MARION COUNTY, Fla. – The family of Todd Kimberlin, 38, the man killed while walking his daughter to her bus stop Friday morning, believes he purposely pushed the 7-year-old out of the way of an oncoming car to save her life.
The crash happened around 7:30 a.m. Friday morning in Ocklawaha in Marion County.
Troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol said Dylan Roberts, 27, was driving his vehicle southbound on 180th Avenue Road near 183rd Avenue Road when he veered off the roadway and hit Kimberlin. The father and local tattoo artist died hours later, according to FHP.
Kimberlin is survived by his fiancée, Monique Snell, and their children, including the daughter who was with him when he was hit. The day before her fiance's funeral, Snell told News 6 that the couple always felt that 180th Avenue Road was dangerous.
"Everybody sped down that road, everybody," Snell said. "We always said no matter who it was, we would hold their hand and if we felt something would happen, we would shove her out of the way."
Through tears, Snell said she believed that's what Kimberlin did on Friday: push their daughter out of the way.
"I know in my heart that's what he did," she said.
According to the arrest report, Roberts told troopers another car coming in the opposite direction was shifting into his lane, so he veered to avoid it, hitting Kimberlin. However, troopers said Roberts wasn't even supposed to be on the road, because his license is suspended.
Online records show Roberts has a history with law enforcement in Marion and Sumter counties. Roberts was found guilty of driving without a license in 2013 and 2014, according to court records. He was also arrested for driving without a license in 2010.
"It makes me very pissed off," Snell said.
However, Tuesday night, instead of focusing on anger, Snell said she is focusing on saying goodbye to her fiance and father of her children. She said Kimberlin will be remembered as a local tattoo artist whose dream was to impact others through art. She said the way she will remember Kimberlin most is as a hero who sacrificed his life for their daughter.
"As a dad, there are no words, no words," Snell said. "Fantastic, awesome, all those kinds of words don't even compare."
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs. The funeral will be held in Leesburg Wednesday afternoon.