Thursday was Meatloaf Day at Sam Snead's restaurant, and Shannon Daniels, who loved meatloaf, made plans to meet her friends for lunch.
She never made it. They found her inside her car, which was running, in the back parking lot of the Winter Park law practice where she worked as a family-law attorney. She had her seat belt on, and the driver's door was open. Her head was leaning back against the headrest.
Shannon Daniels was 34 when she died unexpectedly.
"We don't really know what happened. It was very sudden," said Wendy Aikin, her boss at Aikin Family Law Group. "She was right at the peak, the pinnacle of her game, when this happened."
Daniels' cause of death is not immediately known, pending toxicology results by the Medical Examiner's Office. Her husband, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vincent Citro, said heart disease ran in Daniels' family.
To her friends, family and co-workers, Shannon Daniels was known by her childhood nickname "Sha" — pronounced "Shay." She loved the color purple, the Florida Gators and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. She detested vegetables.
As a child, Daniels endured some hardships, Citro said, but as an adult she had a zest for life unlike anyone he knew: "She was never in a bad mood, never down, just full of energy and ready to go."
Daniels loved the holidays, spending months planning for Thanksgiving and 40 minutes to wrap a present. Her birthday wasn't one day — it was a whole month. Competitive by nature, she turned coupon-clipping into an Olympic sport.
"Sha and I waged a coupon war. She just took over. I couldn't keep up. I gave up months ago," said her brother-in-law Paul Citro, 27, of Orlando.
Approaching their eighth wedding anniversary on Jan. 24, Citro and Daniels were planning a family. Daniels wanted two or three kids to create a backfield for their football-crazy family.
"She said two is great because you can play man-on-man coverage, but three you can play zone defense," Vincent Citro said.
Daniels was known for a quick wit and sense of humor. When Citro objected to her desire for a dog, she called him one day at work and told him she had just bought a pot-bellied pig for a pet.
When he opened the door that night, expecting a pig, he was greeted by a Shih Tzu pup named "Spurrier," dressed in a Harley T-shirt and collar.
"She had this big grin on her face. She said, 'I got you,'" said Citro, 34. "She knew how to play a good joke, and she liked a good joke played on her."
The night before her death, Sha Daniels cuddled with her husband and they shared their love for each other. The next morning, Daniels came to breakfast wearing a purple sweater, and Citro told his wife how beautiful she looked in that color. They kissed, said "I love you," and headed off to work.
It was the last time they would speak, but not the last time Vince Citro told his wife how much she meant to him. At the morgue, Citro leaned over and kissed his wife on the forehead. He repeated the words he had told her the night before: "You're so beautiful. You deserve so much better than me. I hit a home run when I met you."
Shannon Daniels is survived by her mother, Susie Herzig of Clearwater; three sisters, Melissa Hansford of Clearwater, Sally Preston of Port Isabel, Texas, and Susan Daniels of St. Petersburg; one brother, J.R. Hansford of El Paso, Texas; and her grandmother, Helen Meyer of Clearwater.
Collison Family Funeral Homes and Crematory, Winter Park, is handling arrangements.
Jeff Kunerth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5392.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun