Miami-Dade County

Woman on way to church struck, killed by Miami driver

Almost every Sunday, Fannie Ash could be found at Jordan Grove Missionary Baptist Church greeting worshipers, tending the children or sitting in her fifth row pew, listening to the pastor lead the service.

But Ash, 78, a mother, grandmother and devout Christian, won’t be there this Sunday to hear Pastor Douglas Cook words from the pulpit.

She was struck by a 1996 red Ford pickup truck just after 7 p.m. Monday as she walked across Northwest 12th Avenue to a revival service the church. The pickup’s driver was under the influence of alcohol, police say.

Ash was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she died.

“I am just torn up right now,” said Pastor Cook, who said Ash has been attending the church for more than 40 years. “It’s going to be hard not to see her there.”

Police say the Ford driver, Marty Leven Howard, 55, of Miami, kept going. But he returned to the scene after his children at home convinced him to come back.

According to the arrest report, Howard walked up to an officer at the scene, driver’s license in hand, and said, “Let me tell you something. I’m the one that was driving. I hit somebody.”

Howard told police he saw area residents emerge from an apartment building with guns, so he drove off.

“He stated that she jumped out of nowhere,” the detective wrote in the report.

Officers gave Howard a roadside sobriety test after noticing bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and an odor of alcohol, according to the report. He was charged with DUI manslaughter.

Ebony Bell, who witnessed the accident, told police she was on the second floor of the apartment building at 6040 NW 12th Ave. when she saw the truck strike Ash crossing the street. Bell screamed at the driver to stop, but he continued, the report says.

Ash’s son Darryl Ash said he was sitting on his couch when his mother said goodbye and headed to church -- something she did all the time.

He then heard a boom.

“I just felt it in my heart that it was my mama,” he said as he stood outside of the apartment he shared with her. “I ran outside and she was laying on the ground.”

Darryl Ash said it was hard to believe that Howard left after hitting his mother.

“He had to be forced to come back,” he said through tears.

As word spread about Ash’s death Tuesday many family members and friends gathered at her apartment where she often sat outside and talked to everybody.

Ash used to sit outside with friends Thelma Sanders and Betty Dixson, known as the Golden Girls. They talked about family, the weather and “anything else going on.”

“I am sure going to miss her,” said Sanders. Her white lawn chair sat empty while Dixson and Sanders talked.

Roketa Mansfield, Ash’s daughter-in-law, said the retired hospital housekeeper was well know in the neighborhood because she talked to everybody.

“I can’t even put it into words,” she said. “It feels like a bad dream.”

Howard, who has a lengthy record that dates back to the 1970s with charges including larceny, driving without a license and public intoxication, was being held on a $236,000 bond.

Darryl Ash said his mother had six sons and one daughter and “too many grandchildren to count.” She loved church and helping others, he said.

He said he now has to begin the difficult process of planning his mother’s funeral.

“He took my world,” he said.

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