Miami-Dade County

Palm Beach grandmother, 75, victim of cat rescue effort on Florida’s Turnpike

A 75-year-old grandmother of eight has been identified as the motorist killed Monday night after she hit a man on Florida’s Turnpike in Broward County who was trying to rescue a cat.

Mary Jane S. Alston, 75, of Boynton Beach and Michael J. Schneider, 35, of Tequesta were both taken to Broward Health North after the wreck.

Alston was pronounced dead around 6 p.m. Monday night. Schneider remains in critical condition, a Florida Highway Patrol spokesman said Tuesday.

The wreck happened around 5:15 p.m. Monday in the northbound lanes of the turnpike south of the Sawgrass Expressway. Schneider was driving in a 2003 Toyota Tundra north when he noticed a cat in the roadway. He pulled off the roadway and walked back to the cat, which was later found dead.

Alston was driving a 2010 Honda Accord north and hit Schneider. The car continued moving with Schneider on the hood of the Accord, according to an FHP report. Alston then veered to the right and hit the back of Schneider’s Tundra with the left side of the Accord. The front of the Accord hit the guardrail, causing Schneider to be thrown from the car and onto the grass shoulder.

Originally from Mississippi, Alston had four children and eight grandchildren. She was on her way home from work at the time of the crash, her son Marc Alston said when reached by phone. He said his mother lived in Boynton Beach for about 15 years and she worked as a nurse practitioner at a clinic for veterans.

“She was a loving, caring, compassionate, devoted mother and grandmother, and Christian,” Marc Alston said.

Alston said his mother, a widow, spent her time traveling to be with her grandchildren.

Family members of Schneider could not be immediately reached Tuesday.