Burned man may have taken his own life
Pasco deputies have identified the man whose burned body was found last week in some shrubs behind the Regal Hollywood 18 movie theater. And they suspect 36-year-old Harshad Harishchandra Kharunkar may have taken his own life. His body, about 80 percent covered in burns, was discovered the morning of Sept. 4 behind the theater at Cinema and Scenic drives. Kharunkar, who lived at 4014 W Waters Ave. in Tampa, is originally from Mumbai, India. The scene of his death had some "cultural nuances that led us to believe he may have done this on his own accord," said Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokesman Doug Tobin, suggesting the death may have been a case of self-immolation, a ritualistic suicide by fire practiced in some cultures, including India. Kharunkar's car, a gray Toyota Camry, was found about 100 feet away from his body. Investigators identified him by matching his fingerprints with those taken for his work visa. The medical examiner is still determining the exact cause of death. The Sheriff's Office said it is investigating the case as a possible suicide and that Kharunkar likely died sometime the night of Sept. 1. Tobin said authorities will not rule out the possibility of a homicide until the investigation is closed. The local funeral home handling his remains said final arrangements would be held in Virar West, India.
Williams resigning as city's fire chief
Zephyrhills fire Chief Keith Williams has submitted his resignation, giving his two weeks' notice before leaving for a new post at the Sumter County Fire Department. Williams has run the Zephyrhills Fire Department since 2006 and previously served as a division chief for Tampa Fire Rescue. Zephyrhills City Manager Jim Drumm said officials will review the fire chief's job description before advertising for a replacement.
NEW PORT RICHEY
YouFit Health Club opens on U.S. 19
West Pasco residents have a new place to work out. YouFit Health Clubs this week opened a gym at 5231 U.S. 19. The chain is owned by entrepreneur Rick Berks, who owns 40 clubs in several states, including one on State Road 54 in Land O'Lakes that opened within the past year. The club allows no-contract memberships and features a laid-back atmosphere, with lime green and purple decor. It boasts no saunas or swimming pools. "We're building clubs for people who don't want to deal with the trauma and drama of the usual health club," Berks said in a news release. "You wouldn't believe how often I speak with people who actually believe they have to get in shape before they'll feel comfortable walking in to a club." Visit www.youfithealthclubs.com for information.
The Porter family that owns the Wiregrass development in Wesley Chapel is committed to donating enough land for a new multifield sports park, as long as Pasco County officials commit to spend $14 million to build the park. A story in Wednesday's Pasco Times misstated how the money would be spent.