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Memories shared, prayers offered where Hudson triplet was killed

A memorial to Delaney Rossman was erected in her family’s front yard on Kings Manor Avenue in Hudson where she and other children were struck by a Jeep on Friday night.

LORRI HELFAND | Times

A memorial to Delaney Rossman was erected in her family’s front yard on Kings Manor Avenue in Hudson where she and other children were struck by a Jeep on Friday night.

HUDSON — A white cross stands in the yard where little girls playing outside were run down by a neighbor's Jeep.

Delaney Rossman, a 5-year-old triplet, was killed in Friday night's accident.

On Sunday, friends, neighbors and strangers stopped by to place flowers and stuffed animals in front of the cross, which read, "We love you Delaney."

Some knelt to pray. One brought by meatloaf, turkey breast and macaroni and cheese.

A note tucked in a bunch of silk flowers, said: "Sorry about the tragedy. If you all need anything let us know. With love, Jason Gordon, Betty-Jo Tagerson."

Tagerson, 39, is the woman investigators say was driving the sport utility vehicle that swerved onto the lawn where the girls played.

Delaney's sister, Gabrielle, was critically injured. A neighbor, 9-year-old Marissa Manuli, escaped with minor injuries. Isabella Rossman, a third triplet, was shoved out of the way by her older sister, Victoria Morgan, and was scraped and bruised.

Tagerson could not be reached for comment Sunday. The Florida Highway Patrol, which is investigating the crash, has not announced any charges.

Neighbors said Tagerson and Gordon, who records show is a former husband, remain a couple.

"She's a fun-loving person. She would never harm anyone intentionally," Gordon said Sunday in a brief interview. "She'd give the shirt off her back to help somebody else."

Tagerson wrote on her Facebook page recently she was excited by the birth of her first grandchild.

But neighbors also say they have heard arguing and yelling at the couple's house, and one says she has complained to authorities about the Jeep speeding through the neighborhood.

Jay Nault, who lives a few doors down, said the couple sometimes has had a volatile relationship. Wednesday, he heard Gordon and Tagerson arguing in the yard.

Margery Duncan, a member of the neighborhood crime watch, said she had seen the Jeep race down the road and has told the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

"I have complained numerous times on that Jeep," she said.

Local court records show no driving infractions for Tagerson. Driving histories from the state Department of Motor Vehicles were not available this weekend.

The patrol's traffic homicide unit is investigating the accident, which occurred just before 8 p.m. Friday.

Authorities said Tagerson left her home only 200 feet away, but immediately lost control of the Jeep. She drove over the curb, knocking down a mailbox and striking a parked pickup before careening into the girls playing on Marissa's lawn.

Tagerson fell out of the door onto Marissa's driveway, but the empty vehicle continued to roll into the triplet's yard across Kings Manor Avenue. It smashed into a van owned by the triplet's mom, Danielle Malm.

Gabrielle was still in a medically-induced coma Sunday evening, said Danielle Malm's sister, Ryan Kalhorn. Doctors say Gabrielle, who suffered broken bones, a collapsed lung and internal bleeding, was in critical condition but stable, she said.

Kalhorn said the family, who spent Sunday at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, is trying to plan a private funeral for Delaney. They're also working to plan a memorial and fundraiser to cover funeral and medical bills.

Marissa's grandmother, Nancy Wyatt, said Marissa's teeth were badly damaged by the crash. Some were broken, others loose. They had to be wired together and she can only eat soft food.

Marissa, a tiny girl with a bob and peace-sign earrings, came out front Sunday to arrange the items in front of the memorial.

About 4 p.m., the Duncan family knelt at the cross to pray.

"This family that needs our help and sympathy, we just hope the other child comes through," Duncan said.

Her daughter, Rachael, 11, continued: "I hope nothing else happens bad to her family."

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

Memories shared, prayers offered where Hudson triplet was killed 11/07/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 8, 2010 8:59am]

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