Police say the 79-year-old woman likely didn't know an ambulance was in the St. Paul alley when she was hit and killed as it backed up.
On a day when authorities identified a 79-year-old woman who was hit and killed Saturday by an ambulance in an alley behind her St. Paul home, friends, relatives and neighbors gathered at the scene on Sunday to remember Margaret Kuehn, who was known as the "sweetest lady in the neighborhood."
Kuehn was struck by an ambulance responding to an accident around 6 p.m. in the alley in the 1600 block of James Avenue
A motorist lost control in the Walgreen's parking lot, crashed through a fence and over a 4-foot retaining wall and landed in the alley, police said.
J.P. Hamer, at a nearby gas station, saw the hole left in the fence. He ran to the scene as the ambulance arrived and slowly began backing up to get close to the victim.
"I wanted to see how they were going to fit the ambulance down the small alley," Hamer said. "I was four houses away, and I heard a woman scream and people yelling, 'Stop, stop, stop.' Then I saw a man talking to somebody under the vehicle, trying to communicate."
Hamer said the ambulance did not have its siren on but was making a beeping noise at it backed up.
It is believed the Kuehn was unaware of the ambulance, said St. Paul Police Sgt. Paul Schnell. She died at the scene.
A stream of mourners dropped flowers at the scene on Sunday to remember Kuehn, who was known for having a perfect lawn and beautiful gardens. Frances Mintz-Peller brought roses to remember her friend, whom she had seen almost every day since they met 16 years ago.
"She was the sweetest lady in the neighborhood," said Mintz-Peller, a mother of nine. "She was super nice to my children. She brought us get-well cards and food, and made sure we were OK. This is tragic."
Kuehn often walked her dog, Ashley, in the Highland Park neighborhood and held annual garage sales with her daughter, Mintz-Peller said.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman promised a full investigation.
"Words fail us at times like these. They fail to express the depth of our sadness for those who lost a loved one today. They fail to touch the anguish of the paramedic crew whose jobs sent them on a fateful run," he said.
Tim Harlow 612-673-7768