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Man rescued and hospitalized after driving SUV into Palm River in Tampa

A car is lifted out of the Palm River on Sunday in Tampa. Authorities say Kumura Bell, 32, of Tampa drove into the river near the Maydell Drive bridge. The bridge was then closed to traffic.

TYLER TJOMSLAND | Times

A car is lifted out of the Palm River on Sunday in Tampa. Authorities say Kumura Bell, 32, of Tampa drove into the river near the Maydell Drive bridge. The bridge was then closed to traffic.

TAMPA — The boaters saw a big splash, and then a man surfaced and bobbed in the water.

Near the Maydell Drive bridge, they tried to help the man in the Palm River. They threw a rope and a life vest to him, said 51-year-old Molly Dwyer of Tampa.

"He wouldn't come into the boat," said Dwyer, who was on a boat with friends for lunch.

Authorities soon rescued the man, identified as 32-year-old Kumura Bell of Tampa, who they later said drove into the water in a suicide attempt.

Bell was taken to Tampa General Hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, police said. He was being held Sunday under the state's Baker Act.

Bell was driving a dark sport-utility vehicle south on Maydell Drive near Adamo Drive when the vehicle veered off the road and went into the water around 2 p.m. Sunday, police said.

Dwyer said her friends tried to pull Bell into the boat, but he resisted. He cooperated with some of their rescue efforts for a little while before letting go of the flotation devices or ropes they threw to him.

After Bell was rescued, police divers and helicopters searched the water and located the submerged vehicle.

Police said Bell initially told them his wife was in the vehicle, but they found no one else and located his wife alive.

The bridge was closed to traffic as police brought the SUV to shore.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at swang@tampabay.com or (813) 661-2443.

Man rescued and hospitalized after driving SUV into Palm River in Tampa 11/20/11 [Last modified: Sunday, November 20, 2011 10:51pm]
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