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Single mother, 18, killed in wreck

Sarah Deeds gets off the late shift at work, and drives to her college class. Then her pickup crashes.

[Times photo: Ron Thompson]
Citrus sheriff's deputies Mike Kanter, left, and Robby Bell examine a pickup truck after a crash near State Road 44 and Crystal Oaks Drive in Lecanto. The driver, Sarah Deeds, was killed in the crash.

By ALEX LEARY

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 27, 2001


LECANTO -- The morning began like any Monday for the 18-year-old single mother.

Sarah Deeds got off the late shift at the Shell station in Inglis at 6 a.m., picked up her baby and drove to a day care in Crystal River.

She then headed east on State Road 44, chasing her dream of becoming a veterinarian. But she never made it to Central Florida Community College in Lecanto, where she was a freshman.

Ten minutes before her 9:30 a.m. English class, Deeds lost control of the Toyota pickup she was driving and was killed, according to Citrus County sheriff's deputies.

Authorities said the truck swerved into the median and began to roll after Deeds jerked it back onto the road.

"We might never know why she went off the road," said deputy Mike Kanter.

The red truck flipped several times, Kanter said, and Deed was ejected from the vehicle, which came to rest a few hundred feet before the intersection of SR 44 and Crystal Oaks Drive. She was not wearing a seat belt.

"There was so much stuff flying in the road," said Linda Mushlit of Crystal River, who called 911 from her cell phone after witnessing the crash.

She said the accident occurred moments after Deeds passed her on the right before coming back into the left hand lane.

The accident, which did not involve any other cars, spread wreckage down the road. The front left wheel apparently snapped off and came to a rest in a ditch.

Deeds' personal items, including a hair comb and a green backpack heavy with books, lay on the pavement. Nearby, there was a photograph of an infant cradled in a woman's arms.

Sarah Elizabeth Deeds was 17 when Teresa was born, the first "millennium baby" at Seven Rivers Community Hospital. The pregnancy caused Deeds to leave high school in Ohio, but her education was only temporarily interrupted.

She began studying again and passed the General Educational Development test. In September, she enrolled full time at Central Florida Community College, with the goal of becoming a veterinarian.

"She loved animals," said her stepfather, Michael Lamb, who lives in Inglis and is married to Deeds' mother, Claire Lamb. Deeds recently got a new puppy, Kilo, and loved to care for it and two other dogs, Lamb said.

She also loved her daughter, Lamb said. To support her child and pay for school, Deeds took a job at the gasoline station in Inglis, working the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift four times a week.

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