Local Crime Watch: Aug 1

Boat Crash Seriously Injures Two Passengers in South Pasadena

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), deputies assigned to the Marine & Environmental Lands Unit are investigating a boat crash that seriously injured two passengers.

The crash occurred at 6:10 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, on the seawall at 8041 Sailboat Key Boulevard in South Pasadena.

Ryan Craft, 24, of Orlando, was operating a 1999 Hewes 18-foot center console northbound, behind 8041 Sailboat Key Boulevard in South Pasadena. This area is posted a slow speed/minimum wake zone.

According to reports, Craft attempted to make a left turn to travel westbound, towards the Intracostal Waterway when the front of the vessel collided with a seawall, ejecting two of the five occupants.

The ejected passengers were Melia Garcia, 23, and Stephanie Ludwig, 29, both of St. Petersburg. Garcia was uninjured, however Ludwig suffered serious injuries.

Passenger Andrew Mentch, 30, of Treasure Island, was not ejected, but was seriously injured in the collision. He and Ludwig were both transported to Bayfront Health hospital.

Craft and passenger Thaddasone Phepsavath, 25, of Pinellas Park, remained on the boat after the collision and were uninjured.

According to authorities, speed appears to be a factor in the crash. Boating Under the Influence-related charges are pending the results of a blood test. The investigation is ongoing.

Five Swimmers and Three Fireman Caught in Rip Current on St. Pete Beach

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), deputies assisted with a water rescue after five swimmers and three fireman were caught in a rip current on St. Pete Beach.

At about 11:37 a.m. on Wednesday, July 24, deputies responded to reports of several swimmers struggling to swim back to shore due to the strong current on the beach behind 4700 Gulf Boulevard.

When deputies arrived, they observed James Tate, 58, and Lisa Tate, 37 – both of Pennsylvania – Lewis Mazzone, 38, of Wesley Chapel, and an unidentified female clinging to two Styrofoam boards in distress approximately 40 to 50 yards offshore.

Another swimmer, Lonnie Fuchs, 48, of Indiana, made it to the beach on his own and was receiving medical attention from paramedics on the scene.

Deputies say two fireman from the St. Pete Beach Fire Department swam out to assist the distressed swimmers when they, too, were caught in the rip current.

The ensuing water rescue was a collaborative effort that lasted almost 20 minutes according to the PCSO, and included the assistance of Good Samaritans, fire rescue and deputies.

A PCSO deputy and a Good Samaritan were able to assist the unidentified female swimmer back to shore using a rescue throw rope. A third fireman entered the water to assist with a throw rope but was also caught in the rip current.

First responders and bystanders worked together with rescue throw ropes to pull James Tate, Lisa Tate and Mazzone to shore.

Marine Unit deputies responded with a boat and rescued one fireman. The other two fireman were able to grab rescue throw ropes and were pulled back to shore.

Fuchs was transported to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries. No other injuries were reported.

A sampling of police reports from July 18 through July 28 in Gulfport and St. Pete Beach.

Source: Gulfport Police Department and Pinellas County Crime Viewer


7/18 – Burglary to a vehicle in the 4900 block of 10th Avenue South. A resident reported that someone got into their pickup truck through the sliding window at the rear of the truck cab. Prescription medication was reported missing from the truck. 

7/20 – Stolen vehicle in the 2400 block of 58th Street South. During the shift change, officers heard a truck squealing its tires and then accelerating at a high rate of speed eastbound on Gulfport Boulevard South. It turns out, the truck had been stolen from the back yard of a residence on 58th Street South. The truck was seen multiple times by officers from the St Petersburg Police Department (SPPD) during the day and was eventually recovered. A witness was able to identify the driver through a photo lineup, and SPPD located and arrested him on 7/21, his 13th birthday. At the time of his arrest, the driver had the key to the stolen truck in his pocket. The firearm that was in the truck has not been recovered.

7/20 – Burglary to a vehicle in the 1400 block of 52nd Street South. A resident reported that he was walking south on 52nd Street South when he saw a man in the street and another man inside a vehicle during the early morning hours. Officers circulated and attempted a K9 track but the suspects were not located. The owner was out of state and advised the vehicle may have been unlocked and there was nothing of value in it.

7/21 – Arrest on warrant in the 900 block of 59th Street South. A resident reported a suspicious vehicle parked in the driveway of a vacant house. When officers made contact there were two people in the vehicle. One of them, Douglas Cade, had two outstanding warrants for dealing in stolen property and passing a worthless check. The warrants were confirmed, and he was arrested. 

7/22 – Stolen vehicle in the 2000 block of 52nd Street South. A resident reported that her grey Volkswagen Passat was stolen from her front yard. She believes she dropped the key in the front yard and someone found it and took the car.

7/22 – Fraud at Walgreens. Employees reported that an unidentified woman fraudulently obtained a $400 gift card by deceiving the cashier into hitting the cash purchase button while she was pretending to use a credit card. This same suspect has hit multiple Walgreen’s in the area with the same scam.

7/22 – Deceased person in the 2500 block of 54th Street South. A landlord went to check on a resident and found his badly decomposed body on the floor of the apartment. At this point in the investigation, there is no evidence that the death was anything other than natural.

7/22 – Theft in the 1800 block of 52nd Street South. A resident reported finding opened Amazon boxes in the alley that belonged to another address. The packages were delivered on 7/21 and someone took them from the delivered address and opened the boxes, stealing approximately $100 worth of merchandise.

7/22 – Arrest on warrant in the 5300 block of 15th Avenue South. Sergeant Marotta stopped a car for a traffic violation and the driver, Vanessa Reece, had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear on two counts of theft. The warrant was confirmed and she was arrested. 

7/23 – Theft in the 2800 block of 46th Street South. While a landscape company was doing work on the side and rear of a residence, someone took a trimmer from the work vehicle. The work vehicle’s tailgate was left down and the trimmer was just inside the vehicle bed. 

7/24 – Retail theft in the 4900 block of 17th Avenue South. Officers responded to a business where a female was attempting to steal items from the business. Prior to the arrival of law enforcement officers, an employee attempted to get the items back from the woman but was unsuccessful. The suspect got into a vehicle and fled the scene with the items. The business was unaware of what items were stolen.

7/24 – Burglary to a vehicle in the 4600 block of 29th Avenue South. Officers responded to an in-progress vehicle burglary. The complainant was able to point out the suspect to the responding officers. The suspect, a juvenile, was located and arrested. She was transported to the Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center. 

Burglary – Vehicle

7/23, 10:30 p.m., 4600 block of 29th Avenue S

Theft – grand

7/22, 9:40 a.m., 2800 block of 46th Street S

St. Pete Beach

Theft – grand

7/25, 12:19 p.m., 9500 block of Blind Pass Road

7/27, 9:05 a.m., 4400 block of Gulf Boulevard

Theft – petit

7/28, 10:30 a.m., 6100 block of Gulf Boulevard

Vandalism – criminal mischief

7/22, 9:52 a.m., 9200 block of Blind Pass Road

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