Bobby Bowden's grandson, Taylor Bowden, and driver killed in Polk Co. crash

10:37 PM, Dec 26, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Bobby Bowden's grandson killed in Polk County crash

Video: Announcement Bowden's grandson killed in Polk Co. crash

  • The wreckage of a car, after it crashed and flipped upside down into a body of water.



Winter Haven, Florida -- Emergency crews responding to a fatal car crash in submerged water thought everyone was inside was dead, but hours later they made a discovery -- a third passenger was still alive in the back seat.

Polk County deputies continue to investigate the cause of the crash off a Winter Haven road that claimed the life of two people, one of whom was former FSU head coach Bobby Bowden's grandson Taylor "T.J." Bowden. 

UPDATE: Man survives 8+ hours in submerged car

Authorities say a little before 8 a.m. Thursday, a Florida Refuse Truck spotted an upside down car submerged in the water in what's described as a creek or a ditch off Country Club Road South. It appeared the car broke through a wood fence where the car entered an embankment into the water that was about 5 feet deep. 

Polk County dive team members say murky water conditions made it near impossible to see inside, and when they pounded on the side of the car, no one responded.

It wasn't until around 11:45 a.m. when they started removing the driver's body, later identified as 25-year-old Rafael Fernandes De Aguiar Valim, when they first heard moaning coming from the back seat. That's where they found passenger, 22-year-old Robert Edwards, of Boca Raton, in a small air pocket with water up to his chin.

He was taken to Winter Haven Hospital where he is being treated for hypothermia and other injuries. He was released earlier Thursday afternoon.

At this point, investigators are eager to speak to Edwards to find out when and how the crash happened. However, based on interviews with the victims' friends and family -- and phone calls they received from the victims Wednesday evening -- it appears the young men were at Indigo's bar on US 17 in Winter Haven and that the crash occurred around 2 a.m. while on their way to a friend's house in the area.

Authorities say alcohol appears to be a factor in the crash.

After learning of T.J.'s death, the Bowden family released the following statements:

"My entire family and I are mourning the loss of our son, Taylor "T.J." Bowden, who was killed in a tragic car accident early this morning. I can't express the grief I feel right now. Please keep us in your prayers." - Jeff Bowden

"Ann and I received the sad news early this afternoon that our grandson, Taylor "T.J." Bowden, the youngest son of our son Jeffery, was killed this morning when the vehicle he was riding in with two friends overturned in a pond. The driver was also killed, but miraculously, after several hours in the water, the passenger in the backseat survived and was rescued. Our whole family had just celebrated Christmas together in Panama City, as well as celebrated T.J.'s graduation from Florida State just three weeks ago. We will cherish those last memories together with T.J. forever." - Bobby Bowden

"We are thankful to everyone who has already sent their love, support and prayers during this time of great loss and sadness for our family. Taylor, "T.J.", will forever be in our hearts." - Terry Bowden and Family

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