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IRE OVER BOLLEAS' VISIT

The Grazianos call the hospital trip to see their son a PR stunt.

Linda, Brooke and Nick Bollea are no longer welcome at the hospital bedside of John Graziano.

That's because the trio went to the hospital on Valentine's Day with gifts, and images of their arrival showed up on celebrity news Web sites, the Graziano family's attorneys said Wednesday.

"We believe that it was a total (public relations) stunt," said attorney Kimberley Kohn.

Nonsense, says an attorney for Nick Bollea.

"The Bollea family has been visiting John for the last seven or eight months, and there's been no PR about it whatsoever," said Tampa attorney Morris "Sandy" Weinberg Jr. "It's a bunch of nonsense to suggest their visits to John are a PR stunt. That's crazy."

Terry Bollea, also known as Hulk Hogan, was not part of that visit and still visits Graziano about every five weeks.

Graziano, 23, remains in critical condition at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center, where Graziano's parents and attorneys appeared briefly Wednesday afternoon to address journalists. His parents did not comment.

Graziano was injured Aug. 26 when he was a passenger in a Toyota Supra driven by Nick Bollea, 17. The Supra went out of control on a street near downtown Clearwater, spun and crashed into a palm tree with its back end. Witnesses say Bollea and another driver were racing, and Bollea faces a felony charge of reckless driving with serious bodily injury.

Graziano family attorneys spoke to reporters Wednesday after Clearwater police released hundreds of photos taken by police that night, both at the crash and the hospital where Bollea and Graziano were taken. The photos were released in response to public records requests from journalists.

Many of the photos show the degree to which Bollea's car was mangled by its impact with the tree. Others, too graphic to print, show Graziano, his head bleeding and on a breathing tube, lying under a sheet. In one, a dressing is lifted to show a large gash in his forehead.

The family's attorneys said they looked into whether releasing photos of Graziano would have violated medical privacy laws, but concluded that it did not because they were taken as part of the police investigation.

John Graziano has not regained consciousness but is making some progress, attorneys for his family said. They said the family hopes to move Graziano, who served in the Marine Corps, onto a floor with more rehabilitative services at the VA hospital soon.

"We all have hope and prayers that he will regain consciousness," Kohn said. "We're talking about years of rehab before we know where John is going to be."

Whether a lawsuit will be filed in the wreck is a question of when, not if, the family's attorneys said. The family faces "astronomical" costs to care for Graziano in the future, attorneys said.

"We've tried very hard to avoid a circus atmosphere, which is very hard in this case," attorney George Tragos said.

Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at tel-khoury@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4181.

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