The story of Ed Tippie is one that goes from bad, to worse,
But if one Orlando businessman has his way, it will have a
happier ending than originally thought.
Tippie is the Florida truck driver whose rig was struck by a
suicidal man in an SUV back in 2003. The man, Bryan Randall, was attempting to
kill himself and two of his children, who were with him in the SUV.
Randall and one child died at the scene. The other child
survived, though police later learned that Randall had killed a third child the
day before the crash, and tried to kill a fourth.
Tippie has been locked in a battle with Progressive Auto
Insurance Co. - Randall's insurer - since the accident.
The most recent blow came in October when a jury ruled that
Progressive didn't have to pay any money to Tippie for medical bill or vehicle
damage because the wreck was a suicide, not an accident. Still, the insurance
company did pay an undisclosed amount to Randall's two surviving children.
Tippie now drives a tow truck and relies solely on that
income to support his wife and seven children - three of whom are adopted and
one of whom has cerebral palsy. That son, Brandon, is set to undergo a major
operation in December.
Faced with mounting medical bills and other expenses, the
Tippies were evicted from their Tampa home in October.
John Smith, president of Storm Stoppers, an Orlando window protection company, read about the Tippie's plight in the Orlando
Sentinel and decided to sponsor a fundraiser to help the family.
The event is set for Sunday, Nov. 19, at Westgate Lakes
Resort & Spa in Orlando. Smith said the goal is to raise enough money to
get the Tippies a house - either to rent or to own - a new vehicle, and perhaps
some extra cash to help pay off expenses.
The fundraiser will feature food, music and entertainment
and will be part of a big weekend during which Smith said he plans to take the
children to theme parks such as Universal Studios and Sea World.
The event is by invitation-only, but anyone can be invited.
To get an invitation, either call Storm Stoppers at (407) 423-5959 or visit the
Web site, www.reunitethetippiefamily.com.
Donations are also welcome at the Web site for those unable
to attend the event.
- By Terry Scruton, staff writer