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The San Diego Union-Tribune
 

Victim remembered as being upbeat, generous

A mom, who inspired many, loses life because of a police chase 
to capture a man driving a stolen car.

UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
August 21, 2004
 
 
 

NANCEE E. LEWIS / Union-Tribune
Kevin Soper, husband of Linda Carson Soper, spends much of his time these days with his dog Jazzy. His wife was killed Aug. 10 when a man in a stolen car fleeing police hit her vehicle.

Those who knew Linda Carson Soper said she wasn't just a friend, she was a godsend.

The 47-year-old El Cajon native lived at a residential motel on El Cajon Boulevard and often struggled to find steady work. Still, Carson remained upbeat and was quick to share food, clothes, money or just a caring smile with anyone who needed it, her friends and family said.

She was killed Aug. 10 when a man in a stolen car fleeing police sped through a red light and slammed broadside into her car at 60 mph at Main Street and Johnson Avenue, police and witnesses said.

Carson's husband, Kevin Soper, was among the seven people injured in the resulting pileup.

On Tuesday, authorities charged Paul John Taitague, 30, of San Diego with vehicular manslaughter, evading police, reckless driving and possession of stolen property. He pleaded not guilty.

When reached this week, Soper seemed unconcerned about the court hearing and had little to say about the accident. His focus, he said, was on memories of his late wife, especially her smile.

"I'm trying not to be too upset because she was such a positive person," he said.

Soper and Carson were married in 2001, about six months after they met at a residential care facility for the elderly where they both worked. Carson was the activity coordinator. Soper, a maintenance worker.

Carson's friends and former co-workers remembered her as a tireless champion of the less-fortunate whose only fault may have been that she spent too much time doing things for others.


NANCEE E. LEWIS / Union-Tribune
Carson and Soper were married in 2001, about six months after they met at a residential care facility for the elderly where they both worked. Carson was the activity coordinator. Soper, a maintenance worker.
"There will never be another woman like her. I called her, 'Mom,'" said Bobby Bachoua, who with his wife, Sherry Johnson, manages the Bel Air Motel where Carson lived. "It was like the spirit of God shined right through her."

Sherry Johnson's life was falling to pieces when Carson and Soper moved into the Bel Air Motel about a year ago. Johnson was unemployed. Illiterate. Her teeth were falling out. And she was broke.

She couldn't read a job application, let alone the forms to enroll in a state-sponsored medical program that would pay for dentures.

Carson helped her new neighbor get the insurance, but perhaps more importantly, encouraged her to learn to read and helped her land a job as the live-in manager at the motel, Johnson said.

"She inspired us here to help each other," she said.

Carson spent much of the 1980s working as a teaching aide for special education classes in the Grossmont Union High School District, according to her mother, Lavina Carson.

Until about six months ago, Carson had worked with dependent adults at Carol's Residential Care in El Cajon, where she quickly became a trusted friend to many of the residents.

"I don't think we ever saw her frown," former co-worker Lois Leaman said. "Even when she had problems, she was strictly business when she was here."

Carson's attitude and sense of humor endeared her to many of the residents, including Eileen Armstrong, who said she has lived at the home for about four years.

Even the grumpy residents who spent most of their days alone seemed drawn to Carson's sense of humor and frequent smiles, Armstrong said.

"She was always concerned about people and she could talk to anybody," Armstrong said. "When I was down in the dumps, she was always there for me," Armstrong said.

Carson's daughter, Melissa Collins, 19, said she remembered her mother singing the Doris Day standard "Que Sera, Sera," to her as a little girl.

"It means whatever will be, will be and that how she lived her life," Collins said. "She never had a lot, but she didn't need it to be happy.'' Carson also had two sons, Thomas Collins, 17, and Joshua Collins, 20.

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