Make us your home page

Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas commissioner tries to wade into pond where three teens died in stolen car crash

A lot of questions have surfaced in recent weeks about the way Pinellas Sheriff’s deputies responded when a stolen car sank into a cemetery pond March 31, killing three teenage girls inside.

Critics have said that the deputies didn’t do enough to rescue the teens while Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has maintained that the water conditions were not safe. A deputy wrote in a report related to the crash that they attempted a rescue, but noted there was “unstable ground” and “excessive water vegetation,” which made a rescue “too risky for those involved.”

On Friday, Pinellas County commissioner Ken Welch decided to check out the pond for himself.

On his Facebook page, he posted a video and several photos of the thick vegetation circling the pond.

In the nearly 2-minute video, Welch recorded himself as he trudged in tall rubber boots to the edge of the murky water “to get a sense of the mud and accessibility,” he said in the clip.

He plunged one foot in. “I’m already sinking,” he said. “I’m not going to venture any further out.”

Moments later, the video shows Welch struggling to remove his boot from the muck.

Before ending the video, he says, “I think I’ve seen what I need to see.”

Part of the commissioner’s Facebook post reads:

“...Making positive change in our community must be based on truth and facts. We will have many more conversations and actions to address this and other issues in our community. But given the escalating rhetoric on this incident and the Sheriff Deputies response that night, I thought that I would visit the accident site and see for myself if the water was accessible. In my view, it is not. The video below shows me sinking into the muck on my first step. I am open to any other information or evidence, but unsupported rhetoric and accusations will not move us forward, nor heal the destructive trends that are at work in our community. The only way to move forward is together, and on a foundation of truth and justice - for all.”

To see his entire post, click here.

[Last modified: Monday, May 2, 2016 8:34pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours