ZACHARY, LA (WAFB) - They were loved and respected by family, friends, and coworkers.
On Monday, those who knew the three people killed in a tragic hunting accident over the weekend shared their memories of the ones they lost.
It may appear to be business as usual in Zachary, but at City Hall, someone special is missing. Madeline Hemba's wide smile and warm welcome were not there this Monday. Her boss, Mayor David Amrheim, says she could brighten anyone's day. "Madeline is probably one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet in your life," said Amrheim.
Amrheim says Hemba helped manage the city's finances and budget. The 36-year-old had been working at City Hall since she was an intern in high school. Amrheim says she was often teased for being the boss's pet. "It was a big running joke here. I called her my golden child, and they knew if Madeline was with them, the golden child would lead them to where they wouldn't get in trouble with me," said Amrheim.
Hemba and her young son, Joseph, drowned on Sunday in Mississippi. Officials say the incident happened when they were trying to get from one boat to another while duck hunting on the Buffalo River. Her brother in law, Darrin Vince, also drowned in the tragic accident. People who knew them say the families were close. In fact, they had just built homes right next to one another. Vince's close friend and CrossFit coach, Justin Cowart, says he looked forward to visiting them every day.
"Before you know it, it becomes part of your daily routine. You're driving there every day, seeing his family, his little girls. I look forward to seeing Darrin everyday," said Cowart.
CrossFit was a big part of Vince's life. Cowart says he recently helped Vince train for a big competition in Miami, Florida. Vince, along with his brother, also owned their dad's business, Pat's Home Center. While it seemed Vince juggled so much, Cowart says the new grandfather always put his family first. "It was so funny because he used to always say, 'I can't wait to be like you when I grow up,' you know. But the irony was, I'm sitting here looking at the man I want to model myself after," said Cowart.
All three had an impact on so many people, a family that opened their doors to others, always offered a hand, a smile even. Those who loved them say they will never be forgotten.
"The biggest thing he always told me was whatever you do make sure you are happy," said Cowart.
"There will never be another golden child in this building. I love her. I'm going to miss her tremendously," said Amrheim.