When Ashley Hillyerd stands at the altar next month, her best friend won't be there to hold her bouquet or fasten her bustle.
Her maid of honor, Erin Galligan, befriended her more than two decades ago in third grade when Hillyerd was the new girl at Hamilton Elementary School in Stroudsburg, PA. "She took me under her wing," Hillyerd recalled.
They grew up together, joining the 4-H Club and then the swim team in high school. They chose the same college, Temple University in Philadelphia. When Galligan fulfilled a lifelong dream of living at the beach by moving thousands of miles away to Venice, they remained close.
But fourth months shy of her 30th birthday, and just a few weeks from her best friend's wedding, Galligan was .
The impact reportedly dragged her bike nearly a half mile and Galligan was pronounced dead by authorities shortly after the crash Tuesday night.
"I was more of the realistic one; she was a dreamer," Hillyerd said. "She would do anything for anybody. She was so kind and caring and just loving."
Gilligan moved to Venice in 2009.
She worked at the Manhattan Beach Post restaurant for about six months in 2011 as a server and would ride her bike to and from each shift, said Jerry Garbus, general manager of the restaurant.
"She was really a great girl," Garbus said. "She was a bright, fantastic, warm, loving person. She smiled a lot and laughed a lot. We really enjoyed her energy and we'll miss her very much."
Garbus said he forged a friendship with Galligan and noted that she was well-liked at the restaurant.
"Everyone here is in shock and obviously saddened," he said. "We wish the best for her friends and her family. Chef David (LeFevre) sends his love and I send my love."
Galligan mostly worked restaurant jobs after earning her bachelor's degree in psychology, Hillyerd said.
She was fit, just beginning to learn to surf, and was saving money to travel. A recent trip took her to Bali for about a month and a half. She was looking into international teaching programs.
At one point, she was also employed as a waiter at Craig's Restaurant in West Hollywood. The staff there mourned the loss Thursday.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Erin Galligan," the restaurant wrote in a statement. "She was not only an incredible employee, but more importantly an outstanding friend and person. We will greatly miss her. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family."
Hillyerd flew to the Westside in October to ask Galligan to be her maid of honor. They rode bikes, took a turn on the carousel on the and spent time catching up.
"We just talked. She was always missing us," Hillyerd said. "She missed her friends, her family. It was a great trip."
Galligan had wanted friends to move out to California with her, but none were ready for such a big change.
"So she just did it herself. We were so proud of her," Hillyerd said. "I'll miss hearing her voice, having a hug from her... just her smile."
Police are still searching for the truck that hit Galligan. It was described as a white 1999 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 extra cab truck, with damage to the front grill, hood and headlight.