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Mom of man killed in hit-and-run says driver who returned should never have left

TAMPA — A 20-year-old woman might avoid charges that she fled the scene of a fatal hit-and-run accident because she returned an hour later, but that doesn't satisfy the mother of the man who died.

"She made a terrible mistake, and somebody died," Ethel Braunsdorf said. "If she'd have just stayed there, between the accident and when the cops and ambulance came, it might have saved him."

Amanda Bentz returned to the scene with her father after driving away in shock, her father told the St. Petersburg Times on Monday.

Billy Leedan Ivy, 42, of 7015 N Dakota Ave. was dead before she returned. There was no crosswalk where deputies believe Ivy was walking.

Braunsdorf, who moved from Tampa to Tennessee three years ago, said she had a strange feeling that night before hearing about what happened to her son.

"You know how you get a feeling that something's happened?" she said. Then she got a call from her son's ex-wife. There had been an accident.

"Billy was a great kid. He was a great guy," his mother said. But he did have his troubles.

Braunsdorf said her son wasn't the type who could have just a couple of drinks. For the past five years, he had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, trying to move on from past mistakes.

Ivy was arrested 30 times since 1987 on charges including theft, battery, driving under the influence and probation violations, records show. His most recent arrest was in 2007, on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and possession of an open container.

Ivy's mother said he was trying to turn things around. "The AA says, 'Today is the first day of your life,' " Braunsdorf said.

Her son was more than his faults, she said. He was a professional painter who loved fishing, wrote poems, played guitar and sang. His poetry and songs helped him work through his issues with alcohol, she said.

Monday would have been Ivy's 43rd birthday. His mother hasn't quite accepted how he died. She can't believe Bentz was so shaken that she couldn't stop.

The crash investigation continues, and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesman Larry McKinnon said it will be a couple of weeks before all the evidence is processed. Then prosecutors will decide whether Bentz should be charged.

A few years ago, Braunsdorf said, she and her husband hit a deer while driving. She remembers the broken glass, the thud, the shock. "And we stayed right there until they came and picked that deer up," Braunsdorf said.

She said she doesn't feel vindictive toward Bentz. "I just want her to understand that she has done something," she said.

Kim Wilmath can be reached at kwilmath@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3386.

Mom of man killed in hit-and-run says driver who returned should never have left 03/09/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 11:51pm]
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