Around the region for April 2, 2012

Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 9:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 9:19 p.m.


81-year-old Marion man missing after hospital visit

An 81-year-old man was declared missing Sunday when he never returned to the Gainesville hospital where his wife was being treated, police said.

A Silver Alert was issued Sunday evening for Donald J. Zepp, who is from the Ocala area and who was last seen at about 7 a.m. Sunday when he left Shands at the University of Florida to get breakfast, UF Police Department Sgt. Michael Metz said.

Metz said Zepp has a cognitive impairment, a type of dementia, and there was no clear place to look for him as the Zepps' children were out of state.

Zepp was wearing a red plaid shirt when he left the hospital and might have been driving a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan with the license plate No. K302GT.

He is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds.

UPD is asking anyone with information about Zepp's whereabouts to call 392-1111.

— Chad Smith

Man accused of binding woman in front of her kids

A 38-year-old Gainesville man was arrested late Saturday and charged with tying up his live-in girlfriend and putting tape over her mouth in front of their three children after she tried to leave during an argument.

According to an arrest report, the suspect went outside to remove the woman's car battery to prevent her from leaving their house and, during that time, the woman had locked the doors to the house.

The suspect, Charles Haskell Jackson, allegedly broke into the house through a window and smashed the woman's cellphone to prevent her from calling police after she started to dial 911.

Two of the children told an Alachua County sheriff's deputy they had seen their father bind their mother with a belt and put tape on her mouth, according to the report.

Jackson was charged with preventing someone from calling police, a second-degree felony; false imprisonment, a third-degree felony; and battery and marijuana possession, both first-degree misdemeanors.

He was being held at the Alachua County jail Sunday in lieu of $312,000 bond.

— Chad Smith

Fire damages second floor of northwest Gainesville house

A fire late Saturday night heavily damaged the top floor of a Gainesville home, officials reported.

At about 11 p.m. Saturday, an Alachua County sheriff's deputy noticed an orange glow in the sky and searched until finding the cause, a fire at 3132 NW 57 Terrace, according to a report.

The attic and roof of the two-story house were on fire when units from Alachua County Fire Rescue and Gainesville Fire Rescue responded. The fire was brought under control in about 30 minutes, officials said. The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating.

— Staff report


46-year-old Tampa woman dies in house fire on Saturday

TAMPA — Fire rescue officials say a Tampa woman has died in a house fire.

Firefighters responded to a blaze at the home of 46-year-old Laura Grumney Saturday afternoon. They encountered heavy smoke and fire coming from the rear of the home and discovered Grumney's body near a doorway.

A neighbor told investigators she saw Grumney outside the home and warned her not to go back in. But the woman re-entered the burning house at least three different times before succumbing to the smoke and flames.

— The Associated Press

Deputy airlifted after being struck by vehicle in Lake Worth

LAKE WORTH — The West Palm Beach Sheriff's Office said a deputy was airlifted to a hospital after being struck by a vehicle while on patrol.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said the deputy was patrolling in the city of Lake Worth on Sunday morning on a T3, a scooter like device. A pickup truck backed out of an alleyway, struck the deputy and then proceeded driving.

Barbera says investigators are unsure if the driver realized he or she had struck someone.

— The Associated Press

90-year-old St. Augustine woman tries skydiving

JACKSONVILLE — A 90-year-old Florida woman has done what many people half her age wouldn't dare try: skydiving.

The Florida Times-Union reported that Mary Ann Barnett of St. Augustine told her family she wanted to try skydiving after turning 90 last year.

In January, Barnett's granddaughter approached her with the idea of doing it together. Two months later, they jumped out of a plane from 18,000 feet.

Skydive Jacksonville said Barnett is the oldest person to jump from that location.

— The Associated Press

Officials: Another strong spiny lobster season in Florida Keys

KEY WEST — Officials say this year's spiny lobster season is one of the best on record in a decade.

Preliminary figures from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission show fishermen have harvested 5.5 million pounds of spiny lobster. Nearly 6 million pounds were harvested in the previous season.

The Key West Citizen reported that numbers for both years are considerably higher than the 4 million pounds harvested in 2009-10.

Lobster prices have increased, and traps have been spared from any tropical storms or hurricanes, spelling more good luck for fishermen.

The newspaper reported that a booming spiny lobster market in China and in other Asian countries also has created a favorable market for fishermen in the Florida Keys.

— The Associated Press

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