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Child rescued from river dies 7 months after fall

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 28, 2000


TAMPA -- A child who fell into the Hillsborough River seven months ago died June 21 from complications of the fall.

The accident occurred on Dec. 8 when three of the four Torres children wandered from their home. An hour later, two of them were found floating in the river.

Three-year-old Meriah died that day. Julian, who turned 3 in February, was pulled from the water alive. But Julian's weakened lungs succumbed to bronchial pneumonia, and he died last Wednesday, Hillsborough sheriff's officials said.

Julian lived with his parents, Benjamin Torres and Tiffany Martinez, at River Tree Landing apartments on the banks of the Hillsborough River. Neighbors said the children were not allowed outside alone, but somehow eluded their parents the morning of Dec. 8.

Once Julian and Meriah fell into the 61-degree water, a 4-foot wooden embankment trapped them in the river.

Largo chief suspends two involved in Explorer scandal

LARGO -- Police Chief Jerry Bloechle suspended two officers and reprimanded another Tuesday for their roles in the Largo police Explorers scandal in the early 1990s.

Two police disciplinary department panels had recommended written reprimands for all three, but Bloechle disregarded those recommendations for Officer Karl Gracy and Sgt. Scott Dorflein.

Gracy was suspended for five days. Dorflein was given a three-day suspension.

An Internal Affairs investigation that began in late March determined that Gracy had consensual sex off-duty once with a female Explorer in 1992. Dorflein, who was suspended for three days, told investigators the same Explorer had gone to his apartment, but he denied having a sexual relationship with her.

Sgt. Melanie Holley, a former adviser for the Explorer post, was reprimanded for not reporting facts and rumors about improper relationships between officers and Explorers, a Boy Scout program that provides on-the-job training for youths.

Plane leaking fluid turns back, lands safely in Tampa

TAMPA -- A US Airways 737 jet on its way to New York from Tampa International Airport began leaking hydraulic fluid and returned to TIA Tuesday.

No one was injured. Metrojet flight 2676 was carrying 113 passengers and crew out of Tampa shortly after 10 a.m. when the pilot requested a return landing, said TIA spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan.

She said the pilot reported landing gear problems.

The plane landed safely at 10:40 a.m.

Nude club owner sues city for denying application

TAMPA -- Nude club owner Joe Redner sued the city Tuesday for refusing to let him build a strip club downtown in the shadow of the Tampa Convention Center.

He bought an abandoned warehouse at Florida Avenue and Channelside Drive last month and tried to apply to the city for an adult entertainment permit, Redner said.

But zoning officials refused to accept the application because city codes don't allow such uses in the central business district, he said.

The suit, filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, claims the club would not blight the area or cause an increase in crime or other adverse effects as stated in the adult-use ordinance.

City Attorney James Palermo said he hadn't seen the suit and wouldn't comment on it.

Redner owns two Tampa nude clubs, Mons Venus on N Dale Mabry Highway and Scarlett's World Class Men's Club on Courtney Campbell Parkway, and a half-interest in a third, the Tanga Lounge on Courtney Campbell.

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