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Woman's life is ended on a dark highway

Alice Denga and a co-worker were walking on U.S. 41 about 5 a.m. when they were struck by a car Wednesday. She later died.

By BRADY DENNIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 19, 2001


LAND O'LAKES -- To hear her boss tell it, Alice Denga always wore a smile to work.

"She was a beautiful person, always happy," said Steve Gogas, owner of Steve's Fountain View restaurant at 4111 Land O'Lakes Blvd., where Denga was a waitress.

"She was always on time, and she was always here any time we needed her. Everybody loved her."

Denga, 51, of 4411 School Road, died Wednesday after an early-morning accident on U.S. 41.

Florida Highway Patrol investigators said Denga and fellow waitress Marilyn Harper Daly, 42, of 19741 Leonard Road in Lutz, were walking along U.S. 41 about 5 a.m.

No one was sure why. Gogas said co-workers thought the two might have been out celebrating Denga's birthday, which was Sunday.

Eric Vaughn Toler, 29, of 23311 Jerome Road, was driving his 1994 Chevrolet north on U.S. 41 when the two women walked into his path and both were struck, say FHP reports.

Both were taken to Tampa General Hospital, where Denga later died. Daly remained in serious condition in the intensive care unit Wednesday night, hospital officials said.

Toler, whose vehicle was totaled in the accident, was taken to University Community Hospital in Tampa and later released. He was too upset about the accident to talk about it, said his mother, Glenda Toler.

"He's very distraught," she said. "He just stopped to get gas and some milk for breakfast for his kids. It just happened."

FHP reports stated alcohol was a factor in the accident but gave no specifics. Investigators declined to comment further Wednesday, saying the accident still is under investigation.

A somber mood surrounded Steve's Fountain View all day, even though it remained open. Denga had worked there for six years; Daly, for five.

"It's just been terrible," Gogas said. "I can't even work. It's hard to explain. We all were like a family."

- Brady Dennis covers police news in east Pasco. He can be reached at (352) 521-5757, ext. 23. His email address is dennis@sptimes.com.

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