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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 4 years ago

Winter Garden community honors crash victim

Winter Garden residents held a candlelight vigil in tribute to Mena Blodgett, a Publix employee killed while crossing State Road 50.
by: Zak Kerr Staff Writer/Reporter

WINTER GARDEN  Coworkers described Mena Blodgett, a Publix employee killed Nov. 12 while walking across State Road 50 just east of its intersection with Daniels Road and Dillard Street, as a light to everyone she encountered.

They said she would have been happy with the 8 p.m. candlelight walk Nov. 15 from the Publix at West Point Commons to the site where a vehicle struck her. The walk consisted of 101 locals whose lives she touched in some way as a community cornerstone.

One local was Brandi Maddalena-Palmer, who said she did not personally know Blodgett but lived near her and was moved by Blodgett’s kindness to the point she suggested the vigil to her community through social media.

“It just seemed she made everyone smile, and there’s so much negative going on out there … and I thought this was someone we should recognize as a positive,” Maddalena-Palmer said.

Maddalena-Palmer was pleasantly surprised with the large response to her idea and how the vigil came together in about two days.

Those who worked with Blodgett said she was the type of person who would remember everyone’s birthday with cards and give presents to many for Christmas.

“She acknowledged everyone she came in contact with, and everyone had some kind of relationship with her,” Clodie Avescat said. “You had to know her if you were here.”

The cart Blodgett was pushing while she crossed the road was like a backpack but less difficult for her to transport items with, Avescat said.

“She was committed to getting her job done,” Pollard said. “She loved Publix. She would even come in on her off days. We were like family to her.”

Although her official title was a custodian and clerk, Shalonda Maxey said she did some of everything around the store.

“If it was somebody else that passed, she would have been here,” Pollard said.

Many attested to her involvement in the community, with a passion for charity events and her church, which she attended every week.

Suggestions have arisen for further memorialization, such as a plaque at Publix and some sort of monument or demarcation by the sidewalk she last walked on.

“This is a very tragic time after the loss of a Publix family member,” said Dwaine Stevens, Publix media and community relations manager. “Mena is well-loved by her fellow associates, her customers and the community, and she will be missed.”

A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Nov. 22 at New Life Worship Center, 2342 Hempel Ave., Gotha Gotha.

The Winter Garden Police Department investigation into the crash remains open.

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].

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