National Safe Boating Week kicks off Saturday

LITTLE LAKE HARRIS, Fla.—The unofficial start to summer is upon us and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding boaters to stay safe during National Safe Boating Week that begins Saturday.

Inside Lake had the opportunity to speak with FWC’s Kristen Turner and Chad Weber, along with Hunter Bland of the National Safe Boating Council Friday about staying safe on the waterways. Florida is the “Boating Capital of the World,” with more than 1 million vessels registered in the state, according to FWC.

Florida does have some requirements for boating but common sense and taking simple precautions can prevent a tragedy. A boating safety course is required for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1988; classes are available in classroom setting and also online, FWC-approved courses can be found here.

All vessels are required to have personal flotation device (PFD) for each person onboard and FWC encourages everyone to wear it at all times. In an emergency situation, people often won’t have time to put on a PFD. This reporter and Inside Lake Photographer Bonnie Whicher were required to wear a PFD during a ride-along Friday. The weather cut the ride-along short, but Weber used that opportunity to educate the Inside Lake staff on how to handle changing weather conditions.

FWC Officer Chad Weber PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

“You need to know where you are at. (Bad weather) is one of the hidden dangers (people) overlook,” Weber said. “The best thing to do is get out of the water.”

Bland said often homeowners will let a vessel stay at their dock to ride out a storm and he’s even known people to invite boaters in their home to ride it out.

“There are good people out there,” Bland said.

Filing a “float plan can also save your life, Turner told Inside Lake. Though not required, a float plan is letting someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back. The United States Coast Guard provides a fillable PDF float plan and suggests you provide it to a reliable person, along with a photo of the vessel. While the information would be extremely helpful in an emergency, Bland stressed that something as simple as a text message letting someone know your plans, would suffice.

FWC Northeast Region Public Information Director Kristen Turner PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

Weber also suggested other things to have onboard, such as rain jackets, a cooler with water and a first aid kit; tools and extra fuses can also come in handy, Bland added.

For more boating information from FWC, visit

National Safe Boating Council Program Director Hunter Bland PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

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Lake County Schools high school graduations scheduled for this week and next week

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—Caps will be flying through the air this week and next as Lake County Schools seniors say goodbye to high school and hello to adulthood. Graduations are scheduled to begin Tuesday with Tavares High School and will end with Lake County Virtual School next week. Schools are listed below in alphabetical order.

East Ridge High School—9 a.m. Wednesday at UCF/Addition Arena

Eustis High School—9 a.m. Saturday, at Eustis High School Panther Stadium

Lake County Virtual School—6 p.m. May 23, at Mount Dora High School Auditorium

Lake Hills School—occurred May 1 at Lake Hills Gymnasium

Lake Minneola High School—7 p.m. Friday at UCF/Addition Arena

Lake Success Academy—3:30 p.m. Friday at Lake Success Academy

Leesburg High School—8 a.m. Saturday at Leesburg High School Stadium

Mount Dora High School—8 p.m. Thursday at Mount Dora High School Stadium

South Lake High School—7:30 p.m. Wednesday at UCF/Addition Arena

Tavares High School—7:30 p.m., Tuesday UCF/Addition Arena

Umatilla High School—7 p.m. Friday Grafton Center Elks Club


Lake County Schools high school graduations scheduled for this week and next week Read More »

5th Annual Lake County Back the Blue and Red Walk

Photos from the 5th Annual Back the Blue and Red Walk. Organizer Shannon Cook has been supporting law enforcement since 2019 with this walk. This year, firefighters were added to the event, and the name was changed. PHOTOS: Bonnie Whicher/Special to Inside Lake

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5th Annual Lake County Back the Blue (and Red) Walk scheduled for Saturday; Firefighters added this year

TAVARES, Florida—For the fifth year in a row, law enforcement and supporters will join forces for the annual Lake County Back the Blue Walk at Wooton Park Saturday morning, and this year firefighters will join the fun. 

Scheduled for 9 a.m., this is one of many law enforcement events around Lake County held in May during Law Enforcement Appreciation Month and this year, Organizer Shannon Cook wanted to add firefighters to the appreciation walk to coincide with the Lake County Board of County Commissioners proclaiming May 4 “International Firefighters’ Day” in Lake County, she told Inside Lake.

“I figured what better day to honor our heroes in red,” Cook said.

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, Cook said, 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.

Ryan Koester, son of fallen Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wayne Koester, left, and Deputy Koester’s brother Vic, right, at the 2023 Back the Blue Walk PHOTO: Shannon Cook

Cook’s 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.

Participants will meet at 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, provided by owner Randy Connor; come a little early to enjoy donuts and coffee donated by Greg Wilmore of New Life Baptist Church Leesburg. 


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FHP searching for suspect who carjacked Groveland man on I-75

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.— The Florida Highway Patrol is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a man who carjacked a Groveland man on Interstate 75 early Friday morning.

Around 2 a.m. Friday, a 38-year-old-old Groveland man, working as a supervisor for American Medical Response (AMR,) found a crashed pickup truck on the southbound I-75 exit ramp to westbound Interstate 4. The truck was later found to be stolen, according to FHP.

The Groveland man encountered a man who immediately fled on foot and then saw a second man standing in the road. The second man then jumped on the side of the of the AMR Chevrolet Tahoe the Groveland man was driving and climbed into the Tahoe. The Groveland man was able to open a door and escape, FHP Sgt. Steve Gaskins said in a press release.

The suspect fled in the Tahoe, sideswiped a Nissan Altima on the ramp and continued on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies spotted the Tahoe and chased him, but he evaded capture. A camera system in the vehicle alerted AMR that the Tahoe had crashed at 3720 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard, Tampa and the suspect fled the scene before law enforcement arrived, abandoning the Tahoe.

If you have information on the suspect’s identity, call *FHP.

See videos of the suspect below. Courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol 




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Lake County Schools to Follow Wednesday Schedule in Anticipation of Severe Weather Tuesday, After School Activities Canceled

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—Lake County Schools will follow Wednesday schedules on Tuesday in anticipation of severe weather, according to an LCS spokesperson.

“Severe thunderstorms are in the forecast for tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024) in Lake County, particularly in areas on the northern end. In an effort to get as many students home before the worst of the storm begins, Lake County Schools will follow our Wednesday early dismissal schedule on Tuesday,” LCS Communications Coordinator Sherri Owens said in an email Monday night.

LCS will excuse weather-related absences and all after school outdoor activities are canceled. Extended Learning Centers (ELC) will be open, Owens said.

Lake County Schools to Follow Wednesday Schedule in Anticipation of Severe Weather Tuesday, After School Activities Canceled Read More »

BREAKING NEWS: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—At press time Christmas Eve, the jolly fellow best known as Santa Claus was last spotted in Greenland and had delivered more than 5 billion gifts, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD.)

Little boys and girls (who should be in bed) can track the big guy’s movements online as he makes his way across the world with his trusty reindeer crew, by visiting NORAD Tracks Santa.

NORAD began tracking Santa in 1958 after taking over the duty from the U.S. Air Force.

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Details Released on Triple Fatality Near Groveland

GROVELAND, Fla.—The Florida Highway Patrol continues to investigate a crash that killed a man and two women near Groveland Tuesday.

Around 2 p.m., a 2018 Ford Explorer, being driven by a 47-year-old Grand Island man was stopped, facing east on Bridges Road at County Road 33 when it pulled into the direct path of a 1997 Ford dump truck being driven northbound on County Road 33, by a 63-year-old man of Mount Vernon, Maine. The front of the dump truck collided with the right side of the Explorer. The impact caused both vehicles to leave the roadway and travel into the tree line on County Road 33, according to Trooper Migdalisis Garcia.

The driver of the Explorer, and his two passengers, a 35-year-old woman of Longwood, and a 32-year-old woman of Orlando, were all pronounced deceased on the scene, Garcia said.  The dump truck driver suffered minor injuries.

Lake County Fire Rescue, Lake EMS, Groveland Fire Department and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office assisted FHP on the scene.

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3 Killed in Groveland Crash with Dump Truck Tuesday, CR 33 Shut Down

GROVELAND, Fla.—Three people were killed in a crash Tuesday afternoon in Groveland, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The crash occurred at County Road 33 and Bridges Road just before 2 p.m. and involves an SUV and a dump truck. County Road 33 is shut down, FHP said. No other information was available at press time. This is a developing story.

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5 Arrested in Lake County Child Sex Sting

TAVARES, Fla.—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests of five people Monday who are accused of traveling with the intent to have sex with a juvenile earlier this month.

“After unknowingly talking online with an undercover detective, the subjects traveled to a predetermined location with the intent to have sex with a child. All suspects were taken into custody upon arrival,” LCSO said in a statement.

The suspects are:

  • Musa Sawaneh, 25, who traveled from Temple Terrace.
  • Jason Spencer, 40, who traveled from Tavares.
  • Kahlil Amilivia Rodriguez, 25, who traveled from Groveland.
  • Bhaveshkuma Vekaria, 45, who traveled from Orlando.
  • Nahuel Benjamin Hurtado Humeres, 20, who traveled from Dundee. Humeres is a Chilean citizen and is being for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Graphic: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

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