Linda Beni met Trish Routte at the worst time of her life.
Beni’s daughter Brittany and one of her friends died in a Port Charlotte vehicle crash.
“When Brittany died, a piece of me died with her,” Beni said.
But she and investigators didn’t know who was behind the wheel of the car at fault. That’s where Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers Manager Trish Routte came in.
“During that time, I got to meet Linda, and I don’t know, it was an immediate connection,” Routte said.
Routte did a media blitz, displaying pictures of Brittany and her friend and begging anyone with information to come forward.
“When you get that phone call from a detective going ‘Hey, we got the guy’—nothing better,” Routte said.
That call eventually came in Brittany’s case.
“I could never ever thank her enough for what she did for our family,” Beni said.
That’s why Points of Light, the international nonprofit volunteering organization founded by former President George H.W. Bush, honored Routte.
“When you’ve been able to do something for someone else and you see the end result, that’s where the real reward is,” she said.
Routte said she considers it her honor. Her computer desktop background is pictures of victims whose cases are still unsolved. Every day she looks at those pictures and is reminded her work is not done.
When Beni and Routte met in person, social distancing couldn’t stymie the connection they felt.
“Today the whole COVID thing, no hugging… screw that, we hugged!” Beni said. “She changed my life.”