The Voice of the Gem City

News February 23, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A late night crash Tuesday killed a 23-year-old St. Augustine woman after an accident on U.S. 1 and Regalo Road. Florida Highway Patrol reported the crash around 11:15 p.m. occurred as two vehicles were traveling north on U.S. 1 and a 39-year-old woman driving a semi-truck made a wide U-turn at the intersection with Regalo Road, ending up blocking the left and right lanes. The 23-year-old was driving behind the semi and swerved to avoid the truck, but hit the rear of her trailer. Her sedan spun away, ending on the right shoulder of the road. Both drivers were wearing seat belts, according to FHP.

Rush hour traffic slowed this morning in St. Augustine after a crash with injuries happened at U.S.1 and Roehrs Road, according to Florida Highway Patrol. The call came in at 8:03 a.m. and one lane of traffic was blocked as authorities worked at the crash scene.

Palatka is beginning the process to reinstate impact fees and the capital improvements element. This morning a Request For Proposal update meeting was held. 

A fire Tuesday in Interlachen left a family homeless after their residence on Randy Street in Interlachen Lakes Estates burned. The family and their dog were able to get to safety, according to Putnam County Fire Rescue Local 3529. Several volunteer fire departments responded as well as Putnam Fire Rescue.

Flagler County government will use eminent domain proceedings to secure access to the final piece of property needed before a $25 million dune renourishment project at Flagler Beach can begin. The decision comes after the only other hold out gave the county the needed easement so work by the U.S. Corps of Engineers could get underway. By 2020 some 130 needed easements were secured then a campaign began to get another dozen. All but two property owners signed and one of those has now agreed to the easement that only allows a dune walkover to be built. All the properties along the 2.6 mile stretch east of A1A were needed to make the dune restoration work. The Corps had indicated unless the final property was secured the project would drop down on the list with no guarantee when the money would again be available.

Old St. Augustine has quite gone away despite a continuing influx of new building and changing ways. On Tuesday staff from the St. Augustine Alligator FarmZoological Park had traffic stopping on Anastasia Boulevard as they wrestled to get an escaped crocodilian back in their van. The reptile was one of several being moved to another area of the zoo when it managed to break through the back window of one of the zoo’s vans and get out on the roadway. Zoo personnel was able to recapture the critter that’s mouth was bound. “At no time was there any real danger as the animal’s mouth was secured,” read a press release.

In Palatka the last of the founders of the annual Mug Race has died. Charles E. “Gene” O’Connor, 93, died Monday. He along with Colin Mackenzie, Fount Rion Jr. and Sam Simmons came up with that first race that he once described as “a bit of free for all.” O’Connor and Mackenzie came up with the idea as they sailed back to Palatka from the Florida Yacht Club’s St. Johns Regatta in Jacksonville. O’Connor in his boat Raven would be the only Putnam County sailor to ever win the race and that was back in 1957. The 68th annual Mug Race is set for May 7 in what’s billed as the “world’s longest river race” running from Palatka to Jacksonville. Oh, and the mug name came about because the first trophy was a beer stein grabbed from inside the Palatka Marine and Yacht Service dock where that first race ended. 

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