HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A Lake County mom is taking the most unimaginable loss and turning it into a mission to change motor vehicle safety laws.
Authorities say a guy who didn't even have a valid driver's license crashed into Ryan Painter's car, killing her mother and her young daughter. Now, she's taking a fight to Tallahassee with the help of a state representative.
Crosses mark the spot in Howey-in-the-Hills where Ryan Painter lost her family in one brutal, surreal, unnecessary moment.
"I was outside power washing, and I heard this horrible noise, and I knew it was a car wreck and I had to go down to the end of our driveway and find my mom and my three year old daughter in the car," Ryan explains.
Her 3-year-old daughter, Fallon, and 56-year-old mother, Debra Irwin, were killed. It was a devastating moment, made even worse a few hours later when troopers told Ryan who had killed her family and himself.
She says, "You find out this guy who never should have been driving kills your family-your little innocent daughter and your mom!"
According to the Florida Highway Patrol report, 22-year-old James Walker was driving under the influence. FHP spokesperson Kim Montes says Walker had bought the car with a suspended license due to numerous driving violations.
When Painter learned that buying a car in Florida is completely legal without a valid driver's license, she immediately set out on a mission.
In Florida, you can buy a car, but you need insurance to register it and get tags, and you need a driver's license to get insurance. But once Walker bought the car, troopers say he just took tags from another vehicle and used those, illegally.
Painter says, "We need to have hurdles for these guys to make it harder for them to do it."
State Representative Bob Cortes agrees. Which is why he met with the Director of Florida's Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Monday in Tallahassee.
"Somebody that has multiple suspensions should not be able to have the ability to buy a car and drive it," says Rep. Cortes.
The State of California recently enacted a system of regulation and punishing those with traffic violations, something this mom and politician hope to do here in Florida.
Cortes says, "We want to make sure we do things on our end that don't hurt law-abiding people but stop these people from going out there and driving a car when they shouldn't."