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Deputies find body of hospital patient who jumped into Safety Harbor canal

SAFETY HARBOR — Authorities have found the body of a man who left Mease Countryside Hospital on Friday afternoon and jumped into a nearby canal, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Dive team deputies found the man, identified as Terry Len Burch, 47, of Oldsmar, shortly after 9 p.m. using sonar equipment that emitted sound waves and returned images of the canal floor.

Witnesses reported seeing him jump into and wade north in the Lake Tarpon Outfall Canal near McMullen-Booth and Curlew roads about five hours earlier.

A hospital security guard also saw him leave the facility on foot and heading toward the water, deputies said. The canal goes from the south shore of Lake Tarpon into Old Tampa Bay.

Officials said Burch was a mental health patient but had not been in custody under the state Baker Act, which allows authorities to detain people for mental evaluation if they seem likely to harm themselves or others.

Deputies find body of hospital patient who jumped into Safety Harbor canal 09/17/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 17, 2011 10:41pm]
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