A fund has been established in memory of Andrea Bower, 13, the Giunta Middle School student who died Nov. 16 from injuries sustained in a pedestrian traffic crash on Bloomingdale Avenue in the Greater Brandon area of Riverview.
Donations are being accepted online and in person at the Copper Bell Cafe - Riverview, where the girl's mother, Katharine Bower, has been employed for about six weeks. The single mother also is raising a nine-year-old son, Andrea Bower's brother.
"Andrea's mother is a part of our family at Copper Bell Cafe and we have banded together to help during this catastrophic time," reads a notice about the memorial fund. "We are asking for the support of the community to help this family through a very tough time."
Owner Darren Dennington said in an interivew Nov. 19 that he lost a brother when he was a teenager and that he has a child who is Bower's age, which makes the senseless tragedy of Andrea Bower's death hit home even harder.
Still, the depth of the mother's pain remains incomprehensible, Dennington said.
"We've been in contact with her and just know that she needs our support," he said. "Let's raise her some money to take some of the financial problems off of her as she deals with this."
Dennington said he does not anticipate a hard sell.
"People want to reach out and they want to help," he said. "This is a way they can do that."
That way includes dropping off cash, gift cards and checks payable to "Katharine Bower" at the Copper Bell Cafe in Riverview, at 11228 Boyette Road, across the street and just west of Riverview High School.
Donations can be made online as well.
Dennington said cards and well-wishes are being encouraged as well. Sympathy cards to fill out will be at the Copper Bell Cafe in Riverview for people who drop off donations. Also, all wishes posted online will be compiled into a book that will be given to the Bower family.
Meanwhile, stuffed animals, photographs and mementoes continue to accumulate at the base of a roadside memorial that bears a sign that says: "RIP Andrea Bower." The sign is at the corner of Bloomingdale Avenue and Las Brisas Drive, near where the fatal accident occurred.
Andrea Bower was struck Nov. 16 by a Ford sports-utility vehicle as she attempted to cross the lanes of Bloomingdale Avenue to catch the bus to school there. Minutes earlier, she had missed the bus at her regular bus stop, across the street at Buckhorn Springs Drive.
Five women were at the roadside memorial Nov. 17 to post the sign and add mementos. They talked about Bower, and the void her death has left for family, friends and neighbors.
“She just wanted to keep her perfect attendance,” said familly friend and neighbor Lisa Kearney, at the roadside memorial. “She didn’t want to mess up her perfect attendance. That’s all it was. She just wanted to go to school. She loved school.”
- See Mourners Pay Tribute to Andrea Bower at Roadside Memorial
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the accident occurred at around 8:30 a.m., as Bower attempted to cross the lanes of one of the Greater Brandon area’s most busiest thoroughfares.
- See Girl Struck on Bloomingdale Avenue in Critical Condition