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Family tries to make sense of woman's fatal car crash

NEW PORT RICHEY — Catherine Terrasi, 85, spent Mother's Day with her cousin Ann DiBella, 89. They played a card game called "hand and foot,'' a version of canasta — "not for money, just for fun," Mrs. DiBella said.

Mrs. Terrasi took her cousin home after the game and planned to drive to her own place in Spring Hill to catch a phone call from her son and two daughters who live in New York.

"We kissed goodbye and said we would see each other in a couple weeks because we were going to go to a jewelry demonstration," Ms. DiBella said Monday.

Mrs. DiBella had just stepped inside her condominium on Bostonian Loop at 5 p.m. when she heard a deafening bang. Mrs. Terrasi's 2010 Mercury Grand Marquis had slammed into her garage.

The neighbors across the street raced outside when they heard the noise. Mrs. Terrasi lay on the pavement.

"She was thrown out of the car," neighbor Lyle Porter, 85, said Monday. "Nobody else really saw what happened, but the car ran over her leg."

The beige Mercury raced backward until it looped around and crashed front-first into the garage, smashing a refrigerator.

Emergency crews responded quickly, but Mrs. Terrasi died.

On Monday, family members tried to make sense of the situation.

"It doesn't sound like our aunt," said her nephew in Spring Hill who declined to give his name.

"I would write in big letters that there wasn't a better person than my aunt."

Mrs. Terrasi and her husband, Salvatore, moved from New York in 1993 to their home on Overland Drive in the Seven Hills neighborhood of Spring Hill. He died in 1996.

Her daughter, Mary Caratenuto of North Baldwin, N.Y., said it was "too soon to comment" on her mother's death.

Mrs. DiBella said she thinks her cousin was still getting used to her car. When she pulled into the driveway Sunday, she tried to unlock it and hit the button that opened the trunk instead.

"Even though I had a walker I went to the back and pushed it down," Mrs. DiBella said. "Then I waved her goodbye."

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Jacqueline Baylon can be reached at jbaylon@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Family tries to make sense of woman's fatal car crash 05/09/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 9, 2011 10:21pm]
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