WOKC Local News December 21st 2020

An Okeechobee man is in serious condition at this time following a vehicle accident early Friday morning in Glades County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say the Okeechobee man, who is 24 years old, was driving a sedan west on Highway 27 near State Route 78 in Moore Haven just after 7:30, traveling behind a tractor trailer. The driver of the truck slowed down, but the Okeechobee man did not slow down, causing his vehicle to collide with the back of the truck. The impact sent both vehicles to the outside lane of US 27. The Okeechobee man was taken by medics to Hendry Regional Medical Center in Clewiston for treatment. The driver of the tractor trailer, a 48 year old man from North Miami Beach, was not injured. It’s under investigation. FHP is not releasing names of those involved in the accident due to Marsy’s Law. This was the second accident in a row that involved an Okeechobee man. An accident on SE 441 in Okeechobee early Thursday morning resulted in no injuries for the Okeechobee man but it unfortunately resulted in the death of a Brooksville area man.

An Okeechobee man, who previously made his living as a teacher in the Okeechobee County School system will be in prison for a while following his court appearance on Friday morning. An Okeechobee County Court judge sentenced 29 year old Richard Shane Miller Junior to twelve years in prison after he chose to plead guilty to second degree sexual battery of a minor just over two years ago. Court records show that Miller had begun a sexual relationship with one of his former students who was only 13 years old and had just finished the seventh grade. Lead prosecutor Ashley Albright says he was satisfied with the judge’s ruling even though he was ready and looking forward to going to trial on this case .

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Deputy DeMarcus Dixon, one of the lead investigators on this case, testified for the prosecution at Friday’s hearing and said while there was a lot of emotions involved in this case, specifically sadness, he knew that as a law enforcement officer, it’s his job to look out for the most precious asset we have, our children.

Members of Miller’s family attended and pleaded for probation for him but to no avail. Miller’s relationship with the student began after his marriage began to be in trouble, which resulted in Miller’s wife having an affair with a sheriff’s deputy. Miller will have to register as a sex offender and serve three years of sex offender probation when he’s released. Neither members of Miller’s family, nor his attorney, Alex Nelson, wished to comment.

On the subject of COVID-19 in Okeechobee County on Friday, the number of positive cases rose once again, this time by the unlucky number of 13. Fortunately, the number of fatalities remained the same. As of Friday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 2,231 recorded positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities are still numbering at 49. 2,215 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from infant to one hundred with the median age of the patients being forty. 228 county residents have been hospitalized as that figure also remained the same. Those who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and going through routine contact tracing. Along with fever, coughing and shortness of breath, other COVID-19 symptoms to watch out for include chills, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and a sudden loss of sense of smell or sense of taste.

As of Friday morning, officials from the state health department are reporting 1,181,483 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 1,161,953 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll now stands at 20,401 with 59,602 people hospitalized.

Okeechobee County residents can be tested, by appointment only, for the Coronavirus at the County Health Department between the hours of eight and four every Monday thru Thursday and eight to two on Fridays. This is an oral swab test. The Florida Community Health Centers have a drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing site available every Tuesday and Thursday from eight o’clock in the morning until noon at the former Okeechobee Surgery Center located at 1655 Highway 441 North. No appointment is necessary and you don’t need insurance, but if you have it, please bring your insurance card, or just bring photo identification. Testing is free in both locations.

If you have any questions related to the virus itself, please call the Okeechobee Health Department at (863) 462-5800 or the 24/7 Department of Health hotline at (866) 779-6121. . The local health department offers COVID-19 testing every Monday thru Friday for first responders and for those who have symptoms.

Remember, the key to avoiding the Coronavirus is good personal hygiene. Washing your hands for at least 20-30 seconds with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol in it is recommended. Avoid touching your eyes or face with unwashed hands. Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from someone when greeting them and not shaking any hands. Avoid shopping at peak hours and use delivery services instead.  Avoid places where there are 10 people or more.

If you need further information about the virus and recommendations for preventing it, please log on to the Department of Health at floridahealth.gov or the Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov.

On the arrest report:

37 year old William Jeffrey Bennett of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past burglary charges. He’s being held without bond.

25 year old Bruce Lee Snell Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by police for fleeing and eluding law enforcement, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and driving without a valid license after an attempted traffic stop and subsequent pursuit. His bond is set at $10,500.00 dollars.

32 year old Aaron Jay Locklear of Ft. Pierce was arrested for possession of cocaine, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and trafficking of the drugs after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $36 thousand dollars.