Bobby Bowden's Grandson Killed in Central Florida Crash: Authorities

Former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden's grandson was one of two men killed when their car flipped into a small ditch off a central Florida road Thursday, authorities said.

Taylor Jeffrey Bowden, 23, and Rafael Fernandes de Aguiar Valim, 25, who had been driving, both died in the overnight crash on Country Club Road in Winter Haven, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Sheriff's office spokeswoman Carrie Eleazer confirmed Bowden's relation to the famous football coach.

The sole survivor of the crash — Robert Lewis Edwards, 22 — was rescued after spending hours in the water. When he came out he was very cold and had hypothermia, Eleazer said.

"He just wasn't coherent enough to tell us what happened," she said.

At first Edwards said there was only one other person in the car, which was a Mitsubishi, but after he was taken to the hospital and got warmer he said there were actually two other people in the car, Eleazer said.

"So perhaps tomorrow he'll be able to shed more light on it," she said of Edwards and the crash.

Bowden was the front seat passenger, and Edwards was in the back seat, the sheriff's office said.

The details of the crash were being investigated, but alcohol appears to be a factor, the sheriff's office reported.

It appears that the victims were at Indigo's bar on U.S. 17 in Winter Haven Wednesday evening, with the crash happening at about 2 a.m. as they were heading to a friend's house in the area, the sheriff's office said. The Mitsubishi was registered to de Aguiar Valim, according to the sheriff's office.

Autopsies will be done Friday so authorities can determine the cause of death for Bowden and de Aguiar Valim and the approximate times they died, Eleazer said.

He is the second grandson that Bobby Bowden has lost in a car crash. Bowden Madden, 15, and Bobby Bowden's former son-in-law, John Allen Madden, were killed in September 2004, when their car was hit a by a utility truck that was helping to restore power outages caused by Hurricane Frances.

Thursday's crash was not discovered for hours, Eleazer said.

“We think the crash happened maybe around 2 a.m., and no one witnessed it or heard it," she said.

A trash collector reported the submerged car at 7:47 a.m. The Mitsubishi wasn't very visible from the road, but the Florida Refuse truck was high enough to allow the worker to see it.

At first, Winter Haven Police, sheriff's deputies, paramedics and the sheriff's office dive team who responded couldn't find survivors. The front end of the care was completely submerged, while part of the back end was sticking up out of the water.

More than three hours later, dive team members in the water heard noises coming from in the car. They were able to communicate with Edwards, who said he was cold and needed help. After several minutes, Edwards was out of the water and he was being treated for hypothermia and other injuries at a hospital.

The dive team then located the bodies of Bowden and de Aguiar Valim.

Deputies have attempted to talk to Edwards about what happened but said he wasn't lucid. It appears that the car was heading north on Country Club Road when it cross the southbound lane, crashed through a fence, went down an embankment and came to a rest upside down in the water.

Bobby Bowden led the Seminoles from 1976 to 2009 when he retired. The 84-year-old holds the NCAA record for most career wins and bowl wins by a Division I coach and won two national championships.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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