Investigation into fatal St. Petersburg scuba tank blast turns to missing regulator, stolen gear

Posted: 09/17/2011 in all marine news

Jamal Thalji – 

The investigation into the deadly scuba tank blast that killed Russell Vanhorn II on Sunday continues to move forward this week.

Investigators had to go back to the scene of the explosion Tuesday to find a key piece of evidence left in the rubble. They’re also retracing the tank’s history and arranging for local and federal experts to test it.

St. Petersburg police are also exploring this angle: Was any scuba gear involved in the explosion stolen?

“We’re looking at the possibility that some … stolen equipment may have turned up here,” said police spokesman Mike Puetz.

Vanhorn was accused of stealing a dive reel from his former employer, Scuba West in Hudson, according to court records. In August he was charged with misdemeanor petty theft.

According to a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office report, a Scuba West employee said she saw a dive reel inside Vanhorn’s lunch bag in April. Cave divers use the reels so they won’t get lost.

She determined Vanhorn hadn’t paid for the reel, the report said. Owner Jeff Tobey said he fired Vanhorn, and received this e-mail from him: “I wish I could turn back time and stop myself from taking the reel.”

Full story…

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