It may have looked like a party, but for the family of Danielle Mezzatesta it was a warm comfort after more than a month of darkness.
Mezzatesta lost her life in a horrific car accident on Churchill Line in January, leaving behind her husband, Jamie, and their three boys, Ian, Isaac and Elliot.
She lived in Petrolia but worked in Point Edward as a nurse.
Her husband, Jamie works at TG Waterville in Petrolia and some of his friends there organized a benefit for the family at the Petrolia Legion Saturday night. The hall was filled with coworkers, family and friends, there to give comfort, share stories of Danielle and provide some cash to start trust funds for the three little boys now without a mother.
Mezzatesta’s sister-in-law, Jen Helps, could hardly believe the outpouring of love. “It’s overwhelming. It’s fantastic what people are doing for them,” she said as the family gathered for a moment to talk to The Independent.
“To see this amount of people that helped out is amazing,” says Glen Drouillard, Danielle’s father.
But it is clearly still difficult. Mezzatesta’s mother, Brenda, was amazed to see “how Danielle touched so many lives…It’s a comfort to have this love and support.
“Danielle had a smile – it lit up a room. She was an awesome mom – unreal.”
Mezzatesta’s husband, Jamie, says many people knew Danielle from her work and shared stories about her kindness to them.
Mother-in-law Jill Mezzatesta says Danielle would have felt at home at the event. “She would hve been here, putting this on if it was someone else,” she says.
But they are all too aware that won’t happen. The family has been struggling with the whys of the accident.
Mezzatesta’s father and father-in-law have spent hours out on Churchill Line trying to figure out what might of happened and why there have been so many accidents along that roadway. Glen Drouillard was a trucker and hopes he can find something. Scott Mezzatesta has been out watching traffic. And even he has had a close call on the same stretch of roadway his daughter-in-law died on. “The transport didn’t stop (at the corner of Churchill and Mandaumin) and I veered into the other lane, if there was someone coming the other way, it would have been tragic for me.”
The family is glad Lambton County has commited to looking at the roadway for answers.
“Something needs to change,” says Helps. “When you travel that road it is amazing how fast that curve comes up on you.”
“Speed is a major problem if you don’t know that road the curve comes up fast,” adds Danielle’s husband.
The family would like to see the police patroling the roadway more often in the hopes of reducing the number of accidents so no other family has to go through what they are now.
Jamie Mezzatesta says they are making their way through the grief and his children are doing “pretty good” although they lean on their grandmothers a lot.
He adds the fundraiser Saturday meant a lot to his family.
“This touches us,” says Helps. “Words can not say how thankful we are for this.”
“Just thank all the people who reached out to us,” added Scott Mezzatesta.