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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. Hernando Sheriff's Office identifies bank robber killed after chase, places 7 deputies on administrative leave

    Crime

    Authorities have identified a bank robbery suspect fatally shot by Hernando County sheriff's deputies after a wild chase Friday in which the fleeing suspect rammed several patrol cars in Brooksville.

    The suspect, Scott Michael Chamberlain, 44, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The name of the hospital and time of death were not given in a Hernando County Sheriff's Office news release Saturday....

    Chamberlain
  2. Two linemen lose their wedding rings in Tampa Bay. So far one has been found and returned.

    Human Interest

    Two linemen who spent days restoring power in the Tampa Bay area had the same unfortunate mishap: They lost their wedding rings.

    Both were heartbroken, frustrated and hoping for some kind of mini miracle. One of the couples got lucky and now the other may have reason not to give up hope.

    Michael White works for Pike Electric in Indiana. When he left Florida with his crew, he unknowingly left his ring behind in Brooksville. It had fallen to the ground while he was working....

    Facebook helped Michael White find the wedding ring he lost while helping restore power in Tampa Bay.
  3. Clearwater man arrested after DNA ties him to St. Pete rapes in 1999 and 2001

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — After almost two decades, police said, they have made an arrest in two unsolved sexual assault cases by matching DNA evidence to that of a Clearwater man.

    Terry Dewayne White, 49, was arrested Thursday and faces charges of sexual battery in cases from 1999 and 2001, according to St. Petersburg police.

    White's DNA was entered into the FBI's national database as part of another agency's investigation, and St. Petersburg police matched it to the DNA evidence collected in the cold cases....

    Terry Dewayne White, 49, was arrested Thursday at his Clearwater home.
  4. Deputies: Woman and stepmother assault driver in Pasco road rage incident caught on video

    Crime

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A woman and her stepmother were accused of pulling another woman through her car window and then beating her unconscious in the roadway in an apparent road-rage incident, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

    The incident took place about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday when two cars were stopped next to each other in the northbound lane of Little Road at Trouble Creek Road. Pasco deputies said Alicia Nikole Scarduzio, 20, and her stepmother, Shelley Lyn Gemberling, 49, started arguing with the driver of the car next to theirs, which was in the left lane of Little Rock Road....

    Charged: Shelley Gemberling, 49, and Alicia Scarduzio, 20.
  5. After Hurricane Irma, Tampa Bay officers headed south to help out

    Public Safety

    When Hurricane Irma was forecast to pummel Tampa Bay, Tampa police Cpl. Whitney McCormick was ready for the worst — to lose her home and all of her possessions.

    Then the storm swerved around the bay area, sparing the region from major devastation. So she volunteered to go help those parts of Florida that were not so fortunate.

    "I felt like we needed to take care of those it did happen to," McCormick said....

    Tampa International Airport Police Department Sgt. Eric Diaz (left) stands next to Tampa Police Department Cpl. Whitney McCormick at the Collier County Command Post in the days after Hurricane Irma. More than 100 local law enforcement officers traveled from Tampa Bay to help out the county. (Courtesy of Whitney McCormick)
  6. Duke Energy tells customers to ignore high bill estimates, suspends late fees for latest billing cycle

    Energy

    ST. PETERSBURG — TJ Noor felt like one of the lucky ones: His home on 22nd Avenue N didn't lose power long when Irma's winds downed trees and power lines throughout Tampa Bay.

    But then Noor, 25, got his electric bill on Friday morning. At $700, it was nearly triple what he usually pays for the 1,500 square-foot-home he shares with three others.

    So he tried calling Duke Energy....

    Linemen from Duke Energy work to restore power along 22nd Ave S and 38th Street  in St. Petersburg on Sept. 11, 2017, after the high winds of Hurricane Irma knocked out power. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  7. Need ice? There are a few, but scarce, options in Tampa Bay

    Hurricanes

    Since stores started reopening after Irma's thrashing across Florida, the hunt for ice has been on and, so far, is showing no signs of easing up.

    Among the more than 2.6 million Floridians still without power Thursday are people who say they've spent hours trying to find bagged ice to no avail.

    They've driven store to store; gas station to gas station. Most stores are sold out and unsure when they'll be back in stock. Store officials admit it's a problem....

    At the State Theater in downtown St. Petersburg, general manager Kendra Marolf handed out ice to those who needed it on Wednesday. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  8. Irma's winds blew thousands of baby squirrels from trees, now these Tampa Bay groups are trying to save them

    Wildlife

    Nancy Murrah walked into her yard in Brandon the morning after Hurricane Irma passed over Tampa Bay and saw fallen tree limbs tangled and piled on top of each other. As a wild animal rescuer, she had one thought:

    There's going to be thousands and thousands of baby squirrels on the ground everywhere.

    She was right.

    What she didn't expect was the volume of abandoned infant squirrels people would bring to rescuers. In the 24 hours after Irma's departure, Murrah's wildlife group — Tampa Bay Raptor Rescue — was inundated with 212 baby squirrels. The Category 1 winds that blew through Tampa Bay had sent the babies' nests flying and their mothers fleeing. This is the time of year squirrels give birth, leaving them one of the most vulnerable groups of wild animals facing the storm's strong winds and heavy rains in Florida....

    Rescue groups across Tampa Bay are caring for more than 300 baby squirrels after Hurricane Irma's winds threw them from their nests. (Suncoast Animal League)
  9. 'Spider-man' spotted aiding in Hurricane Irma cleanup in Florida

    Hurricanes

    He wasn't shooting webs from his wrists or flinging his body off roof tops, but a Florida man was certainly living up to the moniker "Your friendly neighborhood Spider-man" in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma this week.

    A Bradenton woman, Cheryl Hanbury, posted a photo to her Facebook page of a Spider-man with a chain saw scaling a tree in her neighborhood. Hanbury wrote the Spider-man was helping cut up the huge tree that covering her street and blocking the roadway on Monday. Since then, people have been sharing her snapshot and enjoying Florida's sense of hurricane humor....

    A Bradenton woman, Cheryl Hanbury, posted a photo to her Facebook page of a Spider-man with a chain saw scaling a tree in her neighborhood. Hanbury wrote the Spider-man was helping cut up the huge tree that covering her street and blocking the roadway on Monday. [Photo from Facebook]
  10. After Irma: Hundreds of out traffic lights in Tampa Bay prompt close-calls, accidents and frustrated drivers

    Roads

    Irma may have left town, but along with the fallen trees and damaged structures she left behind hundreds of dysfunctional traffic lights that are frustrating drivers across Tampa Bay.

    As of Tuesday morning, about 300 traffic lights were estimated to be out in Pinellas County, according to the Sheriff's Office. Estimates from every county were not available, but the power companies handling the outages have said they've made restoring traffic signals a top priority....

    A gray Toyota car drives through an inoperable 4-way traffic light without yielding at the intersection of E Floribraska and N Florida Avenues in Tampa on Tuesday.
  11. Forecast: Irma's eye expected to pass over Tampa Bay with extreme winds, rain tonight

    Hurricanes

    Irma is coming and her eye is forecast to pass directly over Tampa Bay.

    With her comes hurricane-force winds, heavy rain and a continued risk of tornadoes.

    After days of watching Irma's track begin its shift toward the Gulf coast, the National Hurricane Center has a clearer picture of what Florida, and Tampa Bay, will have to endure under the monster storm's wrath. ...

    Mark Ditullio, 29, and Amber Hicks, 28, of St. Petersburg fill sand bags on Gandy Blvd near the approach to the bridge ahead of of Hurricane Irma in St. Petersburg on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. They've prepped their house and are stocked with supplies, but they've loaded more than 50 sandbags for family, neighbors and others who have asked. "We are ready," Ditullio said. "Anybody else who isn't, you help who you can." [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]

  12. Hurricane Irma: Evacuations, anxiety as storm edges closer to Tampa Bay

    Hurricanes

    Hurricane Irma continued its ominous march toward Florida on Friday as residents prepared to escape or survive the most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded.

    LIVE BLOG: The latest on Hurricane Irma

    In Tampa Bay, the wait grew more anxious: The latest forecasts show the monster storm making landfall near Naples on Sunday before making its expected trek up the state, bringing it closer to the bay area....

    TRACEY MCMANUS   |  TimesClearwater's Raymond Hartley is staying in his 1986 doublewide despite an evacuation order.
  13. An anxious search for more plywood as Irma draws closer to Tampa Bay

    Hurricanes

    ST. PETERSBURG — A line of at least 130 people (and growing) spilled out of aisle 18 at the Home Depot on 22nd Avenue N on Friday morning as those hoping to protect their homes from mega storm Irma's winds waited on plywood.

    Across the street, another hardware store was already sold out of the wood as people clamored to cover their windows in advance of the tropical storm- to hurricane-force winds expected in the area this weekend....

    Tanner Loebel, foreground, waits in line Friday at a St. Petersburg Home Depot for the plywood he needs to board the windows of his home before Hurricane Irma closes in on Florida. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Times]
  14. Forecast: Tampa Bay will feel the brunt of Irma on Sunday afternoon, into Monday

    Hurricanes

    Hurricane Irma isn't just huge, it's massive — wider than the state of Florida.

    Its tropical storm-force winds span an area the size of Georgia, and its hurricane-force winds would nearly cover Massachusetts.

    Animated forecast projections show the swirling system swallowing up Florida. The Tampa Bay area was put under a hurricane watch late Friday morning. While questions linger about Irma's path, forecasters on Friday were beginning to get a clearer picture of what the bay area could face when the storm passes....

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  15. U-Haul to Floridians: We will store your stuff during Irma for free

    Hurricanes

    U-Haul announced on Thursday that 96 of it stores across Florida will offer free self-storage and 'U-Box' shipping containers in response to Category 5 Hurricane Irma's projected path toward the state.

    Floridians who go to U-Haul for help will get the free service for 30 days, the company said, under its "disaster relief assistance program."

    "Thousands have begun to leave their homes, creating an immediate need for secure facilities where evacuees can store their possessions," said Cal Conner, a U-Haul company president for Florida. "This is a neighborly service we have the ability to extend as Irma approaches, and in her aftermath."...

    This 2015 photo shows Jim Slagle and his son, Zach Slagle, sift through their flooded yard in preparation to leave their house in Lutz, Fla. on Aug. 7 during a flood. U-Haul is providing free storeage to Floridians ahead of Hurricane Irma. (SCOTTY SCHENCK | Times
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