The Voice of the Gem City

April 2, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Florida Highway Patrol is seeking the public’s help in finding a man wanted in a cold case involving three DUI deaths in 2002. A tip that Eric Riters, 40, was seen in the area near St. Augustine’s main library led to the search. In 2002, Riters was involved in a crash in Orange County where he was driving nearly 100 mph in a 45 mph zone. His 1999 Oldsmobile ran into a parked vehicle and killed the three occupants. Age-enhanced photos of Riters have been released online.

Flagler County will be putting up two buildings for evidence storage and crime scene processing for the Sheriff’s Office after getting the go-ahead from the Flagler County Commission. The $240,000 project is needed after the Sheriff’s Operations Center turned out to be housed in a sick building with apparent mold problems. The metal buildings to be located on Justice Lane across from a training tower can later be used for other purposes, say officials.

It was a very public exit for a resident of the Palatka Housing Authority’s Annie M. Spell Senior Community Apartments Monday. Sue Birchwood, 70, was evicted from the Crill Avenue complex after she failed to follow Authority rules and did not maintain her apartment. She was warned, according to Authority officials. Hers was one of three evictions by the Housing Authority on Monday as the rain poured. Birchwood’s family arrived with a moving van by the afternoon. People stopped to help with her furniture and the evictions showed up on Facebook as did comments.

St. Augustine Police are seeking a man who fired shots at The Bar With No Name Monday night. No one was shot, but two people had minor injuries due to shrapnel, say police. The shooting happened just after midnight at the bar, which is across from the Castillo de San Marcos.

Dylan Rumrell will fill the Commission Seat 3 on the St. Augustine Beach City Commission. The seat came open in March when Rich O’Brien announced he was resigning. Twelve people came forward to fill the vacancy and the Commission voted Monday on Rumrell. He’s a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Premier Properties and the founder of the St. Augustine Songwriter Festival. Also at Monday’s meeting the Beach Commission found out they’ll need to find a new attorney. City Attorney Jim Wilson announced he was resigning effective May 1. His law firm, Coquina Law Group, will continue handling the city, he said. However, city officials said the commission will conduct a search and send out a request for proposals before selecting an attorney.

A Palatka man was seriously injured in a wreck Monday at the intersection of State Road 100 and U.S. 17 in Palatka shortly after 4 p.m. Florida Highway Patrol reports a 2007 semi driven by Jose Raul Leguillow, 61 of West Palm Beach was southbound on U.S. 17 when he made a left turn onto 100 in front of a 2017 Ford 350 driven by Tony Andrew Vestal , 50, of Palatka. Vestal reportedly swerved to the right to avoid a collision but his truck hit the side of the semi. Vestal was taken to Flagler Hospital with serious injuries, according to FHP. Traffic on SR100 was tied up for more than four hours.

A Flagler County man is in jail after crashing into a utility box Saturday night on Rae Road and then fleeing deputies, running off, jumping into a canal and swimming away. It didn’t do him much good. Tyler Sweeney, 22, was arrested early Sunday morning at his residence. According to Flagler County deputies, his wrecked vehicle had a strong odor of marijuana and pot, four oxycodone tablets and a Smith and Wesson 9 mm handgun with the serial number scratched out were found in the car. He ended up facing seven charges including driving while his license was suspended.

Down in Crescent City some residents are out in the woods today, cutting swamp cabbage. It’s a labor-intensive job since the cabbage comes from cabbage palm tree. However, it’s part of what people have come to expect on the menu at the annual Crescent City Catfish Festival, which is this Friday and Saturday. Beginning tomorrow volunteers will be cutting up fresh strawberries for the strawberry shortcake, another tradition.

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