Friends say crash victim left big impression on coworkers, customers

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Cumberland Farms employees say it was hard not to become friends with former coworker Valdano Almeida.

Almeida, 26, died Monday after he was hit by a truck while walking to his mother’s home in Riverside. The driver, Arnold Butler, 35, was arrested on a DUI charge.

Almeida worked at the convenience store on Pawtucket Avenue for a little over a year but started at the location in Seekonk. That’s where he met Eric Graham, who now manages the East Providence store.

Graham said they quickly became friends while working together. Speaking to Eyewitness News Friday morning, Graham discussed Almeida’s lasting impression and said his death “has had this team and the store in Seekonk all hurting.”

“He was very hard-working, willing to help out the team, and had a very positive impression on coworkers and customers,” Graham recalled. 

Though he worked at a store where people are usually in and out for quick errands, Graham said customers knew Almeida by name. Some even came in to tell employees about the crash when they heard about the news, according to Graham, while others have been stopping by all week to show their support.

“He was a team player willing to do whatever,” Graham added.

Beyond his job, Graham said Almeida loved his family and was very into sports. He said Almeida was a big Minnesota Vikings fan, despite being surrounded by New England fans.

“Not a typical employee,” Graham said. “Not a typical person.”

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