Astatula man killed Friday morning after rear-ending dump truck in Orange County

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.—A 30-year-old Astatula man was killed before daybreak Friday morning after he rear-ended a dump truck near Zellwood, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Shortly after 5:30 a.m., the Astatula man was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado westbound on Jones Avenue near Jewel Foliage Road when he entered the eastbound lane, traveling above the posted speed limit, to pass another vehicle, FHP said.

He reentered the westbound lane, failed to slow down and rear-ended a 1985 dump truck being driven by a 38-year-old Eustis man. The Astatula man was transported to AdventHealth Apopka and pronounced deceased; the Eustis man was not injured.

Astatula man killed Friday morning after rear-ending dump truck in Orange County Read More »

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. 


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

Man who threw the “Dew” at Tavares store clerk turns himself in

TAVARES, Fla.—A man who threw a bottle of Mountain Dew at a Tavares gas station clerk earlier this month turned himself in on a warrant for battery Tuesday, according to Tavares Police Department.

On April 13, TPD responded to Kangaroo, 933 County Road 48 on a report of a battery. The complainant told officers a male customer was upset about difficulties with a self-checkout and a second clerk went to a register to begin ringing up customers. The man, later identified as Scott Francis May, began complaining about the wait, and said, “This is (expletive) ridiculous,” according to a report.

The clerk asked May if he wanted to come do her job and May began cursing at her and threw a 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottle at her, striking her in the chest or stomach. The incident was captured on the store’s surveillance video and TPD released the video on its social media page April 17 in an attempt to identify the man.


The following day, May, 62, of Astatula went to Tavares Police Department and admitted to throwing the soda at the clerk. May was “polite, respectful and remorseful,” while speaking with an officer and said he did not mean to hit the clerk, he only meant for the soda and a sandwich to land on the counter.

A warrant for battery was issued for May’s arrest Monday, and he turned himself in on Tuesday. He was released from the Lake County Jail on $1,000 bond.


Man who threw the “Dew” at Tavares store clerk turns himself in Read More »

Astatula Police corporal suspended following domestic battery arrest

ASTATULA, Fla.—An Astatula Police Department corporal is suspended and under internal investigation following an arrest for domestic battery last week.

Erick Capraun, 50, who has been with APD since 2016, was arrested by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office after his girlfriend said he had been drinking and pushed her Thursday afternoon.

She told deputies when she walked into the house in unincorporated Leesburg, Capraun started yelling at her over financial issues and pushed her in the shoulder. The argument ensued and he reportedly said, “stupid (expletive) I’m going to lose my dog.”

Capraun did serve as a K9 handler for APD, but the dog has been retired since his arrest, APD Chief Wally Hoagland told Inside Lake. “It was time,” he said.

Capraun told LCSO that the victim was intoxicated, and they were arguing about her driving while she was drinking. He said she was on the phone with an unknown male and told him she was going to leave him for the unknown male and then she pushed him, and he pushed her back. She told deputies he pushed her and when asked if she pushed him back, she said, “no, not that I can remember.” Capraun was arrested and changed his story while he was in the back of the patrol vehicle, according to the affidavit.

Deputies have responded to the home multiple times, including just five days before Capraun was arrested, for a similar issue, the arresting deputy noted in the affidavit.

Capraun will remain suspended from APD until the conclusion of the internal investigation, Hoagland said.

Astatula Police corporal suspended following domestic battery arrest Read More »

Benefit for LCSO Deputy Diagnosed with Cancer Scheduled for Saturday

EUSTIS, Fla.—An event to benefit a Lake County Sheriff’s Office school resource deputy who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year is scheduled for Saturday.

What started as chest pain in 2022 turned into a terrifying diagnosis last summer for LCSO Cpl. Adam Tytler. In November 2022, Tytler went to a cardiologist for ongoing chest pain, and after a EKG showed his heart was in good shape, the cardiologist told him the pain was likely gastrointestinal. The next month, on Christmas Eve, Tytler discovered a swollen lymph node on his neck and by February the lymph node had not gotten any better. He was also suffering from a sinus infection at the time and went to his primary care doctor for treatment and mentioned the lymph node. The doctor chalked it up to the infection, but during the spring Tytler’s chest pain continued and had also moved to his back, and then he began to find swollen lymph nodes on his chest.

Tytler went through a battery of tests and upon reviewing the results, his doctor said it was likely cancer. Tytler sought a second opinion from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and his fears were confirmed when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma in June 2023.

Tytler, his wife Tiffany, and two daughters, Shay 17, Lily, 14, are currently splitting their time between Mount Dora and Tampa for treatment and it is taking a financial toll on the family while already dealing with an emotional roller coaster. Tytler said he came forward with his struggle because cancer affects millions of people and often they go through it alone.

“I would have given up if it weren’t for my faith, my family and the support from the school resource deputy unit,” Tytler said. “I only wanted for those who are struggling to know they are not alone. Not now. Not ever and to never give up.”

Tytler’s struggle inspired Shannon Cook, organizer of Lake County’s annual Back the Blue Walk, and LCSO Lt. Kristin Thompson to create the benefit scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at That Place, 925 North Bay Street, Eustis.

Dinners will be available for purchase, along with an auction of numerous items, including a Back the Blue basket with items from multiple Lake County law enforcement agencies, tickets to various events, like New Kids on the Block concert tickets and Richard Petty Driving Experience, along with a Yeti cooler packed with alcohol, various craft items made by local residents, a high-end fishing pole and numerous other items. A poker scramble is also scheduled to start at 9 a.m. at Gator Harley-Davidson, 1745 U.S. Highway 441, Leesburg, and will include five stops, ending at That Place, Cook told Inside Lake.

Tytler has spent nearly his entire adult life at LCSO, and most recently worked as a corporal in the school resource deputy unit. He prevented a shooting on the Eustis High School campus during the 2018-2019 school year and was awarded the Lake County Officer of the Year in 2019 for his efforts.

He said he is excited he has only one treatment left, and it has been a difficult journey. “Truthfully, it’s been challenging and difficult treatment-wise, not just for me but my family also,” Tytler said.

He will have to wait until after the new year to find out if he is cancer-free, he said.

Tytler told Inside Lake saying thank you to all those who have helped him, and contributed to the benefit will never be enough.

“My family and I are so appreciative and overwhelmed of the outpouring of love and support from everyone. Especially from people I’ve never met,” he said.

For more information on the benefit, visit Corporal Adam Tytler Benefit.

Benefit for LCSO Deputy Diagnosed with Cancer Scheduled for Saturday Read More »

Names of Tavares Weekend Crash Victims Released

TAVARES, Fla.—Tavares Police Department has released the names of the two men involved in a deadly single-car crash early Saturday morning.

TPD believes Anthony Petchonka Jr., 24, of Tavares was driving a 2003 black Acura coupe when he crashed shortly before 2:30 a.m. near the intersection of Dead River Road and Baytree Boulevard. The impact ejected Petchonka Jr., and his passenger Jordan Debitetto, 22, of Astatula.

Inside Lake originally reported Debitetto was from Apopka, as listed on his driver license, but TPD has since discovered he lives in Astatula, TPD Public Information Officer Courtney Sullivan said. Petchonka Jr. was pronounced deceased on the scene and Debitetto was transported to an area hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

Previous story:

Single-Car Crash Kills Tavares Man and Sends Apopka Man to the Hospital Early Saturday

Names of Tavares Weekend Crash Victims Released Read More »

Astatula Man Killed Tuesday Night While Walking on U.S. Highway 441 in Orange County

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.

The crash remains under investigation.

Astatula Man Killed Tuesday Night While Walking on U.S. Highway 441 in Orange County Read More »

Dry Conditions Force Countywide Burn Ban

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.

Dry Conditions Force Countywide Burn Ban Read More »

Another $1 Million Scratch-Off Ticket Sold in Lake County

ASTATULA, Florida—An Astatula man is more than $800,000 richer after claiming a $1 million prize on a scratch-off ticket, the Florida Lottery announced Tuesday.

William Rundall, 69, claimed the prize at the Florida Lottery’s Orlando District Office and chose a one-time, lump sum payment of $820,000, lottery officials said.

Rundall bought the 500X THE CASH ticket for $50 at Food Mart, 13512 Georgia Avenue, Astatula; the store will receive $2,000 bonus commission for selling the ticket.

Just last month, Cynthia Jackubowski, 56, of Groveland claimed her $1 million prize from a ticket she purchased in Leesburg. She also chose a one-time, lump sum payment of $820,000.

$1 Million Winning Scratch-Off Ticket Purchased in Leesburg

Another $1 Million Scratch-Off Ticket Sold in Lake County Read More »

Ocoee Man Killed in Astatula Head-On Crash Friday, Man and Young Girl in Stable Condition

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.

Ocoee Man Killed in Astatula Head-On Crash Friday, Man and Young Girl in Stable Condition Read More »

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