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An angler fishes from a canoe in the water of Spruce Creek near New Smyrna Beach. Cool weather has improved trout fishing in the area.

AP Photo/Daytona Beach News-Journal, Chris Walters
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 11:29 p.m.

Area man charged with DUI manslaughter

  • A Jasper man was arrested on charges of DUI manslaughter Tuesday for allegedly driving drunk and causing a nine-car crash on Interstate 75 in Columbia County last year that resulted in his wife's death, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
    Witnesses told troopers that Joe Lee Jones, 55, drove his 1993 Buick into stopped traffic at a high rate of speed one mile north of the Alachua County line on southbound I-75. The crash set off the nine-car chain reaction collision that fatally injured his wife, Sara Jones, 71, who died Oct. 9, troopers said.
    Jones had a blood-alcohol content of 0.214, which is almost three times the legal limit for driving, the FHP said. The legal limit for driving in Florida is 0.08. Jones has had five previous arrests for DUIs on his record, the FHP said.
    If convicted, Jones could face up to 15 years in prison.
    - Deborah Ball

    Teen charged with having gun at school

  • Columbia County sheriff's deputies arrested a 15-year-old boy Monday for bringing a gun to the county high school.
    The Columbia County High School student told a deputy he found the gun at a local business and had brought it to school to sell, the Sheriff's Office reported. The school's principal, Joann Chamberlin, saw the teenager with the gun when she was walking outside the school as students were preparing to leave for the day.
    The gun was a .22-caliber semiautomatic. It was not loaded and officers found no ammunition.
    The teenager was charged with possession of a firearm on school grounds and taken to the juvenile detention center in Gainesville.
    - Lise Fisher

    High Springs man gets life on drug charge

  • A federal judge sentenced a High Springs man to life in prison Monday on a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
    George B. Bethea, 42, entered a guilty plea to the charge in May. A federal grand jury in Gainesville had indicted Bethea several months earlier on drug charges.
    Bethea had been involved in the distribution of cocaine in the Alachua and Gainesville areas for several years, according to details of his plea agreement. After his arrest, he told officers he had been selling cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana.
    Bethea's criminal history includes convictions on felony drug charges in state court dating back to 1989 in Alachua and Dade counties.
    - Lise Fisher

    Gainesville home fire is tied to hot heater

  • An early morning fire Tuesday left a northwest Gainesville home with $10,000 worth of damage, fire officials said.
    Wanda Jean Davis called emergency officials to her home at 1212 NW 30th Ave. at 2:40 a.m., saying she heard a loud "popping" sound and then found her back porch in flames, according to Gainesville Fire Rescue, which handled the incident.
    By the time firefighters arrived, the fire had spread to the kitchen, officials said. It took them about 15 minutes to extinguish the flames, authorities said.
    Fire inspectors said the blaze likely started because of a malfunction in the home's water heater, which had apparently been installed by a friend of the homeowner and did not have proper electrical covers in some areas, fire officials said.
    - Amy Reinink

    Motor home catches fire on Interstate 75

  • A motor home occupied by a church group caught fire Tuesday while heading south on Interstate 75 just north of High Springs, slowing traffic for about half an hour but causing no injuries, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
    The motor home, a Greyhound bus that had been converted to an RV by the church group, caught fire shortly after noon Tuesday when wood from the flooring fell onto the exhaust, said Lt. Mike Burroughs of the FHP, one agency that responded to the fire.
    Alachua County Fire Rescue, High Springs Fire Department, LaCrosse Volunteer Fire Department and Columbia County firefighters also responded.
    The flames burned through the floor of the bus, causing one bed to catch fire, but the driver was able to quickly pull onto the emergency lane and evacuate the bus, he said.
    Burroughs said he had no information about how many passengers were in the motor home or where the church group was from.
    Officials from the Lake City Fire Department could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
    - Amy Reinink
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