Family, friends remember Panthers fan killed leaving game

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Friends and family are mourning the loss of a long-time Carolina Panthers fan who was struck by an SUV and killed leaving Sunday's game.

"Still in shock," said Donna Ferguson, with the Tega Cay Salon and Spa, where Diane Babinec, 73, used to work. "Heartbroken and saddened."

A sign out front says "We will miss you Diane."

Babinec worked as a stylist at the salon for more than a decade before she retired. She was a hard worker, who co-workers said, was loved by all - almost as much as she loved the Carolina Panthers.

"I don't think she ever missed a game," said Ferguson. "She loved the Panthers. Always decked out in her Panthers gear."

Babinec was struck around 3:30 p.m. on West Morehead Street and died at the hospital, according to police. 

"They would leave the game early so they could try to miss all the traffic," said Ferguson. 

Police say Babinec was struck while crossing the the street. Her husband disputes that. He says he and his wife were walking with other pedestrians in one of two lanes closed to vehicles. 

LINK: Panthers fan dies after being hit by car at Sunday game

He's not sure what happened. The family is asking anyone with information to come forward. 

The two never missed a game. February would have been their 25th wedding anniversary. 

"Gut wrenching," is how he described the death of his wife.

By all accounts, Babinec was active and walked five to seven miles a day. Outside her Fort Mill, SC home, two Panthers flags still fly. 

On Facebook, condolences messages were left on the all women's Panther's fan group, the Pantherettes, which Babinec was a member. 

"We are truly saddened over the loss of Pantherette Diane Babinec," said the group's founder Sonja Anderson. "We are definitely praying for her family."

Police say the driver of the 2012 Chevrolet SUV, Brooklyn Kogod, 19, was not impaired and speed "does not appear to be a factor in this case."

"She wasn't forgotten, said Tara Stieffenhofer, who used to work with Babinec. 

Police are urging any witnesses to the crash, or anyone with information, to contact Crime Stoppers at (704) 334-1600 or Officer M.R. Pressley at (704) 432-2169.

"You're here one day doing something you love and then gone the next," said Ferguson. "It's heart breaking."