Apalachicola couple in Panama City crash

A vehicle wreck in Panama City late Friday night resulted in the death of a driver from Port St. Joe.

Aaron Lynn Whitfield, 55, died after his vehicle collided with another car driven by Apalachicola resident Johnnie Lee Chambers on U.S. 98 west of Research Road at 10:50 p.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Whitfield was traveling west while Chambers, 73, was going east.

Whitfield failed to maintain a single lane and crossed the center line into the eastbound lane which resulted in the crash, FHP reported. Chambers sustained serious injuries while his passenger Diane Mary Chambers, also 73 and from Apalachicola, had critical injuries. Both were taken to a local hospital.

Charges and whether alcohol was involved are pending, according to FHP.


Cape San Blas crash leads to drug arrest

A one-car collision Jan. 14 at Cape San Blas lead to the drug arrests of two Franklin County women,

According to a report by the Florida Highway Patrol, Loreal Daniels, 35, of Eastpoint, was driving a 1997 Isuzu Rodeo eastbound on State Road 30-A when she ran off the roadway into the shoulder at County Road 30-B at about 8:45 a.m. When Daniels tried to overcorrect, she crossed the lanes of the highway and struck a tree, causing the SUV to overturn on its passenger side.

Daniels, her passenger, Catherine Martina, 33, of Apalachicola, and two children, a 9-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy, were transported to Gulf Coast Medical Center with minor injuries. All were wearing seatbelts, or were secured with child restraints,

The FHP report said investigators found a glass pipe at the scene that tested positive for methamphetamine, and determined Daniels was under the influence of drugs and/or prescription pills at the time of the crash. After an investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the children were placed in the custody of their grandmother.

Daniels was charged with DUI, driving with a suspended drivers license, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Martina was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Both were taken to the Gulf County jail.


Tip leads to Eastpoint drug bust

On Saturday, sheriff’s deputies received an anonymous tip that illegal drugs were being used and/or sold from Room 19 at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Eastpoint.

Deputies reported that when they arrived knocked on the door to room 19, a 16-year-old female answered the door and after identifying her, they asked if anyone else was in the room. She advised them that Brendan Hutchins, 18, of Eastpoint, was also in the room.

Deputies said they advised Hutchins why they were there, and he consented to a search of the room. During the search deputies reported finding a small plastic bag containing cocaine and cannabis.

Both Hutchins and the juvenile were arrested and transported to the county jail. She was charged with possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis. Hutchins was charged with possession of a controlled substance - cocaine.

Sherriff A.J. Smith said at the time of his arrest, Hutchins was out of custody on bond for grand theft, burglary and larceny petit theft, and that his juvenile record includes charges of battery, resisting officer without violence, burglary and disorderly conduct.


Alligator Point burglaries thwarted

On Jan. 18, sheriff’s deputies responded to Alligator Point in reference to four burglaries that began Jan. 17.

During a follow-up investigation Jan. 19, detectives located a white pickup truck, unoccupied and apparently stuck in the sand, in a wooded area just east of Pelican Drive.

The vehicle was registered to Erik Ryan Noftz, from Deerfield Beach. While looking through the front windshield, detectives located a Wakulla County sheriff's office card. A call to Wakulla County determined deputies were looking for Noftz in reference to a welfare check that his mother called in.

The sheriff’s office learned from individuals on Alligator Point that Noftz was seen driving a green ATV the past two days from Alligator Point to Medart.

The sheriff’s office enlisted the help of personnel from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office in locating Noftz. While detectives were at a residence on Pelican Street around 7 p.m., they observed Noftz driving a green ATV. A brief pursuit ensued before Noftz took a curve too fast and flipped the ATV, which he had stolen from another residence on Alligator Point.

Noftz was arrested and transported to Weems Memorial Hospital by Weems ambulance where he was treated for minor injuries. Detectives said Noftz confessed, and that all stolen property including a firearm and ATV were recovered and returned to the owners. Noftz was transported to the county jail where he was charged with three counts of burglary of a dwelling, two counts of grand theft, grand theft of a firearm, burglary while armed, possession of firearm by convicted felon and grand theft motor vehicle.

Sherriff A.J. Smith said Noftz has an extensive criminal record which includes arson of a structure, burglary of a conveyance, grand theft, insurance fraud, possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest.