Employees at Primo Chicken decided to keep the Hollins Market restaurant open Saturday despite their grief stemming from the sudden absence of one of their longtime coworkers.
Maria Ramirez, a 31-year-old assistant manager who began working at the restaurant shortly after it opened five years ago, was killed in a car accident Friday at a Southwest Baltimore shopping center, along with her 10-year-old son. The crash at the Mount Clare Junction shopping center also injured two more family members who were in a pickup truck with them when the driver jumped a curb and crashed into a brick building, according to Baltimore police.
One of the occupants allegedly opened the door as the truck, a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado, began to accelerate through the parking lot, eventually striking the front wall of the building. Ramirez and her son Yonathan Ramirez were ejected from the vehicle during the crash, police spokesman Jeremy Silbert said.
Maria Ramirez was pronounced dead at the scene and Yonathan was taken to a hospital where he died later Friday evening, police said.
Ali Eshghi, owner of Primo Chicken, remembered Ramirez as a friendly, responsible employee who started as a part-time worker and soon began working full-time at the restaurant, which specializes in Peruvian chicken.
“I was really shocked. It’s someone you spend every day with,” Eshghi said. “I didn’t know her personally but at work just spending that time with her, it’s just shocking.”
Ramirez lived blocks away from the eatery in Franklin Square, and she was always willing to pick up an extra shift when her coworkers needed help, Eshghi said.
Fellow employees at Primo Chicken declined to speak Monday, saying they were still too shaken by Ramirez’s death to talk about it. Eshghi said the staff decided it was best to keep working. “We’re just trying to figure out as a business how to move forward,” he said.
Eshghi said he and Ramirez often made small talk about their families, and it was obvious Ramirez’s children were important to her. Her 9-year-old daughter was also injured in the crash. The 9-year-old and a 15-year-old girl, another relative, were taken to a hospital after the accident and are expected to survive, police said.
The driver of the truck, a 30-year old man, was not injured in the crash and remained at the scene, police said. Police did not identify the driver, and his relationship to the four passengers was unclear, Silbert said.
“To see something like this, it’s very upsetting,” Silbert said.
Silbert said Friday police had no reason to suspect the crash was intentional. Police are investigating whether a malfunction or mechanical issues in the truck played a role in the crash, he said.
Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call 410-396-2606.
Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Prudente contributed to this article.