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Single mother loved life and daughter

Kimberly McKenzie lost control of her Blazer and died Thursday. Her 9-month-old daughter, who was also in the wreck, was not seriously injured.

Published July 8, 2006

[Family photo]
Kimberly McKenzie, shown with her daughter, died Thursday after losing control of her vehicle.

TAMPA - Kimberly A. McKenzie was a struggling single mother who loved her 9-month-old daughter. She liked to fish for lobsters and got a thrill from riding roller coasters.

She died Thursday night. Police say she apparently lost control of her Chevy Blazer, veered off the road, overcorrected and flipped several times at about 8:30 p.m.

The wreck occurred as McKenzie, 21, of Pinellas Park was driving south on Memorial Highway near the Courtney Campbell Causeway with her baby girl, Angie Morgan, secured in an infant seat the back of the Blazer.

McKenzie, who was wearing her seat belt, was pronounced dead on the scene.

The baby was taken to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, treated and released Friday, her family said.

Detectives are exploring all possible causes, including excessive speed and mechanical failure.

McKenzie made plans to fish with her father, Ronald, a 23-year veteran of the Pinellas Park Police Department. In August, they were going to the Florida Keys for lobster season, an annual family boating event.

"She was outgoing, always happy, trying to be funny and making people laugh," her father said. "She was like a ball of fire."

After she graduated from Dixie M. Hollins High School, McKenzie attended St. Petersburg College, worked part time at a day care, and had a second job at Busch Gardens. She gave up the day care job to take care of Angie and began working full time at Busch Gardens.

On her time off, the thin framed, talkative blond would venture to Universal Studios or Busch Gardens to ride roller coasters with her daughter and stepsister.

She was the center of attention in the break room, recalled Mike Penzato, a Busch Gardens operations area manager.

"She was very personable and always went the extra mile," Penzato said. "We're all pretty saddened and our hearts go out to her family and her daughter."

She lived with her daughter in an apartment a mile from her father and was beginning to date again, but wanted to take a new relationship slowly, for Angie's sake.

"She was a single mom, busting her hump to make everything work," her father said. "She was excited to be a mom."

In addition to her father, she is survived by brother "Rono," sister April, and half brother Tyler.

Funeral services have not been finalized by the family.

Aldo Nahed can be reached at anahed@ or 813310-0998.

[Last modified July 8, 2006, 01:20:06]

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