Around the region


Published: Friday, January 18, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 11:31 p.m.

Newberry man killed in Baker County crash

A Newberry man died Wednesday evening in a Baker County crash that also injured four others and may have been weather-related, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

Alfred K. Veninga, 61, was killed in the head-on crash, according to troopers.

A pickup was attempting to pass another vehicle on State Road 121, north of County Road 125, shortly after 5 p.m., investigators reported. Brint Eric Cason, 20, of Fort White, the driver of a northbound 2004 Dodge Ram, moved into the southbound lane to make the pass when he saw Veninga's car coming toward him.

Troopers said Cason attempted to steer back into the northbound lane but lost control of the pickup during rain on a wet roadway. The pickup began to rotate, traveled back into the southbound lane and hit Veninga's 2006 Kia Spectra head-on.

Veninga was pronounced dead on the scene, according to troopers.

A passenger in the Kia, Jane Veninga, 59, received serious injuries in the crash. Cason and two passengers in the pickup, Dustin Parrish, 21, and Teddy J. Rebard, 20, both of Fort White, had minor injuries, according to officers.

Both people in the Kia had been wearing seat belts. None of the pickup's occupants had been using seat belts, troopers reported.

The crash remained under investigation Thursday.

- Lise Fisher

Morriston man shot during home robbery

A Morriston man was critically injured early Thursday when he was shot during an apparent home-invasion robbery, according to the Levy County Sheriff's Office.

Officers received a 911 call from a home at 19650 SE 32nd Place in Morriston shortly before 6:30 a.m., Lt. Evan Sullivan said.

A 60-year-old man was shot once when someone forcibly entered the residence while he and his wife were sleeping, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The victim confronted the intruder and was shot with an unknown type of gun. He was taken to Shands at the University of Florida, where he was listed in critical but stable condition.

The injured man's wife was not hurt and made the 911 call for help, Sullivan said.

Officers did not immediately have details about the suspect's description or further information related to the shooting.

A Florida Department of Corrections K-9 Team from Cross City was assisting in the search for the shooter, the Sheriff's Office reported.

- Lise Fisher

Semi driver that caused accident on I-75 cited

Troopers cited a truck driver for careless driving after his semi overturned on Interstate 75 on Wednesday, blocking all northbound lanes of the highway.

Edward James Kalita, 58, of Roy, Utah, had been headed north on I-75, six miles south of Gainesville, when the accident occurred about 3:30 p.m., the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

The road was shut down with traffic rerouted. But many vehicles were backed up for miles until the semi was moved and the road opened almost two hours later.

Kalita told troopers he was driving in the center lane and had leaned to the right to look down for a moment. When he looked back up, his truck had veered toward the right. He attempted to correct the vehicle's motion but ended up swerving into the left lane and losing control of the semi.

Kalita was taken to Shands at the University of Florida for minor injuries, according to troopers.

- Lise Fisher

COMMUNITY

Williston city workers approve joining union

Williston city workers voted this week to join a union.

According to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, of the 45 workers eligible to cast ballots, the vote was 27-4 in favor of joining the union. The city has 14 days to contest the results before negotiating can begin on a labor contract.

AFSCME identifies itself and its 1.4 million members as the largest public employee and health care worker union in the nation. John Leshuk, the union's staff representative for most of North Florida, said those who will be covered by a union contract include "a little bit of everybody - maintenance workers, police dispatchers, clerical workers - about everyone except the police officers."

Contract negotiations are expected to cover wages, benefits and working conditions.

- Karen Voyles

Teens arrested in prank that killed police officer

ST. PETERSBURG - The Florida Highway Patrol says two teens are in jail on suspicion of playing a prank that killed a police sergeant. Authorities say 19-year-old Tyler Jenkins placed a lawn chair in the middle of Interstate 4 in Volusia County in July. Troopers say Longwood police Sgt. Karl Strohsal swerved his car to avoid the chair. He hit another car driven by a drunken driver and was pushed into a median. The collisions killed him. St. Petersburg police arrested Jenkins and a 19-year-old friend, Katie Jo Peller, on Wednesday.

- The Associated Press

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