News 1/3/19

If you think there are more oranges on the trees – you’re right. Executive Director of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association Ray Royce confirms that the piece count is up this year – at least on the early varieties.
He said the weather has cooperated and is not as much fruit drop as there has been in recent years. Although the citrus greening disease still is a problem, the growers have adjusted their management practices and the crop has “bounced back” to a degree.

Florida Highway patrol officials have released the name of the driver of a car involved in that Christmas Day crash that claimed the lives of four people. Troopers now say it appears 20-year-old Jashua Lee Cruz of Okeechobee was at the wheel of a Buick Lacrosse that slammed head-on into another vehicle while taking a curve on State Road 70 near the intersection of State Road 721.
Authorities say it appears Cruz was passing another vehicle at the time.

Polk County Sheriff’s deputies last night were called to the scene of an accident in Ft. Meade involving five vehicles and some cows. It happened near Highway 17 North and Vigiron Road just before 7 p.m.
Four people from one vehicle were sent to a hospital in Bartow with non-life threatening injuries. No fatalities to report, except two cows. Two miles of Vigiron road was closed for a time whike the scene was cleared.
Deputies are still trying to determine how the cows got loose.

An all-terrain vehicle crashed onto its side in a water-filled ditch east of Lake Wales, trapping a 22-year-old Florida man underneath.
Polk County Sheriff’s officials say that Matthew Ryan McGrath of Boca Raton was last seen riding the ATV early New Year’s Day. An off-duty Frostproof firefighter found the crash site later that afternoon.
McGrath’s body was found underneath the ATV.
Investigators say McGrath was operating a 2019 Green Can AM ATV in the shallow ditch that runs along State Road 60. McGrath wasn’t wearing a helmet or other protective gear.

A train reportedly hit a man who was possibly sleeping on the rails near Lakeland yesterday, killing him.
Polk County Sheriff’s officials say the CSX train struck 58-year-old Randolph Eugene Rhymes of Lakeland around 4:00 yesterday morning.
The crash resulted in the temporary closing of four railroad crossings in the area as officials investigated the crash.