St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Around the state

©Associated Press

October 23, 2002

Man recovering from alligator bite to foot

Man recovering from alligator bite to foot

OAK HILL -- A New Smyrna Beach man bitten by an alligator he stepped on while fishing with friends was recovering from foot surgery, hospital officials said.

David Myron Coleman said he was wading Saturday in a shallow, swampy area in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Coleman and his companions said the gator was between 8 and 11 feet long, said Fish and Wildlife Lt. Gregg Eason. Its bite left large gashes near the fisherman's toes.

The fishermen saw the gator swim away as Coleman managed to walk back to his car and drive himself to the hospital. He underwent surgery that night.

Caregiver's son agrees to talk about missing girl

MIAMI -- A relative of one of Rilya Wilson's caregivers accepted a sweetened plea deal Tuesday in exchange for agreeing to tell investigators everything he knows about the missing girl.

Leo Epson, 39, was facing up to six years in prison for a felony grand theft and misdemeanor fraud charges unrelated to the disappearance of the young girl in January 2001.

Prosecutors wanted Epson, son of caregiver Geralyn Graham, to plead guilty and serve a year in jail, followed by five years of weekly contacts with a probation officer.

Circuit Judge Daryl Trawick discarded the jail time and cut probation to two years if Epson makes a formal statement to investigators still searching for Rilya.

Trawick also gave Epson a choice between submitting to a lie detector test or 200 hours of community service. Epson chose the community service. The extent of help Epson can offer may be limited. He moved to Miami after Rilya's disappearance and gave some statements to investigators about the household while in custody.

Epson was arrested last month on fraud charges along with his mother, sister and Pamela Graham, another of Rilya's caregivers.

Bikers killed during event were not wearing helmets

DAYTONA BEACH -- All five of the motorcyclists killed during the annual Biketoberfest were not wearing helmets at the time of their crashes, police said.

In addition to the fatalities during the four-day event, 29 other motorcyclists were admitted to Halifax Medical Center after crashes during the festival. Of those, 14 remained in intensive care Monday, according to hospital officials.

Alcohol was one of the primary contributors to the fatalities and that is "unacceptable," said Daytona Beach City Commissioner Mike Shallow. "We invite everybody into town," Shallow said. "We get them drunk and then we turn them loose on the community."

This year's Biketoberfest was the second-deadliest in the event's history. The event is believed to have attracted about 100,000 visitors to the Daytona Beach area, police spokesman Al Tolley said.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.