Around the region for Aug. 17, 2013

Published: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 9:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 9:12 p.m.


Vehicle hits and kills woman lying in road

A Branford woman was killed early Friday morning when she was run over by a motorist on Lafayette County Road 348.

Wendy Ann Howard, 50, was killed, according to a Florida Highway Patrol news release.

The accident happened about 1:45 a.m. north of State Road 480.

According to a witness, Howard was lying in the road and was struck by a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser driven by Katie Lynn Turner, 23, of Cross City, FHP reported.

Turner was unable to avoid hitting Howard, who died at the scene. Sgt. Tracy Pace said it has not been determined why Howard was in the road but added that toxicology tests are being done.

— Cindy Swirko

ATV accident seriously injures 8-year-old boy

An 8-year-old Lawtey boy was seriously injured Friday morning when the 4-wheel ATV he was driving on private property overturned, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Reece A. Barber was transported to UF Health Shands Hospital with serious injuries after the accident, which occurred Friday morning around 8:15 near Northwest 38th Avenue and 233rd Street in Lawtey, FHP said.

As Reece attempted a right turn, the ATV overturned, rolling over Reece and injuring his upper body, troopers said.

Reece was not wearing a helmet, troopers said. No charges were filed in the incident, FHP said.

— Staff report


One dead following a Disney World bus crash

LAKE BUENA VISTA — A woman is dead following a bus crash near Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park.

The Florida Highway Patrol reported that a Disney’s Magical Express bus rear-ended a car Friday afternoon. Witnesses said the car stopped in the middle of the road, and the bus was unable to brake.

According to an FHP report, the 63-year-old woman who had been driving the car was taken to Celebration Health in Kissimmee. She was later pronounced dead. FHP wasn’t immediately naming the victim.

The bus was carrying 36 passengers. FHP said two were hospitalized with minor injuries. No charges were immediately filed.

Disney’s Magical Express is a complimentary shuttle service that transports guests between the airport and the resort. It is operated by Mears Transportation.

Disney said in a statement that the company is providing support to the passengers on the bus.

Mears said it is cooperating fully with FHP.

— The Associated Press

Officer in stun gun death has other incidents in file

MIAMI BEACH — A Miami Beach police officer involved in the stun gun death of an 18-year-old graffiti artist has controversial incidents in his personnel file.

On Aug. 6, Israel Hernandez-Llach died after officers used a Taser after he ignored their orders to stop.

The Miami Herald reported that Officer Jorge Mercado’s file includes a complaint from an Iraq war veteran who says he was beaten and Tasered by Mercado and other officers in 2008.

The Herald reported that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reprimanded Mercado for flunking a drug test. He was also among officers caught up in a 2011 overtime scandal and was accused of breaking a man’s nose in an off-duty incident.

In every case except the drug test, Mercado was either cleared or the cases were dropped for lack of evidence.

— The Associated Press

Jacksonville church named a minor basilica

JACKSONVILLE — The oldest Catholic church in Jacksonville has been named a minor basilica.

According to an official letter from the apostolic office in Rome, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is now one of 77 Catholic churches in the United States and six in Florida to have the designation. There are more than 1,400 minor basilicas across the world.

The Florida Times-Union reported that the Rev. Ed Murphy announced the new designation during Thursday’s noon Mass.

“The comments I have gotten is it was long in coming and this is a great compliment to this great parish,” Murphy said.

— The Associated Press

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