By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — LAKELAND, Fla. — An AuSable Forks woman who suffered life-threatening injuries in a car crash in Sebring, Fla., Thursday has passed away.
Barbara Gero, who was in critical condition at Lakeland Regional Medical Center following the accident that also claimed the life of her husband, Francis Gero, died there at about 2 p.m. Saturday, according to Chris Garrow of Jay, whose wife, Pamela, is Mrs. Gero’s sister.
Pamela, along with the Geros’ daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca and Jason Fuller, and other family members, were by her side when she passed.
“She had three sisters, two brothers and her daughter and her son-in-law with her,” Garrow said.
The Geros, who had left the North Country on Oct. 23 to spend time at their Florida residence, were traveling on U.S. 27 South just before 1 p.m. when their 2001 Ford Focus was struck by a 2003 Jaguar driven by Robert Goldstein, according to police.
The front driver’s side of Goldstein’s car hit the front driver’s side of the Ford Focus after the northbound Jaguar struck a curb at the end of a left-turn lane, causing the vehicle to enter the southbound lane.
Upon impact with the Jaguar, the Geros’ vehicle became airborne and rolled across three lanes of traffic before coming to rest on its driver’s side.
Emergency medical crews responding to the accident declared Mr. Gero deceased, according to police.
As of Sunday, Rebecca was making arrangements to bring her parents home, Garrow said, but funeral plans had not been made.
The couple had intended to head back to AuSable Forks for Christmas before returning to Florida for the winter.
“They were just the most friendliest and fun-loving people that there is,” Garrow said. “They cared about everybody. They loved all their nieces and nephews (and) grandkids.”
Mr. Gero retired from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision a few years ago, and Mrs. Gero stepped down from her position at Adirondack Hardware in Keeseville, where she worked for 28 years, last month.
Town of Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas, who once worked with Mr. Gero at Adirondack Correctional Facility for a number of years, echoed Garrow’s sentiments.
“He was really committed to the community,” he said of Mr. Gero, who was the president of the Sons of American Legion Post 504 in AuSable Forks.
And Mrs. Gero, Douglas added, was equally as dedicated.
“They put their heart and soul into helping other people in their time of need,” he said.
Anytime someone lost a home to fire or needed help, Douglas noted, the couple would organize a fundraiser and take care of everything from cooking to setting up raffles for the event.
“They would do anything for anybody, and they did,” he said.
The town supervisor also recalled how, several years ago, Mr. Gero helped him plant his lawn in the pouring rain. And when Douglas went out of town shortly after, Mr. Gero stopped by his home everyday on the way to work to water the new lawn.
“They were an amazing couple, and they did a lot of good things for this community,” Douglas said. “They will be sorely missed.”
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