Heights woman mourned after struck on highway

By Jeff Vorva

A Palos Heights woman who was described by one friend as a “brunette Shirley Temple” was killed in an unusual traffic accident last Friday morning in Wisconsin.

Melissa Mundo, 34, died after being struck and pinned between two vehicles on state Highway 173 northeast of Tomah, Wis., near LaCrosse, according to the Tomah Journal.

According to the newspaper account, the highway had low visibility because of thick smoke from a nearby grassfire. At 8 a.m., Melissa’s vehicle was struck from the rear by a vehicle driven by 61-year-old Suzanne Becker. The two got out of their vehicles and while they were standing in between the vehicles, a Ford F250 pickup driven by 57-year-old David Peiper crashed into Becker’s vehicle, which pushed into the two women. Becker was airlifted and taken to a local hospital and Peiper suffered minor injuries.

Monroe County police closed a 10-miles stretch of the highway for more than three hours after the crash because of the smoke. The crash is under investigation. The LaCrosse Tribune reported that the grassfire, which covered 25-to-30 acres, was started by hawk that was tangled in power lines.

Miss Mundo is the daughter of Richard and Sharon Mundo, of Palos Heights, and the sister of Richard Jr. and Kevin Mundo. She graduated from Mother McAuley in 1996 and later graduated from the University of Notre Dame and earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. She is the niece of Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton.

Lydia O’Grady, of Palos Heights, shared her thoughts about her friend Melissa on

“I can’t stop visualizing the memory of that smiling face,” O’Grady wrote. “She always reminded me of a brunette Shirley Temple. That is fitting as she was a doll, always smiling.”

She received loving tributes from people all over the country. Monica Price-Worford of Plano, Texas, wrote:

“Miss was a light to anyone who met her. I feel very blessed to have been part of Miss’ life for the time I was given. From waiting in line for concert tickets to baking banana bread to seeing 3 a.m. every day of the 1997-1998 school year at Notre Dame, she brought extreme joy into my heart. I was further blessed every time she came to Texas thereafter. She became part of the Price family like none ever has, infecting everyone with her smile. From weddings to running to downright everything in my life, she was always there for me.

“We now have a very special angel in heaven who sings brilliantly.”

Visitation was held Monday at the Sheehy and Sons Funeral Home in Orland Park. A funeral Mass was offered Tuesday at St. Alexander Catholic Church in Palos Heights.