The spot where a longtime, respected vendor at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market sold her family’s fresh produce for two decades became a memorial to the matriarch killed last week in a hit-and-run with a stolen vehicle.
Phoua Thao Hang, 70, died Sunday when an SUV collided with the vehicle driven by Hang’s husband as they returned from working their garden. The driver and vehicle have not been found.
The Hang family’s booth at the market in St. Paul’s Lowertown was empty Saturday as the family mourns the death of Phou Hang. In their absence, the market turned the booth into a memorial with fresh flowers and photographs of Hang and her family. The plan is to keep the booth decorated with fresh flowers until the Hang family returns to their stall.
“I’ll always remember Phoua surrounded by her children, grandchildren and husband, happily greeting her customers and friends at the market,” said David Kotsonas, Director of Operations for the Hmong American Farmers Association and a former director of the Farmers’ Market. He said the Hang family has been selling there for over 20 years.
Hang’s grandson is Rep. Jay Xiong, DFL-St. Paul. Her daughter and son, Pakou Hang and Janssen Hang, founded the Hmong American Farmers Association.
On Sunday, Hang and her husband were returning home on Forest Street in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood about 10 p.m. when a stolen Kia Sportage came from an alley between Cook and Magnolia avenues and struck the Hangs’ vehicle, according to interim St. Paul Police Chief Jeremy Ellison. Hang’s husband was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and has since been discharged.
Police are continuing to look for the driver and passengers of the Kia Sportage, which was stolen in Minneapolis. Police are asking anyone with information to call them at 651-266-5656.