The Voice of the Gem City

July 15, 2019

This is Marcia Lane,  your roving reporter.

Two separate plane crashes in the Hastings area Sunday morning left two men seriously injured, according to Florida Highway Patrol. At 7:40 a.m. a 1957 Cessna crashed into a field on Barrel Factory Road near the St. Johns and Putnam county line. Brothers Joseph Linebach, 62, who was piloting the plane, and Thomas Linebach, 60, both of Satsuma, were seriously injured after the plane crashed into an oak tree and landed upside down. Less than 90 minutes later a second crash occurred about 10 miles away near Elkton. The pilot and an instructor in a single engine 1979 Cessna crashed into a field. Names of the men, who are 31 and 27, were not released. The pilot was practicing emergency drills over the field which is used to grow potatoes. Soil will have to be tested, according to the field owner. Federal Aviation Administration is investigating both crashes.

In Flagler County, a 16-year-old is charged with first-degree murder after a drug deal allegedly arranged on Snapchat went wrong. Benjamin Dean Allen, 16, was arrested Sunday in the shooting death of Elijah RIzvan, 17. Allen allegedly set up a $125 marijuana sale for Friday but when Rizvan showed up at Westfield and Westford lanes two black males got out of a car, took the pot and shot the 17-year-old. Sheriff Rick Staly said deputies were able to track a silver car reported at the scene and seen on video surveillance. The investigation is continuing and more charges are likely, say authorities.

Emmanuel Swift is the new principal at Putnam Edge High School, a charter school now located in the former Campbell School, which once served as headquarters for the Putnam School District. Swift has worked in a variety of school administration positions. He took part in a celebration and open house Saturday at the charter school on South Seventh Street.

Expect some loud noises and animals on the move this week in south Putnam County and northern Flagler County as the Navy holds inert and live bombing exercises. The runs take place at the Pinecastle Range Complex in the Ocala National Forest. Today and Tuesday runs are from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Flagler County Commission meets at 5 p.m. today to look at whether or not to require Clerk of Court Tom Bexley to find 5,000 square feet in the Government Complex to house Sheriff Rick Staly’s personnel. The Command Center for the Sheriff’s Office was closed last year due to health issues with their building and the sheriff is seeking space to help handle personnel. Bexley has said he doesn’t have spare space.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a bank robber who held up the Ameris Bank on U.S. 1 in St. Augustine shortly after noon Friday. The man, who is white, showed tellers a handgun, demanded money and fled on foot. No one was injured. A photo of the man is on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook site.

Expect some traffic delays in St. Johns and Putnam counties. A portion of River Street is closed to traffic as crews work on the street. Traffic is being detoured for several blocks. In St. Johns County, go cautiously on San Marco Avenue near May Street as the roundabout is open for traffic today for the first time. That’s the area by the main library and carousel and also serves Vilano Beach traffic.

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