A beloved teacher and her husband are dead after being struck by an SUV while training for a charity cycling event Tuesday night, authorities confirm.
Janice and Mark Wendling, of Morris, were riding their bikes on a small rural road just outside the far southwest suburb around 7 p.m. Tuesday night. They were training for a cycling event to raise money for charity, when they were hit from behind by an SUV, police said.
The Grundy County Coroner said Mark died on the scene. Janice was airlifted to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, where she was pronounced dead.
Mark was an engineer for the nearby nuclear power plants, and Janice taught seventh and eighth grade math at Shabbona Middle School in Morris, where the man who hired her said her presence was a gift.
“I was devastated,” said former Morris School District 54 Superintendent Michael Wright. “She was always, always there for students.”
“This community will be impacted tremendously by this loss,” Wright added.
“She had a really big heart. No matter who the person you were, she accepted everybody,” said former student Jordan Wren. “If you asked her tutor you, she would stay for hours and hours after school, any day for you. She would make time.”
Jordan, her mother Dawn, and several others all wore Cubby blue Wednesday in support of Jan's favorite team.
“She was a huge Cubs fans,” Dawn said. “So we have to honor her and wear our shirts and let her know we love her.”
But while she loved sports and her students, her first interest was her family.
“Her boys meant the world to her,” said friend Denise Bach. “Ryan and Kevin, they are the men they are today because of her and her husband. They were just wonderful people.”
According to the Grundy County Sheriff, the crash is still under investigation.