USF coach: Bonani 'doing fine'

Updated: July 19, 2009, 2:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

South Florida kicker Maikon Bonani has been hospitalized after falling 35 feet from the Skyride at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla.

Bonani
Bonani

Nursing supervisor Janelle Hoskins told The St. Petersburg Times that Bonani was in fair condition.

"Our entire program is praying for Maikon and happy that the injury was not life-threatening," coach Jim Leavitt said in a statement. "I was able to visit him [Saturday]. He's in pain, but doing fine and resting."

The park issued a statement saying that after sending a gondola out of the station, Bonani, who was working as an attendant for the ride, thought the door might be unlocked and held onto the door to check it. He hung on as the gondola took off -- authorities say -- then let go about 35 feet above the ground into a landscaped area.

"He was trying to make sure they were safe," park spokeswoman Jill Revelle said of those on the ride. She added that no one else was injured.

Leavitt told The St. Petersburg Times that he believed Bonani injured his T12 vertebra in the fall.

"He's fine. The main thing here is that he didn't die," Leavitt told the newspaper. "He isn't paralyzed. The most important thing is his health."

Leavitt told the newspaper that if Bonani faced a long recovery, the kicker could redshirt this season.

The 20-year-old sophomore won the Bulls' starting kicking job after two games last season. He finished 15-for-21 on field goals.

Bonani grew up in Brazil and moved with his family to Lake Wales in Polk County at age 11, the Times reported. He learned English when he was 11, and played football, soccer and tennis in high school. He was valedictorian of his senior class, the newspaper said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.