Tag Archives: Feature

1 dead in TS Eta deluge on AMI

thumb image
A property at 211 Bay Drive N., Bradenton Beach, is where longtime islander Mark Mixon died Nov. 11 by electrocution while trying to protect the property from the rising waters of Tropical Storm Eta. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

Tropical Storm Eta led to the Nov. 11 death of a longtime islander.

Mark Mixon became a victim of the storm’s tidal surge.

Mixon, 65, was sandbagging a rental home at 211 Bay Drive N., Bradenton Beach, with a friend, William Klapheke, when he was electrocuted after stepping into around 4 inches of standing water in the laundry room, according to a Bradenton Beach Police Department report.

Klapheke told police that he stepped away to grab a sandbag from a truck when he heard Mixon yell for help.

Klapheke said he saw Mixon on his back in the water and thought his friend suffered a heart attack. The friend tried to grab Mixon, but was thrown back by an electric shock, according to the report.

Klapheke then grabbed a rake and tried to drag Mixon from the room but, in doing so, he received another shock.

He called 911 at about 5:30 p.m.

Manatee County emergency medical services, West Manatee Fire Rescue and BBPD officers were dispatched to the home.

WMFR Chief Ben Rigney said Nov. 12 that emergency responders couldn’t safely recover Mixon’s body until Florida Power & Light completely shut down service to the area power grid.

“We were told the power was secured. So our crew started going in, but they felt little tingles coming up. So they realized the power was still on and quickly retreated,” Rigney said. “We then waited for FPL to shut the grid down so we could get in there.”

“That is the first time I’ve ever heard of that happening,” he said of the electric grid shutdown for the emergency.

Mixon’s body was recovered and he was pronounced dead around 6 p.m.

“Unfortunately, I think that, even if we got in there 20 minutes earlier, it wouldn’t have made a difference,” Rigney said.

Kim Eresten, Mark’s sister, was working at another of Mixon’s rentals nearby and rushed to the scene, according to Trish Mixon.

“After we were able to remove the body, we checked for vitals and realized he wasn’t alive. He’d been deceased for a while,” BBPD Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz said.

Diaz told The Islander Nov. 12 that a dryer, plugged into an outlet that was low on the wall, delivered the fatal shock.

The dryer outlet was “very low,” he said.

Diaz said the laundry room was the only room at the property that was flooding from Tropical Storm Eta, which brought rain, wind and storm surge to Anna Maria Island Nov. 11-12.

The storm intensified on the island about 5 p.m. Nov. 11 and continued overnight.

“This is a tragic accident, without a doubt,” Diaz said.

Mixon was a longtime islander who lived in Bradenton Beach until recently, when he moved to Bradenton with his partner, Cynthia Dagher. They owned and maintained several island rental properties.

He also is survived by daughter Melissa Chambers and other family members. A full obituary can be found on page 14.

Mixon also had worked with his parents for many years at the Holmes Beach-based Jim Mixon Insurance, which his late father, Jim, founded with his mother, Trish.

The insurance agency, in the Island Shopping Center since its inception, was sold in 2018 after Jim’s death in 2016 and renamed Waller-Mixon Insurance.

Storm turned killer, inundates AMI roads, sinks boats, washes out beaches

thumb image
Left Photo: A large bouy is removed from the beach Nov. 12. Islander Photo: Jim Price. Right Photo: A sailboat is lodged under the Cortez Bridge Nov. 12. Islander Photo: Chrisann Allen
A large buoy is removed from the beach Nov. 12. Islander Photo: Jim Price
A sailboat is lodged under the Cortez Bridge Nov. 12. Islander Photo: Chrisann Allen
A sailboat is lodged under the Cortez Bridge Nov. 12. Islander Photo: Chrisann Allen

Tropical Storm Eta taught islanders to expect the unexpected.

Eta made a second Florida landfall early Nov. 12 near Cedar Key, about 100 miles north of Tampa Bay, after slamming the Florida Keys Nov. 8. The Manatee County coastline saw about 8 inches of rain Nov. 11-12, as well as recorded winds up to 60 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm coincided with high tide near midnight Nov. 11-12, which caused a 3-foot surge, leading to flooding and standing water in Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach.

The county issued a voluntary evacuation notice Nov. 11 for people on Anna Maria Island and in other low-lying areas of the county.

Evacuation shelters were opened Nov. 11 at Virgil Mills Elementary School in Palmetto and Manatee High School in Bradenton. Thirty county residents sought shelter at Manatee High, but none arrived at Mills Elementary.

“Most of the impacts we know were in south county and on the island,” Nicholas Azzara, county information outreach manager, said Nov. 12 during a teleconferenced press update on Eta. “But it looks like damages were pretty limited.”

The county reported flooded roadways, downed power lines and “cosmetic” damage to aluminum sheds and similar structures.

The county Nov. 12 also reported significant erosion on the beach due to the storm, but officials stressed that renourishment projects, which have been underway since July from north Holmes Beach to Longboat Pass, are intended to build sand on the shoreline to protect communities in storm events.

“The primary purpose of our beaches is for coastal protection, to dissipate the energy of the storms,” Charlie Hunsicker, the Manatee County parks and natural resources director, said Nov. 12. “So, in this circumstance, we are quite pleased that the erosion losses we saw were a measured benefit of having the beach in place for storms just like this one.”

County beaches were closed Nov. 10-12 due to riptides.

Concerns about the new Anna Maria City Pier, 100 N. Bay Blvd., were assuaged Nov. 12, as no damage was reported to the structure that was built to replace the historic pier, which was demolished after it was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017.

“I have to say I was worried, like a father worries about his daughter on a first date,” Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said. “But I am really pleased it fared so well. No issues.”

Murphy said floodwater on city roads was draining but was being hastened with pumps. He said most of the roads in the city would be cleared by Nov. 13.

An errant buoy that washed up on the Anna Maria shoreline was removed with heavy equipment by the beach renourishment crew.

The county also reported Nov. 12 that the area near the intersection of North Shore Drive and Coconut Avenue had been closed due to a live power line.

The storm sent a handful of vessels from the Bradenton Beach anchorage crashing into the nearby Historic Bridge Street Pier and its floating dock, which city staff spent Nov. 12 attempting to remove. A vessel also crashed into the underside of the Cortez Bridge.

The Florida Department of Transportation Nov. 12 was evaluating coastal bridges, including the Cortez Bridge, spokesman Brian Rick told The Islander.

“We are still in the process of bridge inspections but do not have any reports of damage so far,” he said.

Eta also resulted in the Nov. 11 death of Mark Mixon, who was electrocuted in standing water at his rental property at 211 Bay Drive N., Bradenton Beach.

Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz told The Islander that Mixon entered his laundry room, where there were around 3 inches of standing water due to the storm and was electrocuted by his dryer, which was plugged into a low outlet.

Diaz said Mixon’s friend tried to help but quickly realized the water was electrified and called 911.

Emergency responders shut off the local power grid after around 30 minutes, at which point Mixon was recovered and declared deceased.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said Nov. 12 limited damages were reported in the city. He said problems mostly were with people driving through floodwaters and getting stuck.

Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth, a lifelong island resident, said the storm was no worse than she previously had seen, but the conjunction of high tide and rain increased flooding.

The “city center,” near the intersection of Gulf and Marina drives, is prone to severe flooding, but is slated for drainage improvements in 2021-22, she said.

Titsworth also said the storm provided the city with an opportunity to identify areas where drainage could be improved, including adding tidal valves near Sixth Avenue, Clark Drive, 79th Street and Palm Drive.

“Although the water has receded by now, we need to see what we can do to make it even quicker,” she said. “I’m looking at maintenance funds to see what we can do to get improvements to those areas.”

Eta spared Anna Maria Elementary damage and flooding, leaving “just tree debris to pick up,” principal Jackie Featherston wrote Nov. 12 in an email to The Islander.

“After assessing, cleaning and evaluating all district facilities, it has been determined that the school district is ready for brick and mortar, hybrid and elearning instruction to resume, as usual, Nov. 13,” Michael Barber, district director of communications, family and community engagement, wrote in a Connect-Ed email message sent Nov. 12 to parents and employees.

Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said Nov. 12 that she lost power for a few hours in the evening and her yard “looked like a bomb hit it.” She also said her neighbor lost a section of his dock in the storm.

She said the water rose over most of the docks on her street and neighbors reported standing water in ground-level garages and homes.

“I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes,” Vosburgh said. “But this was pretty hairy.”

During the Nov. 12 county storm update, Steve Litschauer, Manatee County emergency management chief, cautioned people about storms late in the year.

“The big key is don’t underestimate the storm. Be prepared year-round,” Litschauer said. “Here on the west coast, we’ve seen storms in January, February and March. Dec. 1, don’t just lock up your raincoat and walk away.”

        Editor’s note: Amy V.T. Moriarty and Ryan Paice contributed to this report.

Tropical storm leaves BB pier, floating dock damaged

thumb image
Bradenton Beach Police Department Lt. John Cosby, public works director Tom Woodard and city attorney Ricinda Perry assess damage Nov. 12 after Tropical Storm Eta sent several vessels crashing from the nearby anchorage into the Historic Bridge Street Pier and its floating dock. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

Tropical Storm Eta ripped open an expensive wound in Bradenton Beach.

The cost for boat removal and pier repairs exceeds $175,000.

City commissioners voted 4-0 Nov. 13 to pay N.E. Taylor Boatworks up to $75,000 to remove and destroy five derelict vessels the storm sent crashing from the Bradenton Beach anchorage into the Historic Bridge Street Pier and its floating dock.

Commissioner Jake Spooner was absent with excuse.

Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby said the storm jammed one vessel against the pier and left three sunken sailboats and a dinghy trapped beneath the floating dock.

He identified the owners of the vessels and was working with them to sign their property over to the city so the boats could be removed and destroyed.

Cosby said the contractor was confident they could remove the vessels without issue. He added that they could begin removing the vessels immediately, but did not detail when the work was expected to finish.

He said the city could reopen the floating dock after the vessels were removed because there were enough floats remaining to keep the structure stable.

“You should know that, if you approve this, there is the potential that we don’t get any of the money back,” Cosby said. “But it’s about $30,000 less than I thought it was going to be, so it appears to be a good price.”

He added that he was speaking with the city’s insurance agent to determine whether its policy for the pier would cover some expenses.

Mayor John Chappie said he was coordinating with county staff in pursuit of potential West Coast Inland Navigational District funding to reimburse the cost of removing and destroying the vessels.

“Maybe we can get some of it back,” Chappie said.

The sunken vessels also dislodged eight floats from the dock’s underside, damaged several rollers and a section of the pier’s composite decking.

Sarasota-based Duncan Seawall estimated repairs to the pier and floating dock would cost around $98,000, according to Cosby.

However, Cosby said the city should wait to consider the repairs until it could determine how much money it could get to cover the damages.

Tropical Storm Eta also:

  • Sank a catamaran in the anchorage south of the pier;
  • Crashed a sailboat into the south side of the Cortez Bridge where it became lodged near the Bradenton Beach Marina;
  • Pushed a sailboat against the public dinghy dock near the Bridge Tender Inn;
  • Destroyed a section of the same city dock;

The city’s police boat and boat lift at the pier survived the storm unscathed.

Renourishment provides beach buffer for Eta, future storms

thumb image
A bulldozer smooths sand Nov. 4 at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach as part of the ongoing $17 million sand replenishment project. The fresh sand pumped from a nearshore borrow pit for renourishment helped prevent flooding and further beach erosion when Tropical Storm Eta gave a glancing blow to AMI Nov. 11 from about 100 miles west of Tampa Bay. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Allen

People have been wondering: Did Tropical Storm Eta suck all the sand off recently renourished beaches?

The storm’s passage through the Gulf of Mexico Nov. 11, about 100 miles from Anna Maria Island, coincided with high tide, creating about a 3-foot tidal surge.

Social media lighted up Nov. 12 with questions about how Eta might have affected the sand replenishment — a $17 million project which started July 8 near 77th Street in Holmes Beach and will soon terminate at Longboat Pass.

The project, which involves pumping sand from borrow areas via a dredge about a quarter-mile offshore to replenish eroded beaches, paused for storms Laura, Sally, Delta, Zeta and Eta.

At a post-storm news conference Nov. 12, Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County parks and natural resources director, said sand was lost to Eta, but that’s part of the plan.

Hunsicker said the project is named the “Anna Maria Island Shore Protection Project” by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a funding source for the project because the purpose of the beach is to buffer the shoreline.

“With energy coming ashore with storms of this magnitude, as the sandy beach washes away, it’s done its job,” Hunsicker said. “Without the beach, we’d be looking at Gulf-facing roads, utilities, water, sewer, electric, and, ultimately, homes that would absorb the brunt of a storm and be washed away.”

He said, with Tropical Storm Eta, rough waves pulled sand from the shoreline to a sandbar about 50-60 yards offshore. However, over the summer, he expects gentle waves to move the sand back to shore. He added that island beaches lose about 10 feet of width every year, and such losses were planned for when the project was engineered.

A survey to determine how much sand was lost during the storm and further work in areas already renourished could be performed with a new contractor in the future if congressional funding becomes available, Hunsicker said.

“So if there is a hurricane relief bill coming to Congress, the Army Corps will make efforts to apply that funding to restore the lost sand that we’ve just suffered in the last three days,” he said.

The renourishment project was planned to be completed Nov. 20 but could be delayed due to the storm.

People can visit mymanatee.org and search for “beach renourishment updates” for more information about the project.

Manatee County issues voluntary evacuation notice for island

thumb image
Staging for the World’s Strongest Man contest at Manatee Public Beach comes down Nov. 11, as the event was relocated from Holmes Beach to the Feld Entertainment Campus. Islander Photos: Lisa Neff
Gray skies and rough surf provide a “selfie” opportunity for a Manatee County employee Nov. 11 at Manatee Public Beach.

From Islander Staff Reports

Manatee County Emergency officials Nov. 11 issued a voluntary evacuation notice for residents of Anna Maria Island and other low-lying, flood-prone areas.

Anna Maria Island, at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, was in the southernmost edge of a tropical storm warning and storm surge warning by the National Weather Service, alerts that triggered local officials to take multiple steps to prepare the community.

Tropical storm winds associated with Eta are most likely to arrive today by 2 p.m. and last into the night.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge was closed to traffic.

Manatee Schools students were shifting to an e-learning schedule for the rest of this week, as two schools were being opened for public shelters of last resort. Manatee High School and Mills Elementary schools were to open by noon at limited capacity.

Public beaches were to be closed Nov. 11-12 as the parking lots of those areas became staging sites for sandbag distribution.

In addition to the two county sandbag sites, island residents could find sandbag options at Holmes Beach City Hall and Anna Maria’s Bayfront Park.

Manatee County public safety director Jacob Saur and emergency management chief Steve Litschauer said the barrier islands were most vulnerable to flooding overnight Nov. 11-12, when rains of between 4-6 inches were forecast to arrive, accompanied by storm surge of 2-5 feet.

“This afternoon conditions will rapidly deteriorate and it’s going to be a rough night,” Saur said at a media briefing earlier Nov. 11.

He continued, “Residents whose homes normally experience storm force winds should make alternate plans. Residents know their area best and they should make plans now. If they’re affected by surge or flooding they need to go to the home of family or friends outside of those areas. They don’t have to leave the county but they need to get outside of those areas that normally flood.”

Litschauer said, “The biggest concern with a public shelter this year is the potential spread of COVID-19. Shelter capacity is diminished so we cannot stress enough that the shelters must be a refuge of last resort.

Find somewhere else to go, if you can.”

County commissioners on Nov. 10 declared a local state of emergency in advance of the storm’s arrival.

Additional information:
• The COVID-19 testing site at the Bradenton Area Convention Center was to close at noon Nov. 11.
• All Manatee County Area Transit operations were to be suspended by 1 p.m. Nov. 11.
• The Island Branch Library in Holmes Beach was to be closed Nov. 12. The library already was closed Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.
• Robinson and Emerson Point preserves were closed Nov. 11-12.
• An Anna Maria commission meeting planned for Nov. 12 was canceled.
• Trash collections are expected to remain on schedule in unincorporated Manatee County.
• The World’s Strongest Man Competition scheduled this week at Manatee Public Beach was to be moved to the Feld Entertainment Campus.

For more information
For severe weather preparation information, go online to www.mymanatee.org/manateeready.
Sign up for emergency alerts sent straight to your phone at mymanatee.org/AlertManatee.
Residents can call Manatee County’s 311 Center to ask questions or receive information.

5 p.m. Nov. 11 update: Thirty county residents sought shelter at Manatee High School, but none arrived at Mills Elementary, so it was closed for emergency shelter purposes.

County emergency officials say there were only a few reports of localized flooding and standing water on roads of Anna Maria Island, but no major damages from Tropical Storm Eta occurred as of 5 p.m.

Tropical storm winds were forecast to continue into the night and most impacts from the storm would pass overnight.

Weather predictions called for 3-5 feet of storm surge, flash flooding and other marine impacts.

Warning issued for Anna Maria Island as Eta advances

thumb image
Wind speed probabilities for Tropical Storm Eta, as of early Nov. 9. Islander Courtesy Image

Islander Staff Reports

Tropical Storm Eta made landfall late Nov. 8 at Lower Matecumbe Key in the Florida Keys with maximum winds estimated to be near 65 mph.

“Eta could approach the Florida Gulf Coast later this week as a tropical storm,” the National Hurricane Center stated in an advisory at 4 a.m. Nov. 9.

The storm could bring “impacts from rain, wind and storm surge” and interests in the region should monitor Eta’s progress, the NHC cautioned in an advisory released as The Islander went to press.

That morning, with the storm about 60 miles south of Naples, there were dark skies over the Gulf but still a few walkers on the shore at the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

On the south side of the county-run beach, large white tents were erected for the World’s Strongest Man competition, still set to begin Nov. 11, despite the weather forecast.

Gusty winds and a drizzle could be felt as Anna Maria Island came under a tropical storm warning.

And, already, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge was closed to traffic due to high winds.

Manatee County emergency management officials had placed their operations center in a partial Level 2 activation level.

County officials, in a news release, said people could expect “some winds and rain on Monday, into Tuesday night.

“After that time Eta is projected to take a turn to the north. Once it does, local officials will have a better idea of the storm’s track and potential local impacts.”

Island officials also were monitoring the storm and encouraging residents to be prepared.

“We are keeping up with the updates and making any decisions as it gets closer,” said Bradenton Beach police Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz.

As of 9 a.m. Nov. 9, Holmes Beach public works was ensuring storm drains were free of debris and securing city trash cans.

Also, a new sandbagger was placed at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive, for people in low-lying areas that might flood.

The building department was reaching out to contractors to make certain job sites were secured and code compliance was confirmed.

Additionally, the police department was watching projections to determine the next steps, per the city’s emergency operations plan, according to Mayor Judy Titsworth.

The city of Anna Maria did not respond by press time to The Islander’s inquiries.

People can text ManateeReady to 888-777 for the latest messages regarding any storm, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, the county’s 311 call center is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. during the week.

Rash retains seat, Christenson elected in Holmes Beach

thumb image
Holmes Beach Commissioner Pat Morton, left, rides shotgun Nov. 3 with Commissioner Kim Rash in Rash’s LSV to St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach — the city’s polling location. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Allen
Former Holmes Beach Commissioner Rick Hurst campaigns Nov. 3 as people arrive at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, to cast ballots. Hurst lost his bid for election and plans to run in 2021. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Allen
Holmes Beach Commissioner-elect Jayne Christenson poses Nov. 3 with her husband Joe at a victory celebration at a friend’s home. Christenson was the second-highest vote-getter, with 874 votes. Islander Courtesy Photo

It got heated in Holmes Beach.

Both incumbents, a former commissioner and a challenger competed for two seats on the dais.

After early votes, mail-in ballots and Election Day votes were tallied Nov. 3, incumbent Kim Rash was reelected and Jayne Christenson was voted in.

Pat Morton, who served 17 years on the city commission, was not reelected. Rick Hurst lost his second bid for election since serving as a commissioner 2017-19.

For the two seats on the commission, 991 voted to reelect Rash, 874 voted for Christenson, 856 voted for Hurst and 728 voted to reelect Morton.

“I am so excited for this opportunity to work and represent the people and the city I love,” Christenson said of her win in the nonpartisan race. “It is my goal to protect our community. Holmes Beach has a bright future and I am glad to be a part of it.”

Rash, who received the most votes, said he was happy with the outcome.

“I’m looking forward to helping the people of Holmes Beach for another two years,” he said. “I am going to continue to take care of the residents and be a voice for them.”

Rash was first elected in 2018.

“They must be happy with the work I have done over the past two years,” he said of the electorate. “I let my record speak for myself this time around.”

Hurst said he’d hoped to return to the dais, but defeat would not stop his intentions to improve the city.

As an offshoot of his campaign, Hurst created a Facebook page, “Citizens for a stronger Holmes Beach,” that will continue to promote Hurst’s platform.

“There is a large contingent of citizens that are not being heard and there are multiple reasons why,” he said.

Hurst lost to Christenson by 12 votes. However, Christenson received 502 votes by mail and Hurst only got 400 mail-in votes.

“It looks like my failure was associated with the mail-in ballots,” he said. “I consider this halftime, will continue to promote my plan and will be back at it again next year.”

Morton said he had been unsure whether he would run again, but people encouraged him to give it another go.

“So I went with it. I put my heart and soul into it every time I run,” Morton said. “I never had an agenda. I just did my job. And now I hope the city does not fall to the hands of people with their own agendas in mind, instead of what is best for the city.”

The official certification of the election by the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office was not completed as of press time for The Islander.

Of 2,823 registered voters in Holmes Beach, 756 cast ballots on Election Day in precincts No. 303 and No. 305 at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, and 1,185 voted by mail while 420 of the electorate voted early.

The turnout percentage was 85% at precinct No. 303 and 82.5% at precinct No. 305.

The swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected officials will be set after the election results are certified.


Site of double homicide set for demolition

thumb image
Owners of the triplex at 2514 Ave. C, Bradenton Beach, plan to demolish the residence, where two people died in October. A permit box for such construction was posted at the property the week ending Nov. 8. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

The Bradenton Beach triplex where two people were found dead may be gone before the police investigation concludes.

The bodies of Sabrina Dumdei, 37, and Zachary Winton, 34, were discovered Oct. 17 in a rental unit the two shared at 2514 Ave. C.

The police investigation continues.

Bradenton Beach Police Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz called the case a “probable murder-suicide” after reviewing the scene where the couple died.

Dumdei and Winton had been involved in multiple domestic incidents in the previous few months.

However, Diaz hasn’t provided any additional insight into the incident since attending the Oct. 19 autopsies conducted by the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office.

He told The Islander Nov. 4 that he was “uncertain” when he would be able to discuss the investigation.

Since the investigation remains open, several items have yet to make the public record, including a 911 call from Dumdei’s mother, Mary, and an Oct. 16 voicemail Winton left his sister, Wendy.

Friends and family of the pair have not responded to The Islander’s inquiries.

In the meantime, the triplex — where blood remained visible on a broken chair and sliding glass doors as of Nov. 7 — was set for demolition.

The property sold Oct. 15 for $819,000 to AMI Partners II LLC.

On Oct. 29, the new ownership paid $11,450 for a demolition permit, according to the Manatee County Property Appraiser Office’s website.

The permit lists residential “alteration or extension” as a purpose for the construction.

Bradenton-based Forristall Enterprises will carry out the demolition.

GoFundMe for the Dumdei family

Sabrina Dumdei’s sister, Crystal, started a GoFundMe fundraiser — “Sabrina Dumdei” — to help the family raise funds for funeral costs and other expenses.

As of Nov. 7, the fundraiser had $13,873 of its $30,000 goal from 126 donors and the GoFundMe page had 1,000 shares.

— Ryan Paice

2 ballot initiatives pass, cancel out in Bradenton Beach

thumb image
A poll worker sits outside the Bradenton Beach Fire Hall Nov. 3 to greet and oversee voters. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

Bradenton Beach voters passed a pair of ballot initiatives in the Nov. 3 election.

But voters won’t see either initiative — conflicting amendments to the city charter — become reality.

The first charter amendment, to prohibit multilevel parking garages within city limits, was posed by the Keep Our Residential Neighborhoods political action committee in 2018. Its appearance on the ballot resulted from a legal battle between the PAC and the city.

KORN’s ballot initiative passed 414-161.

A second charter amendment to allow a single-story parking garage within city limits passed 382-186. The initiative was proposed by the city as an alternative to KORN’s amendment.

City attorney Ricinda Perry has said that if both ballot initiatives pass, they would cancel each other out.

Regardless, parking garages are prohibited by the city’s land development code and comprehensive plan. They are not addressed in the city charter, which only can be amended with the electorate’s majority vote.

KORN had sought to implement the change in the charter so it could not be altered by a city commission vote.

Out of 756 eligible voters in Bradenton Beach, 604 people cast ballots in the general election, including 301 mail-in ballots, 100 early votes and 203 Election Day votes.


Incumbents retain seats

Two incumbent city commissioners will spend some more time on the dais.

Commissioners Ralph Cole and Marilyn Maro secured new two-year terms in the Nov. 3 election after they qualified without opposition.

Cole first became commissioner in 2015. He lost a reelection bid in 2017 but was appointed by the commission to complete the remainder of a term after John Chappie was elected mayor.

Maro will serve her third and final consecutive term due to term limits. She became commissioner when she won a card draw over Anne Leister in 2016.

Bradenton Beach is the only city on the island with term limits.

Commissioners earn $4,800 per year in the city.



Certification date for election Nov. 14-15

Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett told The Islander Nov. 4 that official election results would be certified Nov. 14-Nov. 15.

Bennett said there were about 400 provisional ballots to be counted, 150 ballots that needed additional verification and 50 ballots to come in from members of the military as of Nov. 4.

He said SOE staff was to verify uncounted provisional ballots by Nov. 5.

Despite tensions surrounding the election, Bennett said there were no issues at poll sites in the county on Election Day.

“It went extremely smooth. I’m really proud of the people in Manatee County,” Bennett said. “And I’m happy we don’t have any statewide recounts.”

— Ryan Paice

BBPD reveals new details in double homicide

thumb image
A photograph of Sabrina Dumdei by photographer/friend Kim Skardoutos was shared online

The Bradenton Beach Police Department’s investigation into the deaths of two residents is awaiting autopsy results.

Questions linger as to how and when the couple died, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new details to report.

The investigation began Oct. 17 when the bodies of Sabrina Dumdei, 37, and Zachary Winton, 34, were discovered in a rental unit they shared at 2514 Ave. C after a series of recent domestic incidents between the pair.

Lead investigator for the BBPD, Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz, called the crime scene “gruesome,” and a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report of dispatched calls contains a macabre picture.

The report states that the 911-caller, Dumdei’s mother, said she had “not heard from her daughter and found her dead in the apartment.” She also commented on the severity of the wounds and on seeing “blood everywhere.”

BBPD Chief Sam Speciale previously told The Islander that Sabrina Dumdei’s father, Keith, had discovered the bodies and called 911.

The report also states the MCSO contacted Zachary Winton’s sister, Wendy, who said her brother contacted her the night before the bodies were discovered.

She said Winton left her a “partial” voicemail at 9 p.m. Oct. 16. The audio for the voicemail and 911 call were not part of the public record as of Oct. 30, as the investigation remained open.

Since it was unclear when the deaths occurred, the voicemail at least narrows the timeline based on when the bodies were found around 2:30 p.m. the next day.

Dumdei’s obituary notice, provided Oct. 30 by Griffith-Cline Funeral and Cremation Services of Bradenton, lists Oct. 17 as the date of her death.

Diaz had called the incident a “probable murder-suicide,” but had not disclosed any new details since attending the Oct. 19 autopsies conducted by the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office.

Autopsy results and toxicology reports had yet to be disclosed as of Oct. 30.

In the meantime, the front windshield of Winton’s 1997 BMW was found “smashed” outside the property within a week of the incident, according to an Oct. 28 BBPD report.

The report states that the vehicle was intact Oct. 17 but, when a BBPD officer escorted a Winton family friend into the residence Oct. 23 to recover personal items, they noticed the damage.

The vehicle also was found to be inoperable and Winton’s sister, Wendy, reported additional damage to the vehicle’s engine and gas tank.

“Unknown person did willfully and maliciously damage by smashing the windshield of the deceased personal property,” the report states.


Domestic violence

While authorities have not explained or provided many details about what happened in the household in the hours prior to the deaths, police had dealt with three domestic violence incidents in recent months.

The first documented incident of domestic violence between the pair occurred July 19 and resulted in Dumdei’s arrest on misdemeanor battery.

The second incident took place Aug. 10 and ended with Winton’s arrest for misdemeanor domestic battery.

The pair dropped charges against each other following each instance. Neither remained in police custody for long.

The third incident Aug. 31 culminated in Winton’s arrest on four felony charges for aggravated assault of his partner with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, battery, false imprisonment and tampering with a witness.

Winton denied the allegations and was released from jail Sept. 1 after posting a $16,000 bail, and the case remained open until his body was discovered.

The Dumdei-Winton case isn’t the first high profile instance of domestic violence on Anna Maria Island.

In 2008 — 12 years ago this week — prison parolee William J. Cumber III murdered then-girlfriend and Anna Maria resident Sabine Musil-Buehler and buried her body on the beach. Cumber didn’t confess to the crime until 2015, when he was facing imminent trial for her murder.

In 1998, Jane Guy, the wife of David Guy, co-owners of the Sunset Beach Motel in Bradenton Beach, was charged with attempted murder against her husband after police found her standing over him with a butcher knife in her hand and Guy, bleeding profusely from a stab wound in his back. Jane Guy was held without bond, while David Guy was admitted to Blake Medical Center in serious condition.


GoFundMe for the Dumdei family

Sabrina Dumdei’s sister, Crystal, started a GoFundMe fundraiser — “Sabrina Dumdei” — to raise funds for funeral costs and other expenses.

“We are starting this gofundme to help her family in this time of need with funeral costs and all other expenses. Sabrina was a kind, beautiful, funny, loving, caring, smart woman with a heart of gold. This is an extremely difficult time for her loved ones, and every little thing helps. Thank you for all of your support and love, God bless,” the fundraiser states.

Dumdei’s funeral was to be held Nov. 2, after The Islander’s press deadline.

As of Oct. 31, the fundraiser had $12,568 of its $30,000 goal from 119 donors and the GoFundMe page had 757 shares.


How to find help

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says more than 10 million people are physically abused by an intimate partner every year in the United States.

One in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

Domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime in the country and, of all murder-suicides, 72% involve an intimate partner, according to NCADV.

People can support the NCADV’s efforts to promote legislation and policies to protect victims of domestic violence by donating online at www.ncadv.org.

People also can support efforts to protect and counsel domestic violence victims by donating to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org.

HOPE Family Services, a Bradenton-based nonprofit organization, provides a support hotline, 941-755-6805, an emergency shelter and counseling for domestic violence survivors.

People can visit the office at 1201 Eighth Ave. W., Bradenton, or donate online at www.hopefamilyservice.org.