SOUTH PASADENA — A family is seeking answers in the death of their 78-year-old matriarch, who was killed Wednesday after an unmarked Pinellas Sheriff's Office cruiser hit her motorized wheelchair.
Teresa Falandysz, the youngest daughter of Mary Henesy, said she is worried that investigators will give the deputy who hit her mother a break. She also is angry that the deputy, Sgt. David Danzig, was already back on duty Thursday.
"My mom was killed," the 46-year-old said from her South Carolina home Thursday night. "He hasn't even taken a day off. That's wrong. That's wrong."
Sheriff's spokesman Marianne Pasha said crash investigations can take a while, and so far officials haven't determined the cause.
"They would be doing this even if it was a civilian-civilian accident," Pasha said.
Sheriff's officials said the accident, which occurred as Henesy was trying to cross Pasadena Avenue S at Mango Avenue S, will be investigated by the agency's accident unit and an internal review board.
Sheriff's officials said Danzig was on his way home when he hit Henesy in the median lane at about 4:10 p.m. Wednesday.
Danzig, who's been with the agency 12 years, has a nearly spotless driving record and a personnel file full of awards.
In fact, the 34-year-old was recognized for his safe driving record just four months ago.
"You are to be commended for your responsible operation of a Sheriff's Office vehicle in Pinellas County's very challenging traffic environment," Sheriff Jim Coats wrote in a Jan. 9 letter.
Danzig underwent a screening process Thursday morning and was determined to be fit to return to work, Pasha said.
Falandysz said her family is at a loss of what to do.
She said her mother, a breast cancer survivor who learned she was in remission a few months ago, had 16 grandchildren.
"She kept us all together," Falandysz said. "Nobody knows what to do now because mom's dead."
Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at (727) 893-8643 or firstname.lastname@example.org.