Father, daughter who died in sinking van remembered by friends

- Carol and Eugene Hayden's smiles shine brightly in pictures. Now those photos are all friends have to remember the daughter and father.

The two lived at Village on the Isle, a faith-based retirement community in Venice. CEO of Village on the Isle, Joel Anderson said both were devoted to their faith.

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"We celebrate lives here. It's in a different fashion for us today," said Joel Anderson. "It's a tragic loss. It's a sudden loss. It's something unexpected."

The Haydens died Monday afternoon when their van plunged into the Venice jetty. People tried rescuing them, but they couldn't pull them out before the van sank. Tuesday night a memorial grew at the site with friends paying their respects.

"Carol was so sweet. She always got to know everybody in the dining room. She would always make a comment about how good her service was every time she left," said Kendra Holder.

Kendra Holder worked in the dining room at Village on the Isle and knew the pair. Eugene went by "Gene" and was known as the residential photographer.

"He always had his camera out and was taking pictures of all the special events there. He would always print them out and bring them in the next day. He was proud of his pictures," said Holder. 

A Venice police report released Wednesday morning does not explain why the crash happened. Officers are still investigating and looking into why that van ended up in the jetty. Officers said it could take upwards of three months to come to that conclusion.

As each day goes by, time will help heal the pain, but the Haydens will not soon be forgotten.

"It's going to be tough for some. As some would say that was my best friend," said Pastor Keith Backhaus with St. Mark's Episcopal.

A candlelight vigil for the Haydens will be held at Village on the Isle in Venice Thursday night at 7:30. 

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