Faithful churchgoer is killed walking to Mass

Deseretnews.com
Friday Oct 8, 2004

Faithful churchgoer is killed walking to Mass

By Pat Reavy
Deseret Morning News

MURRAY – Almost as consistent as the bright sun rising, 84-year-old
Elizabeth Arslanian had a daily religious ritual. She would wake up early
every morning, get dressed, put on her rosary beads and walk to church not
far from her mobile home.
The Armenian woman left her house at 6:30 a.m., giving her time to
lend a helping hand and attend 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church.
But Arslanian didn’t make it to church Thursday. While crossing 1300
East in the northbound lanes near Van Winkle Expressway, the elderly woman
was struck by a car and killed en route. She was pronounced dead at the
scene.
The area where Arslanian was crossing, about 150 feet south of the
intersection, has no street lights and was dark at that time of the morning.
She was not in a crosswalk and was wearing dark clothing.
Arslanian wasn’t carrying identification, but police saw her religious
jewelry and walked over to the church where they asked the priest to come
identify her.

It was a gut-wrenching loss for the St. Vincent congregation. Arslanian,
with a strong accent and a stronger desire to serve the church, held a
special spot in their hearts, said Jeanette Welch, who regularly attended
morning Mass with her at the church at 1375 E. Spring Lane.
“It was awful. It was pretty bad . . .” added Rose Jesienouski. “She
was just the sweetest little old lady you could ever ask for.”
Friends remembered Arslanian as a very religious person who often
talked about her excitement in “going home” – as in returning to live with
God, Welch said.
Arslanian had lived in Utah for about the past 15 years, but she was
from Armenia and often talked about that country and Lebanon, Welch said.
She could speak five languages, although English wasn’t her strongest. There
were times her friends couldn’t quite understand the words she was saying,
but they fully understood the meaning as she joyfully talked about her sons
and grandchildren, Welch said.
Arslanian had six boys. Welch believed three of them are living in the
United States and the other three living out of country. Her husband died
about six years ago, she said.
Welch said Arslanian was always at church early, cleaning candlestick
holders or doing other “little things,” Welch said. Because she insisted on
being at the church so early, Welch said it was often difficult for anyone
to get to her house in time to give her a ride.
“We always told her, ‘Wear some lighter clothes (when you walk),’ ”
recalled Jesienouski.
After Mass, some of the women would take Arslanian to breakfast or
drive her home, Welch said.
At the accident scene, several feet of skid marks were visible on the
street where the driver was unable to stop in time.
Murray police Sgt. Doug Roberts said the driver was very distraught
and a chaplain accompanied her to the hospital because she was so
emotionally shaken.

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