PINELLAS PARK — Pamela Lynn Collier was one of the first people Michael Rizzo met four years ago when he moved into Freedom Village I, an affordable apartment complex for people with disabilities.
Rizzo, 50, said he and Collier often crossed paths as he was leaving to walk his dog and she was coming back from errands or volunteering.
So Rizzo reacted with shock when he heard Sunday morning that Collier, 64, had been killed Saturday night in a hit-and-run crash. Collier had been crossing 78th Avenue on her mobility scooter, according to Pinellas Park police, when a dark sport utility vehicle struck her and kept driving.
Witnesses told police that Collier had ridden her power chair through a red light.
Police were looking Sunday for a dark SUV with possible front-end damage.
Rizzo and other residents at Freedom Village I remembered a talkative, friendly woman they say spent time volunteering.
"She was always very nice," said Rizzo, as he sat on his red mobility scooter with his Chihuahua, Angel, on his lap.
"She was a very talkative, friendly person. She will be missed."
"It's a shock," said Colleen Gray, 50. "You never expect something like this to happen."
Gray added that she felt Collier often rode too fast on her scooter.
Two women who are Freedom Village residents, identified as Collier's family members, declined to comment Sunday.
Collier may have been on her way home around 8:30 p.m. when she was headed south on the west side on 66th Street N, according to police. As she crossed 78th Street — witnesses told police it was against the light — the SUV struck her.
The vehicle slowed, but then drove away, possibly north on 66th Street, police said.
Collier was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where she died.
Collier is the second Tampa Bay area person to die in a power wheelchair-related crash in a little over a month.
Anyone who witnessed Saturday's crash or who can help identify the driver can call CrimeStoppers of Pinellas at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), or submit a tip online via www.crimestoppersofpinellas.org.
Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or [email protected]