ORANGE COUNTY, Florida—An Astatula man was killed Tuesday night when he entered the northbound outside lane of U.S. Highway 441/Orange Blossom Trail, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The 62-year-old man was walking in a westerly direction and entered the northbound lane of U.S. Highway 441/Orange Blossom Trail near Stoneybrook Hills Parkway around 11:30 p.m., Trooper Migdalisis Garcia said in a press release.
The man, who was not in a marked crosswalk, was struck by a van being driven by a 62-year-old Altamonte Springs woman; he suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased on the scene. The driver of the van was transported to AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares with minor injuries.
TAVARES, Florida—Law enforcement and supporters will join forces for the fourth annual Lake County Back the Blue Walk at Wooton Park Saturday morning.
Scheduled for 9 a.m., this is one of many law enforcement events around Lake County held in May during Law Enforcement Appreciation Month. In its fourth year, the walk began in 2019 to show support for law enforcement during a time when the “defund the police” movement was making its way across the country, event organizer Shannon Cook told Inside Lake. Representatives from several law enforcement agencies and numerous public officials are expected to be in attendance.
“The good ones needed to know they were appreciated,” Cook said.
Cook has always had respect for law enforcement officers and the job they do, she said. Her close friend, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wayne Koester, was killed in the line of duty Feb. 9, 2005. Koester, who was 33 at the time, and two other deputies were ambushed while responding to a domestic violence call. All three deputies were shot, and Koester succumbed to his injuries; the other two deputies recovered. Jason Wheeler was shot and paralyzed during his capture and convicted in Koester’s death. Cook was also close to Chris Daniels, who was serving as Lake County Sheriff when he was tragically killed in a charity bus race in 2006 on his birthday.
Cook told Inside Lake it is important the community show its support for all of the good officers and those who were lost in the line of duty. Usually a one-woman show, Cook has some help this year from Wayne Koester’s brother, Victor Koester, Jolie Fowler, owner of The Car Doctor Automotive Specialist Inc., in Eustis, Lt. Kristin Thompson of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Nina Rosania, who is very active in the community, especially in her efforts helping out small businesses in Lake County.
Participants will meet a 9 a.m. at Wooton Park, 100 East Ruby Street, Tavares. The first stop will be the Lake County Administration Building, then a stop at the Tavares Public Safety Complex and the walk will end at Kalua Beach Bar with lunch. Donuts will be provided before the walk by Lake Tire & Auto in Tavares, and a hot dog lunch will be available at Kalua Beach Bar, provided by the restaurant and Duct-Man Mechanical LLC in Eustis.
LAKE COUNTY, Florida—Lake County officials imposed a burn ban effective Friday that will last indefinitely, according to a press release.
The burn ban is in effect for all of Lake County and prohibits the burning of yard debris, land and recreational fires but does not include outdoor fireplaces, barbecue grills and barbecue pits that have a total fuel area of 3 feet or less and 2 feet or less in height.
Dry conditions forced the move by county officials and surrounding counties have enacted similar bans. For more than three weeks, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) rating has exceeded 500 and the ban is necessary for public safety, the press release stated.
When the KDBI rating falls below 500 for seven consecutive days, the county will lift the ban.
ASTATULA, Florida—A head-on crash killed an Ocoee man Friday afternoon and sent a 7-year-old Eustis girl and a 36-year-old Eustis man to the hospital, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The 50-year-old Ocoee man was driving a grey Toyota Tacoma southbound on County Road 561, near Georgia Avenue in Astatula, when he traveled into the northbound lane and struck a white Dodge Ram being driven by a 36-year-old Eustis man around 4:15 p.m., FHP Lt. Channing Taylor said in a press release.
The Ocoee man was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced deceased, Taylor said. The Eustis man and the young girl were transported to AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares and are in stable condition.
OCALA, Florida—In an effort to streamline delivering justice to those who hurt animals, State Attorney Bill Gladson has created an Animal Cruelty Task Force for the Fifth Judicial Circuit that includes Lake, Citrus, Hernando, Marion and Sumter counties, his office said in a press release last week.
The task force includes the Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC,) county animal services, and local law enforcement agencies and the goal is for law enforcement, animal services and animal protection organizations to work together to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes throughout the circuit, according to the press release.
“My office is committed to aggressively prosecuting animal cruelty cases, and I am grateful for the team which shares our commitment,” Gladson stated. “The reach of these crimes goes beyond harm to innocent animals; these criminals pose a risk to the entire community.”
Animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, nearly 70 percent have criminal records.
LAKE COUNTY, Florida—For the second time in less than a month, Lake County is scheduled to open two cold weather shelter locations in anticipation of this weekend’s near-freezing temperatures.
Both locations open Friday; Trinity Assembly of God, 200 Urick Street, Fruitland Park will open at 5:30 p.m. and remain open through 7 a.m. each day, Friday through Sunday, and LifePointe Church, 3551 East Orange Avenue will be open 5 p.m. through 8 a.m. each day through Sunday, according to Lake County Emergency Management.
A warming shelter will also be open from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Salvation Army, 2605 South Street, Leesburg,
Lake Xpress will provide free transportation to cold weather shelters for those who need assistance traveling to a shelter. Schedules are available on Lake Xpress’ website. Residents who do not have access to a Lake Xpress fixed route must call 352-742-2612 to arrange transportation.
Friday night, cold temperatures and breezy winds will bring windchills in the upper 20s to lower 30s. A Wind Chill Advisory has been issued for east Central Florida, according to the U.S. National Weather Service, Melbourne.
LAKE COUNTY, Florida—In anticipation of this weekend’s chilly weather, Lake County will open two cold weather shelter locations Friday afternoon.
Both locations will open at 5:30 p.m. Friday; Trinity Assembly of God, 200 Urick Street, Fruitland Park will stay open 24 hours a day through Tuesday, and LifePointe Church, 3551 East Orange Avenue will be open 5:30 p.m. through 8 a.m. each day until Tuesday, according to Lake County Emergency Management.
A warming shelter will also be open from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday at the Salvation Army, 2605 South Street, Leesburg,
Lake Xpress will provide free transportation to cold weather shelters for those who need assistance traveling to a shelter Saturday and Sunday. Schedules are available on Lake Xpress’ website.
Residents who do not have access to a Lake Xpress fixed route must call 352-742-2612 by 1 p.m. Friday to arrange transportation. Clermont Police Department will check for those in need at Florida Citrus Tower, 141 South U.S. Highway 27, Clermont between 4:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Friday; if no one is on site, a bus will not be dispatched, according to officials.
According to the U.S. National Weather Service Melbourne, temperatures are expected to be at or below freezing with the wind chill in the 20s in Lake County. Officials are urging residents to make sure pets have a warm place to stay with plenty of food and water, cover exposed pipes, and cover or in bring in sensitive plants.
TAVARES, Florida—A Tavares Police officer is OK after being exposed to fentanyl and overdosing around midnight Tuesday.
Officer Courtney Bannick was exposed to the lethal drug during a traffic stop where she found various narcotics on a passenger in the vehicle. She placed the suspect into custody and as she attempted to leave the scene, TPD Cpl. Cullen O’Shea heard Bannick breathless and choking on the radio and went to check on her, TPD Public Information Officer Courtney Sullivan said.
When O’Shea approached Bannick’s vehicle, he found her drifting in and out of consciousness and she was removed from her vehicle. TPD Sgt. Jason Mahaney and Astatula Police Lt. Rodney Brown assisted with caring for Bannick while she continued to drift in and out of consciousness and she required three doses of Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, Sullivan said.
She (Bannick) is one of our most proactive officers,” Sullivan said. “She’s eager to get back to work.”
Bannick took precautions on the stop, including wearing gloves, and TPD is reminding its officers and the public to be careful, Sullivan said. “Tavares Police Department is thankful for the continuous training and quick response of the officers on scene that were able to assist Officer Bannick. Tavares Police Department recognizes that this day could have ended differently if our officers did not react the way they did.”
Bannick spoke exclusively with Inside Lake Tuesday afternoon.
“I remember starting to talk and inform dispatch I was leaving the scene with the female arrestee. As I put my car in drive and began to talk. I started to choke and feel lightheaded,” Bannick said. “I kept trying to talk on the radio and I wasn’t breathing and could tell I was fading. I kept telling myself to put the car in the park repeatedly. Then I saw O’Shea coming in the mirror.”
Bannick said she does not know how it happened.
“I don’t know how I was exposed, I did search the vehicle prior to searching her so I could’ve been exposed in there,” she told Inside Lake.
Bannick is feeling better, “I feel okay today, I have a headache which they said would be expected due to the Narcan.”
Officers perform traffic stops and find deadly drugs nearly every day; they use precautions, but can be exposed very easily.
“I’m thankful I had immediate help,” Bannick said. “I highly suggest never searching a vehicle or person alone. Always have that back up. If I didn’t have back up there last night, I wouldn’t be here today to talk about it. I hope people take this as a lesson. I’ve done this 100 times before. I search cars every night at work. You never know how strong the drugs really are.
The individuals involved in the traffic stop are facing felony charges, but have not been charged at this time, Sullivan said. The drugs that were found have been sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing.
LAKE COUNTY, Florida—A 23-year-old Astatula woman was killed early Sunday morning when the Polaris Ranger side-by-side she was in overturned in a water-filled ditch and trapped her, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The woman, along with a 22-year-old Mount Dora man, a 48-year-old Tavares man, and a 25-year-old woman from Grand Island, were in the all-terrain vehicle in a wooded area near the Orlando North Airpark, off Duda Road near County Road 448A when it overturned and ejected the woman, trapping her beneath the vehicle around 4:30 a.m., FHP Lt. Channing Taylor said in a press release.
The other three occupants suffered minor injuries and all four were transported to AdventHealth Apopka, where the woman was pronounced dead, Taylor said.