Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Teen charged in Tampa ammonia pipeline leak

TAMPA — Six months after an ammonia pipeline leak forced hundreds from their Riverview homes, state prosecutors have charged a juvenile with crimes related to the incident.

Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi would not give any details about the nature of the charge or the teen because of his age. She would only confirm on Tuesday that charges had been filed.

Hillsborough sheriff's deputies last year said the chaotic Nov. 12 incident was caused by a 16-year-old who drilled into the pipe under the Alafia River bridge at U.S. 301 looking for hidden treasure that wasn't there.

It took workers almost two days to completely cap the gas leak and lift the evacuation order imposed on hundreds of area residents.

Sheriff's officials declined to comment on the latest developments Tuesday, referring all questions to the State Attorney's Office.

The 16-year-old suffered chemical burns over 18 percent of his body after piercing an 8-foot section of above-ground pipeline owned by Tampa Pipeline Corp. Officials would not speak to the extent of his injuries now.

Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, blamed the company last year for failing to secure the line after a similar incident in 2003.

On Tuesday she said that while the juvenile shares responsibility for his actions, she doesn't expect charges against him to be very severe: "There probably wouldn't be anything worse you could do to him than to burn him," she said.

At the time of the accident, authorities reported the 16-year-old was with two other teenagers when he drilled a small hole into the pipeline, after hearing someone had buried money there.

Though there was initial speculation that the teen might have been tapping the pipe to try to steal ammonia to make methamphetamine, deputies finally determined their motivation was not drugs but money.

Vanessa Fellion, 27, of Riverview told the St. Petersburg Times afterward that the tale of hidden loot originated with her brother, Robert Fellion, who committed suicide at 28, but told her before he died to look under the U.S. 301 bridge at the Alafia River if she ever needed anything.

Fellion said she didn't believe his claim of treasure, but she mentioned it to her son and her son's friend one day while driving across the bridge. And that's when legend became nightmare.

Times staff writers Colleen Jenkins and Abbie VanSickle contributed to this report.

Teen charged in Tampa ammonia pipeline leak 05/13/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 2:13am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.