Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Public safety

No serious injuries as boat hits Clearwater Pass jetty

CLEARWATER — A birthday celebration nearly turned tragic early Sunday morning as a speedboat struck the jetty at Clearwater Pass, tossing all nine people aboard into the water.

A report that the 21-foot pleasure craft ran aground came into Clearwater Fire and Rescue and the U.S. Coast Guard about 3 a.m. A passer-by reported that the boat struck the jetty "at a high rate of speed," said Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Tara Molle.

Authorities said they were amazed that only three of the boaters were injured, and not seriously. One was treated for a back injury and one — the birthday celebrant — had a broken wrist. The third's injury was not disclosed.

"Those are big, sharp rocks. All those people are lucky to be alive," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Robert Scholl. "This accident could've been much worse."

Less than three years ago, in October 2009, 17-year-old St. Petersburg High student Paige Alyssa Davison died after the power boat in which she and four other teens were riding smashed into a seawall late at night near Albert Whitted Airport.

Clearwater Pass has been the scene of multiple crashes over the years, including a fatal one in 1998 in which two men were crushed when their boat slammed into the jetty and landed upside down on rocks.

In 2006, a Clearwater Beach developer was hurled 35 feet in the air and onto the rocks. He received stitches to his forehead and knee and fully recovered.

The crashes prompted calls for the city to light the 4,000-foot jetty, which juts 7 feet above water and extends west from Sand Key Park.

Scholl said Clearwater Pass is well-traveled and that lighted hotels line both sides of the inlet. He said the crash happened near a condominium complex.

Coast Guard and city officials have said that boaters are supposed to stay in the marked channel, which has its own lights, and consult local navigational charts.

"The jetty is lit up like a Christmas tree and normally no one has problems going back and forth, so I can't believe they hit the jetty the way they did when it was lit up," Scholl said.

However, James John Logal of Largo, who was operating the 2003 Monterey fiberglass craft, attributed the crash to his inability to see the jetty. He said he thought it was 100 yards to his right. He said he tried to swerve away, but it was too late.

"Three o'clock in the morning, I couldn't see the jetty until the last second … because there's no light," said Logal, 26. "It needs to be marked in a serious way."

Logal said he was the designated driver for the group, which was returning to shore after celebrating a passenger's birthday.

He said he has been boating for 10 years and has about six years of night boating experience. This was his first boating accident, he said.

Tests determined Logal wasn't intoxicated, Molle said, but wildlife officials cited him for failing to maintain a proper lookout.

Molle said a Coast Guard crew arrived on the scene less than 20 minutes after the call and found all nine sitting on the jetty.

Emergency workers took one passenger, a 23-year-old woman, to Morton Plant Hospital, Scholl said. He said two 23-year-old women were taken to Largo Medical Center. The passengers' names had not been released.

Comments
Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

LARGO — Vanessa Rodriguez thought she found the right house for her three kids, in the right neighborhood, for the right rent. She signed the lease for April 30, sent a $2,300 money order and planned to move in June 1.Then the delays started. She sai...
Updated: 3 hours ago
15 arrested in Hillsborough construction fraud sting, one for the eighth time

15 arrested in Hillsborough construction fraud sting, one for the eighth time

TAMPA — The contractors arriving at the Brandon home thought they were meeting with a potential customer. They were wrong.In fact, the would-be clients were undercover detectives and the contractors, lacking a license to ply their trade, left the hom...
Updated: 9 hours ago
St. Pete police investigating social media threat against Pride event

St. Pete police investigating social media threat against Pride event

ST. PETERSBURG — Police are investigating a threat against St. Pete Pride weekend based on a social media comment left on a Tampa Bay Times story.A Facebook commenter used an alias to post the threat on a story about a pop-up gay club planned for the...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Driver in fatal Tampa hit-and-run turns himself in

Driver in fatal Tampa hit-and-run turns himself in

TAMPA — The driver who was sought in a fatal hit-and-run on Sunday night has turned himself in.Police say Roger Herelle, 33, told detectives Wednesday he was involved in the crash that killed Sally Ann McClellan Webb, 58.Police had had been seeking t...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Thieves have made off with at least five guns after breaking into unlocked vehicles in recent days, police said Wednesday morning.Over the past three days, a group of people have been breaking into unlocked vehicles across the city. Clea...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Police investigating body found floating near Davis Islands

Police investigating body found floating near Davis Islands

TAMPA — Police are working to recover a body that was found floating in the water near the Davis Island Sea Basin on Wednesday morning.It is uncertain how the body ended up there, according to police.This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Pasco Sheriff: Hudson man faces sexual battery charges

Pasco Sheriff: Hudson man faces sexual battery charges

HUDSON — A 33-year-old man is facing charges of sexual battery and rape after Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies said he assaulted a 14-year-old girl.Christopher Hall, who was 31 at the time of the incident, forced the victim into a bathroom, took off h...
Published: 06/20/18
SB traffic on I-275 slowed in St. Petersburg after car jumps median

SB traffic on I-275 slowed in St. Petersburg after car jumps median

ST. PETERSBURG — A car that is straddling the center concrete barrier is causing a visual slowdown Wednesday morning on Interstate 275.The incident occurred sometime around 7:30 a.m.The passenger side of the car can be seen hanging along the median o...
Published: 06/20/18
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 ...
Published: 06/19/18
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 ...
Published: 06/19/18