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First a crash, now a mad dash

Extreme Makeover picks a Davis Islands family after a plane destroyed their home.

By KEVIN GRAHAM
Published January 8, 2007


Officials examine the remains of the airplane that crashed into the Davis Islands home of Tom and Cynthia Tate on June 12.
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[Times photo: Chris Zuppa]
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[Times photo: Ken Helle]
Ty Pennington, right, design team leader and carpenter on the TV's Extreme Makeover, leads Tom and Cynthia Tate to an opening sequence for the show.

TAMPA - The letters mailed to a Davis Islands family and their neighbors last week warned them to be ready: ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition might come calling.

Be prepared, just in case the reality show's crew shows up Sunday between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. at the charred shell of a home at 629 E Davis Blvd. - just in case.

Sunday, just in case became reality for the Tate family, whose home was demolished by a plane crash.

"Oh, my God! It's us!" the Tates said when they heard the crew arriving, according to relatives.

The family lost everything in June, when an airplane careened off the runway at nearby Peter O. Knight Airport and slammed into their house, killing the pilot.

Now their home will be reconstructed by the show while they enjoy a free vacation.

After the disaster struck, the close-knit community rallied around Tom and Cynthia Tate, whose Tate Brothers Pizza business help define the main strip of the island.

A video application put together by a family friend won the Tates a finalist slot. But final word on being selected for the show didn't come by phone, e-mail or certified letter.

It arrived at 7 a.m. Sunday with the screeching brakes of the Extreme Makeover bus.

"Last night, we were all together and everybody was on pins and needles," said Frank Augustine, Tom Tate's cousin.

Augustine and his family planned a vacation around Sunday and flew in from New Castle, Pa. They also have a pizza business back home that's turning 50 this year. Augustine said he plans to help out at the Tate family pizzeria this week, expecting it to be swamped.

Tom and Cynthia Tate stood in the driveway of what remained of their home Sunday, joined by their children, Ryan, a Marine, Tommy and daughter, Loren, Standing with them was Ty Pennington, design team leader and carpenter for the show.

Producers kept the Tate family too busy for reporters' questions on Sunday. They had footage to shoot before the family was whisked off to Costa Rica while their home's transformation takes place.

Now in its fourth season, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition selects a "deserving" family whose house is in desperate need of an upgrade and does it in seven days. Most of the families featured on the show have someone living at home with a disability.

Preston Sharp, one of the designers, said the Tate family deserved a bit of good luck.

He wouldn't give away any details for the new home, but said that they hoped to somehow pay tribute to Steve Huisman of Bradenton, the pilot who died.

Information on when the show will air was unavailable Sunday.

Kevin Graham can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com.

[Last modified January 8, 2007, 11:43:29]


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