Patrons of the Circle K at 32nd Street and Chandler Bouelvard, Ahwatukee, mourned the death of clerk Katie Zeitino in a crash blamed on a drunk driver, who slammed into her car and also killed her husband and mother-in-law.
Special to AFN

Katie Zeitino would pray out loud for other people, even for people she didn’t know and with passion in her voice, during prayer sessions at Lamb of God Lutheran Church in Ahwatukee.

A tragic collision in Tempe, which police blame on a suspected impaired driver, left many people praying for Zeitino instead – even if they only knew her as the pleasant clerk who served them at the Circle K at Chandler Boulevard and 32nd Street, Ahwatukee.

Zeitino, 30, was one of three family members killed in the head-on collision at 7:45 p.m. Oct. 2 near Hardy Drive and Southern Avenue, said Officer Lily Duran, a Tempe police spokeswoman.

Her husband, Miguel, 31, and mother-in-law, Magdalena Zeitino, 65, succumbed to their injuries at the scene and she died two days later.

Duran said the chain-reaction collision involved four vehicles and occurred when a van, driven by the DUI suspect, crossed over into the two-way left turn lane and then into the westbound lane.

She said police are not releasing at this time the name of driver, who was very seriously injured and remains under investigation.

“She lived her faith. She was genuine,’’ said Lamb of God Pastor Scott Martz, who visited Zeitino in the intensive care unit before she passed away and will preside at her funeral. “She was not judgmental. She would smile. There was nothing fake about Katie.’’

Martz was amazed when he posted a GoFundMe page to raise money to pay for Katie’s funeral and garnered more than $5,000 in about two days. Since then, donations have grown to $8,150, even though the goal for minimal arrangements was $5,500. A GoFundMe page also has been established for Miguel Zeitino.

“She really had a heart for other people and she was very articulate in her prayers,’’ Martz said. “She went above and beyond loving her neighbor.’’

Many people who responded to the GoFundMe page appeared to know Zeitino from Circle K – one of three service industry jobs Zeitino worked.  

“She made a big impression on people at the store. People could see she was a real person. There was a quality about her. She had something special, genuine,” Martz said.

Zeitino’s customers seem to know her best from her smile and her upbeat attitude. They were clearly moved by her untimely death.

“Katie was a bright spot in my day,’’ Kym Peters wrote. “Always smiling and offering positive words of encouragement. I will miss my Circle K friend. God brought home a wonderful person.’’

Jerri Miller-Weed wrote, “You were always a delight to help me and everyone who came in knew you so well. Now, I feel honored to have met you.’’

Vicki Olsen, another customer, wrote, “Katie was such a sweet soul. Her kindness beamed through her smile. My stops at Circle K will never be the same.’’

Zeitino will be remembered in a funeral service on Saturday, Oct. 14, at 11 a.m. at Lamb of God Lutheran Church, 599 E. Chandler Blvd.

Miguel and Magdalena Zeitino will be remembered at a funeral Mass at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 5445 Calle San Angelo, Guadalupe.

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