RIVERVIEW — Darren Denington didn’t waste any time putting up a website to gather donations for one of his employees after the death of her daughter on her way to school Nov. 16.
Denington, the owner of the Copper Bell Café in Riverview and his staff are busy raising money to help Katharine Bower, a single mother with a 9-year-old son, after her 13-year-old daughter Andrea was killed as she crossed Bloomingdale Avenue at the corner of Las Brisas Drive headed for a school bus stop. She was an 8th grade student at Guinta Middle School.
According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office reports, the student had missed her school bus at her regular stop and was attempting to cross the street at approximately 8:30 a.m. to get to a stop where she was aware that the bus would pick up more students at a later time.
She was struck in the outside lane by a Ford SUV driven by Stephanie Akins of Riverview, who had two of her own small children with her.
The report states that although homicide detectives are investigating, Akins is fully cooperating and no charges have been filed.
“Andrea was taken to Tampa General Hospital where she was in critical condition and died at approximately 5 p.m.,” the report states. “Stephanie Akins submitted to a voluntary blood draw and neither speed nor alcohol appear to be a factor.”
The report goes on to say the driver is fully cooperating with the investigation.
But the fact that the death appears to have been an accident does not help the family, which is in much need of support, say friends and co-workers.
Katharine Bower was not up to talking about her daughter’s death as of press time, but Denington related that she was a single mother working very hard at the restaurant and in need of community support.
The day after the happening, Denington put up a web page at www.copperbellcafe.com/andrea.html to make it easy for people to help by adding a button for credit cards and other types of donations.
“Katharine is very much a part of our family here at the restaurant,” Denington said. “We want to respect her privacy yet we want to do whatever we can to help. I know she is in need of all the support she can get.”
Tanya Doran, executive director of the Riverview Chamber of Commerce, sent an email to the chamber’s contact list Nov. 19 in an effort to help in Denington’s quest.
“Darren has been a strong force for good in Riverview and has done much for many,” Doran said. “He’s always there doing something for someone. Not only did he jump through hoops to bring us a wonderful dinner when we held an event for committee recognition recently, he has worked to collect money for charity in many ways.”
Working with the Greater Brandon Community Foundation, he has helped raise more than $30,000 for residents in need, by working with the Foundation’s annual Cooking for a Cause, Doran said.
Anyone who would like to help the Bower family may donate on the website, or take checks, cash or gift cards to the Copper Bell Café, 11228 Boyette Road in Riverview.
The site explains that all checks are to be made out to Katharine Bower and that 100 percent of the donations will go directly to the family.
There is also a place on the website to write personal messages of condolence, which Denington says are as important at this time as cash.