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Date of Issue: April 20, 2006

Bradenton man still critical after bridge accident

These two crosses were placed in the water last week near the bridge location where the vehicle carrying Zavadil and Costello crashed. A solitary woman hugs one of the crosses. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
Manatee High School 2005 graduates and friends erected this memorial sign on the Anna Maria Island Bridge last week at the location where an SUV carrying Ryan Costello and Zane Zavadil went off the bridge near midnight on April 8, killing Zavadil and leaving Costello in critical condition. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
More than 1,000 people attended the visitation in remembrance of Zane Zavadil last Thursday evening at the Griffith-Cline Funeral Home in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
The West Manatee Fire and Rescue Station No. 1 displayed this large American flag during the gathering to remember Zavadil on the Island. His father is a retired paramedic and he had been attending school to become a firefighter at the time of the crash. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

A young Bradenton man remains in critical condition in a Tampa hospital after a late-night crash on the Anna Maria Island Bridge April 8 killed the driver.

Zane Zavadil, 19, was killed at the scene. Ryan Costello, 20, Zavadil’s friend and the driver of the SUV remains hospitalized.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers originally described Costello as the driver, but after his father and others protested, FHP reversed that assertion and determined that Zavadil was driving the 1991 Toyota sport utility vehicle.

Bradenton Beach Police Sgt. Chuck Sloan and Holmes Beach Police Officer Mike Pilato were first to arrive at the scene. The pair saw a rear wheel of the vehicle sticking out of the water of Anna Maria Sound just south of the bridge.

"No one had come out of the car, so we decided to go in the water to try to save the occupants," Sloan said.

"We went to the end of the bridge and started to disrobe," Pilato said. "It was about 100 yards from shore, and when we got there West Manatee Fire & Rescue had arrived and threw down a mask and fins. Sloan went to the passenger side and dove down."

"I felt a body in the passenger seat, but I couldn’t get it out because of the seat belt," Sloan said. "I went up and borrowed a knife from Pilato, cut the seat belts and pulled the passenger out and got him to shore."

"I kept trying to get the driver out of the car," Pilato said, "but the current and the wind kept slamming the door in my back. Sloan came back and we both went under and I was able to cut the seat belts and get the driver out.

"The Coast Guard had arrived by then, and we got the guy on the boat and they transported him to Kingfish Boat Ramp and then to the hospital."

Both officers agreed the water where the vehicle landed was over their heads.

Services for Zavadil were last week, and hundreds of people packed the Island chapel of Griffith-Cline Funeral Homes and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Bradenton to remember the young man. He was attending the Fire Science Academy and was a cadet at West Manatee Fire and Rescue District.