Remembering Donna and Michele Blanchard, 20 years later

Time may not heal all wounds, but it can reinforce love and memories.

June 7 marked the 20-year anniversary of the hit-and-run accident on the corner of Fort Hamilton Parkway and 92nd Street which took the lives of Bay Ridgeite Donna Blanchard and her four-year-old daughter Michele. On that date, family and friends gathered there to commemorate the lost lives with a vigil and the painting of a mural.

“We’re trying to turn something that is so tragic and sad into something that’s more of a celebration of their lives,” said Donna’s son and artist Michael McLeer, “so that instead of a crime scene, it’s more of a shrine and place of remembrance.”

The idea of the mural emerged because of the condition of the wall. “We were talking about what we should do for the 20th anniversary,” said Donna’s son Adam McLeer. “We decided to put a portrait on the wall because it was filled with graffiti.”

During the three days it took to complete the portrait, the family realized little has changed in two decades in regards to the dangerous corner. “You wouldn’t believe how many people were racing to beat this light and racing around the corner,” Michael said. “Maybe this [mural] will give them a second to take a look around and be a reminder that we don’t have to be in such a rush.”

While putting the finishing touches on the memorial, the family took some time to share the memories of their loved ones. “My mother was a symbol of the community. She was a single mother raising a bunch of kids. Everybody loved her. She grew up in this neighborhood,” said Michael. “My mother was somebody who always had a smile on her face, through bad times and good, no matter what the situation.”

“The day means a lot to us, to see our friends again and get everybody together,” added Adam, who still faces the pain on a daily basis. “It’s mixed emotions. You’re happy to see your kids growing up but I say this every year, every day is the same; you wake up to same thing every day.”

The driver of the vehicle that struck the Blanchards was never apprehended.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.