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Family hopes against hope that woman is safe

By MIKE BRASSFIELD

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 20, 2000


GULFPORT -- Art Davis is going out on a friend's boat today to look for his wife. He'll go below the Sunshine Skyway bridge, throw in a buoy and follow it where the tide takes it.

He doesn't know what else to do. He can't sit at home waiting anymore.

His wife, Dalana Davis, 40, has been missing since Monday. Her Pontiac Grand Prix was found abandoned at the top of the Skyway, its engine running.

Her family holds out hope that she's alive somewhere, but they're also preparing for the worst: that Dalana Davis jumped to her death. She had been having problems. Her husband said she had displayed suicidal tendencies in the past.

And yet, said Art Davis, "There is that hope."

The Florida Highway Patrol found Dalana Davis' car on the bridge about 11:15 p.m. Monday. About a half-hour before that, she told her daughter she was going out for cigarettes. Her husband called her from work earlier, and she sounded all right.

The Highway Patrol, Coast Guard and Hillsborough County deputies and firefighters searched the bridge and water that night but found nothing. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is in charge of the case because the center of the bridge is in Hillsborough.

"Right now, this is still a missing person case," said sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter. "We have no proof that she jumped off."

Dalana Davis is 5 feet 7 and has brown hair. She was last seen wearing brown dungarees and a dark blue pullover New York Yankees shirt.

She has two children, Aaron, 16, and Amber, 14. The family lives in Gulfport.- Staff writers Angela Moore and Leanora Minai contributed to this report.

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