Local Crime Watch: Sept 27

Two Men Capsize under the Dick Misener Bridge Tuesday; One Dies

By Angelina Bruno

On September 25 at 9:44 a.m., Marine Unit deputies received a 911 call from a bicyclist riding over the Dick Misener Bridge, who noticed a capsized vessel just east of the bridge. Paramedics with St. Petersburg Fire Rescue were first to arrive on scene in their rescue boat when they located 62-year-old Stephen Smith, clinging to the rear of a capsized 15-foot Gheenoe fishing boat. Smith told paramedics his friend, 59-year-old Robert Kleinman, had floated away from the vessel. 

Paramedics found Kleinman in the water nearby, being assisted by an unidentified good samaritan. Paramedics then transported Kleinman to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg hospital for life-threatening injuries, where he was pronounced deceased at 10:42 a.m. on Tuesday. His friend Smith was not injured.

Through the course of the investigation, deputies learned that Smith and Kleinman were fishing near the Dick Misener Bridge in the boat when they were struck by a series of large wakes made by passing vessels. Their vessel started filling with water and capsized.

Smith told deputies he and Kleinman were in the water trying to right the vessel for approximately 30 minutes. The boaters were struck by another passing boat wake when Kleinman got separated from the boat and floated away.

Deputies learned Kleinman had a pre-existing medical condition that may have contributed to his death. His death does not appear suspicious in nature, but the case will remain under investigation until the autopsy is complete. 

Eckerd College Search and Rescue assisted deputies during the water rescue and recovered the capsized vessel. 

A sampling of police reports from September 13 through September 19 in Gulfport. 

Source: Gulfport Police Department 

9/13- Traffic arrest in the 5700 block of Gulfport Boulevard South. 

Officer Nieves observed a vehicle in front of him make a sudden lane change so he ran the tag displayed on the vehicle. The registered owner had a suspended license and there was a seize tag order issued by the State of Florida. Gary Geiser Jr was arrested for driving on a suspended license. His tag was seized and vehicle impounded.

9/13- Resisting an officer without violence in the 5500 block of the Pinellas Trail. While officers were investigating a stolen bicycle, Officer Carter located a person on the Pinellas Trail after dark. Officer Carter activated his emergency lights and the person fled from him. Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office K-9 and flight units responded to assist, but were unable to locate the person. Officer Carter was able to identify him though and charges are pending.

9/13- Warrant arrest in the 400 block of 59th Street South. Officers responded for a report of a missing adult. During the investigation, the reported missing adult returned. A records check revealed the man had an outstanding warrant issued by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for theft. William Tirpak was arrested on that warrant and transported to the Pinellas County Jail.

9/14- Traffic stop/narcotics arrest in the 5200 block of 17th Avenue South. Officer Carter saw a vehicle with an expired registration, so he conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle. It turns out that the tag on the vehicle was not assigned to the vehicle and the driver, Ernesto Torna, did not have a valid driver’s license. Torna was arrested and his vehicle was impounded. During the inventory required prior to impound, Officer Carter located crystal meth and heroin in the vehicle. Torna and his passenger, Joseph Akey, were charged with possession of meth and heroin.

9/15- Theft in the 800 block of 59th Street South. A resident reported that he had a surveyor place flags down the property line so that he could show that his neighbor’s fence is over his property line. The neighbor apparently removed the flags the surveyor put down.

9/16- Theft in the 1400 block of 58th Street South. A resident reported that a female had taken his phone from the charger in his residence and left with it.  Officers were eventually able to get the female to return to the scene and give the phone back to the victim. The resident did not want to press charges. 

9/17- Criminal mischief at Save A Lot. Video surveillance showed that at 11:30 p.m. the night before, a white male wearing dark pants and an open Hawaiian style shirt walked up to the front of the store and threw a glass coke bottle through the front door, shattering the glass. The male returned to the store several hours later at around 2:30 a.m. but never entered the store. 

9/17- Theft in the 4600 block of 29th Avenue South. A resident called to report that he saw a white male in a red Dodge pickup truck stealing decorative rocks that belong to the city. When the suspect saw the witness attempting to get his tag information, he allegedly drove directly toward the witness and fled the scene.

9/18- Assist Fire Rescue in the 5200 block of Gulfport Boulevard South. A vehicle caught fire and pulled off into an alleyway. There were no injuries and the fire was extinguished. Officers assisted fire rescue with traffic control.

9/18-  Assist Fire Rescue in the 5500 block of Shore Boulevard South. Officers responded to the location involving a female subject making noises inside the women’s bathroom. The female stated she was sleeping in the bathroom and must have been dreaming. Sunstar transported the female to the hospital for a high heart rate.

9/18-  Resisting an officer without violence in the 1800 block of 55th Street South. Officer Carter saw a juvenile male, who he knew to have an active felony warrant for his arrest. When Officer Carter attempted to stop the subject he ran. Officers were unable to locate the juvenile.

9/19- Traffic arrest in the 6400 block of Gulfport Boulevard South. Officer Priest stopped a vehicle for speeding. The driver of the vehicle, William Jones, did not have a valid driver’s license and was arrested for driving on a suspended license. He was transported to the Pinellas County Jail.

9/19- Assist Outside agency in the 6100 block of 10th Avenue South. An officer responded to the area reference a stolen cell phone case that was reported to the Largo Police Department. The victim was able to track the location of the phone to a residence in Gulfport. Officers were able to retrieve the cell phone from the resident who stated the cell phone was found on the side of the road.


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