Those who were close to Apryl Foster, the 33-year-old Brandon woman who went missing Feb. 12, are mourning after her body was found Sunday submerged in her car in a lake near her home. Officials confirmed that it was indeed her Monday afternoon.
For those who worked with her at Ulele, the Tampa Heights restaurant where she was a server and trainer, it was a tragic cap to a rough ten days.
“Like many work environments, the restaurant business is close-knit," said Michael Kilgore, a spokesman for Columbia Restaurant Group, the company that owns Ulele. "You're working strange hours. It's high-volume business, and the people who work there become really, really close. So staff took it really hard.”
He said Sunday night restaurant management brought in grief counselors to help employees cope with their loss.
"It's very hard. Apryl was very well-liked," he said. "And even though she was only 33 and not that much older than any of the servers, she really served as, almost like a den mother and a mentor to some of the other servers.”
Foster had disappeared after leaving Double Decker, an Ybor bar where she was singing karaoke, at around 2 a.m.
"I had found it and returned it to her," he wrote in a Facebook message. "That was about 2 a.m. or so. I bid her good night and be safe. She seemed OK at the time."
No one heard from her after that.
“The longer the time went on the more difficult it became, and it didn't seem like there was going to be a very positive outcome because of the scenarios," Kilgore said. "And because she was so responsible there was no way that she would ever just leave. She talked to her parents once or twice a day. She had these three cats that she took care of like children, so there's no way she would leave.”
Kilgore said she will be remembered as a lively and hard-working person who loved singing and Star Wars.
“She was friendly, vivacious, a natural entertainer,” he said. “She'd take any job, come in early, stay late, do whatever needed to be done.”