BBPD investigation continues into anchorage death

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LEFT: Brandon Nieuwkoop lived on the cabin cruiser with a lion fish emblem anchored in Bradenton Beach south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier. Islander Photos: Kathy Prucnell
Officer Eric Hill, who patrols the anchorage in Bradenton Beach, points to the boat where Brandon Nieuwkoop lived.

Bradenton Beach Police Department is awaiting word from the District 2 Medical Examiner on whether a man found floating in Sarasota Bay likely drowned.

A liveaboard boater, Brandon Nieuwkoop, 52, died the afternoon of March 31 after he was pulled from Sarasota Bay south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach by fellow boaters.

“If they say he had water in his lungs, I’m going with he drowned,” Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz said about pending medical examiner reports.

But, if there’s no water in his lungs, Diaz added, Nieuwkoop’s death may require further assessment.

Police report there were no signs of foul play on the boat and no trauma to Nieuwkoop’s body.

At the time of his death, Nieuwkoop lived alone on a cabin cruiser in the bay between the pier and Fifth and Sixth streets south, according to BBPD Officer Eric Hill, who patrols the anchorage. Hill reported nothing out of the ordinary on the boat after he was pronounced dead.

Mark Hill, Barb Maldonado and Crystal Nimmons found Nieuwkoop unconscious in the water just before noon, while traversing in a dinghy to their boat, which was anchored next to Nieuwkoop’s boat.

The group brought him to within about 20 feet of the dock at Bridge Tender Inn, where the dinghy capsized and others, including EMS, rushed to help.

Hill and Maldonado told The Islander they saw Nieuwkoop apparently in good condition on his boat less than 30 minutes before finding him unconscious.

Nieuwkoop had a history of seizures, according to police reports.

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