By Times staff writers
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 4, 2001
A 37-year-old Largo man has been arrested on a charge that he sexually battered a teenage girl in December, Pinellas County sheriff's deputies reported.
Todd Ashley Kite, 13665 126th Ave. N., was arrested Friday on suspicion of performing a sex act on the girl without her consent, arrest reports state. The girl is younger than 16, according to the report.
TAMPA -- A man who died in a multivehicle crash Friday on U.S. 301 in Thonotosassa has been identified as 50-year-old Max Wayne Laninghan of Zephyrhills.
Laninghan was driving south on U.S. 301 in a Ford pickup about 4:40 p.m. when a Subaru station wagon going north was rear-ended and careened into the path of the pickup.
The two passengers in Laninghan's truck were taken to Tampa General Hospital, where authorities said they were in good condition Saturday. They were identified as William Jay Melvin, 25, of Alachua, and Devanath Lalsiew, 40, of Lehigh Acres.
The three were heading back from a work site in the pickup, which belonged to Diversified Drilling Corp. of Tampa.
Sheriff's officials said a white pickup pulling a trailer struck the Subaru when a 36-foot motor home in front of the Subaru slowed to turn off the highway. No one in those vehicles was injured.
Clearwater firefighters battled two fires Saturday that started within 15 minutes of each other and about a mile apart.
No one was hurt in either fire.
Firefighters first were summoned at 1:07 p.m. to a single-family home at 1401 Viewtop Drive. They found fire in the back of the home, but had put it out within 20 minutes, fire officials said.
No one was home and no one was injured. The family living there was staying with relatives Saturday night, fire officials said.
The fire was under investigation.
The second fire was 13 minutes later at 1101 Woodcrest Ave. Crews found smoke coming from a fire that started in the garage and extended into the attic. Firefighters had the blaze under control in 30 minutes. Damage was estimated at $30,000.
Firefighters think the blaze was caused by an electrical problem. The couple who live as the address were not at home at the time, but their cat was killed in the fire, firefighters said.
A single-engine plane crashed into a drainage ditch at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport on Saturday afternoon, but the pilot was not injured.
The two-seat Cessna 152 had landed at the airport about 3:30 p.m. when the right wing came up and the plane became airborne again, said Rich Lesniak, airport operations supervisor.
The craft then crashed into the ditch, causing minor damage to the plane. The pilot, whose identity wasn't available, was unhurt, Lesniak said.
Lesniak said a crosswind may have caused the wing to come up.
No flights were delayed because of the crash, he said.
ST. PETERSBURG -- A fire that started in the kitchen chased several people from a St. Petersburg home Saturday afternoon and caused heavy smoke damage, fire officials said.
No one was injured.
St. Petersburg firefighters were summoned to 1940 30th St. S at 12:38 p.m. and found fire in the kitchen and smoke throughout the home, said Lt. Jeff Satmary, who was on the first engine to arrive.
Fire crews had the fire out within 12 minutes. Flames burned the kitchen and an adjoining room and also punched through to the attic. Fire crews halted the fire there, but the fire damage and heavy smoke made the home uninhabitable, District Chief Neil Crumity said.
Crumity said there were six or seven people, including two children, inside when the blaze began. Everyone got out safely, he said.
Residents of the home were upset and did not want to talk with a reporter. Crumity said the American Red Cross was called and would help family members with shelter or other needs.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
VALRICO -- A 15-year-old Valrico girl was arrested Friday and accused of making a bomb threat at Bloomingdale High School, authorities said.
The student left a note in the girl's bathroom Feb. 27 saying there was a bomb in the school, sheriff's officials said. The Times is withholding her name because of her age.
Her arrest came a few days after the head of Hillsborough schools announced plans to seek harsher punishments for students caught making bomb threats. The district has received about 20 bomb threats since Feb. 20, resulting in about a dozen arrests.
School Superintendent Earl Lennard said he wants the offenders expelled for up to two years. Students now caught face felony criminal charges and are usually sent to alternative schools.
TAMPA -- Hillsborough County Sheriff's detectives are investigating the suspicious death of a woman whose burned body was found Saturday morning by a trash bin in Riverview.
Lt. Harold Winsett said an ambulance crew saw smoke about 11:15 a.m. coming from a bin on the property of Miller Bros. Co. at 4614 U.S. 41 S. They pulled over to take a look and found the badly burned body next to the trash bin.
Firefighters were called to douse the burning bin. The medical examiner's office removed the body. The woman had not been identified.
TAMPA -- The manager and several dancers at the Whiskey River Saloon were arrested Friday night during a raid by the Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff's deputies had been investigating the bikini bar near Thonotosassa since December and have warrants pending for 17 other people, officials said.
Seven were arrested Friday on charges ranging from lewdness to possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
It was not the first time dancers have been arrested at the bar at 11301 US 301 N. In September, more than a dozen dancers were charged with prostitution, lewdness and nudity.
Sheriff's officials said they received complaints that dancers were nude in violation of the bar's liquor license.
TAMPA -- Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies are looking for a woman who checked into a motel for a week but disappeared after the first day.
Kelley P. Skeens, 35, moved out of her boyfriend's house on Wednesday and checked into the Extended Stay Motel on Morris Bridge Road, Lt. Harold Winsett said. She paid rent for one week and left most of her clothing in the room, then failed to show up for work.
She was reported missing Thursday.
Her 1997 white Isuzu Rodeo was found in the area of Davis Road and Fowler Avenue Friday night.
Sheriff's detectives ask anyone with information about Skeens to call (813) 247-8000.
TAMPA -- A 15-year-old boy was arrested early Saturday in Sulphur Springs after stealing a car and trying to escape police, authorities said.
The teenager was seen at 2:48 a.m. near Linebaugh Avenue and Brooks Street in a 2001 Dodge Stratus that had been reported stolen a few hours earlier. A Tampa police helicopter followed him overhead, while patrol cars drove parallel to his location.
The young driver turned off his lights, then sped up on Linebaugh and lost control. The car struck an oak tree on the southeast corner of the intersection, and the driver fled.
A 15-year-old passenger remained unconscious in the car, which caught on fire. Officers removed him and captured the driver. He was charged with grand theft auto and taken to the juvenile assessment center.
The passenger was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he was in critical condition Saturday morning, police spokesman Joe Durkin said.
The youths' names were not released.