We are saddened to report that a longtime Universal Team Member, known for working on the Jaws attraction, has passed away alongside his 14-year-old son in a car crash late Sunday.
Michael “Skip” Skipper and his son, Mikey, were coming back from a Fourth of July celebration when they were hit head-on by another car, who was driving the wrong way. Per Orlando Sentinel:
Skipper, 40, and his 14-year-old son Mikey died late Sunday after they were hit head-on by a wrong-way driver in Osceola County while coming back from a Fourth of July celebration. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Skipper was pronounced dead at the scene and Mikey died shortly afterward.
The wrong-way driver, a 65-year-old unidentified man, also passed away in the car crash, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Troopers believe that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash but the FHP is still awaiting a toxicology report.
Longtime skipper on Universal’s ‘Jaws’ ride killed with teen son in car accident https://t.co/17MAO43dVe pic.twitter.com/PpLL8WAYZX
— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) July 9, 2021
“Skip” was a well-known Team Member at Universal and a huge Jaws fan. In fact, according to Orlando Sentinel, he captained the very last ride on Amity 6 before the Jaws attraction closed permanently in January 2012.
If you never rode Jaws, here is a quick description of the attraction:
Jaws was a theme park attraction based upon the films of the same name. The attraction places guests aboard tour boats for what should be a leisurely tour of Amity Harbor, but instead becomes a harrowing chase between the craft and a very determined great white shark. Jaws is an expanded version of a famous scene on the long-running backlot tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, also inspired by the film, and can be found at Universal Studios Japan near Osaka, and formerly, at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando.
The attraction was based on the 1975 film Jaws starring Roy Scheider (Brody), Robert Shaw (Quint), Richard Dreyfuss Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper), Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody), Murray Hamilton (Vaughn), Carl Gottlieb (Meadows), Jeffrey Kramer (Hendricks), and Susan Backlinie (Chrissie).
Other Universal Team Members who worked alongside “Skip” at the Jaws attraction shared stories to remember him by. Voltaire Guinigundo told Orlando Sentinel that one time the two were filming a video together based on the Universal ride. Skipper played Captain Jake, who operated the boat tours, and Guinigundo even made him wear a fake beard.
“It took me like 20 times to film it right because my hands kept shaking from when I was laughing,” he told Orlando Sentinel.
When speaking about how great of a father “Skip” was, no one held back. In fact, many said “Skip” and Mikey were inseparable. Friend and fellow Jaws Team member, Jay MacGill, said it was fitting they passed together. “They were everything for each other,” he told Orlando Sentinel. “I couldn’t imagine either of them having to live on without the other.”
Skipper is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and younger daughter Addison. A family friend set up a fundraiser for the two, which you can view here. At the time of this article’s publication, the GoFundMe has raised over $60,000.
Skip Skipper was a lead in the JAWS! ride at Universal Orlando for so long & was so loved by the crew, he was given the honor of driving the boat on the last ride before the ride shut down.
He & his young son were killed on the 4th of July.https://t.co/YxPR0JV5BA
— Ophelia Vaxinucci Morningwood (@ShartsvilleGal) July 6, 2021
The description of the Go Fund Me, which was written by a family friend, reads:
Last night coming home from the 4th of July celebration with family, Skip and Mikey where struck head on by another vehicle that came into their lane. Unfortunately Skip died on impact and Mikey tried to fight as hard as he could but died shortly after being transferred to Arnold Palmer. They left behind Jen and Addie who now have the horrific task of planning funerals for not one but two of the family of four. I am starting this go fund me to not only help cover funeral expenses but to also help Jen supplement losing her husband and provider of their family. No one is ever prepared to loose a love one but when you loose two young healthy and vibrant men at the same time its completely life shattering. I ask everyone to please keep them in your prayers as they attempt to figure out how to carry on with their life after such a devastating loss.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in the car crash.