Sunday, June 24, 2018
Public safety

Hudson couple, both 87, killed in U.S. 19 crash

HUDSON — When everything stopped, Debra Boyd got out of her car and ran to the crushed Ford Taurus.

She saw Vilma Miller, 87, slumped over her husband's chest. Boyd knew the woman had already died. Lee Miller, also 87, looked at Boyd from the driver's seat.

"If you need to go," Boyd remembers telling him, "close your eyes and go be with your wife."

Then, his breathing stopped.

"They went together," she said.

Boyd shook and sobbed as she told her account on the side of U.S. 19 Thursday afternoon, not far from where traffic crept past three crushed cars scattered on and off the roadway. She left with the Millers' son, who happened to pass the scene of the crash and recognized his parents' car.

The Millers, both of Hudson, had been headed north on U.S. 19 shortly before noon and were making a turn west onto Tower Drive, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

Lee Miller turned into the path of a Dodge Charger driven by Lisa Ann Witfoth, 36, also of Hudson driving southbound in the inside lane of U.S. 19. The Charger struck the Taurus hard enough to leave its severed front bumper affixed to the passenger side of the Taurus.

A Honda Civic, driven by David Cana, 19, of Port Richey, headed south in the center lane of U.S. 19, tried to avoid the collision but also struck the passenger side of the Taurus.

Then a Nissan Altima, driven by Alexavier Caraballo, 18, of Hudson struck the Charger. Three of the cars came to a rest on the west shoulder of the road with the Charger facing west, blocking the outer two southbound lanes.

A single lane of traffic crept south past the crash scene Thursday afternoon while troopers analyzed tire marks in the road and interviewed witnesses.

Reached by phone at her home in El Paso, Texas, Christina Bustamante, the Millers' former daughter-in-law, described them as excellent parents. They had recently bought property in Florida for their children.

She said they were originally from Saginaw, Mich., and ran a restaurant and gas station in the resort town of Sand Lake, Mich. They had a daughter and three sons, one of whom, John, married Bustamante.

Later in life, the Millers bought a home in Hudson where they spent their winters and eventually decided to live full-time. At 87, they maintained their independence living, driving and shopping by themselves.

"They've been retired for a long time," Bustamante said, "so they were just enjoying life."

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report.

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