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Crash kills mother, son, injures daughter

The Florida Highway Patrol said a driver ran a stop sign in Riverview on Saturday night and smashed into the side of a car, killing a mother and her 6-year-old son and injuring her 5-year-old daughter.

The boy, Troy Russell Jr., died at Tampa General Hospital on Sunday at 3:40 p.m. The woman's daughter, Jada Russell, was listed in fair condition late Sunday.

Lying in her bed at Tampa General Hospital Sunday afternoon, the girl asked for her mother.

"I told her Mommy couldn't come right now," said Evelyn Allen, the girl's great-aunt.

Jacqueline Russell, 28, Jada and Troy, were driving south on U.S. 301 about 9:15 Saturday night when the accident happened. Investigators said a 1978 Dodge driven by Steve G. Owings, 23, of Gibsonton ran a stop sign at Rodine Avenue and U.S. 301 and broadsided their 1997 Grand Am, causing it to flip three times.

Owings was listed in fair condition at Tampa General Hospital on Sunday. Florida Highway Patrol troopers have not filed charges. Owings could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Relatives said Jacqueline Russell was a giving person who volunteered at her kids' school, loved watching Jada's ballet classes and Troy Jr.'s T-ball games, and took care of her disabled mother. She also worked as a unit coordinator at Tampa General Hospital and wanted to be a registered nurse.

"She always took time out for her children," said Allen, the aunt who helped raise Jacqueline in west Tampa. "And their whole life is centered around her."

"She was just a real pleasant person," said her husband, Troy Russell Sr. "She really loved being a mother. Going for bike rides with kids in the neighborhood."

He took turns Sunday talking with his daughter and checking on his son's condition. Jada suffered two breaks in her collarbone. Troy Jr.'s brain was hemorrhaging, and doctors gave Russell little hope for his son's survival. If he did survive, they said, he would be severely brain damaged.

At the hospital Sunday, before Troy Jr. died, his father took comfort in the steady stream of his and his wife's co-workers and relatives who consoled him.

"They've really been here for us," he said. His family is coming down from Indiana, Russell said.

People who work with him at Tampa Electric Co., where he is an auxiliary operator, patted Russell on the shoulder. His shift commander stood by his side overnight and all morning.

A neighbor whose children play with the Russell kids said he heard the helicopter that airlifted Jacqueline Russell from the scene. He told Troy Russell that he once had a close call at the same intersection.

"I remember thinking, "Just five minutes later If I'd have left home five minutes later,' " said Jefferson Keith, who works with Troy Russell and lives next door.

Keith said he spoke with Jacqueline yesterday while her children played at his house.

"You just never know what's going to happen later on that day," he said.

"She was just an innocent person, always wanting to help other people. She loved life ... loved life," she said softly. "Mmm-hmm. Loved life."

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