Patricia Gallo, the wife of Bradenton Councilman Gene Gallo, died in an apparent accident involving her car at the couple’s home, according to the Bradenton Police Department.
Sometime between 10:30 a.m. and noon Thursday, Patricia Gallo had come home from Christmas shopping when the accident occurred in the garage of the couple’s home in the 6600 block of 27th Avenue West, Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan said. Mrs. Gallo appeared to have realized that the vehicle wasn’t all the way in parking gear, tried to reach over, get back in and stop the vehicle, according to Bevan.
Unfortunately, Bevan said, the vehicle was already moving and it kept going at an angle into the garage and pinned Mrs. Gallo between the door and the frame of the vehicle.
At about 12:15 p.m., Gene Gallo came home for lunch and found his wife. When police and paramedics arrived, she was pronounced dead at the scene.
“In some ways, they are both really icons within the city. They have been here and they are both the fabric of it,” Bevan said somberly.
The couple had been married 54 years.
“She was his high school sweetheart,” Bevan said.
On Aug. 2, Gene Gallo took to Facebook to wish his wife a happy anniversary.
“Fifty-four years today, I made the best decision of my life. Pat was a true Blessing sent to me,” he wrote. “I Love her more today than yesterday, and as Ray Charles sings, ‘I can’t Stop Loving you.’”
Bradenton city and police officials began arriving quickly Thursday to what was a very emotional scene. Gallo was inside the couple’s home, where he was immediately joined by at least one of the couple’s children, other family, friends and neighbors.
“Remember, he has roots in public safety. He was the fire chief for many years. From a public safety perspective, it always hits hard and it hurts,” Bevan said.
Members of the Bradenton Fire Department, where Gene Gallo worked for 31 years, including 11 years as fire chief, remained on the scene assisting Bradenton police.
Among those at the scene was friend and Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston.
Poston, like most at the scene, was in shock and at a loss for words.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Poston told the Bradenton Herald hours later. “She was a special person. Everyone that knew her loved her.”
It was still a shock, he said, and one that was going to take some time getting over.
“He’s been part of this city for decades and will continue to be, so we grieve for him, all of us; all the city workers, his church, this entire community,” Bevan said. “It’s a very sad day, particularly that it is the holiday season. She had been Christmas shopping. It’s just an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
The accident is being investigated as a traffic homicide, according to Bradenton Police Assistant Chief Josh Cramer.
Neighbors also began to gather quickly. They stood in shock, disbelief and sorrow at the news of her death.
Paula McCarthy, who lives on the same street, said she had just seen Gallo’s car partially sticking out of the couple’s garage as she made a trip to the store around 11:15 a.m.
“I didn’t think anything of it,” she told neighbors and police. “I just assumed she was going back out.”
It was not unusual for Patricia Gallo to on occasion only pull her car partially into the home’s garage if she was going to head back out, McCarthy added.
Kathleen Kramer, another neighbor, was shocked by the news.
“She was a lovely person,” Kramer said. “She always had a big smile.”
Kramer saw Mrs. Gallo, a beloved fixture in the neighborhood, every day.
“She loved working out in the yard, saying hello to everyone,” Kramer added.