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Date of Issue: June 08, 2006

Man found floating near city pier identified

It can't be a good day at work when suddenly someone says there's a body floating nearby.

So it was Friday afternoon at the historic Anna Maria City Pier. Fishers and staff finishing up lunch at the City Pier Restaurant were shocked to hear a body was found floating near the pier.

Traci Kearton, a waitress at the pier, said someone came running toward her, asking her to call 911 at about 1:15 p.m.

"Some guys who were watching the dolphins on the south side of the pier noticed the man floating in the water," she said, "but they thought he was snorkeling. Then they realized he had no snorkel gear and they went in the water and pulled him to the shore.

"By the time I got to them, two women were performing CPR and a guy was giving them instructions he was getting on his cell phone from 911," Kearton said.

"They were just hoping," she said, "because it didn't look possible to me he was alive."

Manatee County Sheriff's Office Deputy Beau Griner said Saturday, "For all we know, he could have fallen from the sky." The sheriff's office had done a review of missing person reports for all surrounding areas, he said, including Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, and there were no reports that matched the victim's description.

MCSO released the man's identity Monday following an investigation that led from an abandoned bicycle on the beach to the deceased's mailbox at the Anna Maria Post Office and, from that information, a photo ID was obtained.

He is Donato Natale, 83, of the 200 block of Oak Avenue, Anna Maria. There was no "evidence of foul play," according to the report and the cause of death is suspected to be the result of a heart problem.

He was found wearing only light blue swim trunks and Deputy Griner said he also had sunglasses hanging around his neck. He also said the man had no identification, but the sheriff's office had learned he had a pacemaker.

Deputy Brian Cherry reported that Fred Colagiovanni of Bradenton, owner of Tropical Landscape, had pulled the man from the water with help from another man.

MCSO spokesperson Dave Bristow confirmed that a positive ID was made by contacting Natale's cardiologist, who had mail in Natale's mailbox, and from the pacemaker serial number.

According to Manatee County online property records, Natale has owned his canalfront home on Oak Avenue since 1983.