Those who worked with Aundria St. Amand, killed in a car accident in Vassalboro last week, described her as caring, friendly and a hard worker.
Amato’s General Manager David Russell said St. Amand, 18, began working at the restaurant a few months ago and quickly adjusted to the fast pace. She was a 2013 Winslow High School graduate.
“She was like a superstar,” said Russell, who manages the Western Avenue restaurant. “What do you expect out of an 18-year-old? But she was like boom! She picked it up like I’ve never seen an 18-year-old pick it up before. She was a killer worker.”
Russell said St. Amand was pleasant, upbeat, professional and respectful, but she also knew how to take a joke and was adept at dishing them out.
“She could fit in like one of the boys,” Russell said. “She fit right in.”
Investigators say it could be months before they learn what caused the crash. St. Amand, who was alone in her Subaru around 2 p.m. Friday, veered off Stone Road in Vassalboro and hit a tree head on. Police say St. Amand, of South China, was killed instantly.
Maine State Police Lt. Aaron Hayden said Tuesday that investigators are still trying to determine what caused St. Amand’s car to leave the road. He said the investigation will likely last at least four months as police await toxicology reports. Blood tests for intoxicants are standard for any crash that causes serious injury or death.
“Right now we have no clear reason why the vehicle left the roadway in the manner that it did,” Hayden said. “Until we have all the data and investigative facts, we will not be releasing anything further.”
Co-worker Shawn Owens, of Hallowell, said St. Amand was caring and friendly. She always seemed to be smiling.
“She was a lovely person to be around,” he said.
Russell said St. Amand planned to go to college in the fall, but he was unsure where or what she hoped to study.
“It was a shock to us all,” Russell said of St. Amand’s death.
Russell said St. Amand was never late for work, to say nothing of missing a shift, so he was mystified last Friday when she did not show up at 4 p.m. as scheduled. Russell talked to his employees to see if they’d heard anything. None of them had, but all of them were so confident in St. Amand’s character that they assured their boss that she would never just skip a shift without a good reason. Russell didn’t know what else to think.
“I thought she was bailing on her shift,” he said. He learned the truth around 7 p.m. when he read a Facebook post. Russell, whose daughter died five years ago, has felt particular grief for St. Amand’s parents.
“It’s just an awful shame,” Russell said.
St. Amand’s life was celebrated during a Wednesday funeral service. An obituary that appeared in Tuesday’s Kennebec Journal said Amand was an honor student at Winslow High School.
Attempts to reach St. Amand’s friends and family were unsuccessful.
Friends are organizing a pair of fundraisers that have already brought in thousands of dollars to help cover funeral expenses.
An online fundraiser at GoFundMe.com had raised more than $9,700 as of Wednesday afternoon. The site had been shared more than 1,300 times. The page creator, Charlene Cullivan, did not respond to a message sent through the site, but Cullivan’s post to describe the purpose of the fundraiser described St. Amand as kind and unforgettable.
“The members of her family live modest lives and the expense of funeral arrangements are an enormous financial challenge,” Cullivan wrote. “We are all coming together to ensure a perfect and beautiful remembrance for Aundria. We want her to be laid to rest without inflicting financial hardship on those who are saying goodbye.”
The GoFundMe fundraiser is one of two efforts afoot to raise money for funeral expenses. Booma and Dawn MacFarland of Augusta are organizing Huddle Up for Aundria Marie, a youth sports event set to take place at 1 p.m. Sunday in Capitol Park in Augusta. The MacFarland’s did not return a message seeking comment, but a Facebook page announcing the event states there will be live music and youth activities such as flag football, kickball, capture the flag and whiffle ball. Those who attend are asked to donate at least $5.
The post announcing the fundraiser says St. Amand’s family, particularly her mother, Cindy Messer, have been heavily involved in youth sports in Augusta. Messer volunteers at the concession stand at the Little League field and St. Amand’s brother, Christopher Sponsler, played baseball and football in Augusta.
“We are asking our football and baseball families to come together to ensure a perfect and beautiful remembrance for Aundria,” the MacFarlands wrote in the Facebook post.
Owens, the Amato’s coworker, said he drove St. Amand’s car the Sunday before the crash and noticed the brakes did not work well. He urged his friend to have the car checked. A person familiar with the crash has since told Owen that the brakes likely played no role in the crash, but the thought still runs through his mind.
“It makes you wonder that something like this would happen to such a good, kind person,” Owens said. “I didn’t know her long, but I got close to her.”
Craig Crosby — 621-5642 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @CraigCrosby4