Skaters Kristi Yamaguchi and Paul Wylie reach out to the Olympian and offer condolences

By Lorenzo Benet
January 25, 2010 08:30 PM
Credit: Byron Purvis/AdMedia; Paul Morigi/Getty

Reeling from the death of her father, Nancy Kerrigan still mustered the strength to show the class and courtesy for which she is known in the skating world.

Paul Wylie, an Olympic silver medalist who also competed in the 1992 Albertville Olympics with Kerrigan, spoke with her by phone early Monday when he heard the news that Daniel Kerrigan, 70, died after an alleged assault by his troubled son, Mark.

“She was really struggling,” Wylie tells PEOPLE. “But she called to thank me for calling.”

Kristi Yamaguchi, who also competed with Kerrigan in Albertville, offered her condolences by text mail, and Kerrigan responded, “Thank you…I appreciate all the support I’ve been getting.”

Authorities charged Mark Kerrigan with assaulting his father who died during an altercation at the family’s Massachusetts home Jan. 24. A cause of death has not been determined, but Daniel Kerrigan’s wife Brenda tells the Boston Herald he may have suffered a heart attack. At a Monday arraignment in the Boston suburb of Woburn, Mark Kerrigan pleaded not guilty to the charges and was held on $10,000 bail.

“I am so saddened for Nancy,” Yamaguchi, the Olympic champion and winner of the sixth season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, tells PEOPLE. “My heart goes out to Nancy and her family. ”
RELATED: Brother Faces Assault Charges After Nancy Kerrigan

Yamaguchi, who performed in a cancer benefit with Kerrigan in November, says the tragedy has hit the skating community hard. “Nancy is part of our family and the loss of a parent is devastating. I always smile when I think of Dan because he was a lot of fun and he had such pride for his daughter and her accomplishments. That meant a lot to Nancy. He and Brenda were always there for her.”

Daniel Kerrigan, Wylie adds, was a father figure to all the skaters. “He and Brenda touched many skaters lives,” he says. “One day he visited me at my apartment and said, ‘That window needs fixing and if you do it this way, it’ll save you $20 on your heating bill.’ He was a fatherly like that. Dan was a great guy and a family man.”