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Details emerge on death of woman outside Carrabba’s

(Week of January 20, 2011)

Beverly Trout Kennedy, the elderly grandmother run over last month in Carrabba’s parking lot, told her stepson the day after the accident she was resting on the bumper of the car which backed over her as she waited for her husband to bring up their car.

Kennedy, 82, died Christmas Eve morning, nine days after she was struck in the restaurant parking lot.

The Kennedy’s were well known to Carrabba’s staff, eating there regularly. On that Dec. 15 evening, as was his custom, husband George Kennedy left his wife at the end of the walkway in front of the parking lot. The spaces on either side of the walkway are designated for handicapped parking.

He was parked in the diagonal parking lanes to the west of the walkway in front of the building. Kennedy backed out and had to make a loop around the parking spots to pick up his wife.

It was during that time that Beverly Kennedy was struck.

“What she indicated to myself and two of her children was that for some inexplicable reason, she decided to lean against a car in the handicap area,” said stepson, Kevin Kennedy. “She leaned on the back of the car and then the car started to back up and she went face down.”

Kevin Kennedy said his stepmother relayed that story the day after the accident and though she was slipping in and out of consciousness “when she described what happened, she was quite coherent.”

Mrs. Kennedy suffered from a series of medical problems including renal failure requiring dialysis three times a week, and a heart and a lung problem that required her to use an oxygen tank.

The temperature that evening was dipping into the 30s and it is conceivable that no one was outside to witness the accident. No one has come forward to accept responsibility for striking Kennedy.

The Sheriff’s office has said it did not investigate the original incident as aggressively as it should have when a 911 call came in at 7:37 p.m. on Dec. 15 – apparently from a Carrabba’s employee -- that an elderly female had been “bumped” in the parking lot and was in need of an ambulance.

It was never clear from the reports provided by the Sheriff’s Office to Vero Beach 32963 what occurred immediately before the ambulance arrived on the scene. Kennedy was flown to the trauma center at Lawnwood where her family said she was admitted with a broken pelvis, a broken hip and three avulsion wounds across her body.

The Sheriff’s office has said the investigator was sent at the time to cover a traffic accident, not a traffic homicide, and the officer had information from the scene that Kennedy was coherent while en route to the trauma center.

Since the case was first reported in Vero Beach 32963, the Sheriff’s office has mounted a full-scale investigation, adding two more investigators to search for eyewitnesses or people with any information about the incident.

Kevin Kennedy said he has talked with Sheriff Loar about the investigation and is setting up a meeting to include his father to go over with the Sheriff what is known when they return to Florida from Missouri.

The younger Kennedy said his stepmother did not provide an explanation for why she needed to rest against the vehicle in the handicap parking spot.

“For some reason and she stated this, ‘for some reason,’ she went over and kind of seated herself on the bumper of the first car to kind of lean up against it. As she did that the car started to back up,” he said.

Kevin Kennedy said his stepmother did not remember the color or type of vehicle that backed over her.

Jeff Luther, Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said investigators are still working to confirm that Kennedy was sitting or leaning against the bumper of the car that struck her. He said if that information is borne out to be true, it could affect the charges that might be brought if the driver is identified.

A dark-colored vehicle was seen leaving the parking lot just before an eyewitness came upon Kennedy. That witness, a New Jersey State police officer, said he did not pay much attention to the vehicle as it was being driven at a normal rate of speed.