Police identify woman killed in Tampa crash with semitrailer truck

Patricia Shaughnessy, 51, the driver of this PT Cruiser, died when  a semitrailer truck hit her just before 5 a.m. Thursday in Tampa.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

Patricia Shaughnessy, 51, the driver of this PT Cruiser, died when a semitrailer truck hit her just before 5 a.m. Thursday in Tampa.

TAMPA — Patricia Shaughnessy had lived in locales from Hawaii to New Jersey. But for her, Tampa was the place to be.

She loved the warm weather because it gave her respite from her rheumatoid arthritis. And here, the baseball lover had spring training and Rays games.

Baseball was a family tradition. Before her parents divorced 35 years ago, her father often took Shaughnessy and her siblings to Phillies games.

"A lot of childhood memories are wrapped up in that," said her sister, Sara Sturgess, 42.

Shaughnessy died early Thursday when a semitrailer truck approaching a green light at Armenia Avenue and Busch Boulevard crashed into her PT Cruiser in the intersection.

She had slumped over the steering wheel and rolled through a red light from the left-turn lane, Tampa police said.

Shaughnessy was headed south on Busch Boulevard, and lived less than half a mile away.

The truck driver, Frederick Smith, 34, didn't have time to stop, police said. Smith was not injured, and police said he was not cited because he had the green light.

Witnesses told police Shaughnessy, 51, may have had a medical incident before the crash.

She had moved six years ago to Tampa and persuaded her father, Michael Shaughnessy, to move to the Sunshine State too. He'd drive over from Dade City and they'd go see the Rays.

"We miss her," he said.

Her father and stepmother live in Dade City, and her mother lives in New Jersey. A brother lives in Connecticut and two sisters in Maryland.

She had told her mother a couple days ago she wasn't feeling well. Patricia M. Shaughnessy, 76, said her daughter took medication for rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, and often sought treatment at a VA hospital.

She was active despite the arthritis that plagued her for years and more recently restricted her to a cane or walker.

Shaughnessy taught Sunday school at Idlewild Baptist Church.

"She was a very good teacher," said Brian McDougall, the church's executive pastor. "She was a gifted writer, and she'll be very much missed by the children's ministry at Idlewild."

Before Tampa, she graduated from a seminary in Columbia, S.C. She was a beautician and a social worker in New Jersey.

Sturgess remembers Shaughnessy maneuvering through the sand with her walking cane in December at Sturgess' wedding in Key West. It was the last time she saw her. But she heard her laugh Wednesday over the phone.

"It was like really loud, really long," Sturgess said. "Just full. A nice, full, long laugh."

Her life was beginning to take on more plans for travel. Her plans: New York City for Christmas. New Jersey for Thanksgiving. She'd researched Vietnam.

"And heaven," Sturgess said. "The No. 1 place she wanted to go."

Times staff writer Jessica Vander Velde contributed to this report.

Police identify woman killed in Tampa crash with semitrailer truck 11/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 11, 2010 10:21pm]

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