Around the Region


Published: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 6:23 a.m.

Woman's condition critical after accident

A Lake Butler woman remained in critical condition at a Gainesville hospital Wednesday after she was injured in an accident on Interstate 75 in Alachua County.

Troopers reported the woman was trying to regain control of her sport utility vehicle after a tire on the vehicle failed Tuesday evening. The accident occurred just after 6 p.m. north of the NW 39th Avenue interchange.

Angela Dawn Smith, 29, was headed north on the interstate when the left rear tire on the 1994 Ford failed, according to troopers. The vehicle headed onto the paved center median. Smith was trying to correct the direction the vehicle was heading when she turned toward the right.

The SUV traveled across the road's three northbound lanes and landed on its roof on the eastern shoulder, according to FHP. Officers could not immediately say whether Smith had been wearing a seat belt.

- Lise Fisher

Man dies from injuries after being hit by car

Rain and lighting may have played roles in a deadly accident in Columbia County on Tuesday night, troopers reported.

A Lake City man died after he was struck by a car on County Road 341, about 1 mile north of the Interstate 75 overpass, shortly before 7 p.m., the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

Zoltan Steve Szabo, 33, had been walking south along the right edge of the roadway when he was hit by a 1997 Honda Accord, troopers said. Officers reported the car's driver, Kasey Brianne Hanson, 16, of Lake City, did not see Szabo, who was partially in the travel lane. Szabo died on the scene, troopers reported.

Conditions along the road were dark and wet, according to FHP. No street lights were in the area, and it was lightly raining at the time. Troopers also reported Szabo had been wearing dark clothing.

- Lise Fisher

Wanted man found, arrested in Putnam

The North Florida Violent Fugitive Task Force arrested a Hawthorne man Wednesday who was wanted in Alachua and Putnam counties.

Alachua County authorities had been searching for Mardus Thomas, 28, since mid-January after he reportedly failed to appear in court on a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Putnam County also had a warrant out for Thomas on drug charges.

Deputy U.S. Marshall John Blount said the task force was called in to help find Thomas because he had an extensive criminal history that included weapons violations. Thomas has served three state prison sentences, beginning when he was 18, for drug offenses as well as weapons crimes, according to Florida Department of Corrections records.

Blount said Thomas was spotted at a home on Cowpen Road, but before officers could move in to arrest him, someone picked up Thomas and drove him away. Putnam County deputies spotted a car believed to be carrying Thomas and chased it for several miles in the Interlachen area. Thomas reportedly fled from the car and ran into a wooded area at the intersection of Brown Street and Interlachen Boulevard, where he was found and arrested by Putnam County deputies, Blount said.

- Karen Voyles

Habitual offender arrested after fleeing

A traffic violation landed a Melrose man behind bars Tuesday after deputies said he wouldn't pull over for a traffic stop and later escaped after he was taken to an area hospital.

Michael Dale Hrinda, 24, was being held without bond at the Putnam County jail Wednesday on charges including fleeing and attempting to elude an officer, a habitual offender driving with a revoked license, escape and probation violation, jail records showed.

A Putnam County sheriff's deputy tried to stop a Ford Explorer after the driver cut through the parking lot of a gas station at State Road 26 and SR 21at about noon, according to a Sheriff's Office report. But when the officer turned on the patrol vehicle's emergency lights, the driver sped up and turned down another road. The deputy followed and reported the driver eventually slowed down.

Paramedics then were called because Hrinda told the officer he was feeling ill, the agency reported. But, when paramedics arrived at Putnam Community Medical Center with Hrinda, they said he ran from the ambulance. An officer located him soon afterward by woods near the hospital.

- Lise Fisher

Charges dropped in robbery, stabbing case

Charges against a man accused of stabbing and robbing another man at a northwest Gainesville home last year have been dropped, the State Attorney's Office reported.

Prosecutors dismissed the case against Daniel Joseph Ipser in December because of insufficient evidence, said State Attorney's Office spokesman Spencer Mann. Problems with identifying a suspect in the case and conflicting testimony led to prosecutors' decision to drop the case, Mann said.

Gainesville Police had arrested Ipser in June on charges of attempted murder and robbery with a deadly weapon after alleging he had stabbed a man at a home in the 800 block of NW 3rd Avenue.

- Lise Fisher

County adds two new WeatherBug stations

Alachua County Emergency Management has expanded its weather monitoring network, purchasing two new stations for its WeatherBug program.

The program allows up-to-date, real-time weather reports on the county's emergency management Web site. The new sites are located at two Alachua County Fire Rescue stations - Rescue 20 south of High Springs on U.S. 441 and Rescue 8 in the Orange Heights area off of U.S. 301, the county reported Tuesday.

The WeatherBug network, launched last year, provides emergency personnel with live weather data. Residents can monitor weather conditions in real time. The program also offers free software that can be downloaded and will let users select the nearest station to them and get alerts about severe weather.

To view the data, go to www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/fr/em/weathertools/currentweather.aspx.

- Sun staff report

Free varicose veins screening is Saturday

The University of Florida Vein Center will offer free screenings for varicose veins on Saturday. These dilated, protruding veins in the lower legs may be a sign of blockages in veins higher up in the body.

The screenings will consist of a 20-minute ultrasound exam and an opportunity to meet with a UF vascular surgeon to review any concerns.

Screenings are by appointment and availability is limited. They will be scheduled between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Cardiovascular Center on the first floor of Shands UF. Call Kim at (352) 265-0399 for more information and an appointment.

- Diane Chun

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