Barbara Rusich’s three sons are hoping for answers in the death of their 66-year-old mother, who was found badly injured at Harrison Avenue and La. 59 in Abita Springs at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, apparently the victim of a hit-and-run. She later died.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office has no leads in the case, and spokesman George Bonnett said it is asking anyone who might have seen the 5-foot-1-inch woman, dressed in dark jeans and a dark shirt, to contact the agency.
The Sheriff’s Office also is seeking any surveillance video from businesses in the area.
“If you noticed her at all, we would like to talk to you,’’ Bonnett said.
Al Rusich got a call from his mother shortly after 2 a.m. “She said she needed to be picked up, that someone had tried to run her down,’’ he said. He now believes that she may already have been hit when she called and was in shock.
The family began searching for Rusich, flagging down a Sheriff’s Office deputy at a nearby gas station for help. Deputies began canvassing the area.
Rusich and his youngest brother, along with a deputy, found the injured woman and pulled her out of a ditch on the west side of Harrison Avenue.
The spot where they found her is nearly a mile from her home on Haynes Drive in Abita Springs.
She was taken to a hospital, where she succumbed to injuries that Bonnett said were consistent with being struck by a vehicle.
Coroner Charles Preston said she died of multiple blunt-force injuries.
Al Rusich said his mother was in poor health but had been doing better in recent weeks and had regained some strength.
“We all have a million questions,’’ he said. “I don’t understand how someone could do something like that. You’d pull over for a dog. To run off — it makes me very angry.’’
Barbara Rusich moved to the north shore with her family in 1980, her sons said, and worked as a real estate agent for Prudential before opening her own mortgage lending and real estate business.
Ashley Rodrigue, of WWL-TV, contributed to this report. Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.