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She was grandmom, mother, blithe spirit

Published Oct. 7, 2005

Nancy Ellen Vowell loved to feed the cranes that gathered close to her home near the Dunedin Causeway. She often would take one of her nine grandchildren to toss treats to the birds.

"She fed them everyday," said her son, Kevin Vowell. "She always had something to toss them to eat."

The widowed homemaker also had a passion for playing bingo games at a bingo center in Pinellas Park. Kevin Vowell said his mother, who died Monday afternoon, was a happy, caring person with a free spirit.

Nancy Vowell, 59, of 439 South Paula Drive in Dunedin, was killed in a three-car accident in Palm Harbor at U.S. 19 and Beacon Groves Boulevard. She was a passenger in a 1994 Mitsubishi Eclipse which collided with a 1987 Chevy Blazer at about 4 p.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The driver of the Mitsubishi, Paula Sue Curns of 2176 Citrus Hill Road in Palm Harbor, was one of Nancy Vowell's seven children. Curns was released from Bayfront Medical Center Tuesday.

The Mitsubishi pulled into the intersection and collided with the Blazer. The Mitsubishi then spun off and struck a 1984 Toyota Tercel stopped at the intersection, officials said. Neither of the other drivers was injured.

Cristina Rodriguez, the driver of the Tercel, was waiting to crossU.S. 19 at Beacon Groves Boulevard when she saw the blue and gray Blazer smash the maroon Eclipse on the car's passenger side.

"This truck was right on top of it almost. There wasn't enough time for the truck to stop," said Cristina, 16. "She (Curns) just kind of did a 180 and slammed into me."

Cristina asked an approaching driver to call 911 while she checked on the passengers in the Eclipse. Vowell appeared to be bleeding from her head and Curns was slumped over her, she said.

Cristina's mother, Maria, found out about the accident from a neighbor who saw Cristina at the site. After telling her Cristina was not hurt, the neighbor drove Maria to the entrance of Beacon Groves.

Elsa Alicea, a resident of Beacon Groves, heard the cars collide from her kitchen.

"I heard the big bang. I walked over here because my son is coming home from work, too," said Mrs. Alicea.

Mrs. Alicea, who has lived in Beacon Groves for eight years, said the intersection of Beacon Groves Boulevard and U.S. 19 is so congested that it needs a traffic light.

"I've always thought this was a very dangerous intersection," Mrs. Alicea said. "You should see the traffic. It's real bad to get in here. Real, real bad. Sometimes I sit there for five minutes waiting to get in here."

Kevin Vowell said his mother will be remembered as a loving person with many friends. But her best friends, he said, were her two daughters _ Curns and Lisa Burton, also of Palm Harbor.

"They were like a trio that were inseparable."