Unincorporated Lake

Fatal Crash Shuts Down SR 44 Monday Morning

LAKE COUNTY, Florida—A Daytona Beach man is dead following a head-on crash Monday morning on State Road 44, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The man, 20, was driving an SUV westbound on State Road 44 near Fentress Lane in the Pine Lakes area, around 6:15 a.m., when he traveled into the eastbound lane, FHP Lt. Kim Montes said in a press release.

The SUV struck a pickup truck being driven by a 20-year-old Webster man head-on, causing the SUV to overturn. The Daytona Beach man was pronounced dead on the scene; it is unknown if he was wearing his seatbelt. The Webster man, who was wearing his seatbelt, was transported to AdventHealth Waterman with serious injuries.

The crash shut State Road 44 down for several hours Monday morning and remains under investigation, Montes said. 

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Scheduled Holiday Closings And Modified Garbage Pickup

LAKE COUNTY, Florida—Many local government offices are scheduled to close this week in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Lake County Government offices will be closed Thursday and Friday and county garbage pickup regularly scheduled for Thursday will be Friday and regularly scheduled pickup for Friday will be Saturday. This includes Altoona, Astor, Ferndale, Grand Island, Okahumpka, Paisley, Sorrento and Yalaha. For more information, visit  https://lakecountyfl.gov/trash-recycling.

Most city government and town halls will be closed Thursday and Friday; this includes Clermont, Eustis, Fruitland Park, Groveland, Howey-In-The-Hills, Leesburg, Mascotte, Mount Dora, Tavares and Umatilla. Astatula, Lady Lake and Minneola are scheduled to close just on Thursday. Aligning with the county garbage pickup modified schedule; garbage pickup for Thursday will be Friday and pickup for Friday will be Saturday for most cities, except Lady Lake, Leesburg and Tavares.

Lady Lake’s and Leesburg’s garbage pickup will resume Monday and Tavares will resume Tuesday. 

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Single Dad And 4 Boys Lose Everything To House Fire

PAISLEY, Florida—A single dad and his four boys are trying to find a new place to live after the home they lived in burned to the ground just eight days before Thanksgiving.

Jon Wilson, 36, and three of his sons were sleeping around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday when the mobile home they have lived in for nine years caught fire, he told Inside Lake. The electrical fire is believed to have started from a faulty outlet in Wilson’s room.

Wilson and his twin 14-year-old boys and 15-year-old-son escaped the blaze on Palm Street, along with their dog and two cats, but the home and everything in it was a total loss. Wilson’s 6-year-old son was with his mom at the time of the fire. It only took about 15 minutes for the home to burn down, Wilson said.

“The whole house was up in flames. Not even anything we found in the rubble was salvageable,” Wilson said Friday.

Wilson was renting the home and does not have renter’s insurance, he said. The Red Cross offered immediate assistance and Wilson is staying with his girlfriend for the time being. The boys are staying with family members and having a little bit of fun while Wilson deals with the aftermath of the fire.

“It’s just a big stressful situation for everybody,” Wilson said.

Many people have donated clothes and furniture to Wilson and his boys, so much in fact he has rented a storage unit, and he has started a GoFundMe to help replace necessities and to raise money for a new place to live. He is looking for a home with at least three bedrooms and said right now that is the most important thing. An account for donations has also been set up at United Southern Bank; if you’d like to donate you may stop by any branch or send your donation by mail to PO Drawer 29, Umatilla, FL 32784. 

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Former LCSO Sheriff Gary Borders Dies After Cancer Battle

TAVARES, Florida—Former Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders has died following a battle with cancer.

Borders was appointed sheriff in 2006, by then-Governor Jeb Bush following the tragic death of Sheriff Chris Daniels during a charity bus race in Volusia County. When appointed, he was serving as a major over the Corrections Operations Division, and before working for Lake County, he began his career at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in 1980.

PHOTO CREDIT: Inside Lake/Bonnie Whicher

He was elected in 2008 and 2012 and filed to run in 2016, but later withdrew and retired after 36 years in law enforcement in January 2017. Current Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, who was elected in 2016, served as Borders’ chief deputy.

Borders lived in Howey-in-the-Hills and passed away peacefully Tuesday morning, LCSO Lt. John Herrell said in a press release.

Arrangements will be announced once they are solidified, LCSO said in a Facebook post. 

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Groveland Woman Heartbroken After Horse Shot To Death

GROVELAND, Florida—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a horse was found shot to death Sunday morning near Groveland.

Jackie the horse was found by her owner, Tonya Sanders when Sanders went to feed her Sunday morning on the 13-acre property she owns with her husband, she told Inside Lake.

Sanders found 15-year-old Jackie dead from a gunshot wound around 9 a.m. in her pasture on Indianhouse Lane near State Road 19 in unincorporated Groveland, according to an LCSO report.  Sanders and her husband told LCSO that between 10 and 11 p.m. Saturday they heard two loud booms they believed to be gunshots from inside their home, and their dogs continued to make an excessive amount of noise for several hours. Sanders said they often hear loud noises like tires blowing out in the rural area just outside of Groveland and the dogs bark if they see small animals like possums.

PHOTO CREDIT: Tonya Sanders

When they found Jackie, valued at $10,000, they pulled her out of the pasture, saw blood coming from her nose, and found a small gunshot wound near her kidney and called LCSO.

There were tire tracks near Sanders’ fence and the ground was disturbed inside the pasture; Sanders said it is possible the person responsible coaxed Jackie to the fence and then shot her but does not understand the motive.  She said her “dogs were going bonkers” and they may have spooked the shooter.

The responding deputy found no exit wound on Jackie and noted the horse appeared to have run around the pasture for “some time” before she succumbed to her wound.  As she choked back tears, Sanders told Inside Lake the bullet traveled around inside Jackie’s abdomen and she eventually bled to death.

Deputies canvassed the area for shell casings and were unable to find any. No other shooting incidents were reported in the area to LCSO or neighboring Groveland Police Department, according to the report. The Sanders’ told LCSO they had no suspects in mind.

Other animals are located on the property, but none of them were hurt. Sanders has owned Jackie for about eight years, and they competed in the National Barrel Horse Association for the past year. Sanders was thrown from another horse several years ago and broke her ankle and took some time off.  Jackie was docile and was patient and gentle with Sanders.

PHOTO CREDIT: Tonya Sanders

“I just started back last year, and she took care of me,” Sanders said.

Sanders said a neighboring rancher has offered $2,500 for information leading to the arrest of conviction of Jackie’s killer. Sanders’ sister is matching the donation to bring the total reward to $5,000.

If you have information, call LCSO at 352-343-2101. 

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Clermont Teenager Accused of Killing Family Dog With Sword

CLERMONT, Florida—A 17-year-old boy with a “history of violence” is accused of killing the family dog with a sword Saturday and leaving it in the woods near his house.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a home in unincorporated Clermont over the weekend on a report that Avery Featherston, 17, had killed the family dog with a sword and buried it in the woods. Deputies found a sword in the boy’s bedroom that still had animal hair on it, according to an arrest affidavit.  The boy’s stepfather showed deputies where he believed the dog may be and they found the dog dead approximately 20 to 30 yards into the woods.

The dog appeared to have been tied to a tree and had multiple lacerations; the dog was also missing part of its face, the affidavit states. “The body of the dog showed it was a very cruel and inhumane death,” the arresting deputy noted.

The boy’s family members told LCSO the boy has a history of violence and they were scared for the safety of other animals and small children in the home.  

Featherton was arrested on a charge of animal cruelty. 

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Man Arrested After Bragging He Shot At His Neighbor

LEESBURG, Florida—A warrant was issued for a man Monday after he bragged about a shooting incident involving his neighbor last month, according to a probable cause affidavit.  

Charles Derek Fueri, 49, is alleged to have driven his Dodge Ram and followed his neighbor as he rode his bicycle down the street on Oct. 28 in Bassville Park near Leesburg. Fueri passed the man and parked; as the man neared his home, Fueri turned his headlights on and accelerated toward the victim. As Fueri approached the victim, he reportedly yelled, “Do you want to die tonight,” displayed a gun and fired one round. The victim ran and called 9-1-1.

The shot missed the victim, but the following day he found the bullet lodged in a vehicle that was parked in front of his home. A Lake County Sheriff’s Office detective narrowed down a list of suspects for a photo line-up, but the victim was unable to identify Fueri, according to the affidavit.

On Sunday, a witness told LCSO Fueri told him he fired a shot at the victim from a .357 Magnum in retaliation for the victim allegedly looking over his fence and, in his vehicles, the same night. The witness also provided LCSO with a video showing Fueri aggressively following the victim and a short time later a gunshot can be heard, the affidavit states.

Fueri was picked up on the warrant Monday by Eustis Police Department and transported to the Lake County Jail. He is facing charges of discharging a firearm in public, shooting into an unoccupied vehicle and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is being held on $13,000 bond. 

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Eustis Woman Slaps Child Over Drink, Arrested For Child Abuse

DeLAND, Florida—An altercation between a group of children and adults over a drink landed a Eustis woman in jail on a child abuse charge Tuesday night.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a gun complaint around 6:30 p.m. on Beech Avenue in the DeLand area of Lake County, according to an arrest affidavit. The complainant told deputies approximately 20 people were outside his home and they went back to their residence nearby. He said the argument was over a drink and when they went to check the mail, the altercation began. No gun was found.

Deputies spoke with a male witness who said a juvenile had been jumped by two other children and slapped in the face but an adult, identified as Samantha Gandy, 33. The witness provided the deputy with a video that showed Gandy slapping the child, the affidavit states.

A female witness told LCSO she lives near the incident location and also saw Gandy slap the child.  Gandy was taken to the Lake County Jail, where she was released on $5,000 bond. 

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Paisley Woman Jailed After Argument Over Beer

PAISLEY, Florida—A Paisley woman has been released from jail after she was accused of pointing a rifle at her live-in boyfriend in front of Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies late Friday night just 30 minutes after deputies told the pair to separate for the night.

LCSO responded to Loudermilk Drive around 11:45 p.m. Friday on a reported domestic disturbance. When they arrived, they found Amanda Christine Foster, 33, and her boyfriend standing near a driveway and shed. As a deputy approached, the victim reportedly said, “What are you going to do, shoot me?” The deputy then saw Foster standing in the threshold of the shed with a small caliber rifle, according to the arrest affidavit.

Foster emerged from the shed and shouldered the rifle and pointed it directly at the victim. The deputy identified himself and ordered Foster to drop the rifle at gunpoint. Foster refused to comply and turned towards the deputy with the rifle still shouldered; he ordered her again to drop the gun and after some hesitation, she complied and dropped it, the affidavit states.

Foster retreated into the shed and deputies took her into custody after a struggle and she was placed into a patrol car while LCSO spoke to the victim. He told deputies the pair had been in a relationship for about a year and they had been drinking together throughout the night. An argument began over the victim drinking Foster’s beer and she became angry and started throwing things at him, including beer cans. She also smacked him in the back of the head with a 2×4, resulting in a knot, he told deputies; he refused medical care, according to the affidavit. LCSO responded to same home 30 minutes prior to the rifle incident and the couple agreed to separate for the night, the arresting deputy noted.

Foster was arrested for aggravated domestic battery and transported to the Lake County Jail where she was released on $5,000 bond. 

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Mount Dora Man Killed In Wednesday Night Crash

MOUNT PLYMOUTH, Florida–A 44-year-old Mount Dora man died in a single-vehicle crash late Wednesday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. 

Shortly before midnight, the man was traveling eastbound on State Road 46 near Carroll Street when the SUV he was driving left the roadway for an unknown reason, FHP Lt. Kim Montes said in a press release. The SUV overturned and the man, who was not wearing his seatbelt, was ejected. He was pronounced dead on the scene. 

The crash remains under investigation.

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