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Dead woman's family looks for answers

The 28-year-old died Sunday after being hit by a car early Saturday, but details are sketchy.

By COLLEEN JENKINS

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 5, 2001


PORT RICHEY -- Claudia Skipper knows her daughter was hit and killed by a car last weekend, but she doesn't know why.

All she knows is that she dropped 28-year-old Sandra Skipper and her boyfriend of three years off at Gulf View Square mall around 6 p.m. Friday.

Claudia Skipper also answered the door Saturday morning when her daughter's boyfriend showed up at the Skipper family home on Amarillo Street. "He just came and knocked on my door and said, "Is Sandra here?' " she recalled. "And I said, "No.' "

Other than that, details surrounding her daughter's death are few. Sandra Skipper was sitting or lying on Fox Hollow Drive east of U.S. 19 at 3 a.m. Saturday when she was hit by a vehicle, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. But state troopers don't know who was driving the car or why Sandra Skipper was in the road, which runs parallel to her parents' Port Richey home, one road away on Amarillo Street.

"There's a lot of questions unanswered," Claudia Skipper said Monday afternoon.

She and her husband, Max, had just returned home from Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where Sandra was airlifted Saturday after the accident.

But the Skippers didn't know their daughter was there until Sunday around 9 p.m. Both parents had worked most of the weekend. Max Skipper kept busy with his duties as pastor at All Souls United Episcopal Church, and his wife was at her technician job at Community Hospital of New Port Richey.

Though Sandra still lived at home, they said she was in and out a lot. But Claudia grew worried when she got home from work Sunday and found no sign of her daughter. She filed a missing person report around 8 p.m.

Around 9 p.m., there was another knock on the Skippers' door.

This time it was a state trooper, who explained to them that Sandra Skipper had been hit by a car about 60 feet from U.S. 19, close to their home, and taken by helicopter to Bayfront. Though she was coherent when officials arrived on the accident scene, the Skippers were told she lost consciousness at the hospital Saturday.

And at 6:11 p.m. Sunday, she died before her family could see her alive one last time.

"We are stunned," said Max Skipper, removing his glasses to wipe tears from his eyes. "We just don't know what to think or what to do."

The Skippers don't know what Sandra, whom they described as "fun-loving, outgoing, stubborn and inquisitive," did Friday night. They believe she was with her boyfriend, whom they declined to name. Claudia Skipper said her daughter told authorities that she lived with her boyfriend when they arrived at the scene of the accident.

Florida criminal reports show that Sandra Skipper had no criminal record. She graduated from Ridgewood High School, acquired a Florida cosmetology license in 1996 and recently had worked as a dietary aid at an assisted living facility, but she currently was unemployed.

Florida Highway Patrol officials did not return calls Monday to confirm whether they are investigating a hit-and-run. Reports state that officials have not yet determined whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the incident.

An autopsy will be conducted sometime today, said records custodian Debbie Louis of the medical examiner's office at Bayfront.

For now, all Sandra Skipper's family can do is wait and hope for answers. Visibly tired Monday afternoon from a long night at the hospital, the grieving parents talked of funeral arrangements. Their 20-year-old son, Michael, arrived home from summer school at Valencia Community College in Orlando and reeled off questions for his parents: How exactly did his sister die? Who spoke with her last?

Max Skipper told Michael that the hospital chaplain had spoken with Sandra before she died.

Other than that, his father had little information to offer.

"It's just under investigation, that's all (authorities will) tell us," Claudia Skipper shrugged. "We're still in the dark ourselves."

Anyone with information is asked to call Cpl. S.E. Campbell of the Florida Highway Patrol at (727) 841-4181, ext. 134.

- Colleen Jenkins can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6232 or 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6232.

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