VENICE, Fla. - A regular morning walk along the south Venice Jetty is met with a pause that causes some to stop and say a prayer.
A small memorial sits along the jetty. One angel holds a cross, the other a dove centered by a prayer, and two candles with the names of Carol and Gene Hayden, a daughter and father who died together.
“We’re in shock surprised. They were wonderful outgoing people," said Joel Anderson, CEO for Villages on the Isles, speaking for the Haydens' extended family in their community.
“You may say we’re a retirement community we’re used to dealing with loss all the time. We celebrate life here. It’s in a different fashion for us today. It’s a tragic loss, a sudden loss unexpected loss for us,” says Anderson.
Carol Hayden was 64 years old and didn’t have any children.
“Miss Hayden was a loving, warm person. She had an infectious smile and a strong personal faith,” says Anderson.
Carol’s father, Eugene, was 88 years old and a bit of a paparazzi.
“Full of zeal always enjoyed life to its fullest," Anderson says, calling him "tunofficial resident photographer and reporter all the events at Village of the Isles."
The two died when their van ended up in the Venice inlet Monday afternoon.
The south side of the jetty is lined with cement benches, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Haydens’ van from driving right into the inlet.
According to Venice Police, Carol Hayden drove right over the bench, and the impact was so strong it chipped the concrete brace and loosened the wooden brackets.
Good Samaritans and emergency crews were their last life line -- but even they couldn’t save them.
“It’s a terrible tragedy. We have all kinds of questions, and are there answers? No.” says Keith Backus, pastor at St, Mark’s Episcopal Church.
The Haydens' friends will remember them with a vigil.
“We want to celebrate life Carol and Gene, because they gave not only to our church community but also to Village on the Isles,” Backus says.
The vigil will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Village of the Isles.
Venice police say the traffic homicide investigation will take around three months.