Pastor Arrested, Stolen Car Crash, Driverless Shuttle and More

Here are some of today’s news stories from around the Tampa Bay Area.

Pastor Arrested After Alleged Sexual Assault

A Pasco County youth pastor is accused of sexually battering a boy. The alleged crime involved a 38-year-old man named Jeremiah Joseph Smith and happened nearly ten years ago.

The victim, who was 17 at the time, told deputies Smith was his youth minister at First United Methodist Church for several years. According to the arrest report, the 17-year-old victim would often spend his time at Smith’s house in Hudson. The arrest report also said there were at least eight instances at the home where Smith would tell the victim to take his clothes off and go into the laundry room where many of the assaults would allegedly take place.

Pasco deputies said Smith claimed the incidents happened when the boy was 18-years-old. The arrest report also said Smith is a teacher for grades 6 through 12 at Genesis Prep School in New Port Richey.

Stolen Car Crash

A stolen car crashed into a St. Petersburg home late Monday night. Police said a stolen Hyundai lost control shortly after 10 p.m., drove through a fence and crashed into a parked car in front of the home.

The impact pushed the parked car into the wall of the house while one man was inside. An older man, the only person home, was not injured. The driver of the stolen car ran from the scene and has not been found. The investigation is ongoing.

Driverless Shuttle At USF

The University of South Florida is driving into the future. The Center for Urban Transportation partnered with Coast Autonomous, a company specializing in autonomous vehicles for low-speed environments such as campuses and airports.

The Center for Urban Transportation is testing self-driving shuttles on campus that may provide efficient transportation for students.

The driverless vehicles seat up to 10 passengers and run every 20 minutes. The president of Coast Autonomous, Adrian Susseman, says some students have responded well to the idea.

“The smooth ride, the silent ride…they love the new technology,” Susseman said. “It’s really like an iPad on wheels.”

USF is the latest location to test the technology. Throughout the week of Feb. 11-15, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., USF students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to take a ride in the self-driving shuttle bus and experience what it’s like to ride in a vehicle without a steering wheel.

Pedestrian Safety

Hillsborough County deputies are trying to keep pedestrians safe. They handed out safety tips at dangerous intersections Tuesday on Fletcher Avenue.

According to a recent report, Florida was named the most dangerous state for pedestrians. Nine-hundred pedestrian deaths were reported in the Tampa Bay area over the last 10 years. Deputies will spend three days a week raising awareness thanks to the High Visibility Enforcement Grant. The program for pedestrians and bicyclists target four areas within Hillsborough County.


Director: Hikari Nitta

Anchor: Lou Maldonado

Graphics: Patrick Bluck

Technical Director: Megan Ghillyer

Prompter: Garrett Byrne

Audio: David Jones

Floor Director: Marquetta Wilson

Camera Operator: Cole Martinez