A 51-year-old man drowned while trying to recover his hat after it flew off his head and into Anna Maria Sound while he was riding his bicycle on the Anna Maria Island Bridge, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
The man was identified Wednesday night as Andy Lewis Milton Sr.
At about noon Wednesday, Milton was riding his bicycle over the bridge when his hat flew into the water, according to the sheriff’s office. Milton went into the water to try and retrieve it, but failed to return to shore.
A Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer happened to be driving over the bridge at the time and began the rescue effort. Marine Rescue, West Manatee Fire Rescue and Emergency Medical Services were called out to the north side of the bridge near Kingfish Boat Ramp on Anna Maria Island, according to Marine Rescue Chief Joseph Westerman.
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A lifeguard from Manatee County Beach responded to the scene and began to search the water, Westerman said.
“I had some Good Samaritans in their own vessels in the area who were helping, as well,” Westerman said. “West Manatee Fire Rescue put a couple of their guys in the water and we started a combined effort, grid search.”
It was one of the Good Samaritans who spotted something that didn’t look right in the water. Westerman took the lifeguard on a jet ski to the marked location.
“Within two dives he was able to pull out the man,” Westerman said.
Milton was rushed to a waiting ambulance where paramedics tried to revive him, and then to Blake Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to officials.
Sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow said officials believe the victim was homeless.