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Pasco couple's weekly dining outing ends in crash that kills wife

TRINITY — Sherry Billitteri didn't wear her seat belt because they were so close to home. Most Friday nights, she and her husband, Philip Billitteri, went out to dinner. Last week, they went to Bonefish Grill — just a few miles from their home in Heritage Springs. Sherry, 66, talked of how excited she was to see her sons, who planned to visit for Mother's Day.

It was a little after 7 p.m. and still light outside. The couple always tried to get home before dark. Philip, 58, was driving. They were on Trinity Boulevard, turning left onto Tamarind Boulevard — the entrance to the subdivision, just three turns from home.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Philip turned in front of a pickup truck headed east on Trinity, which crashed into Sherry's side of the car. Philip, who told authorities he had a few drinks during dinner, said he didn't see the truck. He just turned and "got slammed," he told the Pasco Times on Thursday.

Phillip wore his seat belt. Neither he nor the driver of the truck — William D. Maher, 38, of Spring Hill — were injured.

Sherry was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where she died, according to the patrol's report released Thursday.

Philip's blood sample was taken and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for analysis, which could take weeks. Charges are pending the outcome of the tests, the patrol's report states.

When asked if he was worried about charges, Philip said no, he hadn't thought about it.

He and Sherry met at a Chicago Bears game at Green Bay in the 1980s. Both were divorced. Sherry had three sons. Philip had one. Neither was looking for someone. But then they saw each other at the game and happened to be staying at the same hotel. They went dancing.

"That was it," Philip said. When he met her, he had been single for 10 years. "We were soulmates."

They married in 1988 and lived in Chicago for eight years before moving to Florida to get out of the cold weather.

Sherry loved the sun and the beach. She usually read a book a week — mysteries, love stories. She worked as an executive secretary for a contractor in Largo.

Philip ran his lighting business from home. They had a boat and a pool, both things Sherry enjoyed.

Philip didn't run an obituary for his wife. There was no funeral, no visitation or official memorial service. He said he did what she wanted — she was cremated and, on Wednesday with her sons, he scattered her ashes at Clearwater Beach, one of her favorite places.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Pasco couple's weekly dining outing ends in crash that kills wife 05/06/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 6, 2010 7:11pm]
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