Beloved Restaurant Employee Fatally Struck by Car in Alexandria

A woman who was fatally struck by a car in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria is being remembered as a "sweet and caring person" by the many patrons she served at several local restaurants.

Rosemarie Cruz, 49, of Alexandria, was crossing Mt. Vernon Avenue at W. Glebe Road Thursday evening when a 77-year-old woman struck her with her vehicle.

Cruz was walking home from work and could see her house from the intersection. Security video shows her pushing the button to call for the walk signal, then beginning to cross before being struck by an SUV turning right.

She was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and died three days later. 

The driver of the striking vehicle, 77-year-old Karin Sheir of Montana, remained at the scene, police said. She has been charged with failure to yeild to pedestrians. 

"What you see is what you get," said her husband, Romy Sarangay, who described his wife as a perfect mother who worked hard and loved what she did. "She's natural; she's genuine."

Cruz was a beloved employee at three Alexandria restaurants, according to a GoFundMe page established to help her family. She started working for restauranteurs Larry and Christine Ponzi about 10 years ago and was a popular figure at Cafe Pizzaiola, St. Elmo's and Market 2 Market, where she was deli manager.


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One customer at St. Elmo's Monday said, "Rose gave the best hugs in Virginia."

"Her number one thing is just her attitude," Larry Ponzi said. "She's just brought so much love to all of us and the customers."

"My wife and I are so sad to hear this horrible news," one contributor to the GoFundMe page wrote. "We love coming to Market-to-Market every weekend with our dog. One of the main reasons is the people there, including Rose, who was a sweet and caring person."

Donations have been pouring in for the family. More than $25,000 had been raised by Monday evening.

Del Ray business owners say this tragedy spotlights a need for more awareness about the many in the area who don't use cars.

"This area has changed a lot in last 10 years, and there's a lot more pedestrians and bikes, and it's not just a car community, and we need to get the word out to people they need to slow down and be aware of pedestrians," said Pork Barrel BBQ owner Bill Blackburn.

The intersection where where Cruz was struck is treacherous because of an angled corner where pedestrians have to turn backwards to make eye contact with drivers.

All proceeds from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 13 at three Del Ray restaurants -- Market 2 Market, St. Elmo's and Pork Barrel BBQ -- will go to Cruz's two youngest children.

Cruz has two other children in the Phillippines, a 26-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son.

Her younger daughters were born in the United States, and Cruz wanted them to be educated here, but it was her dream to eventually move back to her native country and open a bakery. She already owned land for a home there.

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