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Brother, tagging along, drowns

By CARRIE JOHNSON

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 7, 2001


LAKE ROUSSEAU -- Brandon Colia had been invited to join a group of neighborhood teens who wanted to take a dip by the Inglis Dam. And, as usual, his younger brother Tyler wanted to come along.

"He always tagged along," said Brandon, 18, of Beverly Hills. "Sometimes it really bugged me."

But as the group of eight teenagers prepared to go home about 2 p.m., they noticed Tyler wasn't around.

"We thought he went to the bathroom or something," said Daniel Christensen, 18. "We looked everywhere."

After searching for more than an hour, Christensen and Brandon Colia ran to the nearby boat ramp and found a person with a cellular phone. They dialed 911. But by the time deputies from the Citrus County Sheriff's Office reached the river, 17-year-old Tyler Colia had drowned.

Divers from the Sheriff's Office recovered his body, which will be examined by the medical examiner, said sheriff's spokeswoman Ronda Hemminger Evan.

The body was found in about 15 feet of water about a half-mile west of the dam near a tree with a rope swing attached, Evan said. But Brandon Colia said none of the teens saw Tyler go off the rope swing before he disappeared. He also said his brother was a strong swimmer.

None of the teens saw Tyler slip beneath the water, said Jennifer Maltese, 16, of Citrus Springs.

"We were just hanging out, chilling on the rocks, when we noticed he wasn't there. We were calling and looking everywhere," Maltese said.

Brandon Colia said his brother was attending Central Florida Community College.

"He was a really good guy," said Christensen.

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