Daystarter: FHP identifies man killed in Palm River helicopter crash; Opportunity Zones a huge Trump tax plan to create jobs; Bulls play with the CBI title on the line tonight

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Published April 5
Updated April 5


Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.


• It’ll be warm again with highs in the low to mid 80s, according to the National Weather Service. There’s a 20 percent chance of showers along the coast and slightly stronger chance of the same inland. Expect a hot and humid weekend with temperatures reaching the 90s with a slight chance of showers. At least it’ll be cool at night, with lows in the mid to upper 60s.


• It costs money to produce quality journalism. Please support the Tampa Bay Times by buying a digital subscription to Florida’s best newspaper and its redesigned website


• Here are the top things to do this weekend: Sun ’n Fun Fly In, water lantern festival, Dunedin Highland Games in Tampa Bay.


• In 2015, John Jonchuck dropped his dropped his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, off a St. Petersburg bridge. She plunged 62 feet to her death in the cold waters below. His day in court is finally here, and the defense plans to argue that he is not guilty by reason of insanity. Follow the Tampa Bay Times for full coverage of the Jonchuck trial. Here’s the latest developments:

• CATCH UP: The Trial of John Jonchuck, Day 13: Watch as the defense wraps its case

LIVE BLOG: The Trial of John Jonchuck, Day 14: The state rebuts the defense.

• THE LATEST: John Jonchuck’s lawyers rest their case, hoping insanity is clear

WATCH: Check out the live freed from the courtroom at

THE FOCUS: The trial of John Jonchuck comes down to one question: Evil or insane?

FULL COVERAGE: Why is the Times covering the Jonchuck trial gavel-to-gavel? Senior Deputy Editor Amy Hollyfield explains why.

GOT QUESTIONS? Follow the Times coverage at and share your questions in the comments. We’ll answer as we go.


READ: The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck by Pulitzer-prize winner Lane DeGregory


• A 72-year-old Bradenton man was killed Thursday afternoon when he was struck by the rotor of a helicopter that attempted to make an emergency landing on a busy Tampa road.


• Lawmakers in the Florida House and Senate proposed record spending in budgets passed this week, but less than what Gov. Ron DeSantis wanted. And the damage isn’t done yet. Both chambers enter the second half of the legislative session divided by $400 million and worlds apart on issues such as education, affordable housing, healthcare and this: Hurricane Michael, which appears likely to cost the state close to $2 billion.


• The Florida Legislature is in session. The Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau has the latest coverage from the state capital at the The Buzz.


• In a contentious 4-3 vote, the Tampa City Council on Thursday approved five more years of red light cameras despite arguments by some members that they don’t make driving safer, reports Charlie Frago.


• The Tampa mayor’s race is headed down the stretch. Click here for full coverage of the race and follow Tampa city hall reporter Charlie Frago on Twitter for the latest developments.


• A helicopter attempting to make an emergency landing crashed onto a busy street on Thursday, sending one of its rotors flying into a passing vehicle, killing a passenger, authorities said. Read the story and watch video of the helicopter making a crash landing.

• The developer of the star-crossed Bezu/Blue Lotus condo tower cleared a major hurdle Thursday when City Council members approved the $11 million project. But as Susan Taylor Martin writes, there are three lawsuits pending, so judges likely will have the final say on whether it ever gets built.


• For 20 years Clearwater has been a city with not one but two chambers of commerce that separated the business worlds on Clearwater Beach and the mainland. After years of floating the idea of merging, the Clearwater Regional and the Clearwater Beach chambers of commerce announced on Thursday they were beginning the legwork to unify as one organization by 2020, reports Tracey McManus.


• You like to think of yourself as someone who’s prepared. Your home is covered by flood insurance, you’ve got a robust auto insurance policy and maybe even something extra, such as life insurance. But what if you’re abducted by aliens? Malena Carollo reports on Mike St. Lawrence of Altamonte Springs, who says he’s got you covered because his company offers alien abduction insurance.


• Mention “tax havens’’ and what often comes to mind are rich little countries with discreet, friendly bankers. But the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 created what amount to thousands of tax havens in the Tampa Bay area and the rest of the United States. They’re called Opportunity Zones and will provide potentially huge tax savings for investors while creating thousands of jobs.


• Check out the Times online Business page for the latest on the economy, jobs, real estate, retail and workplace culture.


Top Workplace: The Crisis Center has made the Top Workplace list for the last three years, despite an inherently stressful environment. Some field calls from people contemplating suicide or struggling with homelessness. Some work directly with those who have survived domestic violence or sexual assault. Others drive ambulances or transport people in wheelchairs.


What’s changed in the 10 years since the Tampa Bay Times’ first Top Workplaces survey. The worst recession in a generation was officially over, though it hardly felt like much was getting better. The state’s unemployment rate remained above 11 percent. Layoffs were as common as sunny days. Even those who still had a job fretted about when the ax might fall. Foreclosures kept setting records. People spent less. Businesses folded.


Tampa-based Valet Living has expanded from trash pickup to helping busy apartment renters with many tasks. Originally called Valet Trash, for the first service it provided, Valet Living now does pet walking, apartment cleaning, grocery delivery and many other chores for which busy renters today often lack the time.


• Concern for others, excellent communication and a healthy balance of work and play.Ten for Ten: These companies have won Top Workplace honors every year for a decade.


• Employee happines­s is a priority at many Top Workplaces, but achieving that isn’t always straightforward. Some Top Workplaces focus how they treat their employees to ensure they remain engaged and excited about the job at hand.


Top Workplaces leadership award recognizes three CEOs: Robert Fisher of Grow Financial Federal Credit Union, Steve Griggs of the Tampa Bay Lightning and John Connolly of the NAC Group won praise for being accessible and fostering a sense of purpose.


• Technology is influencing the culture of your workplace. The question is, will it create intended positive results or sidetrack the organization’s mission? Powerful tools are giving leaders deeper understanding of their organization’s culture and work dynamics. They also provide a way to get ahead of issues that could handicap success.


• 23 new companies make the Tampa Bay Times’ Top Workplaces list. Showing concern for employees is a common theme among them. Here are the companies that are ranked as a Tampa Bay Times Top Workplace for the first time.


• Here are some fun facts about Top Workplaces.


• There’s only a few places shoppers can find 30-ounce tubs of hummus, 48-count Pop-Tarts and 4-pound boxes of mozzarella sticks. In Pinellas County, that type of bulk selection has long been limited to Costco and Sam’s Club. But that’s set to change this Saturday when a new BJ’s Wholesale Club opens its first Pinellas location in Clearwater.


• The Times online Arts and Entertainment page tells you everything you need to know about what to do, see, eat and experience around town.

• Four years ago, Walt Disney World announced it was bringing a life-size version of a Star Wars land to its theme parks. At last, the time is approaching for Jedi apprentices to step into a space outpost and encounter characters from the First Order and the Resistance. Click here to know everything about Disney’s Star Wars land.


• Check out the Times photo and video channels for the most compelling visuals.


• Read the Tampa Bay Times online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports.


If the Bulls defeated the Blue Demons in tonight’s winner-take-all Game 3 of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) finals, Joey Knight writes about all the things this USF team has accomplished, and could accomplish, with just one more win over DePaul in Chicago.


• All the Bulls news you can use is right here from Times beat writer Joey Knight. Follow him on Twitter for the latest at @TBTimes_Bulls.


• Tampa Bay defeated Toronto 3-1 to reach 60 wins, one shy of tying the NHL’s season record for regular season victories. The Lightning also played a low-scoring, grind-it-out game that was decided in the last five minutes — exactly the kind of win a team needs to get ready for the NHL playoffs.


• The Lightning has yet to play a postseason game. It squandered its chance to set a new single-season NHL record for victories. It still has to win one more game to tie the 1995-96 Red Wings’ mark of 62. But the 2018-19 Lightning, which takes a 60-16-4 record into tonight’s game against the Maple Leafs, is the best hockey team ever assembled, according to Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist Ryan Lambert.


• For the latest on the Lightning’s quest for the Stanley Cup, click here throughout the season and follow beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.


• Today the Rays come face to face for the first time with their greatest player on Friday in San Francisco. But as Marc Topkin writes, the admiration between them and Evan Longoria will be extremely mutual.


• Get the latest Rays’ news from Marc Topkin and follow him throughout baseball season on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.


• The Bucs continue to look everywhere possible for defensive line help, signing free agent Nick Thurman, reports Rick Stroud.


• Life of the Party podcast: Baseball is back and so are crinkle fries. Marc Topkin slipped into the studio between Tampa Bay Rays games to regale us with insider information, from his favorite stadium snacks to his favorite baseball movie.


• Game-day guide to the Women’s Final Four: Get to know the players who’ll be taking the court at Amalie Arena tonight. We go a bit beyond the usual stat lines in getting to know the semifinalist teams.


• The Bucs have a new head coach and the NFL draft is just weeks away. Keep up with the latest offseason changes by following the Times’ Bucs page which is just a click away at For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and fellow beat writer Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.