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Man pulled unconscious from Hillsborough Bay after car crashes through Bayshore Boulevard balustrade

TAMPA — Rescue workers pulled a driver from Hillsborough Bay on Friday night after his car crashed through the Bayshore Boulevard balustrade.

The unidentified man, believed to be in his 30s, was not breathing when he was removed from the water by members of a police dive team. Rescue personnel managed to revive his pulse on route to Tampa General Hospital, though his condition was not available. Tampa Fire Rescue said late Friday that the man was still not breathing on his own.

Witnesses said the car driven by the man was heading south on South Boulevard just before 8 p.m. when it careered across Bayshore Boulevard. It crashed through the median and balustrade and into the bay.

The Bayshore sidewalk along the water was still busy with people exercising at the time.

"We were really lucky," said Silva Celio, 26, a University of South Florida student who was walking with a friend. "It was right behind us."

Several balusters were knocked into the bay, as was the top of the popular sidewalk's concrete railing, leaving a 10-foot hole.

At least three people dived into the water to try unsuccessfully to rescue the driver, said another witness, Tara Mathena, 27, of Tampa. The sedan was fully submerged in the saltwater.

Mathena was walking a dog she was watching for a friend when she saw the car come "barreling down" the boulevard before crashing.

Kerrianne Fernandez, 20, a Duke University student who lives near the crash scene, went outside to see what was happening after hearing emergency vehicles. Some of her neighbors said they did not hear the sounds of brakes screeching before the crash.

A Tampa Police Department dive team arrived about five minutes after the accident and pulled the man from the car about 8:15 p.m., said Tampa Fire Rescue spokeswoman Debra Sue Warshefski.

"They were pumping his chest and seawater was coming out of his mouth," Fernandez said.

No one else was in the vehicle at the time of the crash. No pedestrians were injured.

Just before 11 p.m., police divers helped a towing company haul the early 2000s silver Toyota Camry out of the bay. The front end of the car was pushed back to the wheel wells and the windshield was smashed. Onlookers watched in amazement as the car was hoisted in the air and wondered aloud how someone could have survived.

Man pulled unconscious from Hillsborough Bay after car crashes through Bayshore Boulevard balustrade 05/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 1:15am]
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