The woman who was run over and killed this week on a Maple Grove sidewalk with her sister at her side leaves behind orphaned middle school twins, one of them with autism.
Ann Blake, 54, of Andover, was hit by a crossover-style vehicle at midday Tuesday while standing with her sister along Elm Creek Boulevard near the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, a major retail area.
The motorist was reported to be driving erratically before she struck Blake. Police have yet to say why the driver left the road but were looking into whether alcohol or drugs played a role. She was taken to North Memorial Medical Center with noncritical injuries. No charges had been filed.
Blake's family explained in a statement issued through its church, Grace Lutheran of Andover, some of the circumstances surrounding her death:
Blake was with her sister Jean for shopping and a little exercise on the unusually warm winter day. Since Blake didn't have to pick up her son from school for therapy until 2:30 p.m., they decided to walk along Elm Creek Boulevard toward a new water park east of Hemlock Lane.
As they waited for the light to change, the two "never saw or heard the approaching SUV that jumped the curb and blindsided Ann."
Police, already called to the scene on reports of an erratic driver in the area, physically kept Jean from rushing out to her sister's body in the road.
Blake's death came four months after her husband, Dan, 50, died following a 10-month battle with cancer, said the Rev. Mark Hellmann, the family's minister at Grace.
Hellmann said neighbors are helping the children, a girl and an autistic boy, stay at their home. "In this kind of case, with a special-needs child, routine is kind of essential. You have to work really hard at keeping routine" as they deal with this "crushing, crushing blow."
Ann Blake "threw herself into" children's ministry at Grace, whether it was Bible school or holiday pageants, Hellmann said, adding that his own children babysat for the Blakes and helped with daily routines for the boy.
"Her honesty and openness had a way of connecting with children," said Hellmann, who has known the Blakes since he began serving Grace 17 years ago. "You could see that by the way that kids would go to her."
The family's statement described Ann Blake as a "high-energy person whose friends and neighbors have called the 'activity director.' She was always looking for family-type activities for parents and children. She was active in her church and community and was recognized as an advocate for children with autism."
Ann Blake was trained as a surgical technician and worked at a hospital in Minneapolis. Motherhood then prompted her to take a job closer to home as a cashier at the Cub Foods in Coon Rapids.
"She was the kind of cashier who would take the time and talk to you as you stood in line," Hellmann said.
Services for Blake are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Grace Lutheran Church, 13655 Round Lake Blvd. Visitation begins at 9 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred for benefit of the Blake children in care of the church.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482