Unincorporated Lake

Dump truck driver swerves and hits pickup head-on, killing DeLand man Friday morning

DeLAND, Fla.—A 35-year-old DeLand man was killed Friday morning after a dump truck swerved and hit the pickup truck he was driving head-on, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Around 7:15 a.m., a 23-year-old Deltona man was driving a 2018 Kenworth dump truck eastbound on State Road 44, approaching Misty Lane in the DeLand area of Lake County, when he swerved left to avoid stopped traffic, FHP said

The dump truck crashed head-on into a 2021 Dodge Ram 1500 traveling westbound, killing the Ram’s driver. The dump truck driver was transported to AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares with minor injuries.

Earlier reports stated a 2024 Toyota Camry was involved in the crash, but the investigation determined it was involved in a separate hit-and-run crash, Trooper Migdalisis Garcia told Inside Lake.

The crash shut down State Road 44 for several hours and remains under investigation.

Previous story: Fatal crash shuts down SR 44 Friday morning – Inside Lake

Dump truck driver swerves and hits pickup head-on, killing DeLand man Friday morning Read More »

Fatal crash shuts down SR 44 Friday morning

Update: Dump truck driver swerves and hits pickup head-on, killing DeLand man Friday morning – Inside Lake

 

DeLAND, Fla.—State Road 44 is shut down while the Florida Highway Patrol investigates a crash that killed a man Friday morning.

The crash happened around 7:15 a.m. at State Road 44 and Misty Lane in the DeLand area of Lake County and involves a 2018 Kenworth dump truck, a 2021 Dodge Ram 1500 and a 2024 Toyota Camry. The driver of the Ram was pronounced deceased on the scene and had not been identified at press time; details on how the crash occurred have not been released.

State Road 44 is closed in both directions and traffic is being diverted at County Road 437 and County Road 42, according to FHP.

This is a developing story.

Fatal crash shuts down SR 44 Friday morning Read More »

Law enforcement investigating internet gaming facilities in unincorporated Umatilla and Tavares

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—There is a large law enforcement presence at two internet gaming facilities, one in unincorporated Umatilla and one in unincorporated Tavares, Thursday morning and Inside Lake is working to find out why.

Inside Lake received multiple tips and was on the scene at Hotspot, 37415 State Road 19, Umatilla, briefly and witnessed several marked units from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office at the business around 9:30 a.m. A tipster also said there was a law enforcement presence at another Hotspot, located at 11203 U.S. Highway 441, Tavares, near County Road 473.

“We’re working an investigation regarding those gaming establishments, the details of which will be released at a later date,” LCSO Lt. John Herrell told Inside Lake.

Law enforcement investigating internet gaming facilities in unincorporated Umatilla and Tavares Read More »

Eustis family trying to rebuild their lives after loss of home and dog to devastating fire

EUSTIS, Fla.—A Eustis family is trying to rebuild their lives after losing their home and beloved dog to a devastating fire around midnight Monday.

Amanda and Joe Mitchem and their son, Joey, 16, were able to escape the blaze, but lost everything they owned and their pup “Bitty Dog,” in the fire. Their daughter, Joni, 18, did not live at the home but was storing most of her belongings there, Amanda told Inside Lake.  The Mitchem family does not have insurance.

 

Joe and Amanda heard their breaker box making a “buzzing” sound late Sunday night and when Joe opened the box to inspect it, “It burst into flames,” Amanda said.

Joe used two fire extinguishers in an attempt to put out the fire at the mobile home on Old Chisholm Trail, but they were no match for the blaze. Authorities confirmed to the Mitchem family it was an electrical fire that started in the breaker box, she said.

The Mitchem family.

Losing “Bitty Dog” has left the family heartbroken. They adopted him when he was just 6 weeks old and he was part of the Mitchem family for more than five years, “He was our everything!” Amanda said. Joe desperately tried to save the pup, running into the fire three times to rescue him and severely burning his hands, Amanda said.

The Mitchems are currently staying with family while they try to rebuild their lives and move forward. Since the family did not have insurance, they have to replace everything they lost on their own. They have started a fundraising campaign to help with expenses; to donate to the Mitchem family, click here.

Eustis family trying to rebuild their lives after loss of home and dog to devastating fire Read More »

FHP: Boy, 6, seriously injured after jumping from moving SUV near Leesburg

LEESBURG, Fla.—The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating an incident that involved a child jumping out of a moving SUV in unincorporated Leesburg Wednesday, Trooper Migdalisis Garcia said.

A 2007 Dodge Durango was traveling northbound on County Road 33 with its windows down when the 6-year-old boy jumped out near Chipmunk Drive, Garcia said.

The boy was transported to Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children with serious injuries; the driver, a 36-year-old woman from Okahumpka, was not injured. The relationship between the boy and the woman was not released.

The incident remains under investigation.

FHP: Boy, 6, seriously injured after jumping from moving SUV near Leesburg Read More »

FWC: License-free freshwater fishing this weekend

FLORIDA—The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting a license-free freshwater fishing weekend Saturday and Sunday

Florida residents and visitors of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to try recreational fishing this weekend and FWC has helpful resources for new anglers to get started.

Largemouth bass are Florida’s most popular freshwater fish and if you catch one 8 pounds or heavier, submit it to TrophyCatch. There is a special promotion this season where pink-tagged bass are swimming and worth extra prizes in five waterbodies across the state. Try your luck and you could even win sunglasses just for fishing in these five waters!

All other rules, such as seasons, bag and size limits apply during license-free fishing weekend.

Keep the fun going all year and buy a recreational freshwater fishing license, to renew or purchase a fishing license, visit GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

FWC: License-free freshwater fishing this weekend Read More »

FHP identifies Umatilla man killed in Astor early Wednesday

ASTOR, Fla.—The Florida Highway Patrol has identified the man killed in Astor early Wednesday morning.

Robert Sangster Jr., 26, of Umatilla, was standing in the westbound lane of State Road 40, near Blue Creek Lodge Road shortly after 4 a.m. when he was struck by a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee being driven by a 58-year-old Polk City woman. The woman swerved to avoid Sangster Jr., but the right side of the SUV collided with him. He was pronounced deceased on the scene. The woman was not injured and remained on scene, FHP said.

The crash closed State Road 40 for approximately five hours.

FHP identifies Umatilla man killed in Astor early Wednesday Read More »

Umatilla man killed in Astor early Wednesday morning; SR 40 shut down

Update: FHP identifies Umatilla man killed in Astor early Wednesday – Inside Lake

ASTOR, Fla.—A 26-year-old Umatilla man was killed Wednesday after he was struck by an SUV on State Road 40 in Astor, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The Umatilla man was standing in the westbound lane of State Road 40 shortly after 4 a.m. when he was struck by 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee being driven by a 58-year-old Polk City woman.

The woman swerved to avoid the man, but the right side of the SUV struck him, killing him. His next of kin has not been notified. The Polk City woman was not injured and remained on scene, FHP said.

State Road 40 west of Blue Creek Lodge Road remained shut down in both directions at press time while troopers conduct their investigation.

Umatilla man killed in Astor early Wednesday morning; SR 40 shut down Read More »

2nd suspect in Paisley home invasion nabbed Tuesday

TAVARES, Fla.—The man wanted for a home invasion and zip-tying a victim earlier this month is behind bars.

James Kenneth Rohrer, 28, was taken into custody by Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies in the DeLand area of Lake County early Tuesday morning, according to public records.

Rohrer is accused of zip-tying a man and ransacking his home, after his partner in crime, Kayla Louise Berlinski, 31, used a ruse to enter the home of Martin Bottom Jr. on May 12. Bottom Jr. said Berlinski arrived at his home, and he confronted her about a prior theft at his home. Berlinksi, wearing both a jacket and a hat emblazoned with “POLICE” told Bottom Jr. she was a law enforcement officer, and she was going to arrest him for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a probable affidavit states.

Bottom Jr. reached for his phone, and a man, later identified as Rohrer, then entered the victim’s home, took the phone and bound Bottom Jr.’s hands behind his back with zip ties. Berlinksi is accused of emptying the victim’s pockets as Rohrer went through the home and stole multiple items, including a .40 Glock handgun, cash and multiple electronics. Then they fled, leaving Bottom bound in his home.

Berlinski was taken into custody for the crimes May 14, just two hours after Inside Lake published its story on the incident. The pair is facing several serious charges, including armed home invasion, kidnapping, grand theft and grand theft of a firearm. Berlinski is facing an additional charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer.

Rohrer is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond; Berlinski is being held on $40,000 bond.

Previous stories: Woman wanted for home invasion, impersonating law enforcement in custody – Inside Lake

 Pair wanted for zip-tying Paisley man and invading his home Sunday, 1 suspect accused of impersonating police officer – Inside Lake

2nd suspect in Paisley home invasion nabbed Tuesday Read More »

Deputies OK after Clermont woman sprays them with chemical during well-being check

CLERMONT, Fla.—Four Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies are OK after being doused with a substance Friday by a woman while they performed a well-being check, according to an arrest affidavit.

Deputies arrived at an apartment in unincorporated Clermont after a father requested a well-being check on his small child. The child’s age and address are redacted from the affidavit.

They attempted to contact Crystal Lorraine Velez, 36, at her apartment and she did not answer the door. They found the door was unlocked but barricaded and “due to concerns for persons inside the apartment” they removed the barricade, entered the apartment and began announcing themselves and clearing a path through the apartment that was flooded with water and cluttered, according to the affidavit.

They found one of the bedroom doors was locked and as they forced entry, they heard a woman screaming and a small child cooing or crying. They partially entered the room and Velez began “dousing” them with an unknown chemical from a spray bottle, believed to be a chemical degreaser. Velez was tased by a deputy and other deputies secured the child, and she was given to her father. Velez was taken into custody and the four deputies were taken to South Lake Emergency Room, where they were treated and released.

Velez was arrested for four counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and transported to the Lake County Jail.

Detectives spoke with a deputy who went into the apartment and the deputy said they could barely walk through the apartment because there was so much clutter. They spoke with the child’s father who said he left Velez approximately three months ago because of her mental health and the apartment was clean and orderly when he left. Detectives were also able to observe the child with her father, who “appeared healthy and happy,” the affidavit states.

Detectives secured a search warrant for the home and when they entered, they found every piece of furniture was overturned, every appliance was disconnected, including a moldy refrigerator. Windows were open, with only small objects or screens that could be easily moved or pushed by a small child. There was little food in house and every water source was turned on, causing the carpet to be saturated with water while every other floor had standing water, the detective noted.

Detectives determined Velez failed to provide the child with proper care and supervision and she was also charged with child neglect, in addition to the four counts of battery on a law enforcement officer. She continues to be held in LCJ on $10,000 bond.

Deputies OK after Clermont woman sprays them with chemical during well-being check Read More »

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