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'This is a tragedy no matter what'

By Times staff writers
Published April 1, 2005


PATTI DICKHAUS, 43

Dental assistant at lunch with co-workers at BayWalk, St. Petersburg

"Her parents turned it into a circus. They should have let Michael honor her wishes a long time ago. It was an honorable thing for him to stand by her all this time." Dickhaus said she sent away for living will documents a few weeks ago and is still waiting. "They told me they're backlogged. I don't want anyone to keep me alive if I'm like that. No way, don't even think about it. If I'm gone, let me go."

RAMON LOPEZ, 82

Of Tampa, retired factory worker

"An unjustifiable crime has occurred. We are locking people up, murderers, and putting them in jail. We keep them alive; we feed them and give them everything they need to live, and we can't do the same with this girl? I just don't know why this tragedy happened."

GORDON BROOKS, 44

Manager of preowned cars at Dimmitt Luxury Motorcars in Clearwater. He has a law degree

"This is a really heated issue. It's divided all people at work and in families. It's been ruled by emotion since they removed the feeding tube (because) that's a certain form of euthanasia. I lean toward a right to life, but was she really living? The whole right to life issue is never going to be resolved. ... It's a shame it had to go this way. Once again, Florida has been cast in a negative light."

LORNA CARTER, 38

Of Riverview, secretary, was attending midday Mass at Sacred Heart downtown Tampa

"Terri was brought up to believe in the sanctity of life. She would have wanted to live and I feel sad that her husband didn't agree with that, and all I can say is that there'll be a reckoning. ... She was still alive. And now they want to bury her in Pennsylvania away from her family. To me that's just evil."

ALLAN ROGERS, 49

Of Tampa, contract administrator working downtown

"I think it was the right thing to do for her to die. Her husband tried very hard to do the right thing for her, and there was no hope for her to get better. I think it was a private matter. It should have been, and stayed a family decision. And I think it was wrong that the public and government got involved."

GINGER WIRT, 56

Principal of Paul B. Stephens Exceptional Center in Clearwater, where many of the students have feeding tubes

"I see the whole thing as a private matter. What's gone on surrounding it was horrific. It took on a carnival-like atmosphere. People like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck went so far to the right they bumped into Jesse Jackson on the left. They are not being objective at all. Who are they to voice

their opinion? I think they use it to their own ends. Most people with common wisdom would know this is a tragedy no matter what the outcome. Also, we need to respect the court system even if we don't agree with the decision. This teaches me what a highly personal decision this is. It goes to the heart of our very soul."

JESSICA CATALDO, 26

Stylist at Look hair studio in downtown St. Petersburg

She was personally affected by the frenzy outside Schiavo's hospice. Her aunt was also staying there and died Saturday. "We almost missed her literally take her last breath because a protester tried to take Terri water and there was a shutdown. It's entirely disrespectful and disruptive how those protesters camped out there. If there is anything good in this, it's that a lot of people are talking about how important a living will is."

- Interviews by ALEX LEARY, EILEEN SCHULTE and LESLIE PAREDES

[Last modified April 1, 2005, 08:40:22]


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