Tampa attorney for woman charged in son’s drowning reiterates client’s innocence

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side spoke exclusively with Tabatha Long last week just moments after she left the Orient Road Jail in Hillsborough County. Long’s attorney reiterated her client’s story Wednesday.

“I think it’s insane because it was an accident,” Long told reporter Ryan Hughes. “It was a freak accident. So no, I didn’t think I needed to be charged for it.”

Today, her attorney shared that sentiment.

“Well, naturally, she was shocked by these charges, did not expect these charges and categorically denies these charges,” attorney Brandon Stein said outside his law office in Ybor City Wednesday.

Stein said Bentley Long, 9, knew how to swim even though Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said the boy didn’t.

“Bentley was able to swim,” Stein said. “He had the ability to swim. He was nine years old.”

But, what Stein didn’t explain, is exactly what happened in Bullfrog Creek in Gibsonton on July 31.

The Sheriff explained that Long had the boy on her back as she waded into the creek.

The current swept him away, Chronister said.

Stein said his client was completely unaware of the scary conditions in the creek that summer day.

“As it relates to what she says happened, this was a tragic incident and this was a drowning that she had no idea how dangerous the conditions were,” Stein said. “She had no idea that the undercurrent was such that it would lead to such an event.”

When asked if his client was high and drunk at the time of the incident, as Chronister claimed at a press conference, Stein said she denies that as well.

He said he looks forward to dealing with the case in the court and certainly not in the public arena.

A spokeswoman with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office sent the following statement to 8 On Your Side:

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office stands behind the results of its investigation and the results of the toxicology report. Tabatha Long agreed to a blood draw following her son’s drowning. Alcohol was found to be in her system, and results showed that marijuana was in her system as well. We cannot provide further information on who spoke to deputies throughout the course of this investigation. That information is confidential for their protection.

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