Alafia boat crash cut short a life of fishing, family, big plans

Brent Davis, 41, died in a boating accident Monday on the Alafia River. He is pictured here in a 2015 posting on his Facebook page. [Facebook]
Brent Davis, 41, died in a boating accident Monday on the Alafia River. He is pictured here in a 2015 posting on his Facebook page. [Facebook]
Published June 13 2018
Updated June 14 2018

TAMPA ó Before Brent Davis died on the water, he lived on the water.

An avid fisherman, Davis and his fiance were stalking bass and catfish every time their days off from work matched up, taking their catch home to cook together.

He died in a boat crash early Monday while fishing with two others, and now his fiance, Tamaka Torres, is asking the public for help finding answers.

Davis, 41, left behind two children, and he had plans to get married. The day before he died he was looking at homes with his fiance, she said. The couple was anticipating Christmas parties and Thanksgivings together.

She said he called her "sugar bear" and she called him "Yogi bear." She said they were each otherís rock.

"He means the world to me in a way that words canít even describe," she said.

BACKGROUND: Authorities identify man who died in Alafia River boat crash

They usually would fish around the Lithia area, sometimes from 7 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The couple had made a recipe book together and would send new recipes to each other.

Davis was a supervisor at James Hardie, a building products company, where he worked for 20 years, Torres said, and he loved his job, the crew and the company. A plant manager for James Hardie declined to comment, citing employeesí continued distress about the death.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the crash. Davis had been on the water with Steven Cannon of Plant City and Cannonís 12-year-old son when the 16-foot-boat collided with the U.S. 41 bridge that stretches over the Alafia River near Gibsonton. The boy and his father were out of the hospital by the end of the day, but divers found Davisís body eight hours after the crash.

Officials found the boat run nearby, run aground alongside a boat ramp. FWC spokeswoman Melody Kilborn said the agency is still determining who was driving the boat and investigating the circumstances of the crash. She said the boat was moving west toward Hillsborough Bay when it crashed into the bridge.

Kilborn said that anyone who witnessed the accident or has information about it is encouraged to report it to the agency.

Torres said she and the family are looking for information about the circumstances of the crash, specifically whether anyone on the river has video cameras that may have caught footage of the boat leading up to the accident.

"We are asking for help since we donít have the resources and seem to be getting little information about the investigation," she said Tuesday.

Steve Davis, Brentís brother, said that Hopewell Funeral Home in Plant City is handling arrangements. An obituary posted there says he loved playing board games and watching SpongeBob and movies with his children, Zachary Davis and Marissa Davis. His fiance said that he loved his kids deeply.

He was survived by his children and their mother, Autumn Davis, his four siblings, his parents and his dog, Dude. The funeral service is planned for June 15, according to the obituary.

Sunday, Torres kissed Davis three times before leaving for work, and when she got to her job around 5 p.m. she called Davis to ask if he was going fishing. He said yes. She told him that she loved him, and he said, "I love you too, sugar bear," Torres recalled.

Now, she keeps calling his phone to hear his voice in the mailbox greeting.

"The world lost an amazing person," she said.

Bre Bradham can be reached at [email protected] and (803) 460-9001.