Local journalism is elevated with Luis Santana on the scene

"I’ve photographed many emergency scenes in my 15+ years covering news and often times people get upset with us covering tragedies such as fires and car crashes. I understand their feelings and am very sensitive to the family’s grief. But, when Joel Jaca opened up his life to Times reporter, Bre Bradham and me, I was happy that our coverage helped their family get back on their feet. "
Aerial drone photo from the Allegro Palm apartments in Riverview where it is believed a lightning strike caused a 3-alarm fire that displaced over 100 people.
Published Dec. 19, 2018
Updated Dec. 19, 2018

Tampa Bay Times images by: Luis Santana

Read story here: Hurricane Maria family resettles in Riverview, only to be left homeless by lightning strike

Joel Jaca and his son Nelson Jaca visit their burned apartment building at Allegro Palm in Riverview to see what was once their home surrounded by a security fence and patrolled by a guard, Saturday June 16, 2018.

Joel Jaca was urged by others to start a GoFundMe page to help raise funds after losing everything in a major fire. After listening to his story and photographing his family taking shelter in a hotel room we published the story in the Tampa Bay Times and online at There GoFundMe page reached their goal of $5,000. A few days after the story ran I visited Joel and his family to see how they were doing. He told me that a generous person who read the story came to the hotel he was staying at and offered to pay the down payment on any place they chose to live to help them get back on their feet.

Read story here: Family displaced by lightning strike getting back on their feet with community’s help

Joel Jaca holds his nine year old daughter Fabiola Jaca as she cries thinking about the fire that left them homeless while his other daughter Mia, 12 draws on a notepad. The Jaca family fled from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma and started over in Riverview. Joel Jaca, his three children, wife, and in-laws are currently staying at a hotel at a discounted rate.

Taking the controls to do loops and rolls in the Jack Links Extra 300 aerobatic airplane Slugged Airfest.

Pilot John Klatt preforms a loop 2000ft over Riverview in his Extra 300L aircraft on March 9, 2018. Klatt was part of Tampa Bay AirFest 2018, held at MacDill AFB in south Tampa.
Times photographer Luis Santana grabs the stick and does an aileron roll while Pilot John Klatt gives a thumbs up in the backseat in his Extra 300L aircraft on March 9, 2018.

On stage with headliners at the Sunset Music Festival Slugged SMF.

NGHTMRE performs during day one on the main stage of the Sunset Music Festival onSaturday May 26, 2018. Despite a Tropical Storm Warning being issued for Tampa, thousands of people pack the Raymond James Stadium parking lot for the 2018 Sunset Music Festival. The annual Memorial Day weekend electronic music festival attracts tens of thousands of people during the two day long event.
Marshmello performs on stage closing out day one of the Sunset Music Festival.

Crowd surfer at the final Van’s Warped Tour in St. Petersburg slugged warped.

Fans crowd surf while the band Chelsea Grin performs at the final Van's Warped Tour at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, Saturday August 4, 2018.

In the sky above Hurricane Michael with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters.

Pilots Lcdr. Dave Cowan and Cdr. Brad Fritzler in the cockpit as they fly back after their mission above Hurricane Michael aboard NOAA's Gulfstream IV jet callsign NOAA-49, a high-tech, high-flying, and high-speed platform used for hurricane forecasting and research on Tuesday October 9, 2018. During this mission NOAA-49 flew a 2,400 mile 5.5 hour mission at 45,000 ft. around Hurricane Michael to create a detailed picture of the surrounding upper atmosphere.
A large cloud is scene off the wing of NOAA's Gulfstream IV jet callsign NOAA-49.
Meteorologists John Kaplan and Jack Parrish view data streaming in on their workstation aboard NOAA's Gulfstream IV jet.

Drone Views of Red Tide in Pinellas County Beaches Slugged red tide.

Watch video: Contractors race to clean up rotting fish on Pinellas County beaches

Tens of thousands of dead fish and crustaceans have washed up on Madeira Beach in Pinellas County Sunday afternoon. Levels of red tide algae are testing extremely high on the waters of Pinellas county. Contractors on boats attempt to collect the dead fish on Sunday September 15, 2018 before reaching the beaches but cannot keep up with the tons of fish washing ashore.
A contractor delivers an empty dumpster and prepares to haul away one of two dumpsters filled with tons of dead fish killed by red tide.
A shrimp boat contracted by Pinellas County collects dead fish in it's nets before reaching the beach.

Je’Hyrah Daniels died after her mother left her in the middle of the Hillsborough River to drown.

The casket of four year old Je'Hyrah Daniels is escorted out of the Beulah Baptist Institutional Church by her father and other family members after a memorial service on Saturday August 11, 2018. Daniels died after her mother left her in the middle of the Hillsborough River to drown.

Photographing SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy Rocket at Cape Canaveral on the launch pad a day before launch and on launch day.

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy blasts off of launch pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on it's first ever flight on Tuesday, February 6, 2018. The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket operational rocket in existence. Tuesday's demonstration flight contained SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster that will be sent towards Mars.
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket sits on launch pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday February 5, 2018.

Watch video: NWS Tampa

Staff photographer Luis Santana took a self portrait on Madeira Beach while he was covering the red tide crisis.