Pinellas Deputies Conduct Death Investigation After Small Fishing Boat Capsized Near the Skyway Bridge

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Pinellas Deputies Conduct Death Investigation After Small Fishing Boat Capsized Near the Skyway Bridge

At about 9:44 a.m. on September 25, 2018, Marine Unit deputies from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a bicyclist riding over the Dick Misener Bridge, who noticed a capsized vessel just east of the bridge.

Paramedics with St. Petersburg Fire Rescue were first to arrive on scene in their rescue boat when they located, 62-year-old Stephen Smith of St. Petersburg, clinging to the rear of a capsized 15 foot Gheenoe fishing boat.

Smith told paramedics his friend, 59-year-old Robert Kleinman of Pinellas Park, had floated away from the vessel.

Paramedics found Kleinman in the water nearby, being assisted by an unidentified Good Samaritan.

Paramedics transported Kleinman to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Deputies transported Smith, who was not injured, to the Maximo Park Boat Ramp.

Eckerd College Search and Rescue assisted deputies during the water rescue and recovered the capsized vessel.

Through the course of the investigation, deputies learned that Smith and Kleinman were fishing near the Dick Misener Bridge in the fishing boat when they were struck by a series of large wakes made by passing vessels. Their vessel started filling with water and capsized.

Smith told deputies he and Kleinman were in the water trying to right the vessel for approximately 30 minutes. The boaters were struck by another passing boat wake when Kleinman got separated from the boat and floated away.

Kleinman was pronounced deceased at about 10:42 a.m. on Tuesday, September 25, 2018.

Deputies learned Kleinman had a pre-existing medical condition that may have contributed to his death.

Kleinman’s death does not appear suspicious in nature.

Next of kin has been notified.

The investigation continues.

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