Young mother’s death stuns family, friendsParome Heng known for her smiling service at Mitchell's Twin Dragon restaurant.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Distraught customers have been calling all week, expressing sorrow and disbelief, said Twin Dragon restaurant owner Danny Prom.
Parome Heng, the Mitchell Chinese restaurant’s smiling and popular waitress, is gone, dead at age 25.
She died Monday afternoon at Avera McKennan Hospital, Sioux Falls, just days after giving birth to her second daughter, Jenna, on Friday at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital.
The exact cause of her death is still unknown, said husband Jake Heng, 28, who works at Graphic Packaging.
Prom, 50, said he and his staff were busy Thursday getting ready for a Friday evening fundraiser for the Heng family that featured the restaurant’s signature Kung Pao chicken and shrimp — the latter a nod to area Catholics, some of whom still prefer seafood on Fridays.
“She liked Kung Pao chicken,” said Prom.
On Friday evening, all money from the popular dish went to support Parome’s family: husband Jake and daughters Rachana and Jenna.
“We all want to know why it happened. Why was her life so short?” Prom said. “She was healthy when I visited her on Saturday, and on Monday she passed away.”
Prom said Parome, a native of Cambodia, worked at Twin Dragon for six years and was known for a special sort of welcoming openness with her customers.
“She was a smart woman who was friendly,” he said. “She liked people and she put a smile on customers’ faces right away.”
Parome had dreams of bringing her mother to Mitchell and eventually opening her own restaurant.
A stunned and grieving Jake Heng, who is also Cambodian, said his wife’s death was “a big shock” that left him disoriented. The couple married in Cambodia in July 2007.
“I don’t know what to do right now. I just try to help my kids for now. Right now everything’s kind of messed up.”
He said he and his wife were looking forward to family life in Mitchell.
“She never got sick and now she’s gone,” he said. “She was a healthy, strong woman. Before she had the baby, they checked everything and everything was good. I don’t get it.”
Jake spent several hours at the restaurant Friday accepting condolences from friends and customers.
“I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I feel like I’ve lost something special. I feel like I’ve lost everything.”