Note: This story was last updated at 12:45 p.m. Dec. 23.
The 38-year-old Oak Ridge man who died in what appears to be an accident while mountain biking on Haw Ridge on Saturday is being remembered as a skilled biker and valuable researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Michael David Biegalski, who was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, had been a research and development staff member at the Center for Nanophase Materials Science at Oak Ridge National Laboratory since 2008 and had worked there from 2006 to 2008 as a postdoctoral research associate.
“He was an incredibly valuable person to the center,” CNMS Director Hans Christen said Monday. “A friend of everybody, extremely helpful.”
Other mountain bikers described Biegalski, who was married with two young daughters, as very skilled, and Christen said he was very competitive and raced.
Biegalski had bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ceramics engineering and a doctorate in materials science and engineering, and he was conducting research on thin films of oxide materials at ORNL.
There is a visitation for him tonight (Monday, December 22) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friends may pay their respects from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Oak Ridge. The funeral Mass will follow at 11 a.m. at the church, with Father John Miceli officiating.
Biegalski is survived by his wife Amy and daughters Katia Michel and Anya Micaela.
Weatherford Mortuary is handling the arrangements.
Two hikers found Biegalski’s body near a hiking trail at Haw Ridge at about 4:33 p.m. Saturday. They met Oak Ridge Police Department officers at a trailhead and guided them to the body, which was about 300 yards from Old Edgemoor Road.
It’s not clear how Bieglaski died, whether from a medical issue before the accident or from the accident itself. On Sunday, Oak Ridge Police Chief Jim Akagi said Biegalski’s body had been taken to the University of Tennessee Regional Forensic Center in Knoxville for an autopsy.
It’s also not clear how steep or challenging the terrain was in the area where Biegalski was riding.
Biegalski was riding by himself on Saturday at Haw Ridge, a roughly 800-acre park in east Oak Ridge that features almost 30 miles of trails and terrain of varying difficulty. The park is heavily used by bikers, runners, and hikers.
The area of the accident was reported to be on the lower section of the Washing Machine trail, which is between Low Gap and K2 in the map below.
More information will be added as it becomes available.