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"I will no longer be putting tables out": Garden honors Matlacha crash victim

A memorial garden will grow in front of 'That BBQ Place' to honor Mary Lou Sharp.
Memorial garden in Matlacha
Posted at 10:42 PM, Apr 17, 2024

MATLACHA, Fla. — The Matlacha community is still reeling over the death of 80-year-old Mary Lou Sharp who was the victim of a crash last Saturday.

"It's really sad to drive by and remember," Keila Santiago, a neighbor of Sharp, said. "Seeing the wall, the marks on the wall and remembering everything that happened that day."

However, people are ensuring her spirit lives on in the tight-knit community. A memorial garden is forming outside of That BBQ Place.

"Hopefully now, with all of this, once the flowers are grown, it will be a different feeling," Santiago said.

It's a gesture restaurant owner John Petrus says isn't surprising in the small fishing village.

"Matlacha isn't your normal community," Petrus said. "Matlacha, whether you love people or hate people on this island, when there's tragedy, this island comes together like nowhere else."

The garden will replace the tables in front of That BBQ Place where Mary Lou and four other people were sitting when the crash happened.

"I will no longer be putting tables out here," Petrus said. "It was a big space, and I thought what better way to honor somebody than to give them a garden."

Petrus also said it will hopefully give people comfort during a hard time.

"I thought this would be a good way to give people a place to come to, to remember, to even nurture plants if they want, and use this space for more than just emptiness," he said.

The owner told Fox 4 he plans on reopening his restaurant later this week.