Nearly four weeks after a fiery car crash killed the grandparents of a Lodi family and left two others with critical burns, friends, family members and strangers are rallying to help.
Rodney and Vickie Tate remain hospitalized in a Utah burn center, where they were flown after the Sept. 8 vehicle crash in eastern Nevada. Their grown children have no idea when the couple will be stable enough to be moved closer to home, so they are commuting between Lodi and Utah.
Two bank accounts have been opened for donations to help the family, and two fund-raisers - apizza night and a golf event - are planned for the next two weeks.
"We just want to say 'Thank you from the Tate family' for all the donations and prayers," said Kimberly Tate, Rodney and Vickie Tate's daughter.
One man, who owns several Max Muscle sports nutrition stores, even donated five plane tickets to help the children visit their parents, she said.
The day of the crash, the Tates, both 44, were traveling home with Rodney Tate's parents from a Missouri ranch that has been in the family for decades.
They were on Interstate 80 between Winnemucca and Battle Mountain when the driver lost control of the 2000 Dodge Caravan around 11:30 a.m. and struck a metal road deflector in the center divide. The van rolled over and caught fire.
How to helpAll Rick's Pizza orders made between 11:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. Wednesday, except for deliveries, are eligible for the benefit, though a flier must accompany each order.
Download a copy of the flier online. (PDF, 88k)
Monetary donations may be made to the Kimberly Tate Memorial Fund at any Bank of Stockton branch, including the Lodi one at 120 W. Walnut St.
Kenneth and Loretta Tate, 73 and 71, died at the scene. Rodney and Vickie Tate suffered burns over most of their bodies and were airlifted to a Salt Lake City hospital, the closest trauma center with a burn unit.
The family, consisting of numerous close and extended members, were left to plan funerals while also trying to be there for the survivors.
Kimberly Tate was able to speak to her mother, very briefly, but her father remains sedated, she said. Both are in stable condition.
Kimberly Tate's co-workers at Washington Mutual - now JP Morgan - organized a fund-raiser on Sept. 24, with nacho fixings and soda donated from Winco, Pepsi and Coke.
Many employees gave $20 bills and refused to accept change for the $3.50 nachos, said Shelly Bellamy, who helped organize the event. The employees alone raised $2,000.
A contracted employee, who happens to live 20 minutes away from the Utah hospital but has been working during the week in Stockton, offered a room to stay in her home, as well as use of a car.
Donation funds have been opened at both Bank of Stockton and Washington Mutual/JP Morgan.
Meanwhile, a goddaughter of Rodney and Vickie Tate has organized a pizza night for next Wednesday at Rick's Pizza in Lodi. Fliers regarding the event are circulating and available on the News-Sentinel's Web site; if the flier is presented at the restaurant, a third of the meal's total will go to the Tate family.
And on Oct. 19, a golf fund-raiser will be held at Micke Grove Golf Links. The $75 cost includes a round of golf, cart and lunch. Raffle tickets will also be sold, and all proceeds go to the Tates. To register, call 610-7199.