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Sara DiNatale, Times Staff Writer

Sara DiNatale

Sara DiNatale is a digital and breaking news reporter who keeps on the pulse of what people are buzzing about in Tampa Bay. She is from Buffalo, New York, where she graduated with a degree in English from the University at Buffalo. She has worked for the Boston Globe, the Oregonian and the Buffalo News.

Phone: (727) 893-8862

E-mail: sdinatale@tampabay.com

Twitter: @sara_dinatale

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  1. As summer concert season starts, Tampa Bay venues remain vigilant after Manchester attack

    Public Safety

    In the aftermath of the Monday night explosion that killed at least 22 people — including children — moments after a pop concert ended in England, local venues assured the public that security will remain tight for the Tampa Bay area's upcoming big-ticket shows.

    "First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this horrible tragedy at the Manchester Arena," said Raymond James Stadium officials in a statement issued Tuesday....

    Fans cross Himes Avenue in Tampa toward Raymond James Stadium before the start of Beyonce's Formation World Tour in Tampa on April 29, 2016. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  2. St. Petersburg police arrest man they say killed father of six Timothy Davis

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police on Saturday arrested a 26-year-old man wanted in the killing of a father of six.

    St. Petersburg police said they took Denzel Tarver into custody without incident at 10:30 a.m. He was arrested on charges of second-degree murder in the May 15 slaying of Timothy K. Davis Jr.

    Officers issued a warrant for his arrest Tuesday.

    Police said Tarver shot Davis at 11th Avenue S and 23rd Street and then ran. Police and paramedics arrived quickly, but efforts to resuscitate Davis failed. ...

    Denzel Rashad Tarver, 26, faces a second-degree murder charge in the death of Timothy Karl Davis, 34, a father of six was shot and killed on May 15, 2017, in St. Petersburg's Jordan Park neighborhood. [St. Petersburg Police Department]
  3. Calling the Pasco County Sheriff's Office for help leads to social media humiliation, woman says

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Felicia Nevins and her husband have been trying to conceive a child for three years now. They decided to try artificial insemination — something she had yet to tell her own family about.

    But now, she said, everyone knows — thanks to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

    "I didn't want any of this," she said.

    The Sheriff's Office wrote on its official Facebook about a recent mishap she had while trying to store sperm in a thermos with dry ice. By forgetting to remove a rubber O-ring, the container could have exploded....

    The Pasco County Sheriff's Office wrote a Facebook post on Thursday about a woman who needed help to prevent a thermos she was using for artificial insemination from exploding. She said she was mortified that the sheriff's post had enough information for people to figure out who she was. [Facebook]
  4. The Avon Park wildfire we could smell from Tampa Bay now 50 percent contained

    Wildlife

    Folks who smelled smoke while leaving their homes in the immediate Tampa Bay area on Thursday shouldn't have been alarmed. There was no wildfire in their backyard.

    There is a fire, but it's close to 100 miles away, if you're coming from St. Petersburg.

    The smoky smell has traveled from a 6,000-acre wildfire in the Avon Park Air Force Bombing Range, an area straddling the Highlands-Polk County lines. ...

    Clearwater Beach is lost in a smokey haze from a wildfire at the Avon Park bombing range Thursday morning. [JIM DAMASKE | TIMES]

  5. A South Carolina teen dies after caffeine overload, leaving others to wonder: How much caffeine is too much?

    Health

    The story of South Carolina's Davis Cripe seems, at first, almost unbelievable:

    Authorities said the healthy 16-year-old died in a high school classroom after drinking a large amount of caffeine in a short amount of time.

    While the teen died under rare circumstances, Dr. Fadi Matar, a Tampa cardiologist, said adults and teens still need to be aware of the dangerous risks that come with caffeine-packed drinks and "booster" shots....

    A coroner says a healthy 16-year-old South Carolina high school student died from heart problems after drinking too much caffeine. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Davis Cripe drank a large Mountain Dew, a latte from McDonald?€™s and an energy drink in the two hours before his heart fell out of rhythm at Spring Hill High School on April 26. [Photo from video]
  6. Remember that man who threatened a Muslim family on a Texas beach? There's a Florida connection (w/video)

    Crime

    Alexander Downing pounded his chest on the video. It showed him screaming in the faces of a Muslim family trying to enjoy a family reunion on a Texas beach.

    "You will never, ever stop me, my Christianity from rising above your sharia law," Downing, drink in hand, told the family on May 2, according to South Padre Island police.

    Downing's curse-filled tirade was filmed by the Muslim family and the video went viral last week. He was arrested on a charge of public intoxication. His mug shot, in which he appeared to be crying, quickly spread across the Internet....

    Alexander Downing’s angry rants were posted on YouTube.
  7. Truck runs over foot of Palm Harbor University student who was walking near school

    Accidents

    PALM HARBOR

    A 15-year-old student is seriously injured after a pickup truck ran over her foot while walking near Palm Harbor University High School early Tuesday morning, according to law enforcement.

    The Florida Highway Patrol said Alexus Waytowich was walking south in the parking lot of the high school approaching Delaware Avenue. Troopers say she tried to cross the street by walking behind a stopped school bus, stepping into the eastbound lane....

  8. 2017 Hurricane Season: Pet owners must come up with a plan for their animals before the storm strikes

    Hurricanes

    When it's storming outside, your cats and dogs will (likely) be hiding under the bed instead of preparing themselves for an evacuation.

    It's not their job to get ready for a hurricane. It's your job to get them ready.

    "Your pets are your responsibility just as much as the other members of your family," said Dr. Sonja Olson, a senior clinician for BluePearl Veterinarian Partners, "and part of that responsibility is to be prepared."...

    When it's storming outside, your cats and dogs will (likely) be hiding under the bed instead of preparing themselves for an evacuation.

  9. FHP makes arrest in road rage case that resulted in shattered van window (w/video)

    Crime

    TAMPA — Florida Highway Patrol found and arrested the man they say got so upset after a fender bender on Interstate 4 he shattered another man's window.

    Troopers said Eric Joseph Starowicz, 26, got out of his Jeep and said he "should kill" the other driver "right then and there" on Friday.

    Just before noon, Starowicz was driving his vehicle west on the I-4 entrance ramp from 21st Street, east of the I-275 interchange, behind a white van....

    Troopers said Eric Joseph Starowicz, 26, got out of his Jeep and said he "should kill" the other driver "right then and there" after a road rage incident in Tampa on Friday (FHP).
  10. Pasco deputies question man about 9-year-old girl's story, no arrest made

    Crime

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco County Sheriff's Office interviewed the 18-year-old man deputies wanted to question about an incident in which a 9-year-old girl said two men chased her after school on Tuesday.

    Sheriff Chris Nocco held a press conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday asking for the public's help to locate Drew Bretnall, 18, who deputies wanted to question about the girl's account....

    The Pasco County Sheriff's Office was looking to question an 18-year-old man driving this kind of vehicle after a 9-year-old girl reported that two men chased after her on Tuesday. Deputies spoke to the man on Wednesday but no arrest has been made. Deputies continue to investigate the girl's story. [Courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office].
  11. A USF professor was featured during Jimmy Fallon's 'Tonight Show' opening

    The Feed

    A University of South Florida professor had a moment in the limelight Tuesday when he was called up on stage during the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

    Tuesday, Fallon told his crowd, was "National Teacher Day." He asked if there were any teachers in the room, and soon about a dozen audience members were walking down toward the stage. At the end of the pack was Rick Kelso, a beloved instructor in USF's marketing department....

    Jimmy Fallon called up all the teachers in his audience on Tuesday for "National Teacher Day." In the crowd was USF professor Rick Kelso. (NBC)
  12. Before he fled to Tampa, police say he sexually assaulted a girl in Delaware then threw her in a pond

    Crime

    TAMPA — Daniel Santucci Jr. took a trip to Florida after becoming the most wanted man in Delaware.

    Police in New Castle County were piecing together evidence they said pointed to Santucci, 23, as the man behind one of the area's most heinous crimes. Detectives say the Deleware man kidnapped a 4-year-old girl from her home in the Village of Plum Run.

    He lured the girl to his car, police said, and then he sexually assaulted her. And then, said the county's Chief of Police Vaughn Bond, Santucci threw her in a pond and left her there to die....

    Daniel Santucci Jr., 23, was arrested in Tampa on April 20, 2017. He was wanted in connection with the abduction and sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl in Pike Creek, Del. [New Castle County Police Department]
  13. USF to lose out on millions because of last-minute bill change

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — University of South Florida leaders thought this was the year that they would finally claim their prize.

    Bills before the Legislature since January had cleared the way for USF Tampa to achieve a years-long goal — being named one of Florida's "pre-eminent" universities — with all the prestige and millions in extra state dollars that come with it. The school was set to join the ranks of only the University of Florida and Florida State University with the state's highest seal of approval....

    Florida Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said the change for preeminent status shouldn’t surprise USF, as he’s been arguing for it all session.
  14. Succulents are the plant Tampa Bay (and the rest of the country) are going crazy over

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jamie O'Berry's favorite book as a child was The Secret Garden. As an adult living in a small blue house with a big back yard, she has a secret garden of her own.

    Inside reside about 3,000 succulents and cacti.

    There are succulents growing inside plastic dinosaurs and unicorns. Succulents hanging from a line that stretches the length of the yard. Succulents in teacups, in wine corks. There are ones in a glass Dutch shoe, a porcelain cat, a lantern, and a tiny dolphin....

    The succulents growing in Jamie O'Berry's St. Petersburg garden. She has about 3,000 succulents and cacti she sells at markets across the bay area. [SARA DiNATALE  |  Times]
  15. Coast Guard suspends search for Tampa Bay sailor missing in the Atlantic

    Public Safety

    The Coast Guard suspended a 45-hour search on Wednesday afternoon for a Tampa Bay sailor whose boat ran aground in North Carolina earlier this week.

    Richard Tomlinson, 82, took his boat out about three weeks ago to head to Maine and visit his daughter in Chesapeake Bay, said his Pinellas Park neighbor and friend, Steve Hodges.

    "Some might say he was reckless," Hodges said, "but knowing his skill level, he wasn't reckless. He just lives on a higher plane than most of us."...

    The Coast Guard is searching for Richard Tomlinson, 82, of Clearwater, after his sailboat was found aground near Hatteras, N.C., on Monday. Tomlinson was reportedly sailing from Clearwater to Maine. [U.S. Coast Guard]