Lottery Winnings To Cover Woman's Medical Bills

GREEN, Ohio (AP) - For some, hitting the lottery means a new house or luxury car.

For Randy Bretz of Millersburg, it means being able to afford health insurance to help pay for his wife's $1,800-a-month medical bills.

He is one of six workers at Crown North America in Wooster who hit Saturday's $7 million Super Lotto jackpot just before they lose their jobs Jan. 4. The factory where they work will close early next year if a buyer is not found, costing 400 people their jobs.

Bretz, a 23-year employee, tearfully said Wednesday that he has struggled to pay for health care for his wife, Carla, who had a double-lung transplant three years ago.

"It's such a relief. It's just a miracle for her," he said at a press conference in this Akron suburb.

The six Crown North America employees pooled $50 and bought lottery tickets from several locations Saturday.

Each of the six will receive a one-time payment of nearly $359,000 after taxes.

Paul Cogar, who was in charge of buying the tickets, said he discovered they had won Sunday when checking his newspaper. Then he had his wife check the numbers. Then they checked again on the Internet.

"I started calling everybody," the 60-year-old West Salem man said. "Of course, nobody believed me."

Elaine Lee, 48, of Shreve said she was devastated by the layoff announcement at the company where she has worked 17 years.

"I just recently got a home. I have a good-sized mortgage to pay. I did a lot of praying and talking to God," said Lee, who expects to pay off her house with her winnings.

John Cicconetti of Wooster also has great need for the money -- he will become a father for the first time next month.

"It's definitely going to make a difference now," the 48-year-old said. "I'm just relieved and amazed this could all happen to us."

Some of the other workers plan to save or invest when their checks arrive in four to six weeks.

"I just pray I use it wisely," said Eddie Troyer, a bachelor from Wooster and the youngest of the group at age 34.

Despite the extra money, all the winners are trying to find work quickly. But some said they have been laid off from other factory jobs before and don't want to risk repeating that experience.

"Working for these factories and companies has just been heartbreaking," Lee said.

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