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'It's like a knife to the heart for the whole re-enactment community': Three St. Augustine reenactors die in car crash

Community to hold costumed procession Saturday in Downtown St. Augustine to honor the three.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — If you ever went to a reenactment in St. Augustine, a fundraiser, or a community event, then you might have saw Sylvia Martin-McGinnis.

"She was everywhere and a part of everything," friend and reenactor Michelle Reyna told First Coast News. 

She was the tall, red-headed re-enactor who you could easily pick out of a crowd.

"She worked so hard for all aspects of the community to work together," friend and fellow-reenactor Debora St. Onge said. 

Martin-McGinnis, her husband, Jason Martin, and her younger sister, Sandra Conners were all killed last week in a car crash in South Carolina. Police say another car slammed into theirs.

St. Onge held back tears saying, "It’s hard enough to loose one, but to lose three!"

St. Onge and Reyna say the three loved to reenact and tell the city’s history.  

"It is devastating," Reyna said. "It's like a knife to the heart to the whole re-enactment community, to people who worked for the city, for businesses and for the organizations they were a part of."

Martin-McGinnis was knighted last month by the Royal Family of St. Augustine for the work she did in the community.

Credit: Bob Alvarez
Sylvia Martin-McGinnis is knighted in April 2023 by the Royal Family of St. Augustine

Reyna said, "She loved to tell people 'I’m from St. Augustine! I’m from the oldest city.'"

Jason, her husband, "was brilliant. He had some of the highest security clearances in the country," Reyna nodded.

Conners "had a tough life as a late teen and adult, but you would never know that because she was always happy, bubbly, and giving," St. Onge said.

Reyna said Martin-McGinnis led a life found in novels and had met so many influential people. One example is the time her mother put her into boarding school for a day.

"Prince Charles was in her class that day! I am not kidding! That’s the kind of life this woman led," Reyna exclaimed. 

Three people who loved St. Augustine, and loved to tell other people about it. And that city will not be the same without them.

To honor the three, reenactors from various groups and places will have a procession at St. George Street in St. Augustine in period clothing this Saturday, starting at 5:30 p.m. All are welcome to join or watch. They will start to gather at 5 p.m. at the Spanish Bakery on St. George Street.

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