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May 21, 2015 1:47 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Son And Friend Remember Martha Garcia Of Hampton Bays

May 27, 2015 12:54 PM

Whenever Cristina Smith was getting ready to go out with friends, one thought always sprung to mind: “I wonder what Martha is going to wear?”

Last week, Ms. Smith of Southampton remembered her friend, 51-year-old Martha Garcia of Hampton Bays, as a wonderful mother and a hard-working fashionista who loved to dance.

Ms. Garcia died at Stony Brook University Hospital on May 19 from severe head injuries she suffered when she was struck by a Chevrolet Silverado in the King Kullen parking lot on Route 58 in Riverhead two days earlier, on May 17.

Visitation for Ms. Garcia was held Tuesday afternoon at the J. Ronald Scott Funeral Home on Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays. A mass took place on the morning of Wednesday, May 27, at the Church of St. Rosalie on Montauk Highway, also in Hampton Bays. Ms. Garcia will be buried in her native country of Honduras at a later date, her family said.

“She was kind, generous. She was a people person,” said Ms. Smith, who first met Ms. Garcia about 10 years ago at Southampton Hospital, where they both worked as technicians in the central supply processing department. Ms. Garcia held that position up until her death.

“She always liked to meet people,” Ms. Smith continued. “She was a very funny, kind person. It was truly an honor to work with her and build a friendship outside of that.”

Ms. Garcia had been out grocery shopping on the afternoon she was struck by the Chevrolet operated by Emily Hill, 43, of Riverhead. The impact knocked Ms. Garcia to the ground, where paramedics from the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance found her unconscious. She was treated there and transported by them to the Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, then airlifted to Stony Brook as her condition worsened.

No charges had been filed against Ms. Hill at the time. Late last week, Riverhead Town Police said the incident remains under investigation.

Ms. Smith said that although her friend was quiet, she enjoyed attending various events, from breast cancer awareness fundraisers to networking seminars for work.

And whenever Ms. Garcia went out, she went all out—even if she was just going to the park.

“She always had on a beautiful outfit, jewelry, heels—she always had on heels,” Ms. Smith fondly recalled.

Ms. Garcia also had a close relationship with her only child, Chris Velasquez, 17, now a junior at the Hampton Bays High School. Chris said his mother always attended his sporting events and lent him her support in everything he did.

“She’d come to all of my soccer games. She would come to the school. We did everything together, mostly,” he said. “She was a really strong woman. She was loved by many.”

Chris said he did not get to see much of his mother on the morning of May 17, before the accident. He explained that he had a soccer game that morning and, by the time he returned home, she was already gone.

But he did get to exchange a few last words with her during a phone call. “I told her I got home safely, and that I loved her and that I would see her later,” Chris said.

Ms. Garcia’s husband, Francisco Velasquez, is currently in Colombia and was unable to immediately travel back to Hampton Bays. Because of that, Chris said he is getting by with help from his grandmother, cousin and aunts.

Nearly 300 members of the community have lent their support to Chris through a GoFundMe campaign launched by Hampton Bays junior varsity boys soccer coach George Carney. As of Wednesday morning, nearly $17,500 had been raised for the teenager in just under a week. Additional donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/v4vvcu8z.

Like Ms. Smith, Chris described his mother as someone who “just really liked to enjoy life a lot,” often going out with friends when she wasn’t working or spending time with him and the rest of their family.

“She was a really great mother,” he said. “I’m just trying to be strong.”

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