News

SJC Sheriff's app aims to prevent crime

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A new cell phone application launched by the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office is offering a
more efficient way to get immediate information to users. 

Since the
app launched on Black Friday it already has over 2,000 engaged
users.

"It's a growing technology we are constantly working to change it, there's a lot of forward thinking with the technology," said Sergeant Catherine Payne of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

The app provides alerts to users about anything important or urgent incidents happening on the roads or in their neighborhoods that can be narrowed geographically. It's a one-way communicator right now, but the app also provides access to the Sheriff's Office Facebook page and other social media sites.

"We do receive tips through our social media through Facebook and the app ties all of our social media together as well as our website," said Payne.

Summer Haven River restoration inches closer

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- The Summer Haven River is one big step closer to being restored.

Currently, sand clogs the river in Southern St. Johns County.

Dee Parker's home is on the Summer Haven River, and she has lived there for 23 years.

When beach sand started choking the Summer Haven River, she and many others were heartbroken.

"It was devastating. Just devastating," Parker said.

So the news that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is in the final stage of approving a permit to restore the river makes her very happy.

"We're thrilled. We're excited," Parker smiled.

The river started sanding in five years ago when storms sent waves crashing through a sand dune on a nearby beach.  Since then, beach sand has slipped into the Summer Haven River, clogging it and turning riverfront homes into homes on the sand.

$6K reward in fatal hit-and-run investigation

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The reward for information in the hit-and-run that killed a 15-year-old girl has been increased to $6,000.

Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida has increased the reward to help find the driver of the vehicle that hit and killed Haley Smith on Nov. 16, according to a release from St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Media Relations Officer Kevin Kelshaw.

Smith was walking with two friends in the area of Kenton Morrison Road and Four Mile Road around 8:30 p.m. that night.

Erosion makes homeowners nervous

VILANO BEACH, Fla. -- Some rapid erosion in Vilano Beach has homeowners worried.

The nor'easters this autumn really pounded the coastline. People who live on or near the coast estimate that about 5- to 8-feet of sand dune just disappeared over the weekend.
Now some houses are much closer than they were to the edge of a cliff.

"We've never had as bad as this. This is the worst we've had it," Scott Pacetti said. He lives on Vilano Beach and his walkway to the beach is about to give way after feet of sand dune underneath it has eroded.

One neighborhood beach access point across from Boating Club Road used to slope down and there were stairs going down to the beach. However, now those stairs are gone and a 10- to 15-foot cliff is there instead.

Linda Dettlings said, "It's awful. It's devastation."

St. Augustine man sets sail for trip around the world

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A St. Augustine man is on his way toward setting a new world record.

Dr. Stanley Paris, 76, sailed off in his sailboat at 7 a.m. Monday from the St. Augustine City Marina.

His goal is to sail around the world, or 27,000 miles, alone in less than 150 days.

The current record is 150 days, six hours and one minute. Paris is aiming for between 120 or 130 days.

If Paris is successful, he will be the oldest person to hold the new record by six years.

The founder and chancellor of the University of St. Augustine also hope to be the first to successfully make this trip using no fossil fuels.

Paris has green technology like solar panels, wind turbines and hydro generators on board his 63'8'' sailing vessel.

Weather delays bid for world sailing record

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A St. Augustine man planning to sail around the world in record time had to take a rain check Saturday.

Dr. Stanley Paris had planned to set out Saturday afternoon, but weather delayed his voyage until Sunday morning.

Saturday afternoon, Paris said "The weather is so rough at the inlet. The waves are ten feet high and it could dump my yacht onto the bottom between waves, and the tow boats say it's too risky to take me out." 

Aboard his boat named Kiwi Spirit, Paris will leave at 7 a.m. Sunday.

The 76-year-old told First Coast News his goal is to sail around the world alone, making him the oldest person to accomplish the feat.

He aims to finish faster than anyone else before him, breaking the current record of 150 days, 6 hours and 1 minute held by Dodge Morgan.

Paris wants to make the same trip, about 27,000 miles, between 120 and 130 days.

A fight to give fallen Irish solider citizenship

ST.AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- John Leahy is retired from the supermarket industry, but not from fighting for what he believes is due his fellow Irishmen.

Leahy was born in Kerry County, Ireland, and moved to the United States to make a better living.

"Back then when you were coming to the United States," said Leahy, "if you were between the ages of 20 and 25 you had to go to the American Embassy and swear that you defend the country or you couldn't get into the country."

During the late 40s and early 50s many immigrated here from Ireland and ended up on the front lines. Leahy was among those who served in the Korean Conflict.

"We were told that 90 days in the service and you automatically became a citizen," he said, "but Korea was classified a police action and wasn't declared a war and they say only in the case of war do they make you a citizen."