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By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 12, 2000


Lawsuit says eye surgeon used experimental tool

TAMPA -- A patient of eye surgeon and former University of South Florida professor James Rowsey filed a lawsuit Friday that accuses the ophthalmologist of using an experimental surgical tool without proper consent.

It's a charge Rowsey has faced before, from USF and from national boards such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Friday's lawsuit, filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, claims Rowsey did not tell the patient he was using an experimental tool during a June 1995 cornea transplant. The patient, Harry David Rogers, said he was left legally blind after an unsuccessful surgery. The lawsuit also names the Ambulatory Surgery Center at 4500 E Fletcher Ave., where the surgery was performed. Rowsey could not be reached for comment.

In September 1999, the ophthalmology academy accused Rowsey of violating medical ethics and suspended his membership for two years.

Man in jail on charges he abused animals

TAMPA -- A man wanted on charges that he abused animals at his wildlife preserve in Seminole Heights turned himself in to authorities Friday.

Bert Wahl, 44, showed up at the Hillsborough County Courthouse after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued warrants for his arrest Monday. Wahl owns Wahl's Wildlife Rescue Inc. at 127 W Hiawatha St. and was the subject of complaints that he abused animals. The warrants were issued after state officials said they found several animals living in squalor and at least 20 others dead during a raid in June.

Wahl remained in jail Friday night.

Teen charged with starting fire at King High School

TAMPA -- A King High School student has been charged with starting a fire Thursday in a boys bathroom that forced evacuation of the school.

Kevin Tall, 17, of 614 Sportsman Park Drive in Seffner was charged with first-degree arson. He was arrested Friday and taken to the Juvenile Detention Center.

Officials said he admitted bringing an incendiary device to school, but they released no details.

Officials said Thursday that an explosion was caused by a fire in a toilet bowl that became so hot the porcelain exploded.

Man, 46, dies Friday from car crash injuries

TAMPA -- A 46-year-old Lithia man died Friday morning at Tampa General Hospital of injuries suffered in a car crash Wednesday.

Bryan Bourgeois-Smith had lost control of his 1992 Toyota Camry about 9:30 p.m. while driving west on Fishhawk Boulevard. The car swerved to the left, then the right, before going into a spin, sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Rod Reder said.

The car left the road and crashed. into a utility pole.

FBI arrests Valrico man in insurance inquiry

TAMPA -- The FBI arrested a 38-year-old Valrico man Friday on charges he bilked elderly insurance customers out of $63,000 in premiums when he formerly worked in Pennsylvania, the FBI announced. James Patrick Kelley was arrested at his house on Erin Brooke Drive. Kelley formerly worked as an insurance agent in the central Pennsylvania town of Montoursville.

Deputy fires shot at vehicle as it speeds away

TAMPA -- It was 2:10 a.m Friday, and the driver of a 1997 Kia Sephia had backed into a parking space at an apartment complex at 139th Avenue and 15th Street, sheriff's officials said.

Then he just sat there, they said. That looked suspicious to deputies Carlos Garcia and Robert Corn, who walked up to the Kia to question the driver.

Instead of answering questions, officials said, the driver took off in the car, brushing the legs of both officers. Neither deputy was hurt, but Garcia fired once at the fleeing car with his 9mm handgun, officials said. The Kia was later found abandoned, and with a flat tire, about three blocks away. Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Rod Reder said it wasn't known whether the bullet Garcia fired had flattened the tire. Garcia will remain on the job while the shooting is investigated.

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