Thousands of Sea Oats planted for man lost at sea ripped out of the ground

Family sickened by senseless vandalism
Posted at 10:29 PM, Jul 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-13 23:37:23-04

On June 5, Arthur “Dennis” Velasco, fell off of his catamaran 15 miles northwest of Anclote Key. Since that day, Velasco’s wife Patti has been struggling to make sense out of everything.

“I just can't believe someone would do something like this,” Patti said.  

On Saturday, the entire family, friends and strangers gathered to do what Dennis had done for nearly 20 years, plant sea oats in the beach. Everyone was there except Dennis, making the day a bittersweet one.

“I can't begin to tell you how much Dennis would have appreciated this if he'd been here,” Patit said.

Nearly a hundred volunteers worked for three hours in the sweltering heat Saturday to plant the 10,000 sea oats on the beach.  

On Wednesday, Patti learned that more than a thousand were plucked from the holes that were neatly dug for them and discarded onto the sand. Her husband is the chairman of the Treasure Island Beach Stewardship Committee and loved Treasure Island, so seeing it vandalized makes Patti even angrier.
“It makes me sick... It really does. I can't help myself,” Patti said.   

As Patti struggles to make sense of life without her husband, she hopes whoever did this is caught.

“I would hope that whoever did this didn't maybe realize this was a one-time event, where we were honoring my husband, who is lost at sea,” Patti said. “Shame on them. I just cant imagine anyone doing this, it is horrific. They should be found and made to put those plants in. They took them up; they should put them back.”

Law enforcement estimate 40 percent of the plants were destroyed, the damage totaling $4,000.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County at 1-800-873-8477. You are eligible for a $3,000 reward.