LARGO — Three investigations into a fire department training exercise gone wrong determined that human error caused a firefighter's injury, resulting in suspensions for three employees.
Investigations found that a string of training deficiencies and miscommunications contributed to an accident in which firefighter Nick Pluscht, 30, fell 14 feet to the ground while performing a window bailout exercise, fracturing his spine....
TARPON SPRINGS — Charlie Provenza knew it was only a matter of time.
In the almost decade since his son, Nick Provenza, was diagnosed with bipolar and schizoaffective disorders, he had been brought into custody under the Baker Act about 25 times because his father, or mother, or a couple of times even strangers, thought he would harm himself or others.
So when state investigators showed up at the elder Provenza's Palm Harbor home to tell him his son had been shot and killed by a police officer, he was devastated — but not surprised....
Charlie Crist, Women's March Pinellas organizers rally in St. Petersburg to 'save American healthcare'05/07/17 Blog
ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and organizers from Women's March Pinellas joined with about 50 people Sunday for a rally against replacing the Affordable Care Act with a healthcare plan passed late last week by House Republicans.
Crist spent much of his speech during the "Save American Healthcare" rally at North Straub Park lambasting his colleagues who voted in favor of the American Health Care Act, calling it "the worst piece of legislation" he's seen during his years as an elected official. ...
Firefighters were poised to begin the cleanup process after bringing a roughly 2,300-acre wildfire in Pasco County mostly under control Sunday.
Officials said during an afternoon news conference the size of the blaze held all day at 2,275 acres and was 70 percent contained Sunday evening. Firefighters had managed to stop the fire in Starkey Wilderness Preserve about a mile and a half west of the Suncoast Parkway, quelling fears that it would hop the road and consume homes....
05/04/17 Local Government
LARGO — When Michael Smith came out as gay in 2008, he was "scared to death" for how friends and family would react, he said.
Almost a decade later, the Largo city commissioner has become an advocate for the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His involvement was recognized last month when Smith, 36, was chosen as a grand marshal for the St. Pete Pride Parade this June and awarded Equality Florida's Voice for Equality Award....
DUNEDIN — Vish Woods was doing laundry in his garage when he heard the gunshots.
He dashed through the open door to the driveway. But by the time he made it outside, the Dunedin cul-de-sac where he lives with his mom and brother was quiet again in the waning twilight.
Neighbors who heard the three shots emerged from their homes just in time to hear four more ring out from a street just north of them. A couple across the cul-de-sac from Woods called police....
A 28-year-old handyman is accused of taking money from three elderly people for work he never completed, and Pinellas County sheriff's detectives think there may be more victims.
Justin Kyle Crist of Clearwater faces charges of felony petty theft and grand theft from a person 65 years or older, as well as an unrelated driving without a valid license charge, the Sheriff's Office said Monday....
ODESSA — Firefighters beat down a 40-acre, wind-fueled wildfire Sunday that affected traffic on State Road 54 and forced the closure of Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park.
Authorities said the fire was 90 percent contained Sunday night.
Motorists were warned to use caution this morning on SR 54 because of smoke lingering in the area.
Pasco officials said the park would be open for normal operating hours today....
04/28/17 Local Government
LARGO — Commissioners will consider during Tuesday's commission meeting an ordinance to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.
The proposed ordinance is in response to the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 that authorized the use of low-THC and medical marijuana, not the Constitutional amendment approved by voters in the November election.
Development of medical marijuana dispensaries within Largo has been under a 180-day moratorium since December while city officials drafted the new rules. The proposed ordinance, which commissioners will vote on in public hearings on Tuesday and May 16, includes:...
Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies said they were already called to the house in unincorporated Largo twice for complaints about a loud party.
They issued two warnings and told the host, 20-year-old Salvador Andres Contreras, to keep it down, according to his arrest report.
As they rolled up a third time just after 1 a.m. on April 23, an intoxicated 17-year-old boy jumped off the roof of the one-story house at 13461 Del Prado Drive S. They also saw several people drinking and smelled marijuana inside the house....
04/23/17 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — The rabbi pointed to his sign to explain why he and about 50 other people marched Sunday through downtown St. Petersburg.
"Never forget," it read.
"This is all about never forgetting," said Rabbi Steven Weiler of Shoresh David Messianic Synagogues, "because if we remember, we won't repeat it."
The group walked from the Florida Holocaust Museum to North Straub Park holding signs and Israeli flags as part of a worldwide remembrance of the 6 million Jewish people killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during the Holocaust. The march had three goals to keep in mind, Weiler said: never again, never forget and do not be silent....
Evacuation orders have been lifted in Collier County where a brush fire has been raging over the weekend along with two others in Lee and Polk counties and more than 100 across the state.
Collier County officials said Sunday the roughly 5,500-acre fire in Golden Gate Estates is about 50 percent contained and the rest close to being secured after firefighters were aided by rain.
"There was a lot of good work done last night, and Mother Nature gets credit for giving us a little bit of a break," said Dan Summers, director of Collier County emergency services, during a news conference....
04/21/17 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — The paramedics were in the 7-Eleven parking lot for barely a minute when the first call came in Tuesday.
Chris Johnson, heading into the convenience store, turned on his heel and got back into the driver's seat of the SUV packed with medical equipment. Within a few minutes, he and paramedic Carlos Rivera were outside a soup kitchen checking the blood sugar of a man experiencing a seizure....
Police: St. Petersburg man drops own poop into laundromat washing machine
A 57-year-old man defecated on the floor of a laundromat then dropped his poop into a washing machine, according to St. Petersburg police.
About 7:40 a.m. Saturday, a witness saw Michael Shannon poop on the floor of a laundromat at 3435 15th Ave. S. Shannon picked up the feces and pressed it into the detergent-loading compartment of a washing machine. The incident caused $475 worth of damage, according to Shannon's arrest report....
04/12/17 Public Safety
Pinellas County filled its top emergency services job last month with a former Clearwater fire deputy chief who spent the last decade leading a large emergency medical services system in Washington state.
Jim Fogarty, 62, was chosen from about four dozen applicants for his extensive experience managing EMS for King County, home to Seattle, said Assistant County Manager John Bennett. Before that, Fogarty spent about 25 years with the Clearwater Fire and Rescue Department, where he rose to deputy chief of emergency medical services....