MANATEE -- Bradenton’s Kathleen Choate lost her 19-year-old daughter and her daughter’s unborn female child in a traffic crash 11 days ago, and today she will try to say goodbye to them.
“I don’t know how I will do it,” Choate said Thursday, as she made preparations to attend a viewing for Cherie Choate and baby Angel, from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Chandler’s Funeral Chapel, 1425 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Sarasota.
Choate, who attended Braden River Middle School and Lakewood Ranch High School, died at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg 12 hours after the April 19 crash at 14th Street West and 60th Avenue, just down the street from where her mother lives in Trade Winds Mobile Home Park.
At today’s viewing, she will be cradling tiny Angel in her arms, her mother said.
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Shortly before 10 a.m. that Tuesday, Choate was a front-seat passenger in a Hyundai driven by a 48-year-old Bradenton woman who was taking Choate Easter shopping.
The woman turned left from U.S. 41 onto 60th Avenue directly in front of a truck driven by an 18-year-old Sarasota man, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Choate, who was six and a half months pregnant, immediately lost the four-pound Angel upon impact, Kathleen Choate said.
Cherie Choate was left with severe brain damage and a litany of other serious injuries, her mother said.
“They gave her 12 bags of blood, but it was no use,” Choate said.
The Bayflite helicopter actually circled Choate’s trailer looking for a place to land.
“My mother knew she shouldn’t go look at the accident,” said Choate’s son Jody Hafy. “She had a bad feeling.”
The driver survived the crash with injuries, according to FHP.
“When I looked at her, I almost died,” Choate said of seeing her daughter in the hospital.
Family members later found two little pairs of Easter shoes in a bag in Choate’s purse. They were for her two children: Jazlynn Choate, who will turn 4 on Aug. 8, and Natalia Chatman, who turned 2 on April 8.
“My grandbabies are all I have left of my daughter,” said Choate, who lives alone in her 14th Street West trailer; her husband recently died of cancer.
The two children will be raised by Kathleen Choate and Christopher Chatman, who was Cherie’s fiance and is the girls’ father, Choate said.
“Chris told me he agrees their grandma should always be in their lives,” said Choate, 57, who indicated she would sell her trailer if her park sticks to its 55-and-older age rule.
“They keep asking where mommy is,” Choate said of her grandchildren. “They know something is wrong. But I just can’t tell them.”
The family, which is Catholic, had hoped to have a Mass and a funeral, and not a cremation, but could not come up with the burial money, which runs about $7,000, said Hafy, 39, a car detailer who flew in from Massachussets.
“I am crushed that I can’t bury my daughter and be able to take her children to see her,” Choate said.
“She was a kind, sweet, good-hearted person,” Chatman said of his fiancee, whom he had known for six years.
Choate was working as a certified nursing assistant at the time of her death, her mother said.
Buckets for donations have been set up in stores and restaurants around the accident site to help Choate and Chatman raise the children.
Choate, besides attending local Catholic churches, also went to Manasota Christian Church, 1450 46th Ave. Drive W., Bradenton, where Pastor Milton Bradley plans to hold a celebration of life at 11 a.m. Saturday, her mother said.
Donations for the children can be sent to Kathleen Choate, 5917 14th St. W., Lot 110, Bradenton, FL 34207, or Choate can be reached at 565-0683.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.