Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Public safety

Teen dies after Labor Day boating accident on Lake Seminole

SEMINOLE — The teenagers filed into Keswick Christian School's chapel Tuesday evening, quietly crying and pausing to write on a white banner.

"Your sweet spirit will be missed," one girl scrawled with a green Sharpie. "I love you. See you in heaven, sweet girl."

On Monday, 10th-grade student Katie Yale, 15, was gravely injured in a boating accident on Lake Seminole. Katie died Tuesday morning.

"We are going to miss her smile," a parent wrote. "But we'll see it again in paradise."

Katie's family planned to spend Labor Day on the water. The teen was riding a tube with a friend, pulled by her father's center console boat, when they collided with a personal watercraft driven by Ryan Godcharles, 21, of Naples, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Yale's companion — Aubree Franz, 13, of St. Petersburg — suffered minor injuries, authorities said. Godcharles was not injured. The Sheriff's Office is still investigating the crash, which appears to have been an accident.

"As tragic as this is and as heartbroken as we are, we rejoice the fact that Katie is with her Lord and savior Jesus Christ, because of her personal relationship with him," said Keswick Christian School superintendent Nick Stratis, who helped guide a special prayer service Tuesday evening.

Katie's mother, Karen, is a guidance counselor at the school, located at 10101 54th Ave. N. Neither she nor Katie's father, Douglas, was available for comment. The couple has two other daughters.

Stratis, the family's spokesman, said the teen suffered serious internal injuries in the collision, including a punctured lung. He said Katie's family, which has deep roots in St. Petersburg, has seen an outpouring of support and love.

Counselors and local pastors were on campus to help students deal with the loss. Pastor Jerry Busby, who serves on the Keswick school board, said Katie was a blessing to everyone she met. "She was a joyful soul and a fun friend," he said at the Tuesday prayer service. "She was a follower of Jesus Christ."

Katie began cultivating her faith at an early age, said Stratis, who taught her last year in Bible class. She was inquisitive, he said, and not shy to explore issues of her faith, what the Bible meant to her life, and what to make of death and destruction. She was involved at her church, Park Street Baptist in St. Petersburg, and played volleyball and soccer, he said.

"This has shook the community," Stratis said. "Death at an early age is hard to put our arms around, even as adults. That's where our faith comes in."

 
Comments
New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charge

New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charge

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 33-year-old man was arrested Monday on a charge of sexual battery, accused of assaulting a 10-year-old girl.Jonathan Wells was booked into the Pasco County jail, where he was being held Tuesday without bail.The assault took place ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
St. Petersburg power outage affects thousands

St. Petersburg power outage affects thousands

More than 2,000 Duke Energy customers are without power after a cluster of storms rolled through earlier this afternoon, according to Duke Energy.The area without power stretches along 62nd Avenue N from 12th Street N to 30th Way N, according to the ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Safety Harbor fire chief departs: ‘Take pride in the job’

Safety Harbor fire chief departs: ‘Take pride in the job’

SAFETY HARBOR — When Fire Chief Joe Accetta started working at the Safety Harbor Fire Department, Fire Station 53 was a double wide in the middle of a field now home to Mease Countryside Hospital.Now almost four decades of challenges and promotions l...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Deputies search for suspects in rapper XXXTentacion slaying

Deputies search for suspects in rapper XXXTentacion slaying

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — Deputies were searching for suspects Tuesday after troubled rapper-singer XXXTentacion was fatally shot in the driver’s seat of a luxury electric sports car. The 20-year-old rising star, who pronounced his stage name "Ex Ex Ex...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Lakeland father, girlfriend face charges in death of 6-year-old girl

Lakeland father, girlfriend face charges in death of 6-year-old girl

A Lakeland man and his girlfriend face charges of first-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter in the death of his 6-year-old daughter last week.Larry Lewis Golden Jr., 26, Breonna B. Wren, 21, were arrested Friday and are being held without bail ...
Published: 06/19/18
Argument over dog leads to fatal shooting in Polk County

Argument over dog leads to fatal shooting in Polk County

A Fort Meade man was killed Monday night and two others were wounded after Polk County deputies say they approached a man while searching for a lost dog.The shooting occurred around 6:45 p.m. at the home of suspected shooter Charles Peddycoart, at 41...
Published: 06/19/18
Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Two people drowned and another suffered life-threatening injuries in the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.Investigators said all three cases appear to be accidents, but the incidents stand as a reminder that summer, with vacation ...
Published: 06/18/18
Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

SEMINOLE — She was 22 when deputies said a man forced her at knifepoint into the woods off Seminole Boulevard and sexually battered her in February 1987.The case went cold, but now the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it has arrested the man it ...
Published: 06/18/18
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian on Sunday night and then drove off.The incident took place at 9:15 p.m. near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh Avenue.No details a...
Published: 06/18/18
St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

HUDSON — A 16-year-old St. Petersburg teen who was seven months pregnant was fatally injured in a crash Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The incident took place at 9:11 p.m. on Little Road south of Hudson Avenue. The teen, Emily ...
Published: 06/18/18