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FDLE arrests Lake City man
for child pornography
By FDLE Office of Public Information
Published Feb. 18, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
LAKE CITY -- Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents today Tuesday, Feb. 18) arrested Jarod Dustin Rice, 33, of 200 S.E. Sundial Place, Apt. 234, Lake City, for 10 counts of possession of child pornography.
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With assistance from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, FDLE executed a search warrant at Rice’s residence. Child pornography, some of which featured children as young as seven years old, was found in Rice's apartment.
Rice was booked into the Columbia County Detention Center at 12:33 p.m. today. Additional charges are dependent upon completion of forensic exams. The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office, Third Judicial Circuit.
For tips on keeping your children safe online, visit the Secure Florida website at: https://www.secureflorida.org/SF/Family-Safety/BPParents.
seek leads in fatal shooting
By MCSO Sgt. Paul Bloom, Public Information Director
Published Feb. 16, 2020 at 9:10 p.m.
BELLEVIEW -- On Friday (Feb. 14), 2020 at approximately 5:15 p.m., Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a home in the 4400 block of Southeast 115th Street, Belleview, in reference to a shooting.
Upon arrival, deputies located an adult white male suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim was transported to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
The victim has been identified as Charles Brady, 32.
Detectives have named Rene Nadal, 28, as a person of interest in this case. Nadal currently has a warrant for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
If you have any information regarding Nadal’s location, please call 9-1-1. If you wish to stay anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers of Marion County at 352‐368‐STOP (7867). Tips can also be submitted at https://ocalacrimestoppers.com/. For Crime Stoppers, please reference 20‐11 in your tip.
Ocala man leaps to his death
after Valentine's Day crash;
Woman seriously injured
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 14, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
MARION COUNTY – An Ocala man leaped to his death after a crash very early Friday morning (Feb. 14), the FHP said.
Coty Lee Davidson, 33, of Ocala was driving a 2009 Toyota Tacoma at 12:20 a.m. on Feb. 14 in Marion County, according to a press release from Florida Highway Patrol Lt. P.V. Riordan, based on information from crash investigator FHP Cpl. James Lander and homicide investigator FHP Cpl. Kristine Schultz.
Meagan A.H. Fadlovich, 30, of Gurnee, Illinois was a passenger in the Toyota, the FHP said.
Davidson was driving southbound on I-75, the FHP said, when for unknown reasons, the vehicle veered off the roadway, near Marion County Road 329, where its right front and rear right struck the center guardrail.
After the initial collision with the guardrail, the FHP said, the Tacoma reentered the southbound lanes and began to overturn.
The vehicle came to final rest on its roof, the FHP said, facing eastward. While the Toyota was overturning, Fadlovich, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected and fell from the Interstate onto the north guardrail of CR 329 below, the FHP said.
Per information provided by a passerby, Davidson exited the Tacoma and jumped over the Interstate wall falling to the north grass shoulder of CR 329 below, the FHP said.
Davidson was pronounced dead at the scene and Fadlovich was taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center with serious injuries, the FHP said.
reveals grow house
Story and Photos Provided
By LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond
Published Feb. 13, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.
BRONSON -- On Feb. 12, at 3:30 p.m., deputies with the Levy County Sheriff’s office responded to 12070 N.E. 20 St. to a reported suspicious death.
Deputies met with a witness whose speech was incoherent and unintelligible, but the deputies were able to decipher from the speaker that a person was still inside the home and apparently was dead.
Deputies entered the home and in the process of searching for the deceased person, fell immediately ill after inhaling noxious fumes inside the house.
They located the remains of a 52-year-old male before having to exit the home. Deputies were treated and released on scene by Levy County Department of Public Safety medical professionals after it was determined the fumes were created by a combination of chemicals and fertilizer inside the home, which were being used in a sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operation.
LCSO Drug Task Force and Criminal Investigations detectives secured a search warrant for the home and discovered a high yield multiple room grow operation. The Eighth Judicial Circuit Medical Examiner’s Office is assisting the LCSO to determine the cause of death. There is no indication the death of the 52-year-old is due to a violent act.
This is an ongoing investigation. No arrests have been made at this juncture of the investigation. Anyone who has information that could aid detectives is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 352-486-5111 and request Sgt. Mike Narayan or Det. Rob Bowers.
captured and charged;
Boys' names released
Photos of seized BB guns provided by LCSO
By Jeff M. Hardison
Published Dec. 26, 2019 at 2:09 p.m.
Updated Feb. 13, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.
LEVY COUNTY -- Two 17-year-old boys are facing several felony and misdemeanor charges after being arrested and charged by the Levy County Sheriff's Office, LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond noted in late December.
On Thursday (Feb. 13), the names of the suspected felons were released.
Yasmany Vizcaino, 17, and Yaniel Rodriguez, 17, are charged with 10 counts of various crimes in Levy County including felonious firing a weapon into a conveyance (vehicle), felonious firing a weapon into a dwelling and misdemeanor criminal mischief, Tummond said.
The two boys face a similar number of felonies and misdemeanors from their alleged actions in Alachua County, Tummond said.
Beginning on Dec. 21, 2019, deputies with the Levy County Sheriff's Office began receiving complaints from individuals who live west of the Town of Bronson, as they were reporting criminal mischief (vandalism), Tummond said.
Like the LCSO, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office investigated reports of criminal mischief with the use of BB guns in the Archer area, Tummond said. The LCSO and ACSO worked together to connect these two boys with the 20 or so criminal acts.
In each case when LCSO deputies responded, evidence was discovered that person(s) unknown shot vehicle windows, homes and outbuildings with what appeared to be a BB gun, Tummond said. Multiple windows on vehicles and homes were broken and exterior siding of several homes were dented, Tummond said.
On Dec. 24, 2019, LCSO Deputy M. Sinclair and Deputy K. Smith responded to a home located near Northeast 88th Lane and 113th Avenue. The caller told deputies he heard what he thought was a gunshot outside his home, and when he went to investigate, he saw the back window of his truck had been shot out, Tummond said.
He saw a white car speeding away from the scene, Tummond said. While speaking to the deputies, a white car sped back by the home and was immediately identified by the victim as the same car he saw moments earlier, Tummond said.
Deputies Sinclair and Smith pursued the vehicle and stopped it, Tummond said. Vizcaino and Rodriquez told the deputies they had BB guns under their front seats, Tummond said. The following roadside investigation discovered the two juveniles were responsible for the Christmas criminal mischief, Tummond said.
The BMW getaway vehicle they were using, as well as their custom BB guns were seized and both suspects went to the Levy County Jail to spend the remainder of Christmas Eve there, Tummond said.
On Thursday, Tummond said the victims in these cases lost a lot of property, and some of it is very expensive. One of the vehicles hit with BBs was a 2020 motor coach, that will not have any possible replacement windshield available for purchase until June at the earliest, Tummond said, and that replacement cost will be in the range of $2,000.
“And that is just one of the vehicles,” Lt. Tummond said.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The names of the two suspects were withheld for a couple of months because of an active investigation, Lt. Scott Tummond said. Since the two individuals who are younger than 18 years old are charged with felonies, their names are part of the public record that is eligible for release, and their names are published here after the LCSO and the ACSO completed their investigations. All suspects are presumed innocent unless they are proved to be guilty through due process of law.
busted for meth
Larry Lewis Jr. and Emily Timmons
Mug Shots By DCSO
By DCSO Maj. Scott Harden
Published Feb. 12, 2020 at 9:10 p.m.
DIXIE COUNTY -- On Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 11), the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint about individuals “squatting” on a property owner’s property in Old Town.
Later that night, the deputy returned to the property and found two individuals inside the mobile home. After identifying the male and female, the deputy again checked with the property owner to confirm that they in fact were not allowed to be there.
Once this was confirmed, the deputy informed the subjects that they were trespassing. The deputy conducted a search of the mobile home at the owner’s request.
During the search, the deputy found methamphetamine and various drug equipment. As a result of his findings, the deputy arrested both subjects.
Larry Lewis Jr., 48 of Trenton, and Emily Timmons, 39 of Old Town, were both arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and three counts of possession of drug equipment.
Motorcyclist dies in crash
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 12, 2020 at 8:10 p.m.
ALACHUA COUNTY -- A 34-year-old Waldo man died in the very early hours of Wednesday (Feb. 12) in a motorcycle crash, the FHP said.
Daniel Joe Russell, 34, of Waldo was driving a 2007 Harley Davidson motorcycle at 3:35 a.m. on Feb. 12 in Alachua County, according to a press release from Florida Highway Patrol Lt. P.V. Riordan.
Russell was southbound on U.S. Highway 301, the FHP said, when the vehicle left the roadway, and entered the western ditch of U.S. 301.
The motorcycle hit a culvert, became airborne and came to final rest in the southern entrance of Mugshots Grill and Bar, 19510 N.E. U.S. Highway 301, in Waldo, the FHP said.
Russell came to rest in the ditch north of the southern entrance to Mugshots Bar, the FHP said. He was not wearing a helmet, the FHP said. Alcohol-blood content results are pending, the FHP said.
Police Chief Gets Plaque
Chiefland Police Chief Scott Anderson holds a plaque presented to him for the successful completion of the process with the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development helping the city obtain four new police cars, as noted in the story published Monday Feb. 10 on the Home Page. He is seen here Monday night (Feb. 10) at the Chiefland City Commission meeting. This plaque is signed by USDA Rural Development State Director Philip Leary. It notes ‘Together, America Prospers.’
Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 11, 2020 at 8:10 p.m.
Traffic stop results in arrest
Russell V. Harper
Mug Shot By DCSO
By DCSO Maj. Scott Harden
Published Feb. 11, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
CROSS CITY – Last Thursday evening (Feb. 6), a deputy with the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office was patrolling in the area of Northeast 592nd Street when he stopped a vehicle for inoperable tag lights.
The deputy then learned that the driver Russell V. Harper, 42, of Clermont, had a suspended driver’s license.
The vehicle Harper was driving was registered to the Hertz Corp. and that registration was canceled in 2004.
A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed 15 different pills that included Dextroamphetamine, Buprenorphine Hydrochloride and Zenzedi.
All three of these different pills are listed as a schedule II controlled substance.
Harper was arrested and charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance, as well as driving on a suspended license and attaching a tag not assigned to the vehicle to which it was attached.
with abuse of elderly
By the FDLE Office of Public Information
Published Feb. 11, 2020 at 10:10 a.m.
MARION COUNTY -- Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Monday (Feb. 10) the arrest of guardian Rebecca Fierle-Santoian on charges of aggravated abuse of an elderly person and neglect of an elderly person.
Fierle-Santoian was arrested by Marion County Sheriff’s deputies on an FDLE warrant Monday evening.
The investigation began following a complaint to the Office of Public and Professional Guardians about the death of a 74-year-old man under the guardianship of Fierle-Santoian. The investigation shows the elderly man did not want a do not resuscitate order (DNR) and stated several times that he wanted to live.
Medical professionals who examined him believed he was capable of making end-of-life medical decisions for himself and informed Fierle-Santoian that her client had a strong desire to live and that he understood his condition. Despite the wishes of the elderly man and those of his family and friends, Fierle-Santoian ordered his doctors not perform any life-prolonging medical procedures saying she preferred “quality of life versus quantity of life.”
In addition to the DNR, Fierle-Santoian insisted the victim’s feeding tube be capped ignoring doctors who told her this would likely cause his death. The man also requested that he continue receiving nutrition through the feeding tube.
Contrary to the advice of medical professionals, Fierle-Santoian obtained an order to cap the feeding tube which was done on May 9, 2019. The man died on May 13, 2019 at a Tampa hospital.
The investigation continues and the case remains active. The FDLE, Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Attorney General Moody’s Office continue to investigate. The Office of Statewide Prosecution is prosecuting this case.
killed in crash;
Hit and run vehicle located
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 9, 2020 at 10:10 p.m.
CITRUS COUNTY – An unknown driver fled the scene of a fatal hit-and-run crash that was discovered in Citrus County on Sunday morning, the FHP said.
A 2010 Toyota pickup truck was westbound on West Dunnellon Road, west of U.S. Highway 41 on late Saturday night (Feb. 8), although the victim of the crash was not found until 7:20 a.m. on Sunday (Feb. 9) in Citrus County, according to information in a press release by Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins, based on information provided by crash investigator FHP Trooper M. Whitsel and homicide investigator FHP Cpl. E. Bromiley.
The truck hit bicyclist Michael Todd Gilkerson, 37, of Dunnellon, the FHP said, who was also westbound on West Dunnellon Road, the FHP said.
Gilkerson was propelled to the north grass shoulder and
suffered fatal injuries at the scene of the crash, as the unknown driver fled the scene, the FHP said.
FHP troopers believe the crash occurred late last night (Saturday, Feb. 8), but the incident was reported early this
FHP troopers have located the suspect vehicle regarding this case. Troopers continue to investigate the fatal crash incident, Sgt. Gaskins noted in an update email Sunday (Feb. 9) afternoon.
Crash victim identified
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 6, 2020 at 5:10 p.m.
MARION COUNTY -- A 53-year-old Interlachen man was identified Thursday (Feb. 6) as the fatality in a three-vehicle crash that happened on Jan. 15.
Raymond Cintron, 40, of Ocala was driving a 2020 Freightliner semi tractor-trailer at 2:02 p.m. on Jan. 15 in Marion County, according to a press release update by Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Patrick Riordan, based on information from crash investigator FHP Cpl. J. Sabo and homicide investigator FHP Cpl. J. Lander.
Austin James Ray, 19, of Ocala was driving a 1998 Honda Civic, the FHP said.
Luis Enrique Maldonado, 53, of Interlachen was driving a 2003 Harley-Davidson VRSC or V-Rod motorcycle, the FHP said.
The semi was leaving the parking lot of P & S Road Service at 5460 N. U.S. Highway 441, in Ocala, the FHP said.
The semi continued eastbound into the center median of
U.S. 441, the FHP said, blocking the southbound lanes of U.S. 441.
The car was southbound on U.S. 441, approaching the address of 5460 N. U.S. 441, the FHP said.
The motorcycle was southbound on U.S. 441, approaching the address of 5460 N. U.S. 441.
Ray could not stop the car he was driving in time to avoid hitting the semi, resulting in the front of the car to collide with the left side of the semi, the FHP said.
Maldonado could not stop the Harley-Davidson motorcycle in time, the FHP said, causing the motorcycle to hit the left side of the semi. Maldonado was pronounced dead at the scene, and it took time to identify him, the FHP said.
Cintron, who was not wearing a seatbelt, suffered minor injuries and was taken to AdventHealth Ocala (formerly Florida Hospital Ocala), the FHP said.
Ray, who was wearing a seatbelt, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center, the FHP said.
Alcohol-blood content test results are pending on Cintron and Ray, the FHP said. This crash remains under investigation, and charges are pending, the FHP said.
FHP, FLHSMV mourn
loss of Trooper Joseph Bullock
Photo and Story
By FLHSMV Communications
Published Feb. 5, 2020 at 5:10 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes and Florida Highway Patrol Colonel Gene Spaulding released the following statement regarding the passing of FHP Trooper Joseph Bullock:
“Today, the entire Florida Highway Patrol and FLHSMV family is heartbroken as we mourn the tragic loss of Trooper Joseph Bullock, a nearly 19-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol who chose to make selflessly serving and protecting others his life’s work. Please keep his family and his team members in your prayers.”
– FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes
– FHP Colonel Gene Spaulding
Trooper Bullock served nearly 19 years with the Florida Highway Patrol and was assigned to Troop L – Fort Pierce for his entire career. He was also an Air Force veteran.
Trooper Bullock was fatally wounded today in the line of duty while assisting the public on I-95 in Martin County.
Toni Collins complains,
Democrats don't care
Toni Collins complains to the Levy County Board of County Commissioners because it is her opinion that Levy County should exclude political parties from using the public libraries in Levy County.
Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 5, 2020 at 2:10 p.m.
BRONSON – Toni Collins, a resident of Levy County, expressed her opinion to the Levy County Board of County Commissioners Tuesday morning (Feb. 4) that Levy County should prevent certain groups from using the public libraries in Levy County.
Collins said she had sent each County Commission member an email in late January regarding her belief the Bronson Public Library should not be allowed to be used by the Levy County Democratic Party.
She said the public facility “should not be tainted by politics.”
Collins said she moved to Levy County in 1997 and has been “a staunch library supporter” since then.
Collins told the County Commission that she wants the local government to create rules as to which groups are allowed to use the public libraries in this county.
The Levy County Republican Party, Collins said, meets at The Gathering Table Restaurant in Chiefland.
On Wednesday morning (Feb. 5), Levy County Democratic Executive Party Chair Gussie Boatright said the libraries in Levy County are for use by the public. Levy County Democrats, she said, are taxpayers as well as voters in this county. She asked why the county government would want to discriminate against any group.
“We are not going to be distracted by this,” Boatright said. “We are just going to move forward. If this becomes an issue, then we will deal with it.”
The Levy County Democratic Party has reserved the room in the Bronson Public Library for its after-hours events, and as best as can be determined now, nothing is seen as inappropriate about the use of the public facility after normal library hours.
County Commissioner Lilly Rooks said she is investigating this matter. Rooks said she plans to report back to the whole commission at a later point in time. Rooks also said she would have her office send copies of the email sent to her previously by Collins, as well as the email sent to her by a member of the Levy County Democratic Party.
A public records request was provided to County Coordinator Wilbur Dean verbally and via email for those emails. Dean, too, on Wednesday said those emails would be sent.
crashes in Cedar Key
Nicholas Homer Wray
Mug Shot By LCSO
By Jeff M. Hardison
© Feb. 5, 2020 at 11:10 a.m.
CEDAR KEY -- A 36-year-old Chiefland man crashed at the western end of State Road 24 in Cedar Key, and was released on his own recognizance, according to information in a press release and jail records.
This map taken from Google maps, shows how SR 24 leads directly into the Nature Coast Biological Station.
Nicholas Homer Wray, 36, of Chiefland was booked into the Levy County Jail at 6:38 a.m. on Jan. 26 and he was released about four hours later at 10:29 a.m., according to jail records.
Wray was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and DUI involving damage to property, according to jail records.
The arresting officer was Cedar Key Police Department Officer K. Pagan, according to jail records.
Wray was driving a 2017 Ford on Jan. 25 at 11:26 p.m., according to the CKPD press release, which shows CKPD Officer Steven Ippolito as the investigating officer.
That Saturday night, the Ford was southbound (heading toward the Gulf of Mexico) on State Road 24 at an excessive and unsafe speed, the press release showed. Wray failed to stop for two stop signs, according to the CKPD press release, before the Ford hit a pole barn at First Street and D Street (SR 24), according to information in the press release.
The vehicle then struck a boat-trailer before coming to final rest facing Southeast, according to the press release.
The pole barn and boat and trailer are on property of the Nature Coast Biological Station. The estimated amount of damage to property, according to the press release, was $5,000.
DCSO captures suspected thieves
Trent Kline and Kent M. Sexton
Mug Shot By DCSO
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 5, 2020 at 1:10 a.m.
DIXIE COUNTY – Deputies with the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office arrested two men suspected of stealing four-wheeler vehicles, DCSO Maj. Scott Harden noted in a press release.
Trent Kline, 27, of Old Town is charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug equipment, driving on a suspended license and grand theft, Harden said.
Kent M. Sexton, 39, of Cross City, was arrested on an arrest warrant for violation of probation issued from Gilchrist County and for grand theft, Harden said.
The trail leading deputies to find the two stolen four-wheelers and to placing the suspected thieves in jail, Harden said, began on Jan. 17, when the DCSO received a complaint regarding a stolen four-wheeler from a residence off of Dixie County Road 55A.
Then, on Jan. 20, the DCSO received another call regarding a stolen four-wheeler from the Conifex Sawmill, Harden said. In the days following the second theft, DCSO officials established a suspect in the second theft, Harden said.
While attempts to locate this suspect during the next few days attempts proved to be unsuccessful, Harden said, deputies located several witnesses that put the suspect in possession of the two four-wheelers.
By Jan. 28, deputies had enough probable cause to arrest the suspect - Kline - for the theft from Conifex, Harden said. That evening while patrolling, a DCSO deputy witnessed Kline driving, Harden said, and the deputy conducted a traffic stop on Kline on Northeast 516th Avenue.
Kline was detained and a K-9 search of the vehicle revealed methamphetamine and drug equipment, Harden said. As a result Kline was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug equipment, driving on a suspended license and grand theft (from Conifex), Harden said.
After Kline’s arrest, deputies continued their investigation during the night and into the following day, Harden said.
On Jan. 29, deputies returned to the jail where Kline was still in custody and arrested him for the theft of the four-wheeler from the residence off of CR 55A, Harden said.
Deputies established then, Harden said, that a second suspect was involved in the theft from Conifex. Deputies identified this suspect as Sexton, Harden said.
Deputies learned that Sexton had a violation of probation warrant out of Gilchrist County and went to a local motel where Sexton was known to stay, Harden said.
When greeted by a female occupant, she agreed to allow deputies to search the room for Sexton, Harden said. Deputies found Sexton hiding in the room and arrested him for the Gilchrist County VOP warrant and for grand theft from Conifex, Harden said.
Bronson man dies in crash
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 4, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
BRONSON – A 58-year-old Bronson man died Monday afternoon (Feb. 3) from injuries suffered in a two-vehicle crash, the FHP said.
Andre A. Whitaker, 24, of Ocala was driving a 2012 GMC van for FedEx at 3:20 p.m. on Feb. 3 in Alachua County, according to a press release from Florida Highway Patrol Lt. P.V. Riordan, based on information from crash investigator FHP Trooper David Hughes and homicide investigator FHP Cpl. Nathan Morgan.
Kenneth A. Holder, 58, of Bronson was driving a 2005 Mack semi-tractor trailer, the FHP said.
The FedEx delivery van was southbound on Alachua County Road 241, the FHP said.
The semi, which was hauling cement powder, southbound on U.S. 27, the FHP said, approaching the intersection of CR 241.
Whitaker attempted to cross U.S. 27 without coming to a full stop, in front of the semi, the FHP said.
Holder took evasive action by veering the semi to the right, the FHP said, however the left side of the semi struck the right
front of the van.
After the collision with the delivery van, the semi went off of the roadway, the FHP said, and onto the western grassy shoulder.
Once on the shoulder the tank-trailer broke loose from the tractor, the FHP said, and came to final rest on its left side. The semi came to final rest upright facing east, the FHP said.
The FedEx van came to final rest facing south on U.S. 27.
Holder died, the FHP said. Whitaker suffered minor injuries that did not require hospitalization, the FHP said. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts, the FHP said. Alcohol was not a factor in this crash, the FHP said.
Charges are pending completion of the traffic homicide investigation, the FHP said.
Stay At The Scene
– You Could Save A Life
By FHP Lt. Derrick Rahming
Published Feb. 3, 2020 at 12:10 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE – This February, for Hit and Run Awareness Month, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is reminding all motorists to Stay at the Scene when involved in a crash.
The initiative seeks to solve hit and run cases and reduce the number of hit and run crashes in Florida in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Association of Crime Stoppers and AAA – The Auto Club Group.
“If you are involved in a crash, Stay at the Scene. For starters, it’s the law, but staying at the scene could also save a life,” said FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes. “Leaving the scene of the crash will only ensure you receive more serious penalties, no matter the severity of the crash. I urge members of the public to report any information on hit and run crashes anonymously to Crime Stoppers.”
Under Florida law, a driver must stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property that results in property damage, injury or death. In 2019, preliminarily, there were more than 105,000 hit and run crashes in Florida. Leaving the scene of a crash is a felony and a driver, when convicted, will have their license revoked for at least three years and can be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of four years in prison.
“Leaving the scene of a traffic crash is a crime. You must stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property which results in property damage, injury, or death,” said Florida Highway Patrol Director, Colonel Gene S. Spaulding. “Staying at the scene will not only prevent significant legal penalties, but may save a life.”
The vast majority of hit and run fatalities occur at night or during low-light hours. According to an FLHSMV analysis, over 84 percent of all hit and run fatalities from 2015 to 2019 occurred at night or during low-light hours. Additionally, while bicyclists and pedestrians are involved in a small percentage of hit and run crashes overall, bicyclists and pedestrians made up 21 percent of all hit and run fatalities. Motorists are urged to drive safely and look twice for these vulnerable road users. If you are in a crash, always stay at the scene and call for aid.
“Safety for all road users is our priority at the Florida Department of Transportation,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “In the event of a crash, it is imperative to stay at the scene and contact the proper authorities. Leaving the scene of a crash before authorities arrive has serious implications for everyone involved. It is up to each of us to make the commitment to practice safe habits behind the wheel, look out for other travelers and make sound decisions.”
“Leaving the scene of a traffic crash can turn a simple accident into a crime with consequences. On behalf of our Florida Sheriffs, I fully support the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles ‘Stay at the Scene’ education initiative,” said Florida Sheriffs Association President Sheriff Mark Hunter.
The Florida Police Chiefs Association’s President, Chief Kenneth Albano, Temple Terrace Police Department said, “The Florida Police Chiefs Association fully supports the Stay at the Scene campaign which aims to reduce the number of hit and run crashes throughout the state. Rarely does anyone intentionally set out to become involved in a vehicle crash. However, leaving the scene of a crash is always a choice, a choice that could have life altering ramifications for both the hit and run driver and those they choose to leave behind. Stay at the Scene, save yourself and possibly the life of another.”
“The Florida Association of Crime Stoppers urges all citizens to report any information they may have on Hit and Run traffic crashes,” said the President of the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers, Barb Bergin. “Be a part of the solution, contact your local Crime Stoppers program to report anonymously. Say It Here.”
“Leaving the scene of a crash is not just illegal and costly, It puts the safety of everyone involved at risk,” said Matt Nasworthy, Florida Public Affairs Director for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Do the right thing. Stay at the scene and find a safe place to call for help.”
The most important thing a driver can do when they are involved in a crash is to Stay at the Scene and call for help. The public is encouraged to report hit and run crashes by dialing *FHP (*347) or your local Crime Stoppers.
For localized Crime Stoppers numbers and more information on staying at the scene, by clicking HERE.
Please see the department’s website for a full list of active Hit and Run cases by clicking HERE.
If the public has any information on these open cases, please contact Crime Stoppers immediately.
Two die in SUV
and motorcycle crash
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 2, 2020 at 12:10 a.m.
ALACHUA COUNTY -- Two Gainesville residents died Saturday morning (Feb. 1) when a motorcycle crashed into an SUV, the FHP said.
Lula Mae Melton, 55, of Gainesville was driving a 1998 GMC SUV at 8:10 a.m. on Feb. 1 in Alachua County, according to a press release from Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. M. Hathcock, based on information from crash investigator FHP Trooper W. Schrader and homicide investigator FHP Cpl. W. Bontrager.
Ozelle Anthony Resto, 23, of Gainesville was driving a 2011 Yamaha motorcycle, the FHP said.
This crash occurred on Southwest 24th Avenue at 70th Terrace, the FHP said.
Melton was attempting to make a left turn with the SUV onto eastbound Southwest 24th Avenue from 70th Terrace, when the westbound motorcycle, which was on 24th Avenue, hit the left side (driver's door) of the SUV, the FHP said.
Immediately after impact of the two vehicles, the motorcycle caught fire in the intersection, the FHP said.
Both drivers suffered fatal injuries as result of this crash, the FHP said, and both individuals were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash by Alachua County Fire Rescue personnel.
The motorcyclist was wearing a helmet and the SUV driver was wearing a seatbelt, the FHP said. Blood-alcohol content test results are pending on both drivers, the FHP said.
This crash remains under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.
CCSO makes largest fentanyl
and meth bust
in Citrus County history
Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast stands with members of the CCSO behind a table covered with drugs, weapons and ammunition.
Story and Photo Provided
By Brittney Carman, CCSO Community Relations Specialist
Published Feb. 1, 2020 at 10:10 a.m.
CITRUS COUNTY -- On Thursday (Jan. 30), the Citrus County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) added another accomplishment into the history books by seizing 1.6 pounds of methamphetamine and 1.8 ounces of powdered fentanyl.
"This is the largest seizure of fentanyl and methamphetamine in Citrus County's history. The amount of fentanyl seized could have killed hundreds of people," Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. "My office is committed to keeping our citizens safe from these deadly narcotics. As I have said before, if you deal drugs in Citrus County, I am coming after you with my team. I am grateful for the outstanding law enforcement work by everyone involved in this case and their relentlessness to arrest drug dealers like Ricky Pope so they are no longer a threat to our community."
On Thursday, shortly after 1 p.m., CCSO Det. Mike Laborda conducted a traffic stop on a red Chevrolet Camaro. The driver Ricky Lee Pope, 56, of Dunnellon, was behind the wheel. Pope, a three-time convicted felon, was found to have a suspended driver's license and was subsequently detained. During a search of Pope, Det. Laborda located drug paraphernalia.
The detective called for backup, and K9 Handler Deputy David Elias responded to the traffic stop with his partner K9 Odie, who alerted to the presence of narcotics at the vehicle's trunk.
During a search of the vehicle, detectives located a book bag that contained 12.2 grams (about a half of one ounce) of marijuana, a digital scale that tested positive for
methamphetamine residue, two pills that tested positive for MDMA, and a small clear plastic baggie with two crystal-like cubes that also tested positive for MDMA.
A further search of the vehicle revealed a tin container with methamphetamine and heroin inside. Detectives arrested Pope and charged him with the following: five counts of possession of a controlled substance; and one count each of possession of marijuana less than 20 grams; possession of drug paraphernalia; and tampering with evidence.
The passenger of the vehicle, Justin Derrik Miner Pope, 33, of Hernando, was found to be in possession of a lunch box that contained alprazolam and methamphetamine. Justin Pope was arrested (total bond set at $4,000) and charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance.
Through information uncovered during the investigation, the CCSO's Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) served a search warrant at the defendant's residence located at 9075 North Arcadia Way in Citrus Springs.
Inside the home, TIU detectives discovered illegal drugs and firearms, which included: 1.6 pounds of methamphetamine; 1.8 ounces of fentanyl; 3 fentanyl patches; 1.5 ounces of heroin; 3 pounds of hashish; 6.15 pounds of marijuana; 11 vials of human growth hormone steroids; drug manufacturing equipment; 1.9 ounces of MDMA pills; one SKS assault rifle with a 30-round magazine (loaded); one Charter Arms .38 caliber handgun with a silencer (loaded); one Stevens 12-gauge tactical shotgun; one Benelli 12-gauge shotgun; one Springfield 410 shotgun; one Smith and Wesson .40 caliber handgun; one bulletproof vest; and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.
The total street value of the drugs seized in this operation is $130,931.
Ricky Lee Pope was subsequently arrested (total bond set a $169,000) for the additional charges of: one count of trafficking in heroin; one count of trafficking in fentanyl; one count of trafficking in methamphetamine; six counts of possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felon; one count of lease/rent place or structure for purpose of trafficking in drugs; two counts of possession of a controlled substance with
intent to sell; two counts of possession of a controlled substance; and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
in Marion County
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 1, 2020 at 9:10 a.m.
MARION COUNTY – A 56-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene Friday night (Jan. 31) in Marion County after being hit by a pickup truck and a semi, the FHP said.
Christopher Green, 46, of Summerfield was driving a 2002 Chevrolet 2500 pickup truck at 7:45 p.m. on Jan. 31 in Marion County, according to a press release by Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Robert H Williams of FHP Troop B/Ocala District, based on information from crash investigator FHP Trooper Catherine Hall and homicide investigator FHP Cpl. Crystal Sollazzo.
Frederick Flint, 77, of Deland was driving a 2018 Peterbilt semi tractor-trailer, the FHP said.
Green was driving the Chevy pickup was southbound on U.S. Highway 301 in the outside (right) lane, the FHP said.
Sharon Decker, 56, of Summerfield, was crossing the southbound travel lanes of U.S. 301, walking westbound, in an unlit area not designated for pedestrian crossing, the FHP said.
Green did not see Decker, the FHP said, and the pickup truck struck the woman with its front left. Decker came to rest on the center lane line, partially in both the inside and outside lanes of U.S. 301, the FHP said.
Green brought the pickup truck to a controlled rest on the western shoulder of U.S. 301, facing south, the FHP said.
Flint was driving the semi southbound on U.S. 301, in the outside (right) lane, the FHP said. As the semi approached the pickup truck, which had stopped on the shoulder of the road facing it, the semi driver moved that vehicle into the inside (left) lane, the FHP said.
Flint did not see Decker lying in the roadway, and the semi struck her, the FHP said. The semi came to a controlled rest on
eastern shoulder of U.S. 301, on the northbound side, facing north.
Decker was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:56 p.m. by Marion County Paramedic Adam Grace, the FHP said.
Neither driver suffered injuries, the FHP said. They were both wearing seatbelts, the FHP said. Blood-alcohol results are pending for Green, Flint and Decker, the FHP said.
LCSO arrests man and boy
as suspected burglars
Deontre Leron Baker (no photo of suspected juvenile criminal available)
Mug Shot By LCSO
By Jeff M. Hardison
© Jan. 31, 2020 at 8:09 p.m.
BRONSON – A man and a boy were arrested recently as suspected burglars, according to information in a press release from Levy County Undersheriff Brett Beauchamp.
Deontre Leron Baker, 20, of Williston and Markus Mario Howze, 14, of an unknown city due to no arrest report being visible, are the suspects, according to the press release and public records are the suspects.
Baker was booked Jan. 30 at 4:36 p.m., according to Levy County Jail records.
Baker’s charges and bond amounts follow, as noted in jail records – unarmed burglary of an occupied dwelling, $75,000; unarmed burglary of a structure, $40,000; grand theft from a dwelling, $25,000; damage to property in excess of $1,000 (criminal mischief), $25,000; contributing to the delinquency of a minor (which causes, tends to cause, encourages, or contributes to a child becoming a delinquent or a dependent child or a child in need of services), $25,000; and petit larceny, $1,000 – for a total bond amount of $191,000.
Howze was taken into custody for one count of burglary and one count of petit theft, according to the press release. He was transferred into the custody of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the press release noted.
The press release shows the path leading to this man and this boy facing those charges charges.
During the early morning hours of Monday (Jan. 27), the press release from Friday (Jan. 31) noted, Levy County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a reported burglary at the Devil’s Den property on Northeast 180th Avenue, in the unincorporated area of Levy County outside of Williston.
Investigators found that unknown suspects had unlawfully entered two dwellings on the property, damaged part of the property and stolen various items. The stolen property included cash and surveillance cameras that were in use on the property, according to the press release.
Deputies found that a person was sleeping inside one of the dwellings at the time of the burglary. Detectives from the LCSO Criminal Investigation Division began working the case almost immediately.
Detectives obtained surveillance footage from additional cameras that were not stolen during the crime, the press release noted. They identified Baker and Howze with the assistance of several witnesses, the press release noted.
Detectives located and questioned Baker Howze, 14. Both suspects made admissions that implicated their involvement in the crimes. Based on the video evidence, witness statements and suspect interviews, detectives arrested both suspects.
In the arrest affidavit filed by LCSO Det. Mike McNeil, Baker was charged with the crimes with the bonds noted above and Howze was turn over to state custody as a juvenile offender.
The LCSO noted its appreciation for members of the public for their assistance in solving this case.
Everyone is encouraged to secure their homes and personal property as the victim did in this case. Anyone can report suspicious activity to the LCSO 24-hours-a-day at 352-486-5111. They can also make anonymous reports to Crime Stoppers at 1-877-349-8477. Sometimes, tips to Crime Stoppers result in a cash reward, and the tipster can remain anonymous.
Following are some common abbreviations:
DUI - Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Some Other Drug
DWLSR - Driving While License Suspended or Revoked
RWOV - Resisting Arrest Without Violence
Poss. - Possession
VOP - Violation of Probation
FTA - Failure to Appear
ROR - Released on their Own Recognizance
Feb. 10 Through Feb. 16
Updated Feb. 18, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
Following are some common abbreviations:
DUI - Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Some Other Drug
DWLSR - Driving While License Suspended or Revoked
RWOV - Resisting Arrest Without Violence
Poss. - Possession
VOP - Violation of Probation
FTA - Failure to Appear
ROR - Release on their Own Recognizance
Feb. 10 Through Feb. 16
Updated Feb. 18, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.