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Father remembers daughter who died in triathlon as ‘strong’ and ‘gregarious’

Amy Martich (Submitted photo)

Amy Martich (Submitted photo)

A photo snapped of Amy Martich just before she entered the waters of the Hudson River to take part in the Nautica New York City Triathlon captures what her father calls “her confident look” and an easy smile that enabled her to make friends throughout her life.

Shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday, Martich, 40, of Elmhurst, was pulled unconscious from the river. She swam about half of the nearly mile-long course when another swimmer noticed she was unresponsive in the water, said race director Bill Burke.

Emergency personnel took her from the river, and provided advanced life support before she was transported to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital where she died early Monday.

An autopsy, which is required when a person dies in a public event, was performed Tuesday, but results are “inconclusive, pending further study,” said Grace Burgess, a spokesperson for the New York City Medical Examiners Office.

Martich was one of a three-person relay team, which included two fellow employees from Denver-based Janus Capital Group, where Martich worked as a director and vice president.

Martich’s father, Fred McCullough of Crystal Lake, said his daughter was very athletic and had been a swimmer at Crystal Lake High South School, from which she graduated in 1988, and on a YMCA team.

“She was a very strong swimmer. She was a very strong person. That’s why this comes as such a shock,” McCullough said.

He said his daughter took part in the triathlon because Janus was involved in it.

“It was a fitness thing for her, but it also was because her company was a sponsor of the event,” he said.

After high school, Martich studied business at Purdue University where she met her husband, Steve, before graduating in 1992. The couple have three children ages 10, 8 and 5. She earned an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management in 1997, the same year she and Steve married.

“That was a big year for her,” said McCullough.

McCullough said his daughter was interested in business “maybe because I was an executive with Kemper Insurance. Maybe that rubbed off on her.”

He describes her as confident, open and outgoing, traits that won her many friends.

“She was just a gregarious person,” he said. “She has tons of friends –from the business world, from high school, from her church and her community in Elmhurst.”

“She met people easily,” he said. “If you ever needed a friend or help. She’d be the first person in line to help.”

McCullough said funeral arrangements have not been finalized. He said a trust will be set up for the Martich children. Steve has been a stay-at-home Dad and “is a terrific guy and great with the kids,” he said.

In addition to her father, husband and children, Martich is survived by her mother, Karen, a brother, Todd, and sister-in-law Alicia.

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