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20-year-old pageant winner, acting mermaid dies in University Parkway crash

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SARASOTA CO., Fla. (WWSB) — A 20-year-old woman died Friday night on University Parkway when the Ford Mustang she was driving crossed the median into oncoming traffic.

Katarina Huffman, also known as Katrina Dickinson, of Rotonda, was traveling eastbound at 10:42 p.m. when she failed to maintain control and crossed through the curbed grass median into the westbound lanes, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Once in the westbound lanes, Katarina collided with three other cars. None of the drivers or passengers in the other cars were hurt.

She was pronounced dead on the scene. She was wearing her seatbelt and alcohol was not a factor, according to the FHP.

Katarina was a multiple beauty pageant winner, an acting mermaid, and had just graduated from school as an emergency medical technician. "She was fun and so full of life," said Dawn Reese, whom she worked for as a reporter on the Hollywood Connections, WTAN AM radio show. "She touched so many lives."

Entertaining the public with her mermaid acting was her passion. "I love making their fantasies come true; meeting a mermaid or just being one for a day," she wrote on her website. Her pageant titles include Miss Teen Charlotte County, Miss Ft. Myers, Little Miss Ft. Myers, Miss Teen Daytona Beach and Million Dollar Baby. Most recently, she was Miss Hollywood Showbiz Reporter for 2016 and 2017.

She traveled to other countries, swimming in their "beautiful oceans with dolphins, stingrays, all kinds of tropical fish, seals, and yes, even sharks!!! Sharks are actually my favorite."
She performed locally at many parties for children, offering to swim pools, lakes, fountains, the ocean and tanks.  "Everyone should have a chance to be a mermaid. Make your dreams come true," she wrote.
A gofundme page has been set up to help with Katarina's funeral expenses at this site.