by Eric Hagen
Ann Blake of Andover and her sister Jean were enjoying an afternoon of shopping and walking in the Arbor Lakes commercial district in Maple Grove on Jan. 31. They were standing at the corner of Elm Creek Boulevard and Hemlock Lane when a vehicle jumped the curb, hit and killed Ann, according to a statement from Blake’s family. She never even saw it coming.
Ann worked nights as a cashier for Cub Foods in Coon Rapids and her two children are still in school, the family said. Jean lives in the west metro, so the sisters would sometimes meet in Maple Grove for shopping, lunch or to take a walk for exercise. Tuesday, Jan. 31 was a perfect day for walking outside because it was exceptionally warm for a Minnesota winter day. Ann also did not have to pick her son up from school to bring him to autism therapy sessions until 2:30 p.m.
The family said Ann and Jean were walking along Elm Creek Boulevard toward the new water park east of Hemlock Lane.
Maple Grove Police Capt. Keith Terlinden told the Osseo-Maple Grove Press & News that officers were called to the intersection of Elm Creek Boulevard and Hemlock Lane at 11:46 p.m.
The suspect driver was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police are determining if alcohol was involved in the accident, according to Terlinden.
Terlinden told ABC Newspapers Tuesday morning (Feb. 7) that the female driver is still in the hospital. He said charges could be months away because the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) needs to analyze the toxicology of the blood drawn from the driver.
The Blake family endured another tragedy just four months ago when Ann’s husband Dan Blake died after a 10-month battle with cancer. According to her family, Ann’s life revolved around making sure that her 12-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, would have the kind of nurturing and care they needed. Her son has autism, and the family said she was able to obtain respite care support that allowed her to work, pay the bills and keep the family together after her husband passed away.
Family members, neighbors and friends are currently caring for the children. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred for benefit of the The Blake Children Fund. This fund has been set up in the care of Grace Lutheran Church, 13655 Round Lake Blvd. N.W., Andover, MN 55304-3659.
“Ann was a high energy person whose friends and neighbors have called the activity director,” a family statement said. “She was always looking for family-type activities for parents and children. She was active in her church and community and was recognized as an advocate for children with autism.”
Grace Lutheran Church Senior Pastor Mark Hellmann told ABC Newspapers that Blake was quiet until you got to know her, was gentle and caring. She was down to earth and had a great laugh. Hellmann said Blake was a Sunday school teacher at the church for 15 to 17 years.
Blake and her daughter would regularly participate when the church sent a group to Feed My Starving Children in Coon Rapids to package rice meals for hungry children around the world. She was also involved in helping parents of autistic children. She would help organize horseback rides.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]