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Michael Graziano, younger brother of John Graziano, dies of injuries from crash

LARGO — Five years ago, Debra Graziano's son was injured in a car crash that grabbed worldwide headlines because the driver of the car was the son of wrestler Hulk Hogan.

Since then, she has cared for John Graziano daily as he recovers from severe brain damage. She holds his hand. She talks to him.

Eleven days ago, Debra Graziano's younger son, Michael, was critically hurt in an eerily similar crash. From the hospital, she asked the community to pray for his life.

But on Friday afternoon, she learned she will not get to soothe and hold her second son as she has her first.

Michael Graziano, 23, was pronounced dead at 1:45 p.m. at Bayfront Medical Center.

"It's a devastating tragedy for a family that has already suffered more than their share of tragedy," said George Tragos, an attorney for the Graziano family.

Michael Graziano was critically injured April 3 when he was the passenger in a Volvo that crashed into the back of a dump truck at 3 a.m. at Ulmerton Road and 66th Street, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. He and the Volvo's driver, Cameron Richard Bosley, 24, were rushed to the hospital after the high-speed wreck. Bosley's condition later improved.

Neither man was wearing a seat belt, troopers said.

Bosley has a criminal record that includes arrests on charges of reckless driving and fleeing and eluding police, records show.

No charges have been filed, but FHP traffic homicide troopers are investigating and are awaiting toxicology results.

"Everything at this point is pending," said an FHP spokesman, Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

Five years earlier, Michael Graziano had taken a semester off from his studies at St. Petersburg College to help his mother care for John.

An Iraq War veteran, John Graziano was riding in a car with Nick Bollea, son of wrestling star Hulk Hogan, when it jumped a curb and plowed into a palm tree. John Graziano was not wearing a seat belt.

Bollea was seen racing against a Dodge Viper moments before the crash. He later spent five months in jail for reckless driving.

John was left in a minimally conscious state. He spent two years receiving treatment at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa before he was released to his family in 2009.

"It didn't really sink in yet," Michael Graziano said upon his brother's homecoming. "It may take a while to realize every day when I wake up he's there."

Michael watched the slow recovery process as his brother received outpatient therapy several times a week.

He spoke of his hope for his brother's continued recovery, but said he missed "doing everything that brothers do."

The Graziano brothers have an older sister, Christin Carson of Texas, who spent months in Florida to support the family after John's injury.

The Graziano family settled a lawsuit against the Bolleas for an undisclosed sum, though experts have estimated the potential value of the settlement as between $25 million and $50 million.

The family received another jolt in 2009 when the brothers' father, Ed Graziano, was charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill Debra.

Ed Graziano was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year.

Largo lawyer John Trevena, who represented Ed Graziano, said his client called him from prison Friday distraught about his son's death.

Trevena said Ed Graziano wants to attend his son's funeral, though it was unclear if that will happen.

Times staff writers Mike Brassfield, Curtis Krueger, Kameel Stanley and Lorri Helfand contributed to this report. Dan Sullivan can be reached at (727) 893-8321 or dsullivan@tampabay.com

Michael Graziano, younger brother of John Graziano, dies of injuries from crash 04/13/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 13, 2012 11:31pm]
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