The grandson of former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden and the son of Jeff Bowden, an Akron assistant, was killed in a car crash after the car was found Thursday morning.
Taylor Jeffery Bowden, 23, was in the car along with two other men. Per the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the driver, Rafael Fernandes De Aguiar Valim, 25, was also killed. Robert Lewis Edwards, 22, was rescued after being trapped in the car, which was partially submerged in the water.
A trash collector reported the submerged car at 7:47 a.m. The Mitsubishi wasn't very visible from the road, but the Florida Refuse truck was high enough to allow the worker to see it.
At first, Winter Haven police, sheriff's deputies, paramedics and the sheriff's office dive team who responded couldn't find survivors. The front end of the care was completely submerged, while part of the back end was sticking up out of the water.
More than three hours later, dive team members in the water heard noises coming from in the car. They were able to communicate with Edwards, who said he was cold and needed help. After several minutes, Edwards was out of the water and he was being treated for hypothermia and other injuries at a hospital.
Following Edwards' rescue, the dive team found the bodies of Bowden and De Aguiar Valim. The sheriff's office believes alcohol could be a factor in the crash.
"Our whole family had just celebrated Christmas together in Panama City, as well as celebrated T.J.'s graduation from Florida State just three weeks ago," Bobby Bowden said in a statement from Akron. "We will cherish those last memories together with T.J. forever."
Terry Bowden is the head coach at Akron. Bobby Bowden coached at FSU from 1976-2009 and has 377 wins, the most (officially) of any coach in Division I. The Seminoles play Auburn Jan 6. in the BCS Championship Game.
"I can't express the grief I feel right now," Jeff Bowden said in a statement. "Please keep us in your prayers."
On Monday, Akron assistant head coach Alan Arrington was killed in a car crash. The 44-year-old was in his second season at Akron.
In 2004, Bobby Bowden's 15-year-old grandson, Bowden Madden and a former son-in-law were killed when their car was hit by a utility truck helping with Hurricane Frances repairs.
- - - - - - -
- Sports & Recreation
- Jeff Bowden
- Bobby Bowden
- Terry Bowden