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Hit-run drivers on U.S. 19 left Tarpon Springs mother in road to die

In 1988 Geraldine Ford holds her grandson Michael. A truck and a red sedan hit her.

Courtesy of Ford family

In 1988 Geraldine Ford holds her grandson Michael. A truck and a red sedan hit her.

TARPON SPRINGS — Geraldine D. "Ba Ba" Ford had just finished helping her best friend care for her grandchildren when she was hit by two vehicles and killed while crossing U.S. 19 at Moog Road in Pasco County.

Neither vehicle stopped to see whether the lifelong Tarpon Springs resident was alive.

Ford, 53, was crossing the road Friday night after buying a phone card, so that she could call her son to pick her up from Estelle Wadley's Holiday home.

"I never got that call," her son, Wayne Ford, said Tuesday while standing outside his grandmother's Tarpon Springs home, where family members gathered to mourn the woman's death. "It would have been different if it was a medical problem that took her away, but something so sudden. It's hard to deal with."

The next day, Wayne Ford, 35, got a tattoo with his mother's name and the years of her birth and death across his left wrist. Above that on the inside of his forearm is a pair of praying hands and the words: "In loving memory."

Geraldine Ford was in a crosswalk when a dark-colored pickup truck, possibly a dark blue Chevy Silverado with furniture in its bed, slammed into her about 10:45 p.m., the Florida Highway Patrol said.

She was then run over by a red sedan that was heading north, the Highway Patrol said. Both drivers left the scene.

Wadley said she picked Ford up earlier in the day and brought her to Holiday to help with some work around her house. Later that night, Wadley's brother walked across the street with Ford to a nearby CVS store where Ford purchased the $30 phone card.

"My brother said (that) as they crossed the street, she asked him if he had gotten her (cigarette) lighter," said Wadley, 57. "When he turned around, she was in the air. It was a tragic thing for him to see."

Wadley tried to avoid the trip across U.S. 19.

"I tried to use my credit card to put the minutes on the phone but couldn't," Wadley said Tuesday. "I bought her that phone."

Cars continued to pass Geraldine Ford as she was lying in the street, said daughter Denean Ford, 37.

"But one young boy stopped and covered her up with something from his car," Denean said. "I wish I knew who he was so I could thank him."

Geraldine Ford grew up in Tarpon Springs and was the youngest of six children. She attended school at Union Academy and later had three children: Denean, Wayne and Teleeka Ford, 34.

Everyone knew her as "Ba Ba" because she was the baby of her family growing up.

"Ba Ba was very, very honest, but she could fit in with the blue people, the green people, the purple people, the anybody kind of person," said Wadley, who considered Ford her best friend. "She could get along with anybody."

Folks would always call on "Ba Ba' when they needed help. If they needed a babysitter, or someone to cook, they called her."

"Everybody loved her," said Denean Ford. "She had no enemies."

Denean Ford said she has already forgiven the people who left her mother to die.

"It's in God's hands now," she said. "If I stay angry, it's going to be hard for me. I forgive them. It's up to God to do what he's going to do."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4174.

FAST FACTS

Did you see crash?

Anyone with information about the crash should call troopers at (727) 841-4181 or (352) 521-3888, ext. 173.

Hit-run drivers on U.S. 19 left Tarpon Springs mother in road to die 06/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 8:18pm]
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