Manatee county community rallying around beloved fisherman clinging to life

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A beloved fisherman was hit by a truck and dragged for more than a block. He’s now in a hospital fighting for his life. So a tight-knit community is rallying to support him.

On Nov. 18, deputies say 61-year-old Freddy Gilliland got into an argument with 57-year-old David Nichols, and it soon turned violent.

Nichols hit Gilliland with a truck and dragged him for a block.

“It’s terrible, I can’t wrap my head around how anyone could that to anyone, let alone him,” said friend Andrew Van Hook.

Nichols has been charged with attempted murder. But Gilliland has a difficult recovery ahead of him. His right arm has been amputated, and friends tell us, he may lose his left as well.

“His whole style of life has been taken from him basically,” said Van Hook.

For decades, Gilliland has been a fisherman at the Historic Cortez Fishing Village.

“Loved by the whole village, loved by anybody who’s ever met him,” said friend Bob Slicker.

It’s a slice of old Florida, a place where everybody knows your name. And everybody here knows Freddy.

He doesn’t have much but he has a big heart.

“He spends more of his money on other people than he ever spends on himself,” said Van Hook.

So the community is raising thousands of dollars to help pay for his medical expenses.

“We never leave our own in the Cortez community,” said Slicker.

Morning, noon and night, members of this tight-knit village have been visiting him at the hospital. They’re praying he recovers. And while Gilliland’s life will never be the same, one thing that won’t change is the love this community has for him.

Organizers are praying for the best and they plan to hold more fundraisers in the near future.

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