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Woman arrested in upstate N.Y. in connection with fatal Pasco crash in 2009

HUDSON — It was a terrible crash, SUV vs. motorcycle at 2 a.m. on U.S. 19. A woman riding on the back of the bike died. Authorities said they think alcohol may have been a factor for both drivers.

The accident was on April 5, 2009.

As the Florida Highway Patrol worked on its investigation, the driver of the SUV, Deborah Terrero, left Hudson and moved to New York. She got a job as a substitute teacher for Albany middle schools.

Then, on Saturday — nine months after the crash — officers showed up at her door in Troy, N.Y., with a warrant for her arrest.

Terrero, 53, is being held in New York while awaiting extradition to Florida, where she faces a charge of DUI manslaughter.

Authorities say she caused the crash.

Kenneth L. Dillon, 48, of Port Richey was driving his motorcycle in the wee hours that morning with Nicole Cetrangolo, 37, of New Port Richey riding on the back, according to FHP. The two were headed north on U.S. 19 when a Ford sport utility vehicle pulled out in front of them from Oakley Avenue, a side street less than a mile north of State Road 52, the report said.

Dillon tried to avoid the crash by swerving from the right lane into the center lane, but the SUV made a wide turn and ended up in the center lane as well, FHP said. The front of the motorcycle collided with the rear of the SUV.

Cetrangolo died at the scene.

Dillon was taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point with serious injuries.

Neither person on the motorcycle wore a helmet, FHP said.

Terrero and her passenger, Meghan Flareau, 24, both of Hudson, were not injured.

State records show Terrero has a history of driving infractions. She was charged in 2006 with three counts of leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage. The courts withheld a formal finding of guilt.

Terrero received five speeding tickets in the past decade, records show, and her license was suspended several times over the past three years for failure to pay tickets or appear in court.

Her license has since been reinstated.

Records indicate Terrero previously taught home-bound and hospitalized students through Pinellas County schools. A February 2008 School Board agenda item referenced the recommended dismissal of Terrero. District spokeswoman Andrea Zahn said the recommendation was because of excessive absences. No other information was available Tuesday.

Sgt. Larry Kraus, spokesman for FHP, said it's unlikely that Terrero was told to stay in the area after the crash — so it wasn't as though she was on the lam and fled to New York. Kraus said investigators knew where to find her.

Why was the warrant issued eight months after the accident?

"These cases take time to complete," Kraus said.

Marietta Cetrangolo, 66, is the mother of the woman who died. She doesn't think the investigation took too long.

"Worthwhile projects take time," she said. "You can't rush things like that."

Cetrangolo said she and her daughter moved from Vermont to New Port Richey shortly before the accident. They lived together with their dogs. Cetrangolo said her daughter sent care packages to the troops, counseled inmates and loved photography.

Nicole Cetrangolo and Dillon, the driver of the motorcycle, were friends, the mother said. Dillon is still battling his injuries. He was in a wheelchair when Cetrangolo saw him in September at a meeting with the State Attorney's Office. Dillon was not able to be reached Tuesday.

"If you choose to get high on drugs or alcohol and get behind the wheel, you are looking to kill someone," Cetrangolo said. "You are looking to destroy lives."

She wants Terrero to be convicted and spend many years in prison.

"I had my heart ripped out of me when my daughter died," Cetrangolo said.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this story. Lisa Buie can be reached at buie@sptimes.com or (727) 909-4604. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Woman arrested in upstate N.Y. in connection with fatal Pasco crash in 2009 01/18/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 7:57pm]
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