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Mother, daughter killed in crash

Investigators wonder why the daughter ran into a semitrailer truck stopped at a red light.

It wasn't the bidding that hooked Anita Ledbetter Douze and her mother, Velma Ledbetter, on Randy's Auction off U.S. 301.

It was Randy himself _ a smooth-talking auctioneer with a penchant for slapstick humor.

Friday evening, the daughter and mother set out for Randy's in what had become a family tradition. The trip ended in tragedy.

Douze and Ledbetter were killed at the intersection of U.S. 301 and State Road 574 when Douze crashed her car into the back of a semitrailer truck.

Both women died at the scene about 7 p.m. Friday, a Florida Highway Patrol spokesman said. Investigators were trying to determine why Douze failed to see the truck, which had stopped at a red light in the left-turn lane of State Road 574.

Dozens of friends and family members gathered to mourn Saturday at Douze's home off Knollwood Street in east Tampa.

Douze, 50, has been with the Hillsborough school system for 18 years. She started as a crossing guard at Dunbar School, and was most recently a teacher's aide at Potter Early Childhood Center, friends said.

"If you ever met Anita, you would never forget her," said Elaine McMillian, a close friend who had asked Douze to be the godmother of her daughters. "When she walked into a room, she just made friends."

Ledbetter, 69, gave Douze the family home on Knollwood Street after Albert, her husband of 50 years, died recently.

Ledbetter moved to Chicago, Ill., but came back to visit for a month in the summer and a month in the winter, friends said.

"Everything Anita was, she got from her mom," McMillian said.

Douze's 22-year-old daughter, Kimberly, was too distraught to speak to a reporter Saturday. Friends say Douze was planning her annual camping trip to Flagler County in the days before the accident.

"Anita was born on her mother's birthday, and both of them died together," McMillian said. "They touched everybody they met."