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 »

Fatal crash shuts down 2 roads near Howey-in-the-Hills

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla.— A 73-year-old woman was killed Tuesday morning after a semi pulled out in front of her on State Road 19, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Around 7 a.m., a 43-year-old Palm Springs man was driving a semi eastbound on O’Brien Road; he attempted to make a left turn on State Road 19 and pulled out in front of a 2017 Toyota 4-Runner being driven by a Howey-in-the-Hills woman.

The SUV t-boned the semi’s trailer and the Howey-in-the-Hills woman was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased. The Palm Springs man was not injured.

At press time, State Road 19  and O’Brien Road were shut down.

Fatal crash shuts down 2 roads near Howey-in-the-Hills 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 »

Rear-End Crash Kills Unidentified Woman on Florida’s Turnpike Early Friday Morning

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida—A fatal crash shut down the southbound lanes of Florida’s Turnpike at mile marker 285 in the Howey-in-the Hills area for nearly nine hours Friday morning, according to Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Tara Crescenzi.

Shortly before 3 a.m. Friday, a 2018 Kia Sorrento was traveling southbound in the inside lane and rear-ended a 2003 Buick Century, killing the woman driving the Buick. The driver of the Kia, a 39-year-old Orlando man, was transported to South Lake Hospital in Clermont with serious injuries and is in stable condition. The woman was pronounced dead on the scene and troopers are awaiting a positive identification from the Medical Examiner’s Office, Crescenzi said.

The crash remains under investigation.

Rear-End Crash Kills Unidentified Woman on Florida’s Turnpike Early Friday Morning 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 »

2 Killed in 6-Vehicle Crash on Turnpike Friday Morning

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida—The crash that shut down the southbound lanes of Florida’s Turnpike most of the day Friday resulted in the deaths of two people, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

At 7:15 a.m. Friday, a 2020 Toyota Corolla being driven by a 23-year-old Tallahassee woman was traveling southbound on Florida’s Turnpike in the inside lane near mile marker 286 when she failed to stop for traffic ahead. She rear-ended a 2022 Chevrolet Equinox being driven by a 69-year-old Ocala man. The Chevrolet left the roadway and the right rear of the Chevrolet struck the left rear of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee being driven by a 67-year-old woman of Port Richey, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said.

The Chevrolet then struck a guardrail, rotated and struck a Dodge Ram 2500 head-on being driven by a 31-year-old Inverness man; the Chevrolet continued southbound and became wedged underneath the trailer of a 2018 tractor-trailer being driven by a 35-year-old Dunnellon man. The driver of the Chevrolet and his passenger, a 68-year-old Ocala woman, were both pronounced deceased on the scene.

After the initial impact between the Toyota and the Chevrolet, the Toyota rotated and struck a 2020 tractor-trailer being driven by a 34-year-old Anthony man. The Toyota became engulfed in flames, Crescenzi said.  

The driver of the Toyota and the Jeep were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries; the driver and passenger of the Dodge and the drivers of the two tractor-trailers were not injured. Everyone involved in the crash stayed on scene and the crash remains under investigation, Crescenzi said.

2 Killed in 6-Vehicle Crash on Turnpike Friday Morning Read More »

Second Pedestrian Killed In Leesburg Thursday

LEESBURG, Florida—Another pedestrian was killed Thursday in Leesburg, unrelated to the crash that killed a man early Thursday morning, according to Leesburg Police Capt. Joe Iozzi.  

Jarret Roque, 40, of Howey-in-the-Hills, was observed by an independent witness standing in the center travel lane of U.S. Highway 441 just north of County Road 44A, around 11:50 p.m. Thursday, Iozzi said in a press release. Awilda Hernandez, 61, of Eustis, was southbound on U.S. Highway 441 in a 2021 Jeep SUV, when she collided with Roque.

Roque suffered life-threatening injuries and was transported by Lake EMS to UF Health-Leesburg, where he was pronounced dead. The crash closed U.S. Highway 441 southbound for about three hours.

“The crash remains under investigation, by the Leesburg Police Department Traffic Unit, however it appears the pedestrian was “at-fault” at this time,” Iozzi said. 

Second Pedestrian Killed In Leesburg Thursday Read More »

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