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Victim ID'd in deadly crash outside Ritz Barbecue in Allentown

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 18 2014 08:42:54 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 18 2014 04:12:41 PM CDT

Officials have identified the woman who was killed when she was hit outside a popular restaurant near the Allentown Fairgrounds.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The dining room of the Ritz Barbecue restaurant was closed Monday, but the takeout window was open, not only receiving orders but condolences placed at Sunday night's point of impact.

"Just kind of a shock to all of us. She was a regular, and we knew her," said Selena Cruz, an employee.

Around 6:30 p.m., an 85-year-old driver pulled out of his parking spot near the restaurant, made a U-turn and hit Shirley Dengler before driving into the building, police said.

Dengler, 82, of South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, was pinned against the wall and died. The driver, his wife and the first woman who was hit were taken to the hospital.

"Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. That far up in the curb like that. Oh my gosh," said Cynthia Dawson, a customer.

The Ritz's owner said he's too emotional to comment, but Dawson said she sympathizes with the family.

"It's a terrible accident. Could happen to anybody," she said.

Residents of Dengler’s apartment building said the woman lived alone and kept to herself.

Dengler's daughter said the mother of three and grandmother of four loved Ritz's  black diamond steak and playing bingo throughout the area. 

For employees like Cruz, images of the apparent accident will stay long after the investigation concludes.

"I'm sure anyone who comes here to eat will be on the lookout because it could have been anyone of us," Cruz said.

Police have not released the driver's name. As of Monday afternoon, no charges had been filed.

Ritz's dining room will be open Tuesday.