Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens, 55, announced today he is leaving the police department on Feb. 1 after 34 years and is accepting an undisclosed employment opportunity. Here is a news release from the city of Lakeland followed by Giddens’ resignation letter to City Manager Tony Delgado: More
A pedestrian was hit and killed by a freight train around 4 a.m. today near the Combee Road rail crossing just south of U.S. 92 in east Lakeland. Four CSX rail crossings in the area have reopened after being blocked most of the morning. The victim was identified as Randolph Eugene Rhymes of Lakeland. “Video on the train shows him lying between the rails between Fish Hatchery Road and Combee Road. Deputies believe he was possibly sleeping when he was hit. No foul play is suspected,” according to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office news release.
Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens says his officers were following procedure when they fired into a moving vehicle, resulting in the death of a teen who tried to run them down early Wednesday. But many police agencies, including some in the Tampa Bay area, restrict firing into a moving vehicle, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Scott Pearson of Stoney Creek, Ontario, was walking around Cypress Lakes north of Lakeland, where he was visiting his parents, when he saw an alligator biting into a man’s foot. He ran toward the man; his wife called 911; the gator let go; and Scott used his shirt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Victim George Ihle, 85, survived.
Retired Ledger sports writer and web editor Mike Cobb and his family were displaced from their home of 25 years at 1836 Michelle Lane after a fire destroyed its middle section. No humans were injured, but eight cats are feared dead and a dog is hanging on for life.
UPDATE: A rooftop fire at Mojo Federal downtown did so little damage early this morning that the restaurant and bar is planning to open at 12:30 p.m., just an hour and a half later than their usual Sunday opening. The fire, which started after closing, was confined to a small area around the base of a rooftop smokestack connected to the barbecue restaurant’s meat smoker. Some debris could be seen on a nearby patio this morning. The fire set off interior sprinklers, so workers this morning mopped up water. Crews from the Lakeland Fire Department’s nearby downtown headquarters responded quickly, according to Stuart Simm, owner of the neighboring Federal Bar. The pre-dawn photos below are by David Dickey Jr.:
A Kathleen Road mom who’s worried about kids has launched a campaign to remind drivers to halt when school buses display their stop signs. She’s captured video that shows that many drivers keep going.