News Update for 06/06/24

A couple has been arrested after being found with more than a kilo of cocaine. The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Crime Suppression Unit made the arrests after a traffic stop on Hwy 27, near Stryker Road in Avon Park late Tuesday night. Detectives pulled over 45-year-old Noel Hernandez-Alvarez and his passenger, Luz Maria Carrasquillo-Figuero, both of Pennsylvania. A search revealed a wrapped brick of cocaine that weighed 2.42 pounds, and $11,049 in Carrasquillo’s purse. Hernandez and Carrasquillo were both charged with trafficking cocaine, possession of cocaine, and possession of drug equipment. Hernandez was additionally charged with possession of a vehicle known too traffic drugs.

The two men jailed in the disappearance of a Lakeland man are now facing first-degree murder charges. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office were able link the suspects Adonai Rivera and Talon Page to the death of 21-year-old Ethan Fussell. Rivera’s girlfriend, Crystal Droweingo, and Page’s girlfriend, Autumn Thomas, both of Lakeland, are now also facing charges as accessories to murder. Sheriff Grady Judd says they misled detectives and helped dispose of the body. Judd also says right now they’re still searching for Fussell’s body, which could be in Page’s missing car.

Brush fires are responsible for damaging hundreds of acres of land in Polk County. According to Polk County Fire Rescue and the Florida Forest Service, three brush fires near Canopy Oaks and Indian Lake Estates have burned about 900 acres. The Florida Forest Service says the largest fire spans 400 acres and is 20 percent contained.

Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign off on Florida’s new spending plan in the near future. The governor told reporters during his appearance in Fort Myers Tuesday that he will bring the budget in for a landing very soon. State lawmakers passed a more than 110-billion-dollar proposal in March, which offers tax breaks and debt relief. Before anything is finalized, DeSantis will get the chance to veto spending items on the plan. He says many lawmakers will not be happy with everything he decided, but believes people will be pleased with the final results. The upcoming budget is scheduled to begin in July.

A Hillsborough County mother is accused of giving her baby bleach. Authorities say they received a report this week from a "concerned relative" that Melissa Barnes gave her 13-month-old daughter a bottle containing bleach. Barnes told deputies she used bleach to rinse the bottle. She was taken into custody by the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office June 3rd and remains in custody in the county jail. Barnes face charges of child abuse and child neglect.

One person was killed in a Winter Haven crash involving a dump truck, according to police. The Winter Haven Police Department said the crash happened just before 5:30 a.m. this morning on Lucerne Park Road at Old Lucerne Park Road. A dump truck and a car were involved in the crash. Both directions of Lucerne Park Road at Old Lucerne Park Road are currently closed. Drivers will see significant delays in the area.

A Wauchula woman who crashed into a fence shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday morning ended up being charged with two felonies for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after ignoring law enforcement commands and driving towards two officers. Kristin Johnson was taken into custody by the Wauchula Police department and charged with hit and run and resisting arrest in addition to the felony charges. According to reports, officers were investigating another complaint when they heard Johnson crash in the area of South Florida Avenue and Carlton Street. Johnson nearly missed an assisting officer’s car stopped in the roadway, drove over a curb and ignored commands to stop. Johnson eventually pulled into her driveway and was detained.

Boeing’s Starliner mission is reporting some helium leaks on its way to the space station. The crewed spacecraft finally lifted off Wednesday morning from Cape Canaveral marking it just the sixth inaugural launch of a crewed spacecraft in U.S. history. Two previous launch attempts were scrubbed due to technical issues, including a small helium leak. Another helium leak was reported just prior to liftoff, but was deemed "acceptable" by NASA officials. Late Wednesday, NASA said two additional helium leaks had been detected since the spacecraft arrived in orbit, but that the crew is safe.