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Loving Ingrid - Prologue

A quick left turn into an intersection changed the lives of one family forever.

By Janine Zeitlin Thursday, Jul 14 2011, THE NEWS PRESS

Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

The clock radio hit 7 a.m., and a broadcast of the day's news rousted Ingrid Martinez Rico and Craig Heller from their slumber.


It was Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008. Fighting had erupted at the Gaza border. Presidential candidate Barack Obama was hot on the campaign trail.


Ingrid lingered a few minutes more in bed before slipping on a dungaree skirt and blouse.


Another busy day: Drop off Victor. Plow through traffic to teach at Florida Gulf Coast University. Maybe later haggle with 4-year-old Casandra about finishing her dinner.


She joined her husband and the kids for some cereal and fresh orange juice that Craig had squeezed before hustling out the door with Victor.


Some 15 minutes later, she pulled the 1999 VW station wagon into the gravel lot at her son's school.

I love you, she always told Victor, with a hug and kiss.


The 9-year-old stepped out, leaving behind a Tintin book, a favorite in the series about a reporter and his dog.


Typically, Ingrid avoided the snowbirds and tourists on Interstate 75 by taking Treeline Avenue.


Today, she'd give it a try.


Passing fast-food chains and gas stations, she cruised onto the highway and steered the car onto the Alico Road exit. The left-turn arrow flashed green.


As Ingrid drove into the intersection, she glanced left to see a dump truck speeding toward her on this cool, clear morning.


Lazaro Rodriguez slammed on the brakes of his truck as he saw a station wagon enter his path.


Skid marks stained the road.


The next 45 minutes transformed the Fort Myers family's life in ways that Ingrid and Craig could not have imagined when they traded vows as love-struck graduate students 16 years earlier.


To have and to hold.


For better or for worse.


In sickness and in health.


As long as we both shall live.




Go to Chapter One >>

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