A pregnant Florida woman and her unborn child were killed Sunday when the car she was riding in was hit by what authorities allege was a drunk driver, and now her family is seeking help to pay for her funeral.
The mother of 19-year-old Tiffany Ann Woodham told Bay News 9 that the teen, who was nine months pregnant, had told her on the phone minutes before the crash that she was experiencing contractions.
“I said, about how far apart? And she said, at this moment, mom, and it's been this way for an hour, it’s about 30 minutes," Teresa Hidle told the station.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Woodham was in a Chrysler van with three other people when the car was hit by a Dodge Ram pickup at the intersection of US Highway 27 and Cypress Gardens Blvd. in Winter Haven at approximately 10:19 p.m. on Sunday.
Authorities said both vehicles rotated and continued traveling south after impact, stopping about 30 feet west of the highway. A sheriff’s office press release also stated that the Dodge encroached nearly five feet into the rear of the van.
Woodham was riding in the left rear passenger seat. She suffered severe trauma in the crash and died en route to the hospital, according to the sheriff’s office. Doctors performed an emergency C-section to try to save the baby, but the girl, who Woodham had already named Novalee Annabelle, did not survive.
The driver of the Chrysler and the other two passengers, including Novalee’s father, were taken to area hospitals for treatment of their injuries.
Authorities identified the driver of the Dodge Ram as 37-year-old Thomas Dick of Tulsa, Oklahoma. According to an arrest affidavit, a witness who had followed Dick’s vehicle for several miles before the crash said he was driving recklessly and had run off the road more than once. Investigators later determined based on the vehicle’s crash data recorder that the Dodge was moving at a speed of 83 miles per hour prior to impact, more than 20 miles per hour above the posted speed limit.
Responding officers detected the odor of alcohol on Dick’s breath, the affidavit stated. He was taken to a hospital and treated for a nasal bone fracture and head injury. Initial toxicology tests by the medical staff allegedly showed that he had a blood alcohol content of .131%, above the legal limit of .08. A blood sample was also collected for additional testing by law enforcement.
According to jail records, Dick has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of DUI manslaughter, two counts of DUI involving serious bodily injury, and one count each of DUI involving property damage and DUI. His next court date is set for December 11. Court records did not indicate whether he has retained an attorney.
Woodham’s friends and family have created a fund for donations to help pay for her and Novalee’s funeral and burial expenses. Donations can be made to the Tiffany Woodham Memorial Fund through the Mid-Florida Credit Union at 105 East Van Fleet Drive, Bartow, FL (863) 688-3733.