Key crash claims mother
Editor & Publisher
A family with strong ties to Longboat Key along with friends and coworkers are mourning the loss of Karen Porter who died after being struck by a pickup truck in front of Longboat Key’s Qwik-N-EZ Mart at 8:05 p.m., Aug. 7.
All of the evidence and police agree that the driver of the pick up truck could not stop his vehicle that night due to a mechanical failure, which ended up pinning Porter between the building and the weight and momentum of the vehicle.
No charges have been filed or are expected and the driver has been served a civil traffic infraction.
The accident is tragic in the sense that Porter, while clearly injured, was talking and trying to get up following the incident. And she appeared to emergency personnel and police to be injured, but not with life-threatening injuries. She died Aug. 14 at Blake Medical Center.
Porter was the assistant manager on duty that night at the Qwik-N-EZ, located at 4030 Gulf of Mexico Drive, and was sitting at one of the tables in front for a short break as no customers were in the store.
Video surveillance shows the vehicle approaching at a normal rate of speed, and the driver reportedly appeared panicked and concerned when the truck could not stop.
Longboat Key Police responded within 4 minutes and EMS soon followed. Porter was transported via ambulance to the trauma center at Blake Hospital where her condition worsened. She died a week later, ultimately as a result of the effects of a collapsed lung and the resultant trauma.
When Longboat Key Officers arrived, Porter was talking and coherent. It appeared to officers that she was attempting to get up. The officers told her to lie still until Longboat Key Emergency Medical Technicians’ arrived on scene, at which time they placed Porter on a board and moved her to a waiting ambulance.
Though Qwik-N-EZ is located a few hundred yards on the Sarasota portion of Longboat Key, paramedics transported Porter to Blake Hospital.
Officers called Longboat Key Forensic Crime Scene Technician Richard Brey to the scene to take photos. According to Longboat Key Police Captain Monica Quarmby said videos from the storefront show the driver looking surprised as the accident transpired, as though he couldn’t get the car to stop. The driver was ticketed in the accident, however, it was clear he was not impaired or under the influence.
The human side
The human side of Porter’s death touches the fabric of a close-knit family with strong ties to the Key.
Porter’s son, Kory Scruggs, has worked at Ace Hardware for many years and was chosen to manage the Qwik-N-EZ store when it opened on February 13 of this year.
As manager, Kory is the primary contact for the store and was notified by police after the accident when they told him his mother suffered minor injuries. In fact, Karen was completely lucid after the incident.
Kory and his wife, Kaylie, who is the office manager of Coldwell Banker Previews office on the south end of Longboat Key, immediately drove to the scene and then Blake Hospital.
“Our family lived at the hospital for that week. We took over the waiting room,” said Kaylie.
Kory said the Savidge family played a major role in helping his family get through the past week.
“The Savidge family has been extremely supportive, gracious and caring through this family struggle,” said Kory. “They sacrificed many things to make this tragedy that much easier on us. They are the most understanding people I have ever met. They have done every possible thing in the world to do to make this easier on us,” Kory continued.
To add to the significance of the event, Karen Porter lived with Kory and Kaylie for the past five years and shared the joy of watching her 7-year-old grandchild — Kory and Kaylie’s daughter Leah — growing up.
In fact, while Karen Porter lived for many things, according to those who knew her most, she lived to be involved day-to-day with her four children and their five grandchildren.
In addition to Kory, her daughters Samantha, 24, and Kristina, 27, also live in Sarasota. Kristina gave her mom two grandchildren, Kaidyn, 6, Kenzie, 2; and her other son, Robert, 32, has a son, Cameryn, age 2.
A family together
And while Karen Porter was originally from Lansing, Michigan, she followed Kory and Kaylie to Sarasota when the couple moved here five years ago. That is when she moved in and the three lived harmoniously taking turns working, watching the Leah and enjoying time together.
Soon, Karen’s other children and grandchildren relocated from Michigan so they could all live close together in Florida.
“My house is an open door and they all wanted to see grandma. She helped raise her grandchildren; her life was her grandbabies,” says Kaylie.
Kaylie said Karen had a passion for home improvement. She would get ideas from Do it Yourself Network and would tell Kaylie and they would run off to Home Depot and make all manner of projects.
“It was not Kory’s or my house, it was ‘our’ house,” said Kaylie.
Kaylie said her mother-in law defied the traditional sentiments reserved for in-laws.
“I always said I drew the lucky star when it came to in-laws — she was my best friend.” Kaylie adds.
A Key passion
Karen Porter was passionate about many things, and one was working on Longboat Key.
In fact, Karen was saddened when the 7-Eleven closed on Longboat Key a couple of years ago. She had worked there and grew to enjoy the regulars and bantered with customers. She relocated to a store very close to her home, but missed Longboat.
“She loved the people, loved Longboat and being in the area. She missed the regulars,” said Kaylie
When the Savidge family decided to open the Qwik-N-EZ, Karen grew excited at the possibility of coming back to Longboat Key and work with her son at the same location. The family said the owners are nothing short of caring and wonderful people.
Having the 7-eleven experience behind her, Karen added a knowledge base that the hardware owners enjoyed and she brought fluidity to the various operational sides of the Qwik-N-EZ.
“She was very proud to do that and be out on Longboat,” said Kaylie.
The family has spent the past days and hours trying to reconcile the meaning of Karen’s death, which was so unexpected for someone so full of life and someone sharing such a major role in their life. They hold no bitterness or anger toward the driver of the vehicle as they see it as a complete and true accident and not a fault of his. In fact, they see the event as an unfortunate perfect storm of sorts.
Karen had a bad respiratory infection leading up to the accident and that did not help the chance of her lungs surviving the collapse and ability to heal. She ultimately died from the many injuries resulting from the accident.
For the week leading up to her death, the family lived at the hospital for the most part googling the medical issues, trying to make sense and figure out options.
Kaylie says even as Karen’s condition worsened, Karen could in her own way acknowledge their presence. Kaylie recalls when the family told Karen they were there with her and loved her, they saw her slowly mouth the words “I love you back.” It was one of the last gestures she was able to make before slipping away.
Kaylie and Kory struggled with how to tell their daughter, whom at seven is smart and aware, but still was unaware of the details.
They told her all along that grandma was sleeping and was getting taken care of but in a part of the hospital she could not visit.
After passing, the two did their best to tell her that grandma is in heaven and will not be waking up.
That is when both Kory and Kaylie after days of being strong and praying and being there for everyone including each other broke down.
Leah’s favorite thing was grandma’s pillow and a picture of her and grandma. Ever since the accident, Leah is carrying the pillow and picture and asked if she can bring grandma’s picture to the first day of school.
Kaylie said what she loved most about her mother-in-law, who was also her best friend, is she was down to earth and genuine — in a world where most everyone puts on a mask and persona.
“She took those hard days when the world is driving you into the dust and she would not ever be mean. She found the best in every situation and it made the best out of her.”
Ironically, it is the memory of Karen and who she was and what she stood for that is making the days pass for Karen’s family and grandchildren.
And for the casual visitor of Qwik-N-EZ or the old 7-eleven, Karen Porter’s hope would be that the toughest days find the best in all of us. That is what as a mother and grandmother she taught her family and that is what lives on.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Karen Porter Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo banking location.