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CRYSTAL RIVER — At 27, Brandon German had suffered from depression off and on for years, and Monday he ended it by taking his own life, leaving a wife and two young children to go on without him.
“I can’t believe I lost him and my kids lost their dad, and now we’re going to lose everything,” said Tori German, 23.
They were having financial problems. For years, the couple worked together off and on, detailing cars. They lost what had been a good job about a month ago.
Then things started snowballing.
“He had been depressed before, but nothing like this,” Tori said. “He was getting progressively worse. He couldn’t look for work — he couldn’t even come out of the house.”
They fell behind on their bills. Tori’s car, a 2005 Cadillac CTS, was repossessed two or three weeks ago and the electricity is about to be turned off.
And now she is faced with the cost of burying her husband, something she never imagined she would be doing.
On Wednesday, even before she told her children, 7-year-old Ellen and 3-year-old Bradley, what had happened to their dad, Tori was trying to find Christmas presents for them. She was desperate to maintain a tiny shred of normalcy amid their tragedy.
“He was trying to sell the rims off his truck to get Ellen a Kindle Fire and to get my car from the impound yard,” Tori said. “He kept lowering the price, lower than what they were worth. We hadn’t gotten the kids one thing for Christmas, and that was eating us both up. But, with his depression, he couldn’t handle the stress.”
On Monday, Tori had gone out with her daughter for a few hours and when they returned to their Crystal River apartment, the doors were locked.
“His truck was out front, and I started thinking something bad happened,” Tori said, trembling. “He had threatened (suicide) before, and a couple of years ago he actually tried it, but thankfully didn’t succeed and had to be air-lifted.”
Tori took Ellen to her mother-in-law’s nearby apartment and the two women went back and banged on the door. When Tori finally got the back door open, she was afraid to go in.
Brandon’s mother, Cheryl German, found her son’s body, and they called 911. As of Wednesday, Brandon’s body was still at the Medical Examiner’s Office, waiting to be released to a funeral home.
Tori said her mother-in-law sold some of her jewelry to help pay for part of the burial costs.
Diane Lee, Tori’s step-grandmother, said the couple had struggled, but they loved each other.
“They did a lot of things together as a family,” Lee said.
The family recently had a combined birthday party for the kids at a park. Lee said she’ll always remember Brandon trying to hit the SpongeBob piñata.
“Now that she’s alone, I want Tori to get some kind of an education, something so she can stand on her own two feet and be a good role model for her kids,” Lee said. “I want that more than anything. I just don’t know where the resources are or how to do it.”
She also doesn’t know if Tori will ever be able to go back into the apartment. Right now everything is too raw, too terrible.
The one ray of light so far has been support from the community. Right away, High Octane Saloon put out two donation jars and owner Doug Doty has pledged to do whatever they can to see that the kids have presents for Christmas and food to eat.
“We’re all in,” Doty said Wednesday.
Also, a bank account has been set up at TD Bank (offices in Crystal River and Inverness), “Brandon German Fund,” for burial expenses and to help the family.
“Right now, I need to get a job. I can’t sit here and just think, and I need to take care of my kids,” she said. “It’s so unreal. I still can’t believe I’ve lost him.”
Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-564-2927.
TO HELP THE FAMILY
* Make checks payable to “Brandon German Fund” for deposit at TD Bank (offices in Crystal River and Inverness).
* High Octane Saloon at 1590 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, is taking donations to help with Christmas gifts for the children and grocery store gift cards. Call 352-794-3840.