Westport woman killed in hit-and-run last year honored with memorial bench

SE Mass

SOMERSET, Mass. (WPRI) ─ A Westport woman who was killed in New Orleans last year was honored in a special way Wednesday evening.

Amber Mello, 55, was hit by a car while on vacation last March. The driver left the scene, but ultimately turned herself in and has been charged with second-degree murder.

Those who knew her were shocked when they heard the news, including her colleagues at Prima Care in Somerset, where Amber was a physician’s assistant for 20 years.

Her husband, Jeff Mello, tells 12 News he remembers his wife fondly.

“I think about her every day,” Jeff said. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. It’s been 422 days.”

“She was just a kind-hearted person,” he continued. “There is no rhyme or reason why God takes people when they do, I guess they needed her more than we needed her down here. As hard as it is, the person I am today is because of her, the strength that I have today is because of her.”

The timing of Amber’s death coincided with the beginning of the pandemic, meaning her patients, friends, colleagues and family members didn’t get the chance to mourn together.

“People wanted to do something and show their condolences,” Dr. Jennifer Kabak said. “I told them, ‘We will get through this and we will wait, and in a year we will do something to memorialize her.'”

Kabak kept her word. On Wednesday, she unveiled a memorial bench for Amber outside the practice.

“When we had patients that passed, she would go to the funerals, she would come back with a prayer card and she would call the family,” Kabak said. “It really resonated with me – if I could do something similar to what she did for so many.”

Jeff was among the crowd of patients, friends and family members who attended the unveiling.

When a rainbow appeared overhead, he said it was no coincidence. He’s convinced Amber was looking down and smiling.

“I’m really touched,” he told the crowd. “There’s a lot of words that I want to say, but there’s nothing I can say except thank you.”

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