Boater found in bay near Bridge St. pier dies

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Despite rescue attempts, a 52-year-old man died March 31 after he was found unconscious near the shore in Sarasota Bay south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach.

Brandon Nieuwkoop, who lived on a cabin cruiser among the community of 30-40 anchored boaters — including four who fought to save his life — was pronounced dead at 2:12 p.m. at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Bradenton Beach Police Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz said.

Barb Maldonado, with her brother, Mark Hill, and friend Crystal Nimmons were traveling in a dinghy to their boat at about 11 a.m. when Maldonado noticed what, at first, she thought was a horseshoe crab.

Hill announced it was a man with tattoos, and the group recognized him as Nieuwkoop. They had seen the man on his boat less than 30 minutes earlier and said he appeared to be OK.

“He must have had a seizure and fell off his motor boat,” Hill said.

They pulled Nieuwkoop aboard their dinghy. where Maldonado started CPR.

The dinghy, however, capsized about 20 feet from the dock at the Bridge Tender Inn, according to Hill.

There, two men jumped into the water to help Hill right the dinghy. Another boater, Jeremy Thomas, assisted in towing the dinghy to shore.

EMS arrived, took over the medical efforts, revived Nieuwkoop’s pulse and took him to Blake, according to Diaz.

“It’s so sad,” Maldonado said. “I tried my best. I know CPR.”

Nieuwkoop had lived in the anchorage for about three months and had a previous history of seizures.

“He was a nice gentleman,” Hill said.

Kathy Prucnell

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