PALMETTO — Family members continued to mourn the death of a 31-year-old woman killed as she crossed the street this weekend.
“It’s really taken a toll on me. It’s torn us apart,” said the woman’s father, Gerald Aubut, of Parrish, sitting at his kitchen table Tuesday afternoon.
Diane Aubut was killed instantly just before noon Saturday morning as she was crossing U.S. 41 and U.S. 301 near the Manatee Convention Center. She was pronounced dead at Manatee Memorial Hospital.
This family is no stranger to tragedy.
On March 5, 2008, Aubut’s 7-year-old, blind, autistic son, Thomas Pinkham, wandered away from her Parrish home and drowned in a pond about 20 yards away from the residence.
Authorities and neighbors had searched the neighborhood for the child before finding his body.
Aubut was investigated in her son’s drowning and never charged.
Family members said she never was the same after Thomas’ death.
“She never made it though it. She had no choice but to handle it, but she never got through it,” said Kevin Aubut, Aubut’s brother.
Aubut and her son moved to Parrish about two years ago from Attleboro, Mass. Before her son’s death, Aubut had cared for Thomas full time, according to family members.
After his death, she began doing volunteer work and continued to pick up the pieces.
“She was passionate about helping others,“ said Kevin Aubut, thinking back on her sister who always smiled. “She always took care of people less fortunate than her.”
Family members take comfort imagining the son and mother are together.
“I just miss my daughter,” said Glendean Aubut, Aubut’s mother.
“She will be missed,” Gerald Aubut added. “I just hope she’s with Thomas and they are happy.”
It’s unclear how Aubut was in the roadway during the crash. The crash remains under investigation.
Witnesses told police Aubut crossed without enough time when she was struck.
She was walking with her boyfriend and friend who were talking just ahead of her, family members said.
“We can only speculate that she misjudged the speed of the car,” said Palmetto Police Lt. Scott Tyler.
The speed posted in the 600 block stretch of U.S. 41/U.S. 301 near the Manatee Convention Center has cars going by at about 50 to 55 mph, he said.
Aubut was struck by a 1994 Mercury sedan heading south going at about 40 mph, according to investigators.
Her body hit the windshield and hood of the car before landing nearly 15 feet away from the vehicle, according to the crash report.
Family members said Aubut had had surgery on both of knees. She limped when walking.
“It just looks like a tragic accident,” Tyler said.
No charges are expected against the driver, Jerald C. Cook, 59, of Bradenton.
“It appears the vehicle was being operated safely,” Tyler said.