HydroFest driver puts together care package for homeless man who returned missing suit

HydroFest driver puts together care package for homeless man who returned missing suit - clipped version

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - During our 10 p.m. newscast on Thursday, we told you police recovered a racing boat driving suit stolen after last weekend’s event.

Evansville police later picked up Cal Phipps' suit. It was then taken to the dry-cleaners. And, it’ll soon be returned to its’ rightful owner.

The homeless man who had it is getting a care package instead of a reprimand.

Orange, trimmed in black and blue, are the colors of the unique HydroFest driver’s suit which recently went missing.

“I didn’t do it to be malicious – I just saw it lying there,” James Snyder said.

Snyder, who has lived on the streets since 2005, says he was walking back to the shelter and spotted it in an alley.

“If I left it lying there—somebody could’ve got a hold of it and no telling, cut the sleeves,” Snyder added.

Snyder says he was planning to wear it to keep warm this winter. But, when he realized who it belonged to, he knew he had to give it back.

“I saw it on the news and said this has got to go—he’s got to get it back,” Snyder recalled.

Phipps is from Ohio and has raced all around the world. Racing officials call him a fan favorite, winning the eastern divisional championship.

“When Cal puts on his helmet and straps in, he’s a very aggressive driver, has a tradition of winning. When he takes his helmet off, he’s a real people person,” HydroFest Race Director, Randy Lientz explained.

When Phipps found out it was a homeless man who had it, instead of pressing charges, he has chosen to put together a winter care package for Snyder.

“He immediately said, we have to take care of this person,” Lientz also said.

Phipps, setting an example, for those in Evansville and further to follow. Aurora, which works closely with the homeless, says they’re willing to disperse any donations.

“I would just remind the community there are at least 499 people who are in the same boat – so we will spread it out to as many people as we can,” Aurora’s Executive Director, Brian Kerney, stated.

“I’m glad he got it back,” Snyder smiled.

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