Bicyclist dies after trying to spare girl
A 76-year-old man who loved children tries to avoid hitting one on the Pinellas Trail, leading to his own injury.
By ANNE LINDBERG
Published February 23, 2005
SEMINOLE - Thomas Bragg loved birds, children and bicycling. He died last week from a bicycle accident caused when he tried to avoid injuring a little girl.
Mr. Bragg, 76, was headed home on his red Huffy bike about 4:30 p.m. on Valentine's Day when the accident happened.
He was riding downhill on the Pinellas Trail overpass across Park Boulevard when he saw three 7-year-old girls on roller skates, Pinellas County sheriff's spokesman Mac McMullen said.
Mr. Bragg slowed to avoid hitting one of them and his brakes locked, propelling him over the handlebars and onto the ground, McMullen said.
The child was unharmed. Mr. Bragg's helmet was damaged in the fall and he sustained blunt force trauma to the head.
He was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where family members were told that Mr. Bragg had irreparable brain damage, said his son, Doug Bragg of Bushnell.
"They declared him brain dead," Doug Bragg said.
The family decided to turn off life support. Mr. Bragg died Feb. 15.
"We knew he was not that kind of guy. He didn't want to live like that or remain like that," his son said. "He went very peacefully, almost serenely. . . . He went doing something he liked to do."
Mr. Bragg's death was the latest tragedy for the family. His eldest son, Thomas, died of cancer.
"It's not been a good decade for us," Doug Bragg said.
Mr. Bragg's funeral was Monday. Afterward, family and friends gathered at his Seminole home to celebrate his life.
"There are stories and lies and all kinds of stuff being told here today and that's the way he wanted it," Doug Bragg said.
Mr. Bragg was a native of Columbus, Ohio, who came here in 1960. He was married and had two sons, Thomas and Doug, but his first wife died after 23 years.
While working at IRC, he met and wed Elsa, to whom he would have been married for 32 years on March 11. Mr. Bragg raised her three sons and adopted her daughter.
"He was very kind . . . to everyone, to children, especially," Mrs. Bragg said. "He was good. . . . He was a fantastic father and grandfather, too."
He retired as a design engineer from General Electric and spent his time bird and people watching and riding his bike. He would ride his bike on the Pinellas Trail and stop to watch the birds and people.
Mrs. Bragg said she plans to go to the overpass where her husband died to walk the place and see if there's a way to avoid such accidents in the future.
"He would have stopped if it had been a little bird," Mrs. Bragg said. "He would have given his life, because that's the way he was."
[Last modified February 23, 2005, 00:34:19]
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