A seventh panther dies on Polk highway

Published April 20, 2007

FROSTPROOF - A Florida panther was struck and killed by a vehicle in Central Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has reported.

The young male panther was found Wednesday by the side of a road in southeastern Polk County.

This is the seventh panther killed by a vehicle this year. A total of 11 panthers were killed in 2006.

"It's something that we never like to see," wildlife commission spokeswoman Dani Moschella said. "We have a lot of people and a lot of panthers sharing the same space, and this is the fallout of that. The unfortunate fallout."

The wildlife officials believe there are fewer than 100 panthers left in the wild in Florida.


Fire closes 55 miles of Alligator Alley

THE EVERGLADES - Firefighters on Thursday battled a raging brush fire in the Everglades that covered western Broward County with smoke and ash, and closed a 55-mile stretch of Alligator Alley/Interstate 75 around midday. The fire consumed more than 11,000 acres.


Ten-year-old pleads to beating homeless man

DAYTONA BEACH - One of two 10-year-olds accused of beating and stoning a homeless man pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery on Thursday.

The boy will be released and remain under house arrest while living with an aunt in Michigan. He faces a year of jail time or probation at sentencing May 15.

The attack in March drew national attention to youth violence against the homeless.

John D'Amico, the victim, attended Thursday's hearing and said he wasn't angry any more.

The other young boy's case is pending. A 17-year-old defendant will be tried in adult court.


Two people killed in small plane crash

MOUNT ROYAL - A small plane with two people aboard hit power lines and a pole Thursday before breaking up and crashing into the St. Johns River in Putnam County, the Florida Highway Patrol said Thursday. Authorities found bodies of two men but no identities were released.


A Lynyrd Skynyrd platinum album stolen

MIDDLEBURG - Authorities were working Thursday to find a Lynyrd Skynyrd platinum album that was stolen from the daughter of former front man Ronnie Van Zant.

The family heirloom was taken Sunday or Monday from a home owned by Tammy Clary.

The band was formed in Northeast Florida in the 1960s, writing hit songs like Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama. Family members estimated the item's value at $80,000.


Miami Herald, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and Times wires