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Tampa attorney's 2016 drowning ruled accidental, husband's attorney says

Posted at 5:05 PM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 23:18:00-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- The death of a well-known Tampa attorney who drowned during a boating outing with her husband was ruled accidental.

On November 12, 2016, Blaise Gamba and her husband went out on a boat for a fun day on the water. The next day, Blaise Gamba was dead and her husband William was a prime suspect.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office never charged William in connection with his wife's death. According to William's attorney Lucas Fleming, the case was recently closed and ruled an accident.

"He was cleared of any wrongdoing," Fleming said. "He's still devastated. Will's never been able to grieve the loss of his wife."

RELATED: Lawsuit alleges husband drowned wife in Gulf, all to collect million dollar life insurance policy

Since Blaise's death, Fleming said William drew suspicions from investigators.

According to investigators, at the time of the accident, Blaise and her husband were about five miles off the coast of Madeira Beach. Her husband made a distress call to a passing boater, who stopped and radioed for help.

William performed CPR on his wife while waiting for marine deputies and paramedics to arrive. Shortly after they got on scene, William was unconscious.

The couple rushed to a nearby hospital.

Fleming said Gamba's version of events never changed.

A key piece of evidence, according to Fleming, was the 911 call. Fleming said detectives were able to amplify the audio and could hear Blaise Gamba coughing in the background, corroborating what Gamba said happened on the boat.

Blaise was a well-known attorney in Tampa Bay, specializing in business law at the Carlton Fields firm. She started working there 14 years ago while in college and was inspired to attend law school.

At the time of her death, colleagues told ABC Action News Blaise was full of joy and loved the outdoors. They tell us she was kind and thoughtful in her work, and toward others. That led her to seek a lot of pro-bono cases, volunteering time with Bay Area Legal Services, the Election Protection Program, and serving on her firm's pro-bono committee, encouraging others to lend their expertise to those who couldn't afford an attorney.

A lawsuit filed last year alleged that William drowned his wife in the Gulf, all to collect a million-dollar life insurance policy. The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Blaise's mom, Nancy Huhta, calls it premeditated murder.

Deputies initially wrote in the incident report that they believed the injuries were related to a diving accident. Diving equipment was located on William's boat and both William and Blaise were wearing wet suits at the time of the incident.