Family, friends helping teen who lost father in retention pond accident

Family and friends of a fast-food delivery driver who died after his SUV went into a retention pond are trying to help his 19-year-old daughter and his fiance with funeral expenses.

A memorial service for Thomas L. “Tommy” Kedrowitz, 37, is planned at 6 p.m. today at Jewell-Rittman Family Funeral Home with visitation from 5 p.m. until service time. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for help for the victim’s daughter, a college student in Indianapolis.

A gofundme account has been set up online to help defray costs for the funeral. Any additional money will be used for his daughter’s college fund, the family said.

Kedrowitz’s daughter, Keylee Williams of Bargersville, remembered her father — a Columbus native — as someone who helped her financially with college expenses.

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Williams, who works two jobs in Greenwood, also is pursuing a degree in pre-art therapy at the University of Indianapolis, where she is a sophomore.

“He always tried to pitch in,” she said of her Kedrowitz. “Any extra money he had would go toward my college fund.”

Williams said her father was instrumental in encouraging her to go to college, helping pay so she could attend a journalism conference in Orlando when she was preparing to graduate from Center Grove High School — something that led her to want to pursue a higher education degree.

“He was really supportive of all my decisions,” his daughter said.

Kedrowitz was working as a delivery driver for the Jimmy Johns restaurant on Jonathan Moore Pike at about noon Sunday when the accident occurred, investigators said.

His daughter said Kedrowitz loved his delivery job because of all the interaction he was able to have with customers.

A witness told police that Kedrowitz was driving a black Jeep Liberty on Carr Hill Road toward Jonathan Moore Pike when, for an unknown reason, he drove off Carr Hill into a field. Investigators said the Jeep went through several hundred yards of acreage in the field, over a curb and embankment and then into a retention pond behind the two stores.

Columbus firefighters and police, the Bartholomew County water rescue team and Indiana State Police divers searched for the vehicle for about an hour before they found it using a drag line attached to 12-foot poles, firefighters said. The car was found submerged in more than 16 feet of water in the retention pond, investigators said.

Kedrowitz’s fiance, Ashley Schnell of Columbus, said she and Kedrowitz had gone to a relative’s bonfire the night before, then went home and watched television. They woke up later than expected and Kedrowitz was in a hurry to get work Sunday morning, she said.

“He walked out to the Jeep Liberty, I gave him a kiss and he went to work,” Schnell said.

That was the last time she saw him, she said.

Kedrowitz wasn’t the kind of person who went to the doctor often and his daughter said he had probably only been twice in her 19 years of life.

“He took care of everyone else around him,” Williams said.

Describing her father as fun-loving, funny and smart, she said nothing could hold him back if he wanted to accomplish it.

“He lived every day to the fullest, Williams said.

Autopsy and toxicology results for Kedrowitz are pending with the Bartholomew County Coroner’s office, said Coroner Clayton Nolting.

Kedrowitz had no known medical history that would indicate a reason for the accident, Nolting said.

Family members were at the retention pond when a wrecker pulled the Jeep Libery from the retention pond, Schnell said.

Before that time, the family had hoped that perhaps Kedrowitz was just missing and the Jeep had been dumped in the pond for some other unknown reason.

Kedrowitz also is survived by his parents, Thomas Lee Kedrowitz Sr. and Anna Jo Webb Chance, both of Greensburg; a brother, Ocee Roy Lee Kedrowitz, of Florida; and a sister, Jean Posey, of Columbus.

At today’s services, Williams said the family is asking those who attend to write down a favorite memory about her father to be placed in a keepsake box.

How to help

Donations to help defray funeral expenses for Thomas Lee Kedrowitz Jr. are being accepted online at:

gofundme.com/mvc.php?route=category&term=thomas%20kedrowitz

Donations are also being accepted at Jewell-Rittman Family Funeral Home, 3855 E. 25th St., at services at 6 p.m. today. Calling is 5 p.m. today until time of service.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.