The Bizarre World of Florida

It Was the Running of the Bull in Florida July 9, 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Bizzarre,Funny,Interesting,OK Then .....,Sad Story,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 1:25 pm

Red-Bull-car-by-Paul-Gilham-Getty-Images-300x200Thousands of gallons of Red Bull spilled onto Interstate 95 in central Florida after two tractor-trailers collided.

The Florida Highway Patrol says the crash happened Monday evening near Rockledge.

Troopers say the truck hauling more than 30,000 pounds of Red Bull was heading north when the driver tried to move over to the center lane because another truck was disabled on the shoulder of the road. When the driver swerved back into the outside lane, his truck sideswiped the parked vehicle. The trailer on the first truck ripped open and the energy drink spilled onto the road.

The driver of the truck was ticketed for failure to maintain a single lane. No injuries were reported.


No jailhouse rock: Woman accused of smuggling coke into jail July 1, 2014

sfl-flduh-smuggling-coke-jail-20140630-001A 25-year-old woman stopped for driving without a license was charged with trying to smuggle cocaine into the jail in a body cavity.

On June 23, an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputy was patrolling when he saw Kimberlee F. Mercer getting into the driver’s seat of a car. According to the arrest report, the deputy knew from prior encounters that Mercer did not have a driver’s license.

The deputy pulled Mercer over and she was arrested for driving without a license, the report said. A vehicle inventory search found a syringe, a spoon, a baggie with opiates and two films of Suboxone.

After Mercer was taken to jail, a search was done of Mercer, according to the report. A plastic baggie of cocaine was found in one of her body cavities.

Mercer is charged with driving without a license, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of drug paraphernalia and smuggling contraband into a detention facility.


Run over by the beach patrol while sunbathing on the beach? That’s $2.6 million in damage, pain and suffering June 29, 2014

Filed under: Bad Luck,Bizzarre,Interesting,Lawsuit,Morbid,Sad Story,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 2:49 pm

 A jury awarded woman who was run over by a Beach Patrol truck more than $2 million for the accident that left half of her face paralyzed.

VOL_TRIAL_BEACH_ACCIDENT.trErin Joynt, 36, said she suffered life-long injuries when she was hit while sunbathing in Daytona Beach Shores nearly three years ago.

Late Thursday afternoon, following more than three hours of deliberation, a Volusia County jury recommended awarding Joynt $2.6 million in damages, including $2 million for pain and suffering.

State law says a payout the size of the one recommended in Joynt’s case has to be approved by the Florida Legislature.

Joynt was run over while sunbathing in 2011. Her children and husband were nearby when the accident happened.

“(We’re) very happy for the verdict. We thank the jury for their service,” said John Phillips, who represented Joynt in the suit.

Phillips said there’s still work to do.

A Florida statute protects the state, its agencies andsubdivisions from liability of a claim exceeding $200,000.  The law spells out the next step for a claim or judgment exceeding that amount. That involves reporting the ruling to the Legislature.

That means the decision on payout will be made in Tallahassee.

“I think some of the evidence wasn’t there to support that level of a verdict but how do you decide what to pay someone for pain and suffering?” said Volusia County Attorney Nancy Jones.

In court, Jones pointed out that Joynt had pre-existing medical conditions.

The accident paralyzed the left side of Joynt’s face. She said she also suffers from hearing loss, loss of vision and aches and pains that have changed her lifestyle.

“We are still an active family, but Chris (Joynt’s husband) takes on the majority of the running around,” Joynt said. “It wears me out more now

The law says $200,000 is the maximum amount per claim, and it includes all money paid related to the incident. Joynt’s family members were already paid out by Volusia County earlier this year. That settlement included $134,000 for her husband and $15,000 each for her two children.


Ka-pow! Man punched in face in case of mistaken identity June 27, 2014

sfl-flduh-punched-mistaken-identity-20140626-001Latarius Tidwell, 23, is accused of striking a man in the face for an insult the man may not have said.

On June 22 at 4:10 a.m., officers were called to a Destin address for a battery complaint, according to the arrest report. The victim said a man had punched him in the face.

The victim told officers that the man who hit him, later identified as Tidwell, was wearing a bright yellow shirt and matching hat, the report said. He said Tidwell left in a white car with two women.

Officers pulled Tidwell over and the victim positively identified him, according to the report. The victim said Tidwell accused him of calling Tidwell a name and then punched him.

The victim said he believed Tidwell had mistaken him for someone else, the report said. Tidwell said the victim had called him a name, so Tidwell had punched him.

Tidwell is charged with battery – touching or striking.


Florida … Where else would a teenager kill his nudist grandmother and drive her body around in her minivan? June 25, 2014

A teenager killed his grandmother in a bloody struggle inside her home at a nudist community and then drove around with her body in a minivan for nearly five hours, authorities said.

13f4a7e3a85c0118580f6a706700f283Brandon Machetto, 18, had been living with his grandmother, 74-year-old Sylvia Schmitt, for the past several weeks and they apparently fought frequently, said Pasco County sheriff’s spokeswoman Melanie Snow.

A neighbor called authorities after seeing Machetto drag a wrapped bag with feet dangling out into his grandmother’s minivan early Monday, police said.

Machetto drove around with his grandmother’s body in the back and when deputies tried to pull him over, he refused, police said. He eventually drove back to the Paradise Lakes community and was arrested.

Machetto was charged with first-degree murder and is being held in jail without bond. It’s unclear if he has an attorney.

Ronnie Hall, Machetto’s martial arts instructor for seven years, said Machetto nearly died a few years ago when he was attacked by a group of teens who hit him in the back of the head with a rock, the Tampa Bay Times (http://bittyurl.co/4nhz ) reported. Hall said Machetto suffered a brain injury, and that he was not aggressive.

Machetto and his grandmother apparently fought as she tried to get her grandson to take his medication. Deputies said Machetto had been accused of domestic violence against Schmitt in 2012, but she dropped the charge.


Father and son share quality time together – walking their dog along the river, getting covered in bees, going to the intensive care unit

Filed under: Bad Luck,Bizzarre,Sad Story,Scary,Sick,WTF? — floridaduh @ 5:33 pm

When Jim Kunze heard the screams, he knew.

The yellow jackets attacked.

Kunze grabbed his beekeeping mask, veil and gloves and headed in the direction of the screams.

david-and-jordan-alvarez-jpg-20140625He drove around the corner and found David Alvarez and his 7-year-old son, Jordan, were being attacked by yellow jackets. Kunze picked up Jordan and put him in his truck, but the wasps were still attacking Alvarez.

“It was probably 15 or 20 of them still attacking him,” said Kunze , a beekeeper for more than 20 years who called the situation “horrifying” and “traumatic.” “I was pinching them dead from all parts of his body. Thank goodness (the EMTs) got there quick and transported them quickly.”

Alvarez and Jordan remain hospitalized, according to family members. Alvarez’s aunt, Maggie Ramia, of Apopka, said Jordan is improving, but his father remains in critical condition and in the intensive care unit.

“We are praying to God every day that they get better,” she said.

A 911 call released Tuesday details the “swarming attack” that injured the father and son walking their dog inAltamonte Springs on June 18.

“Two people just came out of the woods, covered in bees and yelling for help,” the 911 caller told dispatchers. “They’re saying they can’t breathe.”

Ramia said Alvarez, Jordan and their dog were walking along Little Wekiva River near where Alvarez’s grandmother lives when one of them apparently stepped on the subterranean nest. Kunze estimates Alvarez had more than 300 stings.

The dog, China, was stung and taken to the vet for treatment; she is doing better, family members said.

The 911 caller reported the incident from his car parked on Mahogany Lane near Trout Lake, where he sat with the windows closed because the insects were swarming everywhere.

“Ah. One of them got in my car, stinging me,” the caller said. “The man is laying down, looking like he might be about to pass out. The boy is sitting up, screaming.”

The caller then had to get out of his car to battle one of the insects that had gotten inside his shirt. The dispatcher continued to ask him about the victims, who he said were screaming in pain.

Paramedics arrived at 7:40 p.m. At that time, the victims were conscious and breathing. Two emergency responders were stung while trying to assist the victims, a dispatch report said.

Because Alvarez has reacted so seriously to the stings, Ramia said family members believe he may have been allergic.

It has been a trying time for the family, especially because they often took walks in the area, said Ramia.

“This is such a weird thing,” said Ramia. “They grew up around here and this never happened. This is something that is out of this world.”

Ramia has visited the two in the hospital. She likened their bodies to someone who is “completely covered” with measles.

She said the family was thankful that Kunze was nearby.

“If it wouldn’t have been for him, who’s going to go near them?” she said.

Jeffrey Jones, Alvarez’s father-in-law, said his daughter is going back and forth between Florida Hospital in Altamonte and Florida Hospital in Orlando to check on her husband and son. Alvarez and his wife also have an infant child.

“It’s killing her not being with the baby,” Jones said.

Edmund Thralls, an urban horticulture agent in Orange County, said multiple stings from wasps, hornets or bees can send a person into shock — or even kill them — depending on how sensitive their body is to the stinger’s venom.

“There can be thousands of [yellow jackets] in the nest and they can defend their home very aggressively,” Thralls said.

Thralls described wasps, hornets and bees as being in the same insect family. But they differ in feeding habits, personality and body design, he said.

Bees have hairy bodies. They live off pollen and nectar, which is why they are attracted to flowers. Bees can only sting once — whereas wasps can sting multiple times.

Wasps generally have a minor role in pollination and less body hair. They are categorized into three types: parasitic, solitary hunting and social wasps.

“Parasitic and many hunting wasps are considered beneficial because they eat insects and use insects as a place to lay their eggs,” Thralls said.

But the social wasps — yellow jackets, for example — live in large, underground colonies mostly and attack when they feel threatened, Thralls said.

As for hornets, Thralls said they build nests above ground and aren’t usually involved in massive stinging incidents.

“The most common are the yellow jackets, accounting for the overwhelming majority of stinging incidents in the [Florida],” Thralls said.

Wasps, bees and hornets tend to be a nuisance year-round in Florida because of the warm climate. They usually build their nests in the spring, and are fully active through the fall.

“Advice for people is just to be vigilant,” Thralls said. “Know your surrounding and know if you’re allergic to the venom.”


Man Dies in “Horrifying” Wood Chipper Accident June 24, 2014

Filed under: Amazing,Bad Luck,Bizzarre,Death,Sad Story,Scary,Unusual,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 8:54 pm

A man fell into a wood chipper and was killed Monday in Davie in an accident people at the scene called “horrifying.”

hernan+gutierrezA worker landscaping all day near Southwest 57th Street and Pine Island Drive in Davie fell into the teeth of his wood chipper.

On Tuesday, Davie Police identified the man as 42-year-old Hernan Gutierrez of Hallandale Beach (photo below).

Gutierrez’s whole body was pulled in through the wood chipper, and the aftermath took a toll on residents and law enforcement.

“I didn’t know what to do, and then a few minutes later, I hear all these sirens,” resident Joseph Horta told NBC 6’s Jamie Guirola. “It was a little bit horrifying.”

“This isn’t something you see every day,” said Davie Police Captain Dale Engle. “It’s not something you can just go home and forget about.”

The man was dead when rescue workers arrived, and Davie Police had to delicately clean the scene and collect the victim’s remains.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Captain Engle said. “This is a gruesome scene.”

One of the workers with the victim said he knew Gutierrez but declined to talk about the accident.

Police believe the man’s death was the result of a work accident. OSHA was also brought to the scene of the accident and promised more information later.

According to OSHA, from 2000 to 2013, there were 11 wood chipper deaths in the United States, none of them in the state of Florida.

“I think it’s sad, very sad,” said resident Linda Simmons. “Guys were working really hard trying to make a living, and he just made a mistake, I guess.”


Long arm of the law recovers double amputees’ prosthetic arms and his stolen truck June 21, 2014

Filed under: Bad Luck,Bizzarre,Controversy,Robbers,Sad Story,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 4:45 pm

ProstheticPolice are searching for thieves who stole more than just a truck from an Ocoee home early Tuesday morning.

Chris Miller said when the thieves made off with his truck they took his prosthetic arms and parts he uses to repair them.
On Thursday, Ocoee police said they recovered the truck and the prosthetic arms in Winter Garden on Ocoee Commerce Parkway.

“I travel with a spare set at all times — the prosthesis — I also keep a bag full of parts and things I need to fix them,” Miller said.

Miller was happy to have his truck and prosthetic arms back, but said about $20,000 in spare parts was still missing.

“The bag of parts was missing. I did find the spare set and there’s a piece broken on those. Easy to fix but I need the bag to fix them,” said Miller.

Miller’s prosthetic arms and spare parts were inside his black 2010 Chevy Silverado when it was taken. He said it all represents about $100,000 worth of needed equipment. Miller said he lost his arms in an electrical accident.

“I have nothing left but the set I’m wearing, so if something breaks I’m in a bind. And these are my lifeline,” said Miller.

According to Ocoee police, the truck was stolen on Bunchberry Way, less than a mile from the State Road 429.

A neighbor’s surveillance system captured much of what was happening around 4:30 a.m.

Police said that a car across the street was stolen and then Miller’s truck is seen speeding by in the surveillance video, as two people are seen running down the street at another camera angle.

Then a van, believed to be the vehicle the thieves arrived in, passes by the surveillance camera.

The thefts took place in a gated community.

“I don’t really care as much about the crime as I do what was in the vehicle,” said Miller.

Before the truck was found, Miller had a message for the thieves: “Drop the (prosthetics and parts) in a bag, throw them on a street,” he said. “Bring them to me. I don’t care.”

Miller said his truck was damaged by the thieves. Now he’d like to have the spare parts returned.

“I’m still hopeful that they’ll drive by and throw the bag on my lawn, so who knows?” he said.

Police said they also located the second car that was stolen from Miller’s neighborhood, but it was too damaged to drive.


Man douses his wife with gasoline, can’t get it to light, turns to a knife threat June 17, 2014

A Sunrise man told police he was only joking when he tried to ignite gasoline that he had “accidentally” spilled on his wife and her bed.

sfl-domestic-violence-arrest-video-20140616Khemraj Samlall, 43, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill.

In court Monday before Broward Judge John “Jay” Hurley, Samlall’s wife cried and defended him as “a great guy” and good husband and father.

“The court has no doubt that if that lighter would have sparked, you wouldn’t be here right now,” Hurley told her.

Samlall and his wife argued early Sunday morning when he came home drunk after a night out with friends. She had told him he was a bad father for not spending time with their daughter, 9, and son, 14, according to Sunrise Police Officer Justin Bromberg’s report.

Samlall, a maintenance worker, does not have a criminal record. He is accused of pointing two knives at his wife and threatening to kill her.

The son saw his father get a red gas can from the backyard, bring it into the house and throw fuel on his mother, police said.

Samlall denied pouring gasoline on his wife and the bed, and said the fuel spill was accidental. He only wanted to “scare her, so she would stop bothering” him, according to Bromberg’s report.

Samlall told police he took a lighter from a pocket and tried to light the gasoline “as a joke” while winking at the boy, according to the police report.

Bromberg wrote that fumes inside the home were so strong, he became light-headed and had to go outside.

The wife initially said she was in fear of her husband of 16 years but after seeing him in custody, didn’t want to prosecute, Bromberg wrote.

Hurley ordered a $1 million bond for Samlall.


“Yeah, my holster broke and I accidentally shot myself”

A 70-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the foot in the parking lot of a Winn-Dixie store on West Colonial Drive on Friday afternoon, Orlando police said.

Police were called to the store around 12:30 p.m. and found the man sitting on the tailgate of his truck with a gunshot wound to his right foot. The man, L.C. Williams, said the holster recently broke and he was carrying his concealed weapon in his waistband.

As he was approaching his truck, the gun fell out of his waistband, hit his foot and discharged, according to Orlando police. The round also ricocheted into the front grill area of a 2009 beige Dodge Charger, causing about $500 in damage, police said.

The car was not occupied at the time.

The gun was returned to Williams, who was taken to the hospital, police said.



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