HUDSON — A day after a woman accidentally struck and killed her 4-year-old daughter with an SUV, authorities said they are continuing to investigate before deciding what action, if any, to take against the mother.
"If any charges were to be filed, that would come at the conclusion of the investigation which includes waiting for things such as witness statements, autopsy and toxicology results, amongst other items," Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Cathy Jo Ivancsits, 38, was in her Pontiac SUV talking to her husband when her daughter, Michelle Ivancsits, walked toward the front of it. Ivancsits accelerated and the girl was hit. She was taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, where she later died.
Gaskins clarified earlier reports that the girl was in the car with her mother and hopped out. He said Michelle was in the street on the right side of the car while the mother and father spoke on the left side.
A review of Ivancsits' driving record shows several infractions over the years. In 2005, she was cited for careless driving. Adjudication was withheld, records show. Later that year she was cited for driving on a suspended or revoked license. In 2009, she picked up a careless driving charge. In March of 2010, adjudication was withheld on a speeding charge. In 2012, she was charged with driving without insurance, and on a separate occasion leaving the scene of an accident before police arrived.
Outside of Ivancsits' house on Thursday, someone put a teddy bear in a small plastic chair with flowers and a candle. The family told investigators they do not want to give interviews.
Incidents such as this — when a parent harms or kills a child by accident — can be devastating to a family, said Laura Finch, manager of Bereavement Services at HPH Hospice in Pasco.
"I can't imagine a more difficult death to have to deal with," she said.
Parents involved in their own children's death are usually overcome with guilt and have a tendency to replay the moment over and over. They think about what they could have done differently and tend to blame themselves.
Finch said people are hard wired to think they will grow old and die, and the natural order of things is for their children to outlive them, so a tragedy involving offspring is potentially the most difficult thing a parent can face.
A parent may even punish themselves by thinking they are no longer allowed to feel even fleeting moments of pleasure or happiness.
It takes time, she said, to start to feel normal again — potentially many years.
"My heart goes go out to this parent," she said. "One of the most difficult things is to be a part of your own child's death, regardless of the reason."