BERKELEY TOWNSHIP, NJ - It was a story that warmed many hearts around the country.
Dona Rae Timoney had rescued her pit bull mix "Lilly" from a North Carolina "drug house" last year. Owner and dog became extremely close.
Lilly returned the favor two weeks ago, after Dona collapsed on a sugar sand path near the cranberry bogs in Double Trouble State Park.
The little dog ran up the path, her leash dragging behind her. Bayville resident Frank Delarosa found Lilly, picked her up and started towards the park office.
But Lilly squirmed and Delarosa put her down. She sped back down the path she had just come from and led him to Dona, who was unconscious.
Dona, 51, was first taken to Community Medical Center, then airlifted to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Many hoped and prayed for her recovery.
Sadly, Dona died Wednesday night, according to her friend Debbie McConnell, who posted the announcement on Berkeley Patch.
"It is with great sadness that I inform you Lilly's owner Dona has passed away last night," McConnell wrote in the comments section. "She will be greatly missed. Lilly will be staying in her own home with Dona's daughter."
The first story got more views than any other story in Patch history. We are so sorry we have to write this one. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dona's family.
Dona grew up in Pine Beach and moved to Beachwood 20 years ago. She was a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Pine Beach for 25 years, according to her obituary on Legacy.com.
She is survived by her father, Gabriel Mistichelli, Whiting; her daughter Amanda Timoney, Beachwood; Jerremy Gilmore, Toms River; her brother David Mistichelli, Rutledge, PA; and her "best companions," Lilly, her dog, her cats Cooper and Lola, and her "grand kitty" Dobby.
Friends may visit from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Carmona-Bolen Home for Funerals at 412 Main Street in Toms River. A funeral service will be held at 8 p.m.