Bradenton community rallying around fisherman who police say was intentionally hit by car; driver charged with attempted murder

Cortez Rallies Around Victim

BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - A well-known Bradenton fisherman remains in the hospital after being ran down and dragged more than 200 feet underneath a truck last Monday.

Investigators say the incident stemmed from a verbal altercation. The sheriff’s office says around 8pm on Monday, Fred Gilliland went to a friend’s home on 101st Street West in Bradenton to pick up some furniture when he got into a verbal argument with 56-year-old David Nichols.

Gilliland left on foot and that’s when deputies say Nichols ran him over with a car, dragging the victim underneath the vehicle for around a block. Deputies say Nichols fled and a nearby resident heard Gilliland yelling for help in the roadway and called 911.

Gilliland is doing better, but he remains at Blake Medical Center. He woke up on Friday and was a little responsive. But his love of fishing is at stake because he lost one arm and could possibly lose the other.

His friends in the Cortez Fishing Community are like his family and told ABC7 they are just extremely happy he’s alive and recovering.

“All of Cortez will be there for Freddie,” Ralph Weingartner, a friend of Gilliland said. “He’s helped me many of time."

Gilliland is a grouper fisherman, friend and staple in the Cortez Village Fishing community.

“He’s loved in the community and the overwhelming support they’re seeing in the hospital,” John Banyas, owner of Cortez Bait and Seafood said.

The community is now rallying around Gilliland while he remains in the hospital and they’re raising $10,000 to help cover the medical expenses. So far, a little over $4,000 has been raised.

“He’s just a very giving, true friend," Weingartner said. “They’re hard to find and he’s one of those people.”

Deputies say they found the suspected vehicle used in the crime in a nearby mobile home park and took Nichols into custody a short time later at 113th Street West and Cortez Road. He is charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery involving a motor vehicle.

At the time of the incident, Nichols was out of jail on bond for charges of possession of controlled substance. He’s expected to be arraigned on December 13th.

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