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2184859 2038-01-18 05:00:00.0 UTC 2038-01-18T00:00:00.000-05:00 2014-06-18 10:51:01.0 UTC 2014-06-18T06:51:01.000-04:00 car-drives-off-gulf-boulevard-near-johns-pass-crosss-beach-ends-up published 2014-06-19 01:26:43.0 UTC 2014-06-18T21:26:43.000-04:00 news/publicsafety/accidents DTI 122002036 MADEIRA BEACH — A twice-stolen SUV ended up in the Gulf of Mexico early Wednesday morning after it was driven down a sandy path off Gulf Boulevard, across the beach and into the water just north of the John's Pass channel. A caller reported the yellow Isuzu Vehicross was in the gulf and setting a course for Mexico around 4:30 a.m., said Cristen Rensel, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. It was still dark when deputies arrived, and fire rescue crews helped the sheriff's dive team search the submerged SUV. They found open windows and an open sunroof, but no one inside. Crews were able to drag the vehicle far enough out of the water to see its license plate. When they called the registered owner, Julia Robillard, she said the Vehicross was stolen Feb. 12 from her Pinellas Park home. The keys had been left inside. Several hours after she reported it missing, her husband saw it in a parking lot. It was found, but the keys were not. It was not immediately clear when or how the owner got the car back, but she told deputies that it must have been stolen again overnight. When divers pulled the Vehicross out Wednesday, they found the keys inside. They also found a concrete paver near the accelerator. As divers worked to secure the SUV against the tide, a Coast Guard helicopter and circling boat woke up Atlanta-native Patrick Bettis and his vacationing family. "It's not something you see very often, especially on vacation at a tourist area on the beach," said Bettis, 38. Bettis showed up on the beach about 6:30 a.m. He watched as they tried unsuccessfully to tug the underwater Isuzu out of the gulf, a process that left it stuck with its passenger side down. Then, a tow truck arrived but became stuck on the pedestrian entrance to the beach. The tow truck tried to gain access from a spot about a mile north, but got stuck there, too. David Gray, 60, of Owensboro, Ky., had been watching since 5 a.m, but eventually gave up. "They're never going to get that thing out," Gray said as he walked off the beach just before 8 a.m. Eventually, divers were able to turn the Vehicross back onto its wheels using a pickup truck's pull. The truck pulled the SUV back onto dry land about 8:30 a.m., but quickly got stuck in the soft sand as well. The SUV was finally pulled off the beach. Rensel said investigators will wait for the two-door vehicle to dry out before beginning a forensic investigation. Times news researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Claire Wiseman, Times Staff Writer News, Public Safety, Accidents, pinellas 26279298 Twice-stolen SUV drives into gulf, sinks near John's&#160;Pass KWALKERN No one was inside, deputies say, but there was a paver near the accelerator. 4STB Main dhvn5ukzd3zy dhvn5 Stolen SUV plunges into gulf Madeira Beach 1 JohnsPassAxie061914.4st Stolen SUV plunges into gulf 2014-06-19 04:00:00.0 UTC 2014-06-19T00:00:00.000-04:00 4 Rescue crews were looking for people in the water early Wednesday morning after a vehicle was reported in gulf waters near John's Pass. [Bay News 9] /resources/images/dti/2014/06/01WEB_JohnsPassAxie061914_7_13338960.jpg /resources/images/dti/rendered/2014/06/01WEB_JohnsPassAxie061914_7_13338960_4col.jpg/resources/images/dti/rendered/2014/06/01WEB_JohnsPassAxie061914_7_13338960_8col.jpg 3 A small SUV lies flipped in Gulf of Mexico waters Wednesday morning near John's Pass on Madeira Beach. It had been upright when rescue crews arrived, but flipped during attempts to pull it up onto the beach. [CLAIRE WISEMAN | Times] /resources/images/dti/2014/06/02WEB_JohnsPassAxie061914_7_13339012.jpg /resources/images/dti/rendered/2014/06/02WEB_JohnsPassAxie061914_7_13339012_4col.jpg/resources/images/dti/rendered/2014/06/02WEB_JohnsPassAxie061914_7_13339012_8col.jpg 2 Rescue crews were looking for people in the water early Wednesday morning after a vehicle was reported in gulf waters near John's Pass. [Bay News 9] /resources/images/dti/2014/06/03WEB_JohnsPassAxie061914_7_13339024.jpg /resources/images/dti/rendered/2014/06/03WEB_JohnsPassAxie061914_7_13339024_4col.jpg/resources/images/dti/rendered/2014/06/03WEB_JohnsPassAxie061914_7_13339024_8col.jpg 1 Pinellas sheriff&#8217;s deputies work to pull an Isuzu Vehicross from the water just north of John&#8217;s Pass channel Wednesday morning. A caller reported the vehicle in the gulf around 4:30. After several attempts, the SUV was pulled out at 8:30 a.m. /resources/images/dti/2014/06/b4s_johnspassaxie061914_13339141.jpg SCOTT KEELER | Times /resources/images/dti/rendered/2014/06/b4s_johnspassaxie061914_13339141_4col.jpg/resources/images/dti/rendered/2014/06/b4s_johnspassaxie061914_13339141_8col.jpg true templatedata/tampabaytimes/StaffArticle/data/2014/06/18/122002036-car-drives-off-gulf-boulevard-near-johns-pass-crosss-beach-ends-up StaffArticle news,public safetyPublic Safetynews,public safety,accidentsAccidentsMADEIRA BEACH — A twice-stolen SUV ended up in the Gulf of Mexico early Wednesday morning after it was driven down a sandy path off Gulf Boulevard, across the beach and into the water just north of the John's Pass channel.News, Public Safety, Accidents, pinellasNews, Public Safety, Accidents, pinellas<span style="display:none;" class="author vcard"><span class="fn">CLAIRE WISEMAN</span></span><span style="display:none;" class="source-org vcard"><span class="org fn">Tampa Bay Times</span></span><a rel="item-license" href="/universal/user_agreement.shtml">&#169; 2016 Tampa Bay Times</a><br /><br />Times Staff Writer 2272616 2016-04-10 00:54:03.0 UTC 4 Months Ago juveniles-are-the-driving-force-behind-stolen-vehicles-in-tampa-bay news/publicsafety/crime Juveniles are the driving force behind stolen vehicles in Tampa Bay StaffArticle 2282634 2016-06-23 03:22:40.0 UTC 2 Months Ago coast-guard-searching-for-father-children-missing-in-gulf-of-mexico-near news/publicsafety Coast Guard finds body in debris field during search for father, children missing in gulf near Englewood StaffArticle 2266258 2016-02-22 00:11:34.0 UTC 6 Months Ago politifact-florida-john-kasich-says-medicaid-spending-rose-twice-as-fast news/politics PolitiFact Florida: John Kasich says Medicaid spending rose twice as fast under Jeb Bush StaffArticle <p>MADEIRA BEACH — A twice-stolen SUV ended up in the Gulf of Mexico early Wednesday morning after it was driven down a sandy path off Gulf Boulevard, across the beach and into the water just north of the John's Pass channel.</p> <p>A caller reported the yellow Isuzu Vehicross was in the gulf and setting a course for Mexico around 4:30 a.m., said Cristen Rensel, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.</p> <p>It was still dark when deputies arrived, and fire rescue crews helped the sheriff's dive team search the submerged SUV. They found open windows and an open sunroof, but no one inside. </p> <p>Crews were able to drag the vehicle far enough out of the water to see its license plate. When they called the registered owner, Julia Robillard, she said the Vehicross was stolen Feb. 12 from her Pinellas Park home. The keys had been left inside. Several hours after she reported it missing, her husband saw it in a parking lot. It was found, but the keys were not.</p> <p>It was not immediately clear when or how the owner got the car back, but she told deputies that it must have been stolen again overnight. When divers pulled the Vehicross out Wednesday, they found the keys inside. They also found a concrete paver near the accelerator.</p> <p>As divers worked to secure the SUV against the tide, a Coast Guard helicopter and circling boat woke up Atlanta-native Patrick Bettis and his vacationing family. &quot;It's not something you see very often, especially on vacation at a tourist area on the beach,&quot; said Bettis, 38.</p> <p>Bettis showed up on the beach about 6:30 a.m. He watched as they tried unsuccessfully to tug the underwater Isuzu out of the gulf, a process that left it stuck with its passenger side down. Then, a tow truck arrived but became stuck on the pedestrian entrance to the beach. The tow truck tried to gain access from a spot about a mile north, but got stuck there, too.</p> <p>David Gray, 60, of Owensboro, Ky., had been watching since 5 a.m, but eventually gave up. </p> <p>&quot;They're never going to get that thing out,&quot; Gray said as he walked off the beach just before 8 a.m.</p> <p>Eventually, divers were able to turn the Vehicross back onto its wheels using a pickup truck's pull. The truck pulled the SUV back onto dry land about 8:30 a.m., but quickly got stuck in the soft sand as well.</p> <p>The SUV was finally pulled off the beach. Rensel said investigators will wait for the two-door vehicle to dry out before beginning a forensic investigation.</p> <p><i>Times news researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. </i></p>trueruntime2016-08-30 05:43:05