CLEARWATER — Dianne Paulsen was working full time and carrying for her daughter as a single mom when she went to college to pursue an associate's degree about a decade ago.
Despite the rigorous schedule, she always found a way to make time for her family.
"Every weekend we were still hanging out and doing things," said her daughter, Beverly Austin. "She would still come to all of my after-school activities, my dance recitals, gymnastics."
Austin, now 22 and studying at the University of South Florida in Tampa, talked to her mom, who lived in Safety Harbor, several times each day.
Paulsen, 45, was on her way to work around 9 a.m. Friday morning when her vehicle was broadsided by a Dodge Ram pickup headed north on McMullen-Booth Road.
She died at the scene.
This week, Florida Highway Patrol officials said they're still investigating which driver ran a red light at McMullen-Booth and Main Street. The driver of the Dodge, 41-year-old Joel Valerius of Palm Harbor, has not been charged.
An FHP spokesperson said the investigation could take several months to complete. Valerius declined to take a Breathalyzer, and troopers did not see signs of impairment that would give them probable cause to force a blood draw, said FHP spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins.
Paulsen's brother, Richard Paulsen Jr., 54, was at the Tampa home he shares with his father when troopers came to their door around 2 p.m.
"The minute they said her name, I just knew something was really bad," he said.
Paulsen Jr. called his niece and other family members to break the news. He talked to his sister daily, he said. The night before she died, they talked about getting together Sunday to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, something they did whenever the game was televised.
Every summer, Paulsen would rent a condo at the beach for her birthday and invite family members to come along.
"That was her favorite thing to do," Austin said. "She loved the beach."
Paulsen was born in Staten Island, N.Y., and moved to Tampa in 1972. She was a graduate of Leto High School in Tampa.
Paulsen earned her associate's degree from the International Academy of Design and Technology, said her daughter. The degree helped her in her marketing job at URS Corp., a large engineering firm with an office in Tampa, where next month she would have celebrated 20 years of employment.
Paulsen was proud of her daughter, the college student, her brother said.
Austin is scheduled to graduate in May.
Rita Farlow can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.