Community rallies for TPD officer's daughter after deadly crash

- Instead of looking ahead to graduation, a local teenager is mourning the death of her father- a Tampa Police officer who was killed over the weekend in a motorcycle crash.

And as they often do, the law enforcement community is coming together- not only to remember one of their own, but also to support and strengthen the daughter he left behind.

Officers walking into and leaving the Tampa Police Department Monday are wearing a black band over their badge to remember Officer Howard Gimbel.

The 53-year-old, 20-year veteran of the force was killed Saturday night when a SUV collided with the motorcycle he was riding with his wife Tonya.

He was off duty at the time.

"He loved to ride his personal motorcycle. He loved to ride his police motorcycle," said his buddy, Cpl. Greg Weekes, another officer at the Tampa Police Department. "He was a motorman. Being on a motorcycle was where he was happiest."

But this past weekend, his happiness came to an abrupt halt.

Investigators say Lisa Allen, the woman driving the Cadillac SUV, had stopped at Clement Pine Boulevard, but then drove into the intersection when the crash happened.

Investigators say it appears she just didn’t see the Gimbels on their bike, and that alcohol was not involved.

The impact pushed the bike off the road, and threw Howard and Tonya from their seats.

Howard did not survive the crash, and Tonya was rushed to the hospital, where she remained in recovery Monday morning.

A spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, which is conducting the investigation, says both Gimbels were wearing their helmets at the time.

And as the community and the police force mourns the incident, the Gimbel’s 17-year-old daughter Sarah, is among them.

Sarah is set to graduate from Riverview High School in just three weeks, and plans to attend college in the fall.

Friends and loved ones have set up a GoFundMe account to help offset her college expenses in the midst of this tragedy.

Click here for more information. 

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