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GULF BREEZE, Fla. (WALA) - The death of Deborah Rector, 54, has left a community, and a family, shaken.
Her son Dusty Burditt said he still can't believe she's gone.
"It just made me realize what I had taken for granted all these years and that her life was priceless to me," said Burditt.
Rector was a mother and grandmother. Her daughter, Sarina Burditt, said she always saw the best in people.
"She always did what she could, and what she loved was helping people. She was energetic and vibrant," she said.
Rector spent 28 years as a Waffle House waitress.
"When she came home, she was still that waitress. Kids were coming in, and she'd ask them if they were okay. She asked if they had eaten, or if they needed something. She would just go out of her way," Dusty Burditt said.
Rector was walking home Tuesday night from the Waffle House when she was killed.
Authorities said she was trying to cross this busy US Highway 98 in Gulf Breeze when she was struck by a car.
Another car, who was unable to see Rector, also hit her.
Rector was the third pedestrian killed on the highway in less than two weeks.
Her family said they believe something should be done to make the highway safer.
"This change is something she talked about herself. The death that happened the week before hers is something we talked about continuously at the house. It's a concern every time the kids leave," said Dusty Burditt.
Dusty Burditt said his mother always mentored kids around the neighborhood. He plans to continue that tradition.
"It won't end with her. That compassion, that selfless giving, it needs to trickle down for the next 20 generations. It doesn't need to stop here," Dusty Burditt said.
The Florida Department of Transportation said they plan to make changes to US Highway 98 beginning in the summer. They plan to include adding pedestrian signals, sidewalks and crosswalks to specific areas.
They are open to requests from residents and public officials over adding extra lights as well.
You can contact the Florida DOT to voice your opinion on their website .
The family expects to hold a remembrance for Rector this Saturday at the Santa Rosa Dunes.
Severe Storms are possible early Sunday morning. We have a slow moving frontal system that is approaching the area. Rain is likely throughout the day Sunday.
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