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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Sarasota motorcyclist seriously injured, bridge closed

A motorcyclist who crashed into the rear end of a vehicle on Manatee Avenue Sunday afternoon while the car was waiting for the drawbridge was listed in critical condition Tuesday morning at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.

Bradenton police said the 27-year-old Bradley Iddings of Sarasota was not wearing a helmet when the motorcycle he was riding struck the rear of a car driven by Gerald Praschak, 74, of Bradenton. Praschak had stopped for the drawbridge in the westbound lane at the approach to the Anna Maria Bridge at 3:44 p.m., waiting for it to reopen to vehicular traffic.

According to eyewitness Julia Robertson, Iddings was apparently thrown head-first from the motorcycle when he struck Praschak's vehicle.

Robertson was in a vehicle three cars ahead of Praschak when she heard the crash and saw Iddings flying through the air.

"He seemed to land head first on the pavement," said Robertson. "Everyone got out of their cars and rushed over to him, but he wasn't moving."

A woman who said she was a trauma nurse was one of the first people to reach Iddings and performed emergency first aid. "She said he had a good pulse, even though he wasn't moving," Robertson added.

The nurse was in telephone contact with emergency medical staff and an ambulance reached the scene within five minutes. The helicopter that took Iddings to Bayfront arrived about 20 minutes after the crash, she said.

The east and westbound lanes of Manatee Avenue were closed for as long as three hours while Bradenton police, which have jurisdiction in the case, investigated the crash. The bridge was closed for more than an hour before it re-opened eastbound. For a time, traffic to the Island was halted at 75th Street and Manatee Avenue.