Sorrento

Dad Arrested for DUI Crash that Killed 2 Toddler Sons and Injured Another Son on Easter Eve ’22

TAVARES, Fla.—A father is in the Lake County Jail on no bond after being arrested for DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle without a driver license causing death, stemming from a crash that killed his two young sons on Easter Eve in 2022.

David Shawn Pelfrey, 22, was picked up at his home in Fruitland Park on a warrant Thursday, nearly two years after the crash that killed his young sons, Damian and Dominic and seriously injured their younger brother Daylen.

Inside Lake spoke with the boys’ mom, Miranda Martin, by text Monday and she said Daylen is 3 years old now and doing well.

“Daylen is extremely smart, and the only visible scar left was the one on his head from the surgery he had to have but he’s been through a lot, he actually remembers his brothers and he talks about them often. If he’s asked where Damian and Dominic are he will say “they’re my angels in the sky” and that warms my heart,” she said,

Martin said the arrest has been a long time coming.

“I just want my boys to be remembered, I had to patiently wait for this day to come and for an arrest to be made. Throughout all the time that’s gone by I have had to overcome a lot mentally while (Pelfrey) lived his life like he wasn’t bothered, he’s never apologized and showed no remorse. My life was destroyed, and finally my children will get the justice they deserve and the attention they deserved since this happened. There will never be enough justice no matter what his sentence is because their lives are over. They’re not going to come back but now he has no choice but to sit in isolation and remember them and process that he was at fault for this and now I don’t feel like I carry the weight of the pain from their loss alone anymore,” Martin told Inside Lake.

“Damian was a very intelligent child and extremely mischievous and mature for his age, he loved (play) guns, and I would go as far as saying he was obsessed with them and had a collection of nerf guns, he was as much of a daddy’s boy as he was a mama’s boy. Dominic, he was my mini and a wholehearted mama’s boy, he loved dinosaurs and he thought he was a dinosaur we called him Dino-Dom. He was goofy and always happy and so destructive. My children were amazing boys, and they deserve to be remembered and I’m glad they’re finally getting justice.”

Photo courtesy of Miranda Martin

Shortly before 5:45 p.m. April 16, 2022, Pelfrey, who did not have a valid license, was driving a red 2011 Kia Optima westbound on State Road 46 near Wekiva Pines Road in Sorrento and passing vehicles in a no-passing zone, the Florida Highway Patrol said in 2022. The Kia entered the eastbound lane and the path of a blue 2011 Toyota Tundra pickup truck being driven by Carey David Duryea, of Lake Mary. Duryea took evasive action, according to witnesses, and traveled onto the south shoulder. Pelfrey traveled onto the same shoulder and struck the Tundra head-on, causing it to overturn and catch fire. The impact ejected Damian Pelfrey, 4, and his little brother, Dominic Shane Pelfrey, 2, from the Optima and they were both pronounced deceased on the scene. Their younger brother, Daylen Scott Pelfrey, then just 1 year old, was transported to Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando.

Pelfrey, and another passenger, Justice Marie Lavery were transported to HCA Florida Lake Monroe Hospital in Sanford along with Duryea, Natalio Ramirez Velazquez and Olinto Garcia. Aldrin Greeis Perez Rodriguez and Marvin Armando were transported to AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares.

Witnesses told FHP Pelfrey was driving between 65 and 75 miles per hour and one witness said she could smell alcohol when she went to the car to check on the occupants following the crash, according to a probable affidavit.

Photo courtesy of Miranda Martin

Troopers later traveled to Sanford to speak to Pelfrey and obtain a blood sample and he refused. They obtained a search warrant for Pelfrey’s blood, and it was drawn twice, at 2:15 a.m. and 2:16 a.m. April 17, 2022—nearly nine hours after the crash. A test performed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement revealed the presence of fentanyl, THC and hydromorphone in his system. That test did not show the presence of alcohol, but FHP secured a search warrant for medical blood taken at 7:59 p.m. April 16, 2022, about two hours after the crash. That blood sample, tested using enzymatic testing, showed Pelfrey had a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .135, more than 1.5 times the legal limit.

The sample was also sent to the University of Florida Pathology Laboratories, which used chromatograph testing. Its test showed Pelfrey’s BAL was .102 and did not show the presence of drugs.

A warrant was issued for Pelfrey’s arrest Jan. 14, and he was picked up at his home Thursday and transported to the Lake County Jail, where he is being held on no bond. Pelfrey is also facing a charge of kidnapping and battery in a separate case. That case remains open.

Previous story: Two Leesburg Toddlers Killed, One Airlifted in Fiery Easter Eve Crash that Shut Down SR 46 – Inside Lake

Photos courtesy of Miranda Martin

Dad Arrested for DUI Crash that Killed 2 Toddler Sons and Injured Another Son on Easter Eve ’22 Read More »

Deputies Searching for Sorrento Man Last Seen Thursday

Update: Bernard Jeanty has been found in Volusia County. 

SORRENTO, Fla.—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a man who was last seen Thursday at his home in Sorrento.

According to an LCSO social media post, Bernard Jeanty, 51, left his home sometime during the day in his black 2019 Nissan Pathfinder, along with his dog.

Jeanty is described as a black male, 5 feet 11 inches tall and approximately 150 to 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing pink sweatpants and a black shirt.

If you have information on Jeanty’s whereabouts, call LCSO Det. VanBuskirk at 352-343-9529 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.

Deputies Searching for Sorrento Man Last Seen Thursday Read More »

Deputies Searching Missing Sorrento Woman Suffering from Dementia

Update: Linda Billig was found in Winter Springs, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. 

SORRENTO, Fla.—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s assistance with locating an 80-year-old Sorrento woman reported missing Monday morning.

Linda Derr Billig, 80, was reported missing from her home on PGA Drive in Sorrento shortly before 8:45 a.m. and suffers from dementia, LCSO Public Information Officer Chanel Martin said.

A Silvert Alert has been issued for Billig, and she is described as a white female, 5 feet, 6 inches tall, with gray hair, brown eyes and weighs approximately 175 pounds.  She is believed to be driving a 2004 white Toyota Highlander with a specialty tag, “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” RLM259 and may be wearing pajamas.

If you see Billig or know her whereabouts, call LCSO 352-343-2101.

Deputies Searching Missing Sorrento Woman Suffering from Dementia Read More »

Mom Accused of Kidnapping 2 Daughters Fled from Louisiana State Police Before Capture

LINCOLN PARISH, La.—The mom accused of kidnapping her two daughters from a Lake County foster home fled from Louisiana State Police (LSP) when they attempted stop her Friday and is now facing additional charges.

LSP troopers received information from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office that Dixie Williams, 41, may be traveling on Interstate 20 in a silver Nissan Rogue and troopers spotted the Nissan and initiated a traffic stop, just before 12:15 p.m. local time. Williams came to a brief stop on Interstate 20 westbound, east of LA-145 and then fled from troopers, according to LSP.

After a brief pursuit by LSP and Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies, a “tire deflation device” was deployed and Williams came to a stop, LSP said.

Williams was taken into custody and Tilli, 5, and Natalia, 18 months, who were not in child safety seats, were safely recovered by law enforcement. They were turned over to the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services.

Williams is now facing two counts of kidnapping in Lake County, and numerous charges in Louisiana, including aggravated flight from an officer, operating a vehicle with a suspended license, resisting an officer, two counts of no child passenger restraint system and no seat belt use.

Previous stories: FOUND SAFE: Missing Lake County Sisters Found in Louisiana – Inside Lake

VIDEO: Suspect in Sorrento Missing Children Case Arrested in ’22, Claimed She was “Traveling” and Did Not Need a License – Inside Lake

Amber Alert Issued for Girls Missing from Sorrento – Inside Lake

Deputies Searching for Sisters Who Disappeared from Sorrento Foster Home – Inside Lake

Mom Accused of Kidnapping 2 Daughters Fled from Louisiana State Police Before Capture Read More »

Amber Alert Issued for Girls Missing from Sorrento

SORRENTO, Fla.—An Amber Alert has been issued for two children missing from Sorrento.

At 7 a.m. Thursday, the foster mother of Tilli and Natalia Williams reported the girls missing from her home at 23419 Companero Drive in Sorrento. She told the Lake County Sheriff’s Office she last saw the girls at 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to LCSO Lt. John Herrell.

According to the Amber Alert, the girls may be in the company of Dixie Williams, 41. Williams is described as a white female, 5 feet, 2 inches tall, with brown hair and brown eyes, and weighs approximately 200 pounds. She is also known to use the last name “Stumpner.”

 

Tilli Claire Williams

Tilli is 5 years old, 3 feet, 5 inches tall, approximately 45 pounds, with long, straight brown hair and was last seen wearing gray or navy-blue pajamas with multi-colored hearts.

Natalia Williams

Natalia is 18 months old, 2 feet, 5 inches tall, approximately 30 pounds, with short, brown curly hair and was last seen wearing a pink pajama gown and pink pants with hearts.

If you have information on the girls’ whereabouts, call 911.

Tilli and Natalia Williams

Amber Alert Issued for Girls Missing from Sorrento Read More »

Deputies Searching for Sisters Who Disappeared from Sorrento Foster Home

SORRENTO, Fla.—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a pair of young sisters who disappeared from their Sorrento foster home overnight.

At 7 a.m. Thursday, the foster mother of Tillie and Natalia Williams reported the girls missing from her home at 23419 Companero Drive in Sorrento. She told LCSO she last saw the girls at 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to LCSO Lt. John Herrell.

“Lake County Sheriff’s detectives are on scene and actively investigating. Detectives are looking into the possibility that the juveniles are with their biological mother and father, or if they have any information,” Herrell said in an email.

It is unknown how or when the girls left the home.

Tillie Claire Williams

Tillie is 5 years old, 3 feet, 5 inches tall, approximately 45 pounds, with long, straight brown hair and was last seen wearing gray or navy-blue pajamas with multi-colored hearts.

Natalia Williams

Natalia is 18 months old, 2 feet, 5 inches tall, approximately 30 pounds, with short, brown curly hair and was last seen wearing a pink pajama gown and pink pants with hearts.

If you have information on the girls’ whereabouts, call 911.

Deputies Searching for Sisters Who Disappeared from Sorrento Foster Home Read More »

Event Planned for Sunday to Benefit Children of Sorrento Moms Killed in Connecticut Crash Last Month

EUSTIS, Fla.—A community plans to come together Sunday afternoon to raise money for three children injured in a crash that killed their moms in Connecticut last month.

On Oct. 22, Lacey Marie Price, 32, and Rebecca “Becky” Marie Schutte, 36, both of Sorrento, were passengers in a Lincoln Aviator being driven by Kory Watson, 40, of Hillsville, Va. Watson veered into the right lane for an unknown reason on Interstate 91 South in Wethersfield, Conn. and collided with the rear of a tractor-trailer parked on the right shoulder.

The collision killed Watson and Price; Schutte was transported to Hartford Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Schutte’s two children, Hailyn, 11 and Braysen, 9, and Price’s daughter, Willow, 7, were also in the Aviator at the time of the crash. Connecticut State Police said the children received minor injuries in the hours after the crash, but they were all severely injured.

Hailyn suffered a broken neck, shattered hip, a broken leg and head lacerations. Braysen suffered a shattered spine and bruised kidneys, and Willow suffered a compression spinal fracture and fractured wrist. All three children have since been released from the hospital, but have a long road ahead of them, both physically and emotionally.

A benefit concert featuring Nails Creek Records recording artists Dallas Tyler and Zach Denby is scheduled for noon Sunday at Crossroads 44, 36721 County Road 19A, Eustis. The benefit will also include $10 BBQ dinners, a 50/50 raffle, live auction of donated merchandise and $2 Jello shots. All proceeds will benefit the children. Admission is $15 and tickets can be purchased at the gate.

John Conley, one of the organizers of the event spoke to Inside Lake about his friendship with Price and Schutte and said they loved their children immensely.

“Lacey and Becky were a lot alike in many ways,” Conley said. “They were outspoken and stood up for what they thought was right. If either one of them had something to say, you were going to hear it, like it or not.”

Conley spoke of their giving nature and their smiles.

“They would give the shirt off their backs if you were in need,” Conley said. “They had a good sense of humor and had contagious smiles when they entered a room. They were genuine women who you could count on to be there. If they were in your corner, they had your back.”

His memories of the two women span many years; Price grew up just four houses down from his grandparents and he met Schutte in middle school, along with her brother Chris. Schutte and her brother lived just a neighborhood away from Conley’s grandparents and Price.

Conley fondly remembers just riding and “jamming out” with Price. “(The) last time that happened we ended up at Coconuts on the Beach day drinking,” he said with a laugh.

He also told Inside Lake about the time Schutte talked him into letting a guy she was dating at the time recolor a faded tattoo. “Long story short, he couldn’t color in the lines, and she had to fixt it,” he said.

Lacey Price and John Conley

Conley was struck by tragedy more than once last month. On Oct. 26—just four days after he lost Price and Schutte—he lost another family friend, Richard “Rick” McPhee, after he succumbed to injuries suffered in a hit-and-run-crash in July. The driver who hit McPhee as he was riding his bicycle to work on Wolf Branch Road, still has not been identified.

For more information on the benefit for Hailyn, Braysen and Willow, visit Benefit Concert for Kids @ Crossroads 44

 

Previous story: Connecticut Crash Claims the Lives of 2 Sorrento Women and Virginia Man, 3 Children Hospitalized

Event Planned for Sunday to Benefit Children of Sorrento Moms Killed in Connecticut Crash Last Month 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 »

Suspected Thief Nabbed at Sorrento Home Where Explosives were Found Last Month

SORRENTO, Fla.—A suspected thief was arrested on Halloween after a victim located his belongings on Craigslist for sale and sent the Lake County Sheriff’s Office photos of his items with the suspected thief in front of a Sorrento home, according to an arrest affidavit.

After receiving the photos, LCSO detectives responded to 31624 Orange Street in Sorrento—the same home where explosives were found last month in the case against David Flores. Flores was arrested near that home after being on the run for several days stemming from an incident that began with an armed sexual battery.

When detectives arrived at the home, they found the stolen items—a carved wooden fish and a cypress table—in plain view in front of the home and interviewed Brian Powell, 33, the same man in the photos sent by the victim, and a resident of the home. Powell told LCSO he purchased the items from his roommate for $150. A detective asked Powell if he knew where his roommate got the items and if he knew how much they were worth. Powell said he did not know where the roommate obtained the items and after researching the items online, he knew they were expensive, the affidavit states. Inside Lake is not naming the roommate because he has not been charged with a crime in this case.

Powell consented to a search of the Orange Street home and detectives found numerous other items belonging to the victim, including four fishing poles, an outboard, tools and decorations. Powell was arrested for dealing in stolen property and dealing in stolen property via the internet.

He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he is being held on $7,000 bond.

 

Previous story:   Bulletproof Vest, Explosive Devices, Guns and Drugs Found During Search Warrant, Suspect Now Facing Federal Charges

Suspected Thief Nabbed at Sorrento Home Where Explosives were Found Last Month Read More »

Bicyclist Dies from Injuries Months After Sorrento Hit-and-Run Crash

SORRENTO, Florida—A Sorrento bicyclist has died from injuries he sustained in a hit-and-run crash in July, the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed to Inside Lake.

Only Inside Lake reported on the crash that seriously injured Richard “Rick” McPhee, 59, of Sorrento around 5:45 a.m. July 26. McPhee was riding a bicycle eastbound on Wolf Branch Road approaching Stone Meadow Court on his way to work when a vehicle, possibly a 2014 -2018 Kia Soul, struck McPhee from behind, according to FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi.

 

McPhee’s bicycle had proper lighting and he was wearing a reflective vest.

Richard “Rick” McPhee’s bicycle following a hit-and-run crash. Photo courtesy of John Conley

The impact threw McPhee to the south shoulder of the road and the unknown vehicle fled eastbound down Wolf Branch Road. McPhee was transported to HCA Florida Lake Monroe Hospital in Sanford with serious injuries. He died Oct. 26, Trooper Migdalisis Garcia told Inside Lake.

“The Trooper investigating this crash found a car part on-scene for a vehicle that could possibly be involved in this crash. The car part was a piece of the front headlight assembly from possibly a white in color vehicle,” Crescenzi said in an email. “The evidence is consistent with a Kia Soul between the years of 2014 – 2018.  The suspect vehicle should have damage to the front right.”

John Conley spoke with Inside Lake Wednesday night and said McPhee was his dad’s friend “for as long as he could remember.”

“He was a good friend and my coworker for many years. He looked forward to his yearly trip to Maine, where he would spend a week at his brother (Lee’s) home vacationing. Rick also enjoyed going mudding with his other brother Lance and his son at Hogwaller Mud Bog,” Conley said.

McPhee leaves behind two children, a daughter, Amanda, who is expecting his first grandchild, and a son, RT.

Richard “Rick” McPhee, right, and his brother Lee. McPhee always looked forward to his annual trip to his brother’s house in Maine,” longtime friend John Conley said. Photo courtesy of John Conley

“Hopeful that someone knows something or that the person turns themselves in so everyone can get some closure. It’s just an awful thing to do,” Conley said. “Rick was a good guy; he didn’t deserve to be left for dead on the side of the road.”

FHP is asking anyone with information on the crash, including body shops or mechanics that may have worked on the vehicle involved, to contact them at 407-737-2213 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.  

Two angles of the same vehicle part that was found on the scene where Richard “Rick” McPhee was hit on his bicycle in July. PHOTOS: Florida Highway Patrol

Bicyclist Dies from Injuries Months After Sorrento Hit-and-Run Crash Read More »

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