy someone has died. It's very bad.
"It's really a tragic reminder for us about the vulnerability of people on bicycles compared to those who are in motor vehicles."
Police say that the crash on Wednesday has been the only fatal collision involving a cyclist out of the 35 collisions they've recorded since 2022.