Around the region

Published: Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Pickup passenger dies after being ejected

A passenger in a pickup died after he was ejected from the vehicle in a Dixie County crash Thursday night, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

Samuel David Hand, 41, of Live Oak was killed in the single-vehicle accident on State Road 349, about eight miles north of U.S. 19, according to troopers. The crash occurred at about 9:30 p.m.

The pickup's driver, Tracy Hudson Kinsey, 42, of Coral Springs, and another passenger, Harry Duane Kinsey, 45, of Live Oak, both had serious injuries and were taken to Shands at the University of Florida, troopers reported.

The pickup had been heading north on SR 349 when it traveled onto the road's west shoulder, officers reported. The driver tried to get the vehicle back onto the roadway but overcorrected, causing the pickup to fishtail.

The pickup overturned several times, landing in the middle of the road right side up.

Hand was thrown from the pickup, troopers reported.

Officers did not know if any of the pickup's occupants were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

- Lise Fisher

Micanopy man accused of robbing former boss

Gainesville Police have accused a Micanopy man of robbing the owner of a downtown Gainesville bar who had earlier fired the man.

Officers charged Jonathan Corey Smith, 35, with unarmed robbery, according to an arrest report. Smith, who also is known as Jock Smooth, was being held at the Alachua County jail on a $100,000 bond Friday.

The owner of a bar in the 100 block of SE 2nd Place told police he had fired Smith, who was listed as a manager by police. The businessman left the bar when it closed early Wednesday with $3,200 in bar proceeds. He said he was in the parking lot talking to someone when Smith pulled up in a vehicle.

The victim said Smith told two others with him to beat up his former boss, police reported. During the incident, the money was taken.

A sworn complaint also has been filed against another man named as a co-defendant, according to police.

- Lise Fisher

UF student accused of false imprisonment

A University of Florida student accused of attempted sexual battery and false imprisonment was being held at the Alachua County jail Friday.

Gainesville Police arrested Yong H. Bai, 21, after a woman told officers he wouldn't let her leave his apartment on SW 27th Avenue. She escaped when others heard her screams and discovered her inside the apartment, according to officers. The incident occurred Sunday.

Bai knew the woman and got her to come to his apartment by telling her he had a Christmas gift for her and some of her belongings she needed to pick up, according to a police report. Once she was there, she told police he forced her onto a futon and tried to remove her clothing.

In an interview with police, Bai admitted he held the woman against her will at his apartment for more than one hour.

A $200,000 bond had been set for Bai's release from jail.

- Lise Fisher

Turner says he will not run for re-election

Gilchrist County Sheriff David Turner announced this week that he will not be running for re-election when his term ends a year from now.

Turner said he simply wants to spend more time with his family and felt he had served long enough.

"At the end of this term, I'll have had 33 years and 3 months, I believe," Turner said of his time in law enforcement. For 12 of those years, he has served as sheriff.

"My family's always been there to support me, and elections aren't the greatest thing for a family to endure. I'd like to go out while I'm on top, while things are going well."

- Alice Wallace

Free event will focus on child-safety topics

Children and parents will learn about everyday child dangers at the second-annual Family Fun and Safety Day today. The Alachua County Sheriff's Office will discuss child-safety topics from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Butler Plaza East next to T.G.I. Friday's.

The free event will feature a bounce house, free pizza and a "smoke house" simulation, according to a press release. Free bike helmets and smoke detectors will be provided at the event along with popcorn and movie posters.

Attendees can expect appearances by the University of Florida's Albert and Alberta mascots, McGruff the Crime Dog and Alachua County Fire Rescue's Patches the Robot.

More information can be found at the Alachua County Sheriff's Office Web site at

- Stewart Atkinson

'Tot Lot' reopens after upgrade of $45,000

A children's park located along NW 5th Avenue east of 13th Street has officially reopened after a $45,000 upgrade.

The improved "Tot Lot," located at 1007 NW 5th Ave., is geared toward children 3 to 8 years old. The park features new swing sets, a "jungle rope" and a large jungle gym with an attached slide, according to Sharon Dixon, the project's coordinator.

The playground also has two picnic tables, benches, environmentally friendly artificial mulch and an aluminum fence surrounding the area.

- Stewart Atkinson

Meteorologist to speak at awards banquet

Stephanie Abrams, meteorologist for The Weather Channel, is the guest speaker at the Florida Awards of Excellence Banquet at 7 tonight in Gainesville.

The annual event, which takes place at the Clarion Gainesville Hotel West, 7417 Newberry Road, is conducted by the North Central Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Abrams holds a bachelor's degree in meteorology from Florida State University and a bachelor's degree in geography from the University of Florida. She joined The Weather Channel in June 2003 as an on-camera meteorologist working on the core network, while also providing online video forecasts and weather information for The Weather Channel Interactive.

The event is open to the public. Tickets are $35 per person and are available at the door.

- Sun staff report

Traffic flow on campus gets another change

Santa Fe Community College is making another change to its traffic flow during the school day.

Over the past week, the section of North Road between the library and the gym was closed to motorists. SFCC announced Friday that North Road would be re-opened Monday to through traffic with a couple of changes.

While the roadblock was in effect on North Road, Santa Fe Police Chief Daryl Johnston and City of Gainesville traffic engineer Phil Mann monitored traffic to find solutions to the traffic problems in and around campus.

SFCC officials said the solutions included making adjustments to the traffic lights at NW 91st Street, NW 92nd Street, and at the intersection of NW 83rd Street and North Road.

Four-way stop signs have been installed at the intersection of North Road and Service Drive. Beginning Monday morning, a crossing guard will be stationed at the intersection during the peak morning traffic.

- Karen Voyles

Judge orders closure of state legal offices

TALLAHASSEE - A judge ordered the closure Friday of five newly created state legal offices that lawmakers expected would save the state millions of dollars each year.

The offices were set up to provide private lawyers for indigents when public defenders cannot handle their cases, primarily because of conflicts of interest.

The new regional counsel offices were created under a state law passed last year and opened this month.

Circuit Judge P. Kevin Davey last month in Tallahassee ruled the new offices are unconstitutional, but his order was automatically stayed while the state appealed. Davey lifted the stay Friday.

Sandi Copes, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill McCollum, said the state will ask either the 1st District Court of Appeal or the Florida Supreme Court to restore the stay Monday.

- The Associated Press

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