Sunday, June 17, 2018
Public safety

Plane crash survivor in fair condition at Bayfront Medical Center

ST. PETERSBURG — The flight instructor who survived a nosedive crash at Albert Whitted Airport spoke out for the first time Thursday, thanking first responders and offering condolences for the family of a friend who died in the accident.

"Jim Finnegan's friendship and spirit have made an everlasting impact on my life," said Patrick Murphy, 37. "Jim and C.J. (his wife) and the Finnegan family are held strongly in my heart as they cope with this tragedy."

Murphy, of St. Petersburg, was in fair condition at Bayfront Medical Center, said hospital spokeswoman Emily Nipps.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator who surveyed the wreckage at the airport Thursday said it is too early to determine the cause of the crash but that a preliminary report will be issued within 10 days.

James Allen Finnegan, 79, died while piloting the 1947 Luscombe model 8A when the two-seat aircraft crashed at 1:52 p.m. Wednesday, police said. Finnegan owned the plane but had not flown in several years.

He was taking a refresher training course from Murphy, a certified flight instructor. They were practicing take-offs and landings, said Eric Weiss, public affairs officer for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The plane touched down once before taking off and ascending as high as 100 feet, witnesses said. The tail of the plane wiggled a bit and then the craft nosedived into the runway.

Murphy jumped out of the plane after the crash and tried to pull Finnegan out, witnesses said.

Finnegan was unconscious and bleeding as a restaurant worker and two airport mechanics came to his aid.

"I would like to thank the emergency services personnel and the pilot community at Whitted Airport for their heroic and rapid response," Murphy said.

Michael Finch II can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @mike_finch2.

Comments
Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

NEW PORT RICHEY — A motorcyclist and pedestrian both died in a crash Saturday night near Palmetto Road and U.S. 19, police reported.About 10:30 p.m., a St. Petersburg man, 41, was riding a 2012 Honda motorcycle north on the highway, according to the ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

TRENTON, N.J — Shooting broke out at an all-night art festival in Trenton, New Jersey, early Sunday, sending people stampeding from the scene and leaving one suspect dead and 20 people injured, a local prosecutor said. Many of the 20 injured were tre...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market will be closed throughout the weekend after a warehouse fire broke out Friday.A St. Petersburg Police officer noticed smoke coming from the market at 22nd Ave. N around midnight Friday, said St. Petersburg F...
Published: 06/16/18
A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

TAMPA — Loueita Hargens had known for years how her son Bradley Dykes would die. She had seen him cycle through drugs of choice, had lost track of the number of times he’d wound up in the hospital or prison.A recovering alcoholic herself, she cut him...
Published: 06/16/18
Deputies: Body found in Pasco lake is New Port Richey man, 74

Deputies: Body found in Pasco lake is New Port Richey man, 74

Deputies identified a body found in Frierson Lakes in Hudson on Thursday as a 74-year-old New Port Richey man.Kress Luebke’s kayak was seen overturned in the water on Thursday night, according to the Pasco Sheriff’s Office.A resident living along Fri...
Updated: 4 hours ago
St. Petersburg police make arrest 31 years after sexual assault

St. Petersburg police make arrest 31 years after sexual assault

ST. PETERSBURG — Police arrested a man Friday in connection with a 31-year-old sexual assault case and believe he’s connected to other unsolved cases from decades ago.Anthony Stokes, 56, faces a charge of armed sexual battery, according to St. Peters...
Published: 06/15/18
Records detail Wrigley heir’s $480,000 betrayal by trusted employees

Records detail Wrigley heir’s $480,000 betrayal by trusted employees

ODESSA — One day in the summer of 2014, Helen Rich spotted a Facebook post about an aging black Labrador in Kansas named Lady who badly needed a new home. The author and heir to the Wrigley gum fortune had recently lost her own Black lab. Rich decide...
Published: 06/15/18
Hillsborough Hispanic women targeted in lottery scam

Hillsborough Hispanic women targeted in lottery scam

TAMPA — Maria Pena-Lebron, 83, was walking out of Fresco y Mas with her groceries in May when she was approached by a woman wearing a straw hat, who pleaded with her for help. The stranger claimed to be an undocumented immigrant and therefore unable ...
Published: 06/15/18
Tampa fire captain demoted for stripping off shirt, daring homeless man to fight

Tampa fire captain demoted for stripping off shirt, daring homeless man to fight

TAMPA — Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Jeremy Finney was, by all accounts, a model firefighter — until he lost his cool. The outburst cost him two ranks.Finney has served nearly 16 years in the department and was a member of the Tactical Medical Response Te...
Published: 06/15/18
Coaster that derailed in Daytona Beach had reported safety issues in 2017

Coaster that derailed in Daytona Beach had reported safety issues in 2017

DAYTONA BEACH — Two roller coaster riders fell 34 feet (10 meters) when their car derailed and was left dangling from the track, and firefighters used ladders to pull eight others to safety high above the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. "The front car which...
Published: 06/15/18