Deputy County Administrator Joe Halman and Polk Fire Rescue Chief Tony Stravino defended their crews this morning in a news conference about the events surrounding the death of Loretta Pickard, 76, in a house fire on Rockridge Road. Here’s full video from their news conference:
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Dispatchers told 76-year-old Loretta Pickard that help was on the way as smoke filled her home in unincorporated north Lakeland, but logs reflect no attempt by county firefighters to enter the home and rescue her before she died, News Channel 8 reports.
A month after a hit-and-run driver left her in a ditch along Swindell Road, Elani Miller struggles with a walker every step she takes, but she still plans to graduate from New Beginnings High School with her class in May. Her mother pleads with the still-at-large driver to come forward.
Hear Ruben Garcia’s remarks after he was sworn in as Lakeland police chief in a brief ceremony at City Hall at 8 a.m. today. A more elaborate ceremony will follow in the next two to three weeks, City Manager Tony Delgado said.
Ruben Garcia, a 54-year-old Lakeland native who has been with the Lakeland Police Department since the mid-1980s, has been promoted to police chief, succeeding Larry Giddens, who resigned to head security at Florida Southern College.
The 2019 Dangerous By Design report was released yesterday, and Lakeland was listed as the fifth most dangerous American metro area for pedestrians during the years 2008 to 2017.
That didn’t come as a shock to Lakeland city planners and transportation officials as the metro area finished sixth in the 2016 report. Chuck Barmby, the city of Lakeland transportation & development review manager, said that when the 2016 report was released the state was “already in the process of doing safety audits, neighborhood mobility audits, and major intensive funding efforts that led toward investments in bike and ped infrastructure.” He added that the report helped focus the state toward getting those investments in place as quickly as possible.
Barmby noted that the state studied the city from Memorial Boulevard north to Interstate 4 and recommended projects out of that study. He added that in 2016 city staff walked Memorial Boulevard, Kathleen Road, Lakeland Hills Boulevard, and U.S. 98 to look at the streets from the view of the pedestrian.
In a new report from Smart Growth America, the Lakeland-Winter Haven metro area landed as the fifth most dangerous metro area for walking in the United States. It was a move up from the 2016 report that listed Lakeland-Winter Haven as sixth. More
In order to help each other through issues of stress, depression, and suicidal thoughts Lakeland Fire Department first responders are receiving training by the Florida Firefighters Safety & Health Collaborative. Due to their shared experiences, peer support is often the first step for those coping with job-related issues.