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Pilot survives copter crash in Big Cypress Preserve

By wire services
Published August 20, 2004

BIG CYPRESS NATIONAL PRESERVE - An orthopedic surgeon piloting his own helicopter crashed Thursday in Big Cypress National Preserve. He was rescued after a search by several law enforcement agencies.

Dr. John Kagan of Fort Myers walked about a mile from the crash site before he was picked up by a rescue helicopter, preserve spokesman Bob DeGross said. Kagan was taken to a hospital.

Kagan's Hughes 500 helicopter crashed about 6:30 a.m. about 6 miles north of U.S. 41 in Collier County near the Miami-Dade County border, DeGross said.

Helicopters from four counties, the National Park Service and the Civil Air Patrol searched the area before the downed helicopter was found about 11 a.m.

Kagan was flying to Fort Myers from Tamiami Airport in Miami, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.

The downed helicopter carried the logo of WINK-TV in Fort Myers, but John Emmert, news director, said the station only leased the craft from Kagan 20 to 30 hours a week.

Driver using mower as his transportation is killed

LANTANA - A 92-year-old man who drove a riding lawn mower on city streets after his driver's license expired was fatally injured when he collided with a car on his way to the grocery store.

Alfonso Rivera, of Seminole Manor, had been driving the John Deere mower for more than two years and had added a basket to carry groceries.

He was driving the mower to a supermarket Saturday when he attempted to cross a street in traffic and was struck by a 2003 Toyota driven by Joseph Berlangero, 84, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. Berlangero tried to avoid the collision by changing lanes, deputies said.

Rivera was knocked onto the street. He died Sunday at Delray Medical Center.

Despite his children's objections, the former landscaper and father of 10 drove the lawn mower around town, sometimes competing with heavy traffic on roads that funnel onto Interstate 95 ramps.

"He would go on that lawn mower anywhere he could at any time he could," said Rivera's daughter, Alicia Salas. "We took away his tires," she said, but he got them back. "We took away his key to the lawn mower. He made a new one out of a piece of metal. He was something else."

Man sentenced to 5 years in toddler's beating death

DeLAND - A man was sentenced to five years in prison for the beating death of his girlfriend's 23-month-old son.

Timothy Ceglarek, 24, of DeLand, pleaded guilty in February to aggravated child abuse, a second-degree felony. Volusia Circuit Judge S. James Foxman sentenced him Wednesday to the maximum allowed by the plea agreement.

Ceglarek was alone with Dany Zaire Lopez for an hour on Oct. 3, 2001, investigators said. The boy's mother, Pamela Lopez, found her son lethargic, suffering from stomach pains and with a bite mark on his leg, something Ceglarek said was inflicted in an effort to make the child laugh, according to an arrest report.

Man convicted of stabbing pig is granted new trial

WEST PALM BEACH - An appeals court has granted a new trial to a man convicted of stabbing a potbellied pig.

Edwin "Louie" Deason, 45, was convicted of two counts of felony cruelty to animals in March 2003.

His attorney had argued that a neighbor, Bob "Big Bob" Wehrheim, was the one who plunged a rusty knife into the pig, severing a main nerve and forcing county Animal Care and Control workers to euthanize the 50-pound animal.

The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that the "trial court abused its discretion" by keeping the jury from hearing Deputy Robert Catalano testify that Wehrheim was an informer in unrelated cases.

At the trial, one deputy testified that a drunken Deason was covered in blood and pig feces when he said, "I cut it, so what?"

But deputies also saw Wehrheim lying on the ground, knife in hand, trying to remove the injured pig from his cage, according to court documents.

[Last modified August 20, 2004, 01:49:07]

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