NORTH ARLINGTON - Customers and staff at a North Arlington diner are shocked at the loss of a longtime waitress who was killed as she crossed a busy street.
Barbara Gangi, 74, worked at the Arlington Diner for 22 years. Friends say Tuesday was her day off and she was doing laundry at a nearby laudromat when she crossed River Road for her usual coffee and a bagel.
She was walking near the Belleville Turnpike at around 6:30 a.m. when she was struck and killed.
Co-workers say Gangi served up everything with a side of sass, picking on everyone around her, but it's what kept them coming back.
So many customers would ask to sit in Gangi's section that there would not be enough tables and booths to accommodate all of them.
"I've never seen so many people come in and ask for her," says waiter Billy McMann, who worked with Gangi the past two years. He says it was the first time he had to explain to regular customers that, not only their waitress, but their friend, was gone.
McMann tried to describe what everyone loved about her. "Her personality," he says. "Just the way that she was. She would tell you exactly how it was. She wouldn't hold any punches. And that's what people liked. People respected that. She was classy, she was considerate."
Police and county prosecutors are investigating the incident and reviewing surveillance video, but say it appears to have been an accident.