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Mother killed, child injured trying to cross Night Heron Road in Land O'Lakes

Susan Lewis, 45, and her son Hayden, 7, were crossing Night Heron Drive to get to Hayden’s bus stop when a driver, who also lives on the Lewis’ street, hit them. Mrs. Lewis died at the scene.  

ERIN SULLIVAN | Times

Susan Lewis, 45, and her son Hayden, 7, were crossing Night Heron Drive to get to Hayden’s bus stop when a driver, who also lives on the Lewis’ street, hit them. Mrs. Lewis died at the scene. 

LAND O'LAKES — Each school morning, Susan Lewis and her 7-year-old son, Hayden, who is autistic, went out of their way to use the crosswalk to get to the school bus stop. They walked two houses north, across Night Heron Drive, then back south, past their home, to the entrance of their community to wait for the bus.

Her neighbors — also stay-at-home moms with children Hayden's age — say Mrs. Lewis, 45, kept to her routine.

As mother and son crossed Night Heron Drive at Ambleside Drive on Wednesday morning, they were hit by a sedan driven by a man who also lives on Lewis' street. The Florida Highway Patrol said Eugene Williams, 64, "failed to observe" Mrs. Lewis and Hayden in the roadway.

Mrs. Lewis died at the scene. Hayden, a second-grader at Lake Myrtle Elementary School, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

Williams, who is a project supervisor with Pasco County's community development department, was not injured. A neighbor said he was devastated.

Sgt. Larry Kraus, spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol, said the agency was still investigating the accident late Wednesday. He said he didn't know if Mrs. Lewis and her son were in the crosswalk.

John Mann, director of communications for Pasco County Schools, said counseling is available for students and staff. Lake Myrtle principal Kara McComeskey said the school, which offers a special program for autistic children, pulled together Wednesday as a family.

"We just want to continue to provide Hayden with support and love," she said. She said the school wants to do whatever it can to help the family.

"We are here for them," McComeskey said.

Mrs. Lewis' husband, Rob Lewis, is an assistant state attorney in Hernando County. They have two other children — both daughters, one who attends Land O'Lakes High School and the other Pine View Middle School.

"It's such a tragedy," said Anna Trzeciak, a friend and neighbor of Mrs. Lewis.

Although the FHP has not said speeding was a factor in the crash, Trzeciak said it is a problem in the neighborhood. Night Heron Drive is the entrance and exit to the upscale community — it's not a quiet side street. Trzeciak said she's been trying to get speed bumps installed on the 20 mph road for years.

Ana Schrader lives between the Trzeciak and Lewis homes.

"What happened to her could have happened to any of us," Schrader said.

Trzeciak couldn't believe her friend was gone.

"She was just a mother taking her son to school."

Times reporters Jeff Solochek, Jodie Tillman, Joel Anderson, Ileana Morales and Times researchers Natalie Watson and Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com.

Mother killed, child injured trying to cross Night Heron Road in Land O'Lakes 10/13/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 10:10pm]
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