News Cast 5/13

News Cast for May 13th:

Resolving a terrible alcohol related crash 

A 19 year prison sentence was handed down to a drunk driver. 

Kelly Carter Knapik, 52, had a blood alcohol level of .28 when she struck two pedestrians walking alongside the road in the 9000 block of highway 441 south east. 

Jesse Vayda and Carly Walls were killed. 

Walls sister, Francie Williams said these deaths could have been avoided. 

“My family and friends will make sure Carly did not die in vain.  She will be forever remembered for her kind heart and for overcoming obstacles.  She will help create harsher sentences.  She was killed by a selfish drunk that wanted a pack of cigarettes.” 

Vayda’s mother, Darlene Vayda said she had known Carter-Knapik as a hair dresser and knew about her drinking problem. 

“I told this woman many times that she would kill somebody drinking and driving.  She would come to the hair salon drunk.  She probably don’t remember we told her because she was drunk.  Not knowing she would kill my kid.  She does not deserve to be around anybody, ever again.  As far as I’m concerned she can go under the jail house because that is where she belongs. 

The prosecution was not happy with the sentence. 

The driver was looking at up to 60 years for four serious felonies including vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter. 

Prosecutor Ashley Albright offered this reaction. 

“We were a little disappointed in the sentence as we asked for 23 years.  This woman is a habitual alcoholic that killed two people.  We wanted the 23 years.  It is four years less that the people of Okeechobee will be safe from her.”  

The prosecution said the driver laughed and flirted with the investigator to the court. 

Albright said that showed she lacked remorse for killing two innocent people. 

Carter-Knapik also had her supporters who talked about the help she has given veterans and the homeless with free haircuts. 

They noted Knapik has been very remorseful about the deaths and has been a model prisoner serving as a role model for other inmates. 

In fact, several of her fellow inmates and previous friends wrote letters of support for her to Judge Michael McNicholas. 

Dustin Sullivan said he was disappointed that the victims are so bitter. 

“We are truly sorry.  All this spiteful and dark at the bottom pit attitude is just unnecessary.” 

The Collaboratory of Southwest Florida invited Glades County to join their organization. 

They want the region to vet and work out solutions to our social problems. 

Jon Romine said they want to delegate problems to groups that will work on them and solve them in the next 18 years. 

They want to model NASA in the 1960s when they worked vigorously to send a man to the moon before the Soviet Union. 

He said one of their priorities will be high speed internet for rural areas. 

Law enforcement agencies around the region held ceremonies this week as part of Police Week and Police Memorial Day. 

Okeechobee held a service on Thursday and St. Lucie and Martin County earlier this week. 

Highlands County Judge Anthony Ritenour spoke at a service in Sebring. 

They had an officer shot to death, William Gentry, back in 2018 in Lake Placid. 

The Judge said we need to respect authority and the job law enforcement does. 

“We can not defund the police, we need to uphold the police.  There may be some bad eggs there, but we weed them out.  We should honor and uphold those that protect us.” 

The full house will take up a bill that requires FEMA to pay businesses and residents impacted by Algae Blooms. 

It is sponsored by Treasure Coast Congressman Brian Mast who said algae blooms are a man made disaster supported by the federal government. 

FEMA would be required to assess the damage of blooms, create community disaster resilience zones and require officials to maintain a natural disaster hazard assessment program. 

Mast noted in nine of the past 12 years algae blooms have had an adverse effect on parts of his district.