Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mother, daughter killed in Port Richey crash

They were mother and daughter, both trying to get ahead. To be happy. Both worked hard and found love. But Monday night, their dreams for a better life were cut short in a U-turn on U.S. 19.

Maureen and Mary Cullen moved to Port Richey from Fall River, Mass., a few years ago. They stayed in a rented room in a small house at the end of Vermont Avenue. Sandy Thompson, who lives across the street, said they became close friends of hers.

She remembers Mary, 18, the polite, soft-spoken girl with almond-shaped eyes and dark, shoulder-length hair. Last year, Mary finished her online courses to graduate from high school, and she was rarely seen without her boyfriend, Kyle Ogden. "A good kid," Thompson said.

And Maureen, 46, the hard-working single mother who often gave more than she got and wanted the best for her and her daughter.

They moved out of the house a year ago but kept in touch, Thompson said. Mary went to live with her boyfriend and his family. Maureen found work as a live-in caretaker for the elderly.

Between jobs, Maureen stayed at Thompson's house, where she was more of a help than a guest. Thompson often came home to find Maureen mowing the lawn, cleaning out the refrigerator or helping Thompson's 93-year-old aunt take a shower.

"I had a stroke," said Dorothy Mitchell, Thompson's 83-year-old mother, "and she waited on me hand and foot."

"She just wanted to be loved," Thompson said. "She wanted a house or apartment — some place her and Mary could be together."

With Facebook and her phone, she kept a running dialogue with family members and friends. Mandy Puckett, Maureen's niece who lives in Rhode Island, got a call from her aunt every evening. They talked about work, life, anything. In a Facebook conversation from Feb. 21, they exchanged four I-love-yous.

"We were just a close-knit family," she said. "Even though we didn't see each other all the time."

Maureen often texted Mary. She called her "baby girl." She would do anything for her daughter, Thompson said.

One of Maureen's clients refused to let her go to Mary's graduation. She quit. That night, without a paycheck, she took her daughter to Outback Steak House.

After high school, Mary got a job at Charley's Grilled Subs in Port Richey and moved to an apartment with boyfriend Kyle Ogden, Thompson said.

They smile out of Facebook photos, cheeks pressed together. Ogden holds the camera faced toward them in his outstretched arm.

Eventually, Maureen found her own love, too. His name was Jose. Friends and other family didn't know his last name. He helped her buy a car. After seven months together, she wrote on Facebook that he was going to be her husband.

When she visited Thompson last month, it was all she could talk about: Her car and her boyfriend. Mary talked about Charley's and handed out coupons. That was the last time Thompson saw them.

On Monday, around 7 p.m., Mary was driving a 2001 Chevrolet Blazer with her mother in the passenger seat. She pulled into a median turn lane to make a U-turn into the northbound lane of U.S. 19., just north of Holiday Hills Boulevard.

As they turned, a 2002 GMC Sierra pickup, driven by Michael Andrew Marlin, 51, of Hudson, plowed into the right side of the SUV, troopers said. The Blazer rolled onto its roof. Everyone involved was wearing a seat belt. Mary and Maureen died at the scene.

Tears glinted from the corners of Mitchell's eyes Tuesday when she heard the news. She buried her face in a wrinkled palm and muttered, "I can't believe it."

That afternoon, a post appeared on Ogden's Facebook:

"I, you're my world...You ...are everything to me. I really wish you could just...tell me what to do babe...I'm at such a loss and all I want is to be with you."

Alex Orlando can be reached at or (727)869-6247.

Mother, daughter killed in Port Richey crash 03/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 9:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New job for Pinellas mentor to first-year teachers


    Remember Kali Davis, a Pinellas school district teacher whose job last year was to mentor and coach 26 first-year teachers in six of the district's lowest-performing …

    Kali Davis (left), training director for Springboard to Success, helps to coach Justin Black (center), who will be starting his third year of teaching PE at Melrose Elementary, as he works to instruct students in a math lesson during the Spring Board program of Summer Bridge at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg. Davis' year-round job has shifted from coaching first-year teachers at six struggling schools to an instructional coach at Ridgecrest Elementary in Largo.
  2. Good news: Tampa Bay no longer a major foreclosure capital of the country

    Real Estate

    Once in the top five nationally for foreclosure filings, the Tampa Bay area no longer ranks even in the top 25.

    A few short years ago, Tampa Bay was a national hub for foreclosures. Not any more. [Getty Images/iStockphoto]
  3. Largo promotes Joseph Pennino to deputy fire chief

    Public Safety

    LARGO — The city has a new deputy fire chief after Dave Mixson left the post to take a job as chief and director of public safety of the South Pasadena Fire Department.

    Largo Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Pennino
  4. State Attorney announces expansion of Hillsborough juvenile civil citation program


    TAMPA — Kids who, for the first time, commit certain minor crimes in Hillsborough County may now avoid a criminal conviction by completing a civil citation program.

    Thursday's announcement of civil citations for first-time juvenile offenders in Hillsborough County marked the fulfillment of a campaign promise by State Attorney Andrew Warren.
  5. Pinellas County approves settlement with Suncoast fire district

    Public Safety

    SEMINOLE — County commissioners on Tuesday approved a settlement with the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District, closing out a lawsuit filed last year by the district over millions of dollars of emergency medical services funding.