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Man rescues teenager in water after wreck

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 13, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- A man fishing on The Pier leaped into the water Thursday afternoon to rescue a teenager who hit a wooden piling with a rented watercraft, was knocked out and was floating face-down.

"I heard a big crash, so I ran down there," said the fisherman, 25-year-old Ray Morofsky. "I saw him in the water, and I jumped in and flipped him over.

"I didn't think about it."

Morofsky got the unconscious 17-year-old back onto the damaged craft. The owner of a personal watercraft rental business on The Pier went out on a second watercraft to retrieve them.

The injured youth, whose name wasn't available late Thursday, hit a piling at The Pier's southeast corner about 4 p.m. A life jacket kept him afloat until Morofsky reached him.

The teen was taken to Bayfront Medical Center to be treated for cuts and injuries to a knee and his left shoulder, said St. Petersburg Fire Lt. Chris Bengivengo.

Firefighters praised Morofsky for his quick action.

"He was pretty courageous," Bengivengo said. "More than likely, he saved this guy's life."

Hours later, Morofsky was still fishing at The Pier. His clothes still were wet.

"It was no big thing," he said.

Ex-judge reprimanded by state Supreme Court

As reprimands go, this one doesn't mean much to Bonnie Newton, her attorney says.

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday formally reprimanded Newton, a former Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge, for her "abusive, demeaning and sarcastic" behavior to the lawyers and litigants who once appeared in her courtroom.

Newton had previously agreed to the sanction. But the high court will not require her to travel to Tallahassee to receive the reprimand in person because she left office in January 1999 after her defeat at the polls.

The Supreme Court followed the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, which acts as a watchdog for judicial behavior.

Scott Tozian, Newton's Tampa attorney, said Newton previously agreed to findings of fact by the JQC and pleaded guilty to its charges to avoid a legal fight and meaningless trial on the charges.

"It didn't make make sense to go through a protracted trial when she had already been defeated in her re-election bid," Tozian said.

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