News

Michelle O'Connell story draws national attention

St. Augustine, Fla. -- Chrissy O'Connell says the wave of national media attention over her sister's death has been hard -- but rewarding.

"The
pictures were graphic and it was hard to look at," she says of the front page story in Sunday's New York Times. "But the truth was out
there, and I'm just grateful for news agencies that want to get the real
story out there."

The story, which First Coast News broke last August, moved to the national stage this week, with a joint investigation by the New York Times and the PBS show Frontline.

St. Johns crash leaves one critical

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- UPDATE, Tuesday: The victim was identified as Gary Alan Madeux, 71, of Jacksonville. Madeux is still hospitalized and is considered to be in critical condition, according to police.

The factors that caused the crash are still being investigated.

One person was left life-threatening condition after a single vehicle crash in St. Johns County Sunday morning. 

The crash occurred on Woodlawn Road near Heritage Park Drive around 10 a.m., according to St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. 

Deputies and Fire-Rescue crews arrived to find a person who was unresponsive.

The man was air lifted to UF Health in life-threatening condition, according to authorities.

The identity of the victim will not be released until investigators have notified next of kin. 

The investigation into the factors that caused the crash is ongoing, according to SJCSO.

Police: Truck drivers take more than $3,400 in fuel

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Three truck drivers were arrested Saturday after allegedly pumping 990 gallons of diesel fuel and only paying for 140.

The truck drivers -- Henry N. Morales-Rosales, 33, Juan M. Fernandez, 47, and Carrillo Rayner, 30 -- were charged with grand theft, according to a release from St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Media Relations Officer Kevin Kelshaw.

Detectives responded to the Flying J at State Road 206 and Interstate 95 when an employee saw that the length of time the men were taking to fuel up was not consistent with the amount of money they paid.

They were able to disconnect the gas pump's wiring, showing inside the station that the pump was not active and then reactivated it outside by connecting it to their computer.

They paid for just 140 of 990 gallons of fuel at $4.01 a gallon, meaning the men allegedly took more than $3,400 worth of diesel fuel.

St. Augustine man sailing around the world alone

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Dr. Stanley Paris is a living essay on carpe diem.

On Saturday, the 76-year-old will set sail from St. Augustine bound for a trip around the planet.

And he's going to do it all alone.

"The bucket list is too long, I have to shorten it down," he said.

Paris, the founder and chancellor of University of St. Augustine, has competed in Ironman events, and swam the English Channel twice.

He sits on the deck of the Kiwi Spirit, his 63-feet, 8-inch sailing vessel, very relaxed, chatting calmly.

You'd think he was deciding whether to take his boat out for a cruise around St. Augustine harbor, or staying tied up to his dock to enjoy the view he has of downtown.

Considering he's about to embark on something that's never been done before, you may wonder if he's just acting that way.

Collecting hundreds of socks for the homeless

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Most of us have plenty of socks, but one woman is collecting socks for those who really need them.

"It's just socks," April Campbell of St. Johns County said.  She is known as the Sock Lady.

"I start collecting in September," she admitted.

Her living room corner is full of bags and boxes of new socks.

This all started a few years ago when she went with some churches to serve dinner on Thanksgiving to the homeless in St. Augustine.

"The churches bring clothes and put the clothes on bleachers for the homeless to pick through," she remembered. One homeless man asked Campbell if there were any socks.

"I said, 'You know what, we don't. But I will have them next year.'"

And she did. She brought more than 500 pairs with her to Thanksgiving dinner in 2011.

Family loses home in early morning fire

ST. AUGUSTINE Fla. -- A family has been displaced following an early morning fire.

Three units from St. Johns County Fire Rescue responded to the blaze on Blanche Lane, within St. Augustine city limits.

The initial call came into first responders at 5:30 a.m. Friday.

When SJCFR crews arrived on scene, the home was fully engulfed, according to Matthew Sara with SJCFR.

The American Red Cross has been contacted to help the displaced family.

No injuries have been reported at this time.

First Coast News will update as we learn more.

UPDATE: All dogs adopted at Pet Center after outbreak

UPDATE, 11/22/13: All dogs at the St. Johns County Pet Center have been adopted, according to the Friends of St. Johns County Pet Center Facebook page. No adoptable dogs were euthanized.

Original story from 11/19 below:

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- The St. Johns County Pet Center is always looking for families to adopt dogs, but this time, there's a deadline.

The center is experiencing an outbreak of a Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease, and the dogs must go.

Tuesday, Pam and Matthew Fiddler of Nassau County saw a Facebook post and headed straight to the St. Johns County Pet Center.