A Dunedin woman was killed while attempting to cross a street in downtown Charlotte, NC, Sunday.
Local news outlets report that a drunken driver struck Autumn Lynn Soyka, 31, a longtime Dunedin resident, while crossing a notoriously risky street around 1 a.m. Sunday. She was reportedly leaving Jackalope Jacks Restaurant & Bar, a popular sports bar situated in a laidback nightlife nook on the outskirts of downtown Charlotte.
The driver, Steven Watts, 50, was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated, involuntary manslaughter and driving on a restricted license.
Autumn, whose family lives on Aberdeen Street, moved to Charlotte this fall, which was nearer to her brother, who has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a disease that causes nerves to degenerate and affects voluntary muscle control.
"Autumn was a teacher in Pinellas ... until her brother got sick," said Kathy Carlson, a family friend. "She just participated in an ALS fundraiser in Atlanta and raised the most money of any team, over $30,000."
Autumn is a 1998 graduate of Dunedin High School. She recently became a learning solutions consultant at McGraw-Hill Higher Education in Charlotte and studied psychology at the University of South Florida, according to her Facebook profile.
Autumn celebrated her 31st birthday Oct. 1.
The tragedy has sparked a discussion in the Charlotte community about adding more crosswalks in that area.
"Rest in peace, Autumn, you're home now....with all the redfish, snook, tarpon and grouper you can possibly catch! I'll remember you every Saturday morning as I watch the Honeymoon Island sunrise from the kayak," friend Cole Riggins wrote on her Facebook wall.
Arrangements for Autumn’s memorial services are being handled by Curlew Hills Memory Garden, 1750 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor; visitation is Thursday, 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Funeral services are Friday, 3 p.m. at Episcopal Church of the Ascension, 701 Orange Ave, Clearwater.