Sarah Leaf's closest girlfriends say the young cyclist had a way of making people feel like they knew her forever.
"Sarah was no ordinary 29-year-old, she was extraordinary," Andrea Maurer, one of Leaf's closest friends, said. "She was funny, and had the ability to make me laugh even if I wasn't in the situation to laugh."
Leaf spent her days working at her business, Greenleaf Nutrition, based inside the Shape-Up Fitness Center in Corona del Mar, but her life was cut short Friday when she was hit by a truck while cycling on Pacific Coast Highway and Bayside Drive.
"She was a true inspiration and led by personal example," friend and roommate Nicole Bentley said. "She loved life, her job, her family, friends and where she lived."
"She always asked about others," friend Alison Miller added. "And to use her term, she was '1,000 percent' excited for her friends."
Originally from Arizona, Leaf moved to Newport Beach and formed a strong bond with her group of girlfriends, some of whom were also transplants from other states. Leaf and her friends spent a lot of time together, eating out at local restaurants and going to country music concerts.
Maurer, who had plans to see Leaf the day she died at a Rascal Flats concert, said Leaf told her things were going well in her life and she had never been happier.
"She had this way of making you comfortable, her gentle spirit could connect with anyone," Maurer said. "And when you with her you felt like the most important person to her."
Newport Beach police say Leaf and a stake-bed truck were traveling east on Pacific Coast Highway on Friday, and the fatal collision happened when the truck's driver turned right on Bayside Drive. Kathy Lowe, police spokeswoman, says the crash is still under investigation and the driver of the truck has not been cited or arrested.
Leaf is survived by her mother, Rita Leaf, father Bill Leaf and two brothers.
A memorial will be held for her on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Shape-Up Fitness Center in Corona del Mar.
Funeral services for Leaf have not been announced, but friends say they will be held in Arizona.