CORTEZ, Fla. — A Florida fisherman remains in an intensive care unit at a hospital after deputies said he was intentionally hit by a car.
Fred Gilliland is a well-known grouper fisherman within the Cortez fishing community.
"Everybody knows Freddy! Everybody!" said friend Erin O'Neill.
Erin O'Neill said she first met Gilliland when she was 14 years old. She said she cannot believe someone would want to hurt him.
"Absolute shock, absolute shock. I just don’t understand how that could have happened," said O'Neill.
Manatee County deputies said Gilliland got into an argument with another man last week on November 18.
Gilliland walked away on 101st Street West towards 46th Avenue West. Deputies said David Nichols hit the victim with his truck and dragged him for several feet.
According to an arrest report, the defendant's vehicle had fresh damage to the front end with visible damage to the hood. Deputies said Nichols did not call 911 to report the accident or help the victim.
Gilliland's friends said he is kind, generous and would help anyone. He would do side jobs at Cortez Bait and Seafood.
"He would go out for days. He would come back and he'd always ask if we wanted to some fresh fish or stone crabs or anything he could do to help us around the holidays here," said friend Cindy Lipke.
Gilliland remains at Blake Medical Center. He suffered life-threatening injuries. He had his right arm amputated. Doctors removed his spleen. He has a lacerated liver, multiple rib fractures, a collapsed left lung and numerous facial injuries.
"It's just sickening to know somebody can do that to him. It makes me sick to my stomach. I love him dearly. I pray for him every night," said Carolyn Watkins, a friend.
His friends have started a GoFundMe page to help with medical bills.