The Voice of the Gem City

News July 19, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The pilot who crashed near the Palatka Municipal Airport Monday morning is at HCA Florida Orange Park with serious injuries, according to Florida Highway Patrol. The 55-year-old man from Franklin, Tenn., had taken off from the airport in a single-engine experimental airplane when his plane began having mechanical issues. He called 911 at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office to report problems about 8:11 a.m. and was headed back to the airport when the call cut off. A helicopter and another plane went up to search for him but the heavy tree canopy obscured their view. When the pilot called 911 again, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office communications team was able to ping his location via phone. Deputies and rescue headed for the area of Browns Lane and got him out of plane about 9:30 a.m. An ATV took him to a rescue unit and he was flown to the Orange Pro trauma hospital. FHP is investigating. National Transportation Safety Board has been notified.

St. Johns County is seeking a man wanted in a road rage incident last week in Volusia County. His wife and the pickup truck he was driving were found in St. Johns late Friday. James Seiler, 41, is considered armed and dangerous, according to the Edgewater Police Department where Seiler and another man had a confrontation after one cut off the other while driving. Seiler allegedly pulled a survey stake out of the ground and struck the other person in the head, causing non-life-threatening injuries. He then armed himself with a gun firing shots into the ground and then into the victim’s vehicle, according to Edgewater police. The victim said he defended himself and pulled a knife, slashing Seiler across the chest and wounding him. Seiler and his wife, Brittany, then apparently took off in a silver Toyota Tundra. Brittany Seiler was arrest late Friday night and booked into the county jail where she remained Monday. Authorities are seeking James Seiler on charges of aggravated battery and aggravated assault with a firearm. If you have information, contact Edgewater police at 386-424-2000 or call 911.

Work began Monday on the Historic Downtown Parking Facility off Cordova Street in St. Augustine. The construction rehabilitation project is focusing on the second floor but portions of both the first and second floors of the facility across from the Visitor Information Center will be closed. Work is expected to continue through October. Restocon Co. is doing repairs including concrete maintenance and joist replacements. The City of St. Augustine Monday also launched a pilot program at the parking garage allowing the option of using the ParkStAug mobile app or a payment kiosk to pay for parking.

Election season — and political forums — are underway. Tonight there’s a forum at the Woman’s Club of Palatka at 6 p.m. Seating is limited and reserved. The clubhouse is at 600 S. 13th St. in Palatka

Palatka mayoral candidates and District 4 Republican candidates had a chance to state their views at a forum Monday at St. Johns River State College. Mayor Terrill Hill wasn’t on hand, he was taking part in the ongoing Palatka Mayor’s Challenge, a health initiative. Candidates Robbie Correa and Junior Roger Daniel were there as were Putnam County Commission District 4 Republican candidates Larry Harvey and Tom Williams. Harvey currently holds the seat. Williams, who has run unsuccessfully for sheriff, is head of the local Republican Executive Committee. Palatka Daily News and the college sponsored the forum with Ron Brown as moderator.

A Flagler County mother has died from injuries received in a car crash off Interstate 95 Sunday. Chelsea Hawk, 39, of Palm Coast, died late Monday night at Halifax Hospital. The minivan she was in failed to make a sharp curve at the I-95 interchange with Beville Road in Daytona Beach and ended submerged in a retention pond. All five occupants of the van including her partner and three children were initially hospitalized. Her 12-year-old son remains in critical condition.

In St. Johns County, the Florida Department of Health has issued a health alert after surface water samples detected harmful blue-green algae in the St. Johns River at Racy Point. Health officials advise not drinking, swimming, boating or skiing In waters with a visible bloom.

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