After dinner Sunday, Katherine Rigby and her 13-year-old son Devin went for a bike ride around their Acreage neighborhood. Rigby was riding on the road near the shoulder while her son rode on the sidewalk behind her.
It’s unlikely Rigby, 40, saw an SUV speed up behind them and strike her, sending her from her bike onto the grass shoulder. The driver continued driving without stopping and may have sped up as he or she fled. Rigby, a single mother, died less than an hour later.
Michelle Comiskey, Rigby’s roommate, said Devin saw the tragic incident.
“Kathy was his whole …,” she said Monday from the Acreage home she shared with Rigby and her son. “He never knew his father. That’s all he had.”
Comiskey, 48, spent Monday taking care of Rigby’s six hens and one rooster and Devin’s cockatiel while making public pleas to the person behind the wheel.
“Fess up for what you did,” she said. “You know you did wrong. You took an innocent life for no reason.”
As of Monday evening, authorities did not have more information about the driver.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies released a description of the SUV they believe hit Rigby. The SUV is likely a Chevrolet Tahoe from 2002 to 2006. It is likely light in color, maybe white or tan, and should have front-end damage.
The wreck happened around 7 p.m. Sunday on Tangerine Boulevard near 120th Avenue North. The truck was traveling west and slightly swerved to the left after hitting Rigby. After being hit, she landed on the north side of the boulevard. The driver continued driving west.
Deputies recovered the truck’s headlight and metal grill at the scene.
Comiskey, who welcomed the Rigbys into her home in February, said she knew something was wrong when it got to around 8:30 p.m. and the mother and son weren’t home.
“She doesn’t like to stay out after dark,” Comiskey said. “It got to 9:30 and I said ‘there is definitely something wrong.’ ”
After several attempts, she was finally able to reach Devin, who told her that his mom had been hit by a car.
Comiskey said while Rigby never complained of feeling unsafe during her bike rides, it’s known in the area that drivers speed in the neighborhood.
“I’ve seen reckless drivers and people who don’t care,” Comiskey said.
While Tangerine Boulevard doesn’t have any bike lanes, Rigby had the same rights as a car, according to the Florida Pedestrian and Bicycling Safety Resource Center. If there’s no bike lane, the bicyclist is allowed to ride on the roadway and is considered a car. Motorists are required to give a bicyclist 3 feet of distance while driving, said Wanda Tison, with the resource center.
Rigby was riding in the same direction as the cars were, which is also recommended.
Rigby, originally from Long Island, moved to Tampa before moving here to live with Comiskey in February. She worked with Comiskey at Shaggy Dog in Lake Worth as a bather and a fluffer and spent time volunteering at local horse ranches. She used Reiki healing — a relaxation technique — with horses, something she usually did every Monday at the ranches.
On Friday, she planned on going to New York to visit family.
And in September, she was supposed to celebrate her son’s birthday, and watch him as he started high school.
One of Rigby’s siblings, Rose Rigby of Tampa, came to the scene of the tragedy Monday.
She brought flowers and placed them in the grass near the sidewalk on Tangerine Boulevard.
“She’s a single mom, a loving mom, a good friend, a good sister,” she said. “I just wish the person who did this would come forward because this is breaking our hearts. We’re going to miss my sister a lot.”
Also Monday, a 30-year-old man was arrested after deputies said he fatally struck a man riding his bicycle on Kirk Road in the early morning. Victor Gutierez of West Palm Beach was driving a 1999 Ford north on Kirk Road at Selberg Lane around 3 a.m. when he struck the back of a bicyclist heading north along the northbound lane of Kirk Road.