Sea of sorrow: Family, friends say goodbye to man lost at sea

Family and friends say goodbye to Bradenton man lost at sea


Friends and family members shared memories, tears and hugs Wednesday night as about 250 people gathered to say goodbye to a 20-year-old man lost at sea last week. Michael Taylor, of Bradenton, slipped from the bow of a 43-foot commercial stone crab boat – the Cindy Lee – belonging to a friend just before 7:30 p.m. June 10 about 10 miles west of Longboat Key. Coast Guard officers and other agencies scoured the area for more than a day before calling off the search. Taylor was never recovered.

"He was just a one-of-a-kind kid," said Anthony Taylor, 21, who was with his brother on the boat. "He always had a smile on his face." Christian Chamberlain, 19, Taylor’s cousin who was also with him that day, said, "Michael will be missed by everyone. He’ll always be with us. When he saw someone, he could always cheer them up with a smile. He was a great person, always." Taylor, his brothers and other family members have a long-standing fishing tradition. Friends said Taylor was always on the water and some dubbed him a son of Cortez, the small commercial fishing village near the island. Many of Taylor’s friends wore T-shirts with his name printed on them, as well as board shorts and flip flops in his honor.

About a dozen friends and family members took turns standing on top of a picnic table beneath a shaded pavilion on the bay side of Longboat Key recalling memories of Taylor. Rena Hunkeler, of Bradenton, who knew Taylor for 12 years, wiped back tears as she waited for the service to begin. "He made the most of his life. He was just a free spirit," she said, noting most people were still in shock about Taylor’s accident. She said she was one of several people who initially took their boat out to sea when Taylor never resurfaced. "We were out until 1 a.m. that night," she said.

"He’ll be missed." Steven Orlando, who owns the Cindy Lee, choked back tears as he read a poem and then recalled memories of Taylor. "I just want everyone to think about the good times with him," he said. The service ended with friends and family members casting out flowers into the bay. Both Orlando and Anthony Taylor were listed as operators on the boat, said Gary Morse, spokesman for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is conducting the investigation into the incident. "There’s a lot of confusion when these incidents happen. Often we have to sort out who was operating the vessel," Morse said. A blood draw was taken on the operator. It’s unclear if alcohol was a factor in the incident.

The investigation is expected to take an estimated six to eight weeks.

Read more: r6xMVUYH

Published in: on June 17, 2010 at 8:06 am  Leave a Comment  

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