Officials expect 10,000 people to pay their respects at memorial services Friday for K-9 Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz, left, and Sgt. Thomas Baitinger, members of the St. Petersburg Police Department, who were killed in the line of duty on Jan. 24.
ST. PETERSBURG - City officials estimate more than 10,000 could turn out for services on Friday, Jan. 28, honoring St. Petersburg Police Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and K-9/TAC Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz.
The men died in the line of duty Monday, Jan. 24 in St. Petersburg.
Friday’s memorial service begins at 11 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, 1900 Gandy Blvd. The service includes final police and a release of doves, flyover and 21-gun salute.
“While everyone is encouraged to honor Sgt. Baitinger and Officer Yaslowitz, they should be aware that access to both the viewing and memorial service will be extremely limited,” St. Petersburg officials said in a press release. “Seating inside the sanctuary for family, friends, and the local law enforcement community will take precedence.”
Large video monitors will be set up outside the church for remote viewing. Friday's memorial service will be broadcast live on all local TV networks. Officials are encouraging the public to watch at home or work when possible. The service will also be streamed live at www.fbcstpete.org External Link - please view our web policies at the bottom of the page for more information.
Parking, street closures and detours
The church parking lot will be reserved for members of the officers' immediate families, friends, law enforcement and other dignitaries in attendance. Two alternate parking locations will be utilized for Friday's service: the former Kmart/Sears lot, on the SW corner of MLK Jr. St. and Gandy Blvd., and Derby Lane, 10490 Gandy Blvd. Law enforcement will be on site and may direct motorists to park in additional areas, if needed. Free shuttle transportation to the church will be provided from these lots.
Motorists are advised to plan for heavier than normal traffic on Friday near I-275 and Gandy Boulevard. Gandy Boulevard will be closed to traffic from I-275 to MLK Jr. St. N. beginning at 8 a.m.
Both north- and south-bound I-275 will be accessible from Gandy from the west but motorists are advised to expect lengthy delays. I-275 will not be available westbound from Gandy.
All eastbound traffic will be diverted north or south along I-275 by officers posted at that location.
Normal traffic flow is expected to resume on Gandy around 5 p.m. Friday.
Additionally, the frontage road/94th Avenue near First Baptist will be closed to through traffic; local residents needing access to Gandy will pass through a uniformed checkpoint.
Motorists traveling on I-275 to Friday's service are urged to avoid the Gandy exit, where the largest delays are likely, and northbound motorists are advised to exit at 38th or 54th Avenues N., travel east to MLK Jr. Street N., then north to the intersection of MLK/Gandy Blvd.
The former Kmart/Sears parking lot is located on the southwest corner. Derby Lane parkers should travel north from either 38th or 54th Avenues, using Fourth Street N., then proceed east on Gandy to the track on the right.
Motorists coming from Tampa are encouraged to exit I-275 at Fourth St. N. or MLK Jr. Street N., traveling south until they intersect with Gandy. Motorists may either utilize the parking lot at the SW corner of MLK Jr. St. N. and Gandy or travel east on Gandy to park at Derby Lanes. Tampa motorists may also use the Gandy Bridge to access either parking location.
When the service concludes, the funeral procession will depart for Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park Cemetery, 2860 Sunset Point Road in Clearwater. The procession is expected to depart the church at approximately 3 p.m. The route is as follows:
- Departs church and heads East on 94th Avenue North
- Turns North on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street North
- Turns West on Roosevelt Boulevard (S.R. 686)
- Continues West and merge with Ulmerton Road (S.R. 688)
- Turns West on Ulmerton Road (S.R. 688)
- Turns North on 49th St. N/Bayside Bridge
- Continues North on Bayside Bridge/North McMullen Booth Road (C.R. 611)
- Turns West on Sunset Point Road
- Ends at 2860 Sunset Point Road (Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park Cemetery)
Due to the large number of law enforcement vehicles involved and the length of the procession, motorists are advised to expect lengthy traffic delays. Uniformed officers will be stationed at key intersections along the route to ensure smooth traffic flow and to allow the procession to pass.
The public will be allowed to pay their respects along the funeral route as long as it is safe to do so. Upon arrival at the cemetery, both caskets will be present for private graveside services and interment for Officer Yaslowitz. Following interment, the casket containing Sgt. Baitinger will be escorted to a local funeral home for private family arrangements.