ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For seven years, Gregg and Leslie Ciccone soaked up the sun in St. Pete. They even decided to start a dessert bar, called Swah-Rey and went on to open a second location.
But, a job for Leslie opened up on the West Coast.
“San Diego is where we’re going to go,” she said.
The couple has two dogs — a German Shephard named Lad and a Labrador named after their business. So instead of flying, the couple decided to fix up a 1994 RV and drive. But early Sunday morning, those plans came to a screeching halt.
“I just said, ‘Did something just hit us from the back?’ And I remember Greg saying, ‘I don’t know,'” Leslie said. “As I looked to him and saw him turning toward the left, but we’re clearly not going that way. We’re clearly going off the road. Then realizing that we’re flipping. And I thought, well, this isn’t going to work out for us. This is not gonna work out.”
A driver hit the trailer attached to the RV and kept going. Gregg was able to get out and found the dogs near the crash.
“They’re just sitting there looking at me like, what happened and what do we do next,” he said.
Leslie was trapped inside the RV, hanging upside down with her hair tangled amid the wreckage.
A good samaritan stopped to get her out but had to cut her hair and the seatbelt.
“If you’ve seen the pictures, there’s not a soul who’s seen them who would think anyone walked away from that,” Leslie said.
Now, the Ciccones are stuck in Biloxi, Mississippi.
“The few people we talked to said January 10 would be the first opportunity they would have to grab our stuff and store it,” Gregg said.
It’s also been tough for them to make a claim with their insurance company. Gregg says the agent he talked to told him they’ve put most of their resources to help customers in the Mid-South after tornadoes ripped through the area earlier this month.
In the meantime, a friend of the Ciccones started a GoFundMe page. St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman posted it to his Twitter and Facebook page. In less than 24 hours, donations exceeded the goal of $10,000.
The Ciccones say the money will help them continue their journey to California, but there are other plans for it back in St. Pete.
“We’re going to continue paying things forward. That’s not going to change for us because that’s really how we were raised and who we choose to be,” Gregg said.
Although the GoFundMe exceeded the fundraising goal, the Ciccones are hoping someone could allow them to rent a large SUV or cargo van to continue to San Diego or a way to transport the items salvaged from the crash to San Diego. You can contact the couple through their GoFundMe page.