By Polly Keary, Editor
Maria was on her way to work the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 1, driving to Monroe’s Ixtapa restaurant from her home in Everett, when her luck took a horrible turn.
According to witnesses, she was driving northbound on I-5 near the 41st Street overpass at about 1:30 p.m. when two speeding vehicles that may have been racing approached her. In order to avoid them, the young waitress, 26, swerved her Chevy Equinox out of the way.
She evaded the speeding cars, but swerved into an Acura driven by a Woodinville woman, 49. Then her car hit a tree.
The woman driving the Acura was fine. She drove away from the scene. But Maria was not.
Five months pregnant, she was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. It will be months before she can work again.
Now her friends and coworkers at Ixtapa are planning a fundraiser to help the single mother of two survive while she’s out of work.
“Friday, the 28th, what we are going to do, everyone is going to donate their tips,” said Tony Lazano, manager of Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant, where Maria started working as a teenager about 10 years ago.
“She’s without a paycheck, and her car had liability-only issuance,” he said.
As Lazano talked about Maria’s history with the restaurant in the lull before dinner rush Friday, workers who passed by stopped to share something about the young woman, such as that she is a good worker, and that she is considered family at the restaurant.
The woman worked fulltime at the restaurant, but according to Lazano, doctors say it will be eight months at least until she can work again.
“She has no family here,” said Lazano. “Her sisters live in Mexico. Her family is Ixtapa people.”
At the front desk is a collection box with Maria’s photo attached. And a sign in the restaurant explains the situation and asks patrons to contribute to her assistance fund.
While her supporters rally and try to raise money, police are still seeking the two drivers who may have been responsible for the crash.
One vehicle was described as a black Dodge pickup with tinted windows. It had a Seahawks flag and a 12th Man flag, and a dark tinted Seahawks logo in the rear window. It may have been a 2000s-era truck.
The other vehicle was reportedly a black Lexus SUV.
Witnesses or others with information are asked to call Detective Charles Sletten at (360) 654-1144.
All day and evening of Friday, Feb. 28, all tips given to waitstaff at Ixtapa will go to help Maria.