[PHOTO CREDITS: Provided / Russell Gibbons]
[Original Publish Date: 05/31/20]
UMATILLA, Florida — The 39-year-old woman killed Saturday night on State Road 19 near Lake Smith Road has been identified.
Rebecca “Becky” Lynn Carpenter, 39, was walking northbound on State Road 19 near the newly opened Dollar General with her boyfriend, Russell “Rusty” Gibbons, when she was struck by a sedan, also traveling northbound around 8 p.m. The sedan was being driven by a 29-year-old Eustis man; Carpenter was pronounced dead on the scene; Gibbons was not hit, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
“At this time, it remains under investigation as to whether the crash occurred in the travel lane, or on the shoulder,” FHP Lt. Kim Montes said in a press release late Saturday night.
Gibbons spoke to Lake Legal News Sunday afternoon and said they were walking to the Dollar General on the south end of Umatilla to get something to cook for dinner when Carpenter was hit. They were almost there when it happened. “I could see the entrance,” he said.
“We were walking on the shoulder, he crossed the white line and hit her,” he said. According to Gibbons, the man who hit her was a Domino’s delivery driver. “He stopped after he hit her. [The impact] knocked her out of her shoes,” he said.
“She would give anything if she had it and if she didn’t, she would find a way to get and give it,” Gibbons stated in a Facebook post.
Though Carpenter’s identification stated she lived in Orlando, Gibbons said she was living in Dona Vista, not far from the scene of the crash. When Gibbons spoke to LLN Sunday he was obviously upset after watching his girlfriend of nearly two years die in front of him. “I felt her heartbeat once, then twice and the third time it was very faint, and I knew she was gone.”
Carpenter’s father came to the scene where his daughter was hit, Gibbons said. Carpenter’s mother, Linda Sears, died in 2018 and Carpenter missed her terribly, Gibbons said. “I know her mom is there [in Heaven] and I know she is there too.”
Carpenter, who attended Umatilla High School in the 90s was the mother of two children, an adult son and a middle school-aged daughter. Gibbons said Carpenter was a great person and had lost some weight recently; he said he felt like she may have been trying to lose weight to please him, but that did not matter to him. He told her, “I love you for the person you are inside.”
Gibbons said her perseverance attracted him to Carpenter the most. “Once she got something in her head, she was going to do it. She would make sure it was done,” he said.
“I want to try to do a roadside memorial for her, “Gibbons told LLN, “I want him [the driver] to remember what he did.”
“This is the first person I’ve ever lost this close to me, “Gibbons said, “I will make sure her memory lives on forever. She was my life.”
[ Read the previous stories here: https://www.lakelegalnews.com/article/further-details-sought-in-umatilla-nighttime-traffic-fatality/ and https://www.lakelegalnews.com/article/pedestrian-killed-in-umatilla-saturday-night/ ]
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]