News

St. Johns County rolling out lifeguards this weekend


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Beaches in St. Johns County will be fully staffed by lifeguards starting Saturday morning. Certified lifeguards will begin daily assignments between 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., staffing an average of 18 lifeguards towers, according to St. Johns County Fire Rescue.

Plus, there will be supervisors roving the coastline in emergency response vehicles, along with EMTs and ocean rescue personnel posted at coastal stations to shore up the daily staffing and provide emergency response 24 hours a day.

The staffing will remain in place until Labor Day weekend, which traditionally marks the end of the beach season, according to SJCFR.

Man shot by St. Johns deputies dies


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A man injured in a deputy-involved shooting in St. Augustine Beach last Thursday night has died, authorities confirmed Thursday.

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The man has been identified by investigators as Cary L. Martin, 53.

According to Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, officers were called around 7:30 p.m. May 14 to the 400 block of Florida Avenue after Martin's girlfriend called to report that he was armed and possibly suicidal.

Deputies said they made contact with Martin by phone and persuaded him to come outside to speak with authorities, but that when he reached the front door, he was armed with an M1 rifle.

Coast Guard searching after St. Augustine distress call


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The Coast Guard continues to search for the crew of a boat that was reported to be on fire.

The search began Monday when the Coast Guard received a call around 1 p.m. about a 37-foot fishing vessel that was reportedly taking on water about 11 miles east of St. Augustine. The Coast Guard says the caller who claimed to be on board said the crew got off the boat and onto a raft.

The Coast Guard launched a helicopter, airplane and 45-foot boat to search for the missing boat. The crew aboard the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Shrike has been searching throughout the night. There is still no sign of the boat or debris as of Tuesday morning.

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Mom charged with child neglect after 1-year-old nearly drowns


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A St. Augustine mother of two faces a felony charge after her 1-year-old son nearly drowned after wandering out of an unlocked door at the family's apartment.

Geraldine Leola Holman, 43, is accused of leaving her son and his 2-year-old sister unsupervised outside their apartment complex, located at 255 Whispering Woods Lane, on March 30. She was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Flagler County jail.

Her son fell into the pond, but was saved by the timely heroics of an alert neighbor who jumped in after him, according to an arrest report. He was later taken to Flagler Hospital for evaluation.

The incident is now under investigation by the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families. The children have since been removed from the home and placed with family, DCF spokesperson John Harrell told First Coast News.

Homeless man charged with masturbating in front of mother, 3 children


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A 56-year-old homeless man has been charged with publicly masturbating in front of a mother and her three girls.

Richard Orzechowski is named in a charging affidavit provided by the St. Augustine Police Department and is being charged with a felony for a lewd or lascivious act in the presence of a child.

The unnamed 46-year-old victim was traveling with her three girls, aged 10, 15 and 18, Saturday afternoon when Orzechowski reportedly exposed himself to them at the Visitors Information Center near Huguenot Cemetery on East Castillo Road.

The mother and her children told police they were taking photos of the cemetery when she first saw Orzechowski sitting on a bench.

Bird thief caught on video arrested in St. Augustine


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — An Oklahoma woman was arrested Friday afternoon after stealing a parrot on Thursday, St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said.

Dawn Christine Griman, 47, of Ada, Oklahoma was seen entering Pet World, a pet story on U.S. 1, and left with a white-eyed Conure parrot valued at $600.

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The owner of the pet store, Daniel Conlin, showed police a surveillance video wherein Griman opens the animal's cage and leaves with an adult male and juvenile male.

Conlin told First Coast News, "It's disgusting that this adult is teaching a kid to steal."

The conure was starving, according to the store owner, and ate for about an hour.