Nov. 4, 2020 was a typical Wednesday for 25-year-old Ashley Constantino.
After she finished her work day as a medical assistant, she picked up her 5-year-old son, Nemo, buckled him into his car seat and set off for the weekly Wednesday night church service at NOW Church in Ocala.
At the intersection of County Road 491 and State Road 200, she turned left onto S.R. 200 and into the path of an SUV traveling southbound.
That’s when typical turned tragic. As the SUV, driven by a 25-year-old man from Inverness, collided with the left side of Ashley’s sedan.
She later died from her injuries at an area hospital.
Nemo was also critically injured, although he is now home with his grandfather, Victor Constantino, in a full leg cast for six weeks.
“He’s a great kid,” Constantino said. “He has autism, but he’s high-functioning. I also have a 6-year-old daughter, and the two of them are close, so now my wife and I have the two to take care of.”
Nemo also has a severe wheat allergy and a dairy intolerance, but what he can eat, he loves to eat.
“He’s a foodie, just like his mom,” Constantino said.
Constantino said they are still in shock at the loss of his daughter.
“She had a huge heart, doing for others before herself,” he said. “That’s why she was a medical assistant. She liked helping people.”
Ashley grew up in Galloway, New Jersey, and moved to Dunnellon to be with her dad about six years ago.
After she had Nemo, whose given name is Nehemiah, the two lived with Constantino for about two years while Ashley worked toward being able to support herself and her son on her own.
“She was strong as a single mom,” her dad said. “She struggled financially, but she was determined to support herself. She was a hard worker and passionate about what she did.”
She was also passionate about her Christian faith.
“She loved the Lord and was always praying for people and sharing her faith,” Constantino said.
Friends and family members of Ashley Constantino have set up two GoFundMe accounts:
“Funeral Arrangements for Ashley,” set up by Ashley's sister, Destiny, and “Memorial Fund for Ashley Constantino,” started by Quick Care Med in Lecanto to “help fund the family for memorial expenses and to support her son for ongoing needs.”
Although at the time of her death, Ashley was working for a physician in Crystal River, she made an impact with her former employer, Quick Care Med.
“Ashley spent three years with us and was part of the family,” said Charley Marie Balbuena, director of operations. “Ashley was a very hard worker, caring to the patients, a support to new coworkers, and a friend to all. She was a single mother who had great goals for her future for herself and for Nemo; her number one priority.
“Ashley’s passing is a great loss to many, but especially to Nemo,” Balbuena said.