Tamara Steward usually saw her mother, Latonia Wine, before she’d leave their Archdale home in the morning for work at a customer service business on Dorchester Road.
Today’s blood drive, which is put on by the S.C. Highway Patrol, Families of Highway Fatalities and the American Red Cross, will take place between 1 and 6 p.m. at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, located at 360 Fishburne St. in Charleston.The Charleston RiverDogs, whose game will begin following the blood drive at 7:05 p.m., will also donate two tickets to each blood donor.
But on Sept. 30, 2011, Steward left the house without a goodbye.
“I usually tell her to be blessed and have a good day,” Wine said. “But that day I was sleeping because I worked late the night before.”
The fleeting moment now resonates with the 48-year-old North Charleston woman. During her routine trek to work, Steward would die.
Nearly two years later, she’s being honored at a blood drive today outside of Joseph P. Riley Park.
Wine hopes the event can save the lives of others who may have a shot at survival.
Twenty-eight year old Steward was talking on the phone and not wearing a seat belt during the car wreck that ended her life.
Steward was supposed to be at work at 8 a.m. that morning.
She stopped to take out some money from an automated teller machine inside a CVS down the street from her job at iQor, Wine said.
Steward then headed to work without wearing her seat belt. “I guess she figured she was 10 seconds away from her job,” Wine said.
At 7:57 a.m. an 18-wheeler smashed into Steward’s car near the intersection of Ashley Phosphate and Dorchester roads, less than one minute away from her destination.
Witnesses told police that the tractor-trailer was northbound on Ashley Phosphate when Steward’s car, leaving the Festival Center, pulled into its path and was struck, police said. The car landed in a ditch at the Festival Center. Steward died at the scene.
Steward was talking on her cellphone when the tractor-trailer plowed into her car, her mother said. Wine kept the receipt from her daughter’s cash withdrawal at CVS. It was time stamped 7:55 a.m., Wine said. Two minutes later her daughter was dead. It’s a reminder of how every second counts, Wine said.
It’s a message she’s been delivering ever since. Recently, Wine spoke to two Lowcountry high schools about motor safety. “I want to educate others about the dangers of distracted driving. She lost her life while on her cellphone, leaving her family and community heartbroken,” Wine said.
Give blood, save a life
Wine, who doesn’t drive a car because of a disability, has spent the past few weeks taking the bus to retailers around the Lowcountry asking for donations for today’s blood drive. She’s collected more than 10 gift cards from stores and restaurants in the area that she’ll give away to certain blood donors in hopes of enticing more to give.
She’ll revolve the giveaway around her daughter’s memory. For example, Steward’s birthday was July 30, 1982. So, Wine will give gift cards to the seventh, 30th and 82nd donors.
“Tamara was known for her kind and caring personality, always helping others and making friends,” she said.
Wine’s goal is to see 150 people give blood because each pint can potentially save up to three lives.
“That’s 450 lives.”
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.