A beloved Plant City restaurant is back open after the owners lost their daughter in a tragic accident in Bradenton. They say the community has given them strength and love and they are ready to open their doors.
“Feel like somebody just punched you in your stomach or just a bad nightmare you want to wake up,” said Marti Lofstrom.
For Marti and Jerry Lofstrom, they are taking it one day at a time. Thanksgiving was celebrated with their 24-year-old daughter, Sarah Lofstrom and her two sons.
“We sat around the kitchen and talked about the things we were thankful for,” said Jerry Lofstrom.
Later that night Sarah left to visit a friend in Bradenton.
“All I remember was her walking with her hair and the wind hitting her hair and her happy smile and she is like, ‘mom, I'll see you in a little bit,’ and little bit came that she never came home," said Marti.
Sarah was crossing Manatee Avenue and was struck by a car. She died shortly after in the hospital.
“She was compassionate. She was caring. She was loving. She was like a butterfly. She was full of life and now that life is no more,” said Jerry.
The family owns the Whistle Stop Café in Plant City. Sarah was a waitress there. The restaurant has been closed since the tragedy. However, now its doors are back open and customers are opening their hearts to the grieving parents.
“People are there everywhere we go, opening up their arms and I think that that help us,” said Marti.
There is now a memorial for Sarah inside the restaurant where cards and messages have been placed. Jerry says he does not know why his daughter died so young. However, he knows she was here for a reason.
“Sarah donated her organs so others could have a better life. And in dying, her death had purpose and we find comfort in that,” said Jerry.
The family says they'll need that comfort as Christmas approaches, the first holiday without their angel.
Jerry said eight of Sarah’s organ were donated to seven people in need.
Jerry has set up a trust fund for Sarah’s sons. If you would like to donate you can send checks to Kasen Lofstrom and mailed to Railroad & Industrial Federal Credit Union, 1701 W. Baker St., Plant City FL 33563.