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Stop signs erected after fatal hit-and-run in west Pasco

NEW PORT RICHEY — Late one summer night, Andrea Seifert was smoking a cigarette outside her house on Delaware Avenue when she saw a woman sitting in the roadway.

Seifert, 37, figured the woman had sprained their ankle, so Seifert asked her husband to come and help her pick the woman up.

As soon as the couple stepped onto the porch, the woman lifted her right arm to alert an oncoming SUV to stop.

It didn't.

Seifert and her husband watched as Patricia Senkbeil Skibinski was hit and dragged about seven feet down Delaware Avenue. The SUV sped away. Skibinski, 50, died later at Community Hospital.

Skibinski's death Aug. 15 prompted Seifer, a stay-at-home mom, to walk the streets and gather signatures for a petition to have a four-way stop erected at the busy crossing of Delaware and Van Buren Street.

Four hundred signatures later, Seifert's work paid off.

After hearing from concerned residents, the New Port Richey City Council voted unanimously Nov. 17 to create a four-way stop at the intersection. City workers installed the signs the next day.

"If it prevents kids or adults from getting hit, spending a couple hundred dollars on stop signs is money well-spent," said Rob Marlowe, a council member.

• • •

Over the years, the city has seen its share of pedestrian fatalities.

From 2004 through 2008, there were 31 pedestrian fatalities in New Port Richey, reports the state Department of Transportation.

That figure has decreased in recent years — from 10 pedestrian fatalities in 2004 down to three in 2008.

"We believe the street lighting along U.S. 19 is making the difference," said Kris Carson, spokeswoman for FDOT.

Capt. Jeffrey Harrington of New Port Richey police said people who don't use lighted intersections to cross major roads like U.S. 19 have caused a high number of pedestrian fatalities.

He said his department wants someone with information about Skibinski's case to contact them to prevent incidents like that from happening again.

"We won't give up," he said. "It won't be closed until there is an arrest."

• • •

Skibinski was a hairdresser who loved boating, fishing and her three cats, Earnest, Midnight and Envy, said Brian Allan, her live-in boyfriend.

The night she was killed, Skibinski had attended Night In The Tropics festivities and headed to the Boulevard Lounge, where Allan worked.

Around 11 p.m., Skibinski wanted to go home, and Allan, 41, asked her to wait until he was finished working for the night.

Skibinski had been drinking, so Allan took her car keys.

Skibinski slipped out of the bar soon after. Allan headed home at midnight, driving past police tape he would later find out was the investigation into his girlfriend's death.

When Skibinski didn't come home, Allan figured his girlfriend had spent the night with a friend.

At 4 a.m., police came to the couple's apartment to tell him what happened.

"I said, 'They didn't stop?' " Allan recalled. "They said, 'No.' "

Skibinski's daughter, Jessica Senkbeil, 26, said her last memory of her mother is a trip the two women took to Savannah about a week before the accident. They toured the city and ate out together.

Senkbeil, of Fort Lauderdale, said she doesn't have malicious feelings toward the person who hit her mother. She just doesn't want to see anyone else get hurt.

"For the safety of everybody else, I want to find out who it was," she said. "They don't have value for human life. That's what hurts the most."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at (727) 869-6236 or cspencer@sptimes.com.

Fast facts

To help

New Port Richey police are searching for the black older model SUV, possibly a Ford Bronco or Bronco II, that hit Patricia Skibinski on Aug. 15 on Delaware Avenue. Anyone with information should call the New Port Richey Police Department at (727) 841-4550 and ask for Cpl. Eric Jay.

Stop signs erected after fatal hit-and-run in west Pasco 12/02/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 10:18pm]
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