UMATILLA—For the second time in less than a week, the Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a crash that resulted in serious injuries near Umatilla.
There was little information available Wednesday morning, including how the crash occurred. A 55-year-old Sorrento woman was driving a white 2016 Chevrolet Cruze shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday when she crashed for an unknown reason, striking a stop sign, street signs and a concrete pillar at State Road19 and Beach Street in front of Silver Beach Heights.
The woman was airlifted to HCA Florida Lake Monroe Hospital in Sanford, formerly Central Florida Regional Medical Center, in critical condition as a trauma alert, but is now in stable condition, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi told Inside Lake.
On Friday night, a 37-year-old Leesburg man was traveling southbound in the northbound inside lane on State Road 19, near Orange Avenue just north of the Eustis city limits in a Nissan Versa.
The Nissan struck a Ford Taurus traveling southbound and attempting to turn left on Orange Avenue. Both drivers were transported to local hospitals.
DONA VISTA, Florida—The Florida Highway Patrol continues to investigate a serious crash that occurred shortly before 10 p.m. Friday night.
A Nissan Versa being driven by a 37-year-old Leesburg man was traveling southbound on State Road 19 in the northbound inside lane, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi told Inside Lake.
As he approached Orange Avenue, a 36-year-old Umatilla man driving a Ford Taurus southbound on State Road 19 attempted to make a left turn on Orange Avenue and the front of the Nissan struck the left side of the Ford at 9:50 p.m., Crescenzi said.
The Umatilla man was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical but stable condition and the Leesburg man was transported to AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares with serious injuries and admitted. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts.
“The investigating trooper advised he submitted (the Nissan driver) for a medical reexamination,” Crescenzi said in an email to Inside Lake. The crash remains under investigation.
CASSELBERRY, Florida—The teenager accused of opening fire at the Light-Up Eustis event in 2020 is in the Seminole County Jail, accused of pushing an elderly woman to the ground and snatching her purse, according to affidavit filed by Casselberry Police Department in Seminole County earlier this month.
Brycen Williams, 19, is accused of following a 76-year-old woman out of a device repair store on Howell Branch Road in Casselberry, pushing her to the ground and snatching her purse around 6:45 p.m. Dec. 30. The elderly woman suffered cuts to her thumb and arm and was bleeding when Casselberry Police Department (CPD) arrived; Seminole County Fire Rescue responded and rendered aid to the woman.
The woman was unable to identify Williams, but the repair store showed police video surveillance and two witnesses came forward and stated they saw Williams standing over the victim, pick something up and run, They tried to follow him and observed a black female throw an item toward a restaurant dumpster in the same plaza, the affidavit states.
CPD searched the area by the dumpster and found the victim’s purse, missing her phone, bank card and food stamp card.
The following week, the repair store and a neighboring restaurant provided the video showing the purse snatching to police and CPD released the video to local news outlets. A woman who identified herself as Williams’ cousin told police he was the robber. She told police she wanted to clear her name “since she was with Williams,” the affidavit states.
The woman said she confronted Williams about the attack, and he was “nonchalant” and laughed it off, stating, he was not worried about going to jail because the police did not know who he is. Williams was arrested Jan. 5 for robbery by sudden snatching, battery on a person over 65 and petit theft and is being held in the Seminole County Jail on $21,000 bond.
In January 2021, Williams was arrested for aggravated battery with a firearm, shooting into an occupied vehicle, aggravated battery with a firearm-great bodily harm and five counts of aggravated assault with a firearm after a woman was shot in the arm at Light-Up Eustis Nov. 27, 2020. The charges were later dropped after “the identifying victim substantially changed their testimony and is unable to identify the defendant,” a document filed by the state attorney’s office states. It is unknown which victim changed their testimony.
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.
UMATILLA, Florida—The former president of Umatilla Babe Ruth Inc. has been arrested for stealing nearly $35,000 from the organization to fund his gambling habit, according to a probable cause affidavit.
John Joseph Farley-Gleixner, 36, of Umatilla turned himself in Wednesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest following an investigation by a Lake County Sheriff’s Office detective who began investigating after receiving a theft complaint from a representative of Umatilla Babe Ruth Inc., according to the affidavit.
The investigation found that Farley-Gleixner began misappropriating funds in May 2022 and continued for six months until a check bounced, revealing his indiscretions, a source told Inside Lake. The thefts were discovered in mid-November when the organization bounced a check for uniforms to a Mount Dora business, according to the source.
Farley-Gleixner was removed as president at an emergency meeting following the discovery of the thefts and the organization released a statement that included in part, “While this situation has placed a stain on the Umatilla Babe Ruth Organization, we can and will overcome this.” The theft caused unrest in the Umatilla Babe Ruth Inc. organization and numerous parents reached out to Inside Lake.
Farley-Gleixner, who was the sole debit card holder for the organization’s bank account, used the card to repeatedly withdraw money from various ATMs at internet gambling establishments, commonly known as “fish games,” in addition to using withdrawal slips and a United Southern Bank ATM to obtain cash, totaling $34,917.75, the detective noted. The ATM camera at United Southern Bank captured Farley-Gleixner on video completing transactions, according to the affidavit.
Farley-Gleixner advised he has a gambling problem, and he is “seeking help for it at this time,” and he told LCSO he was the only one responsible for the thefts. A warrant was issued for Farley-Gleixner’s arrest for grand theft Tuesday, and he turned himself in at the Lake County Jail just before noon Wednesday. He was released on $5,000 bond.
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.
EUSTIS, Florida—A teenager involved in a crash earlier this year that severed a motorcyclist’s leg has been arrested for DUI—driving under the influence of marijuana—according to a probable cause affidavit.
Witnesses told Eustis Police a motorcycle was traveling 70 to 80 miles per hour shortly before 9:30 p.m. March 19, near State Road 19 and U.S. Highway 441, when the yellow Honda motorcycle attempted to pass a white Nissan Altima being driven by Stefon Shawn Seepersad, 19, of Umatilla.
Seepersad turned on his blinker to turn right just as the motorcycle attempted to pass him and they collided, according to the affidavit. The crash critically injured Jeremy Carter, including breaking his right arm and severing his left leg; he was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center in Orlando for treatment.
Seepersad, who had a lit marijuana cigarette in his car at the time of the crash, told EPD he was traveling south on State Road 19 when he attempted to change lanes and did not see the motorcycle until they collided, according to the affidavit. An EPD detective secured a warrant for Seepersad’s blood and two vials were taken on the scene of the crash, the affidavit states. The blood was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and testing later showed Seepersad was under the influence of marijuana.
The Altima was towed to secured storage the night of the crash and during a search, EPD found 13 smoked marijuana blunts in a bottle, 2 grams of marijuana, a vape pen and a smoked blunt in a cupholder, along with rolling papers, a scale and a tray with marijuana residue, the affidavit states.
A warrant was issued for Seepersad’s arrest for DUI resulting in serious bodily injury, possession of marijuana less than 20 grams and possession of paraphernalia. He was booked into the Lake County Jail Wednesday and released on $22,000 bond.
GRAND ISLAND—Crews from Lake County Fire Rescue, Eustis Fire Department and Umatilla Fire Department battled a barn fire late Friday afternoon on County Road 452 in Grand Island.
Smoke could be seen as far away as County Road 44, near Grand Island Baptist Church and crews knocked the fire down quickly, a witness said. A hazmat crew responded to the scene, as a precaution due to fertilizer being in the barn, a source told Inside Lake. Lake EMS was on the scene, but there were no reported injuries.
UMATILLA Florida—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is developing leads in the murder of a 31-year-old man Nov. 8, Lt. John Herrell told Inside Lake Wednesday.
Antwain “Lil Daddy” Hart was found shot in front of a home at 38946 Merrell Avenue last week in the Southside area of unincorporated Umatilla. He was transported to AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares by Lake EMS, but died during transport, Herrell said. LCSO has not released many details in the case.
Hart’s rental vehicle, a white 2022 Jeep Cherokee was stolen at the time he was shot and found about 12 hours later behind First Church of God-Eustis, 1550 North Highway 19, Eustis by Eustis Police officers, EPD Chief Craig Capri told Inside Lake last week. LCSO has not said if any evidence was found in the SUV.
Friends and family members of Hart expressed their sorrow through numerous social media posts following his death, and his celebration of life is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, First Baptist Church of Umatilla, 550 Hatfield Drive, Umatilla. His arrangements are being handled by Snow’s Funeral Ministry & Cremation Services in Ocala.
If you have information on Hart’s murder, call LCSO at 352-343-2101 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS. Crimeline callers may be eligible for a reward.