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Crash kills New Port Richey couple, critically injures Clearwater woman

Leigh Ann and Robert Hallett of New Port Richey were killed Wednesday night on McMullen-Booth Road/East Lake Road near S Boot Ranch Boulevard. Another driver was badly injured.

EAMONN KNEESHAW | Special to the Times

Leigh Ann and Robert Hallett of New Port Richey were killed Wednesday night on McMullen-Booth Road/East Lake Road near S Boot Ranch Boulevard. Another driver was badly injured.

PALM HARBOR — She was a bubbly, outgoing labor and delivery nurse, and he was a quiet electrical engineer. Family and friends agree the couple couldn't be apart.

Leigh Ann and Robert Hallett of New Port Richey both died late Wednesday after their four-door Toyota, traveling east on S Boot Ranch Boulevard, slammed into a two-door Chevrolet that was traveling south in the inside lane of McMullen-Booth Road/East Lake Road. She was 53; he was 51.

"It's a good thing they were together," said their daughter, Evette Hallett. "One of them couldn't be without the other."

The driver of the Chevy, 25-year-old Michelle M. Jensen of Clearwater, was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where she was reported in critical condition.

The crash caused both cars to ricochet about 80 feet, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

It remains unclear what caused the accident. Authorities were still investigating the crash Thursday and declined to give further details.

The Halletts' deaths came as a shock to family members in Tampa Bay and their native Toledo, Ohio. They moved to Florida about 15 years ago.

Mrs. Hallett worked the night shift at Mease Countryside Hospital, delivering countless newborns —what her daughter describes as both a career and a passion.

"It's been a shock and a lot of tears," said Linda Bando, nurse manager at Mease Countryside Hospital.

Mrs. Hallett would dote on her husband and children, Bando remembered, but especially so on her four grandchildren.

"She loved life," said Bando, who knew Mrs. Hallett for 10 years. "She was bigger than life."

Evette Hallett, 33, is now a nurse, too. She saw the passion in her mother's eyes and chose to follow it.

"The words weren't made to describe her," said Ginny Castromayor, Mrs. Hallett's friend of 16 years.

Mr. Hallett could fix anything, plant a garden and set up the newest electronics, those close to him said.

Evette Hallett last saw her parents on Sunday, when they were eating dinner and helping set up a new television at Mr. Hallett's sister's home.

On Wednesday, the Halletts, of 6824 Windwillow Drive in New Port Richey, were watching a movie on the television Mr. Hallett helped set up a few days before.

Evette Hallett's grandfather phoned to tell her the bad news. On her way to his house, Evette passed the scene of the crash.

A funeral is scheduled for Sunday at Michels and Lundquist Funeral Home in New Port Richey. In lieu of flowers, the Hallett family requests donations be directed toward breast cancer research or battered women's shelters.

Times Staff Writer Kim Wilmath contributed to this report. Brian Spegele can be reached at bspegele@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4154.

Crash kills New Port Richey couple, critically injures Clearwater woman 08/06/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 6, 2009 8:58pm]
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