Crown Candy Kitchen mourns loss of 15 year-old employee in fatal crash

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ST. LOUIS- A well-known St. Louis restaurant is trying to rally around a longtime employee who is dealing with the tragic loss of a daughter this week in a fatal south St. Louis county accident.

“Our hearts are broken that this beautiful woman has left us far to (sic) soon,” Crown Candy Kitchen owner Andy Karandzieff wrote on Twitter Wednesday night.

Alexi Hawkins, 15, was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed Tuesday night on Gravois Road near Winternight Lane. St. Louis County police said the vehicle was moving at a high rate of speed and refused to pull over for police. The car later ran a red light, tried to pass another vehicle on a shoulder, lost control, and struck a utility pole.

Hawkins was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other passengers and the driver were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

On Wednesday, the driver, 18-year-old Christopher Dedios, was charged with second-degree murder, and resisting arrest by fleeing.

In an Instagram post, Hawkins’ mother Emma Stanley said the news had “completely destroyed” her. “She was what gave me life and truly made me happy and I keep wishing this nightmare wasn’t real because she had her whole life in front of her to live. I feel so broken and empty inside.”

Stanley has worked for Crown Candy Kitchen for 25 years and her daughter had followed in her footsteps. In a Facebook post, the restaurant said Hawkins herself was “eager to start with us as soon as she had her permit, with commenters posting that they had just been greeted by her at the door within the last week.

The owner of the popular north St. Louis restaurant says they opened their doors Thursday with heavy hearts as they navigate through this difficult time.

The owner says they can’t take away the pain, but will do everything they can to lessen the load. 

“I watched two generations – my main waitress grow up in front of my eyes, and watch her daughter grow up in front of my eyes,” Andy Karandzieff said.   

“We watched her grow up and she was always around. Even when she was little, we let her do fun jobs when she got her worker’s permit.”

Denise Woodson is a waitress who worked with Alexi and her mother. She offered to donate 100 percent of her tips Thursday and Friday to help support the family, and the restaurant said it would match the donations. 

”She is probably the happiest person I have ever seen. She was so bubbly, singing and dancing, and never in a bad mood. We are going to miss her,” Woodson said.
  
 Alexi was a sophomore who had a bright future ahead. Hundreds showed up at the restaurant throughout the day to show support.

“I thought it was extremely sad for her and her mother and the entire Crown family,” Rachel Williams said.

“I thought it was great other servers were going to donate their tips to give to her mom to help with the funeral cause I could only imagine if I had to bury my own child.”

The Mehlville School District where she attended school sent out this statement to the high school students and families:   

“We are sorry to inform you that one of our MHS students, Alexi Hawkins, an incoming sophomore, died as a result of a car accident on Tuesday evening. Our thoughts are with Alexi’s family and friends. We ask that everyone be respectful of the family and their privacy during this difficult time.

“We also suggest parents talk with their students regarding grief and suggest you utilize the following tips: Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief – Tips for Caregivers. Other counseling resources are linked here.

“Grief Counselors will be available to meet with students in the MHS Counseling Center on Monday, August 2, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

“If you need to talk to a counselor at another time, please contact the Counseling Office to make an appointment. Please also know counselors are always available via the Youth Connection Helpline at 314-628-2929. We appreciate the caring Mehlville community and again offer our sympathy to Alexi’s family and friends.”

Friends have started a GoFundMe account, with proceeds going to the Stanley family.

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