Friend mourns death of Bradenton cyclist who died in Sunday car collision

BRADENTON -- The last time Justin Layman saw Michael DiLandro was in 2013 at Ed's Tavern in Lakewood Ranch.

"It was really random. I hadn't really seen him in a while," said the 28-year-old musician, who has since moved to New York City. "I was in town and went to grab a drink and he was at the bar next to me."

The two men, who were almost inseparable at one point, caught up on life.

It would be the last time they saw each other.

DiLandro, 29, of Bradenton, died Monday at Blake Medical Center after being struck by a car Sunday night. He was riding southbound in the middle of Rye Road when he was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by a 16-year-old with a 13-year-old, a 2-year-old and a baby in the car, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

FHP officials said DiLandro was wearing dark clothing and had no lights on his bike, as required by law, or a helmet on at the time of the crash. The driver said he did not see DiLandro, troopers said. No one in the car was injured.

Layman found out about his childhood friend's accident through a Facebook status.

Just before 7 a.m. Monday, Michael DiLandro's brother, Tommy, wrote a post about the accident. He said his brother was fighting for his life.

"My family and I appreciate all the love and support from everyone already ... please keep Michael in your prayers. #GodBless," his post read.

Layman said he was 13 and new to Carlos E. Haile Middle School when he met DiLandro.

"He introduced me to a bunch of people back then, making moving to a new school easy for me," Layman said.

The teens shared classes, rode the bus together, played pranks together.

Basketball was their thing.

"We'd usually go (play basketball) from school to however late we could be out until our parents called us home," Layman said. "We played basketball for hours ... he was real good."

At school, Layman and DiLandro were part of a tightly knit group of friends. Layman laughed as he recalled being in a math class with DiLandro and others in their circle. They were given assigned seats, but with a large gap in between them so that the teacher could keep an eye on them all.

"Everyone wanted to hang out with him," he said of DiLandro. "He was just a good guy, almost like a class clown. He had a real bright perosnality."

The news of DiLandro's death has been especially hard for Layman, who recently lost his grandmother and another friend. His initial thought was 'Why?'

"He really cared about other people," Layman said. "He was a true friend."

A funeral service for DiLandro will be held from 2-4 p.m. Saturday at Happy Gospel Center, 1915 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton.

Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.