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Sinkhole opens up in Villages neighborhood

<p> Sumter County officials confirmed a sinkhole opened up between two homes in a Villages neighborhood Saturday morning.</p><p> Engineers, geologists and firefighters said they'll remain there to monitor the sinkhole through Sunday morning.</p><p> "We'll be working around the clock tonight to get it fixed," said Rick Kay, project manager with Helicon Sinkhole Repair. </p><p> As many as five cement trucks at a time lined Chalmer Terrace all day Saturday. Firefighters were called to a home on that street just before 9:00 a.m. to check out reports of a sink hole. </p><p> Kay said the hole, which opened up between two houses, is about 25 feet wide and 50 feet deep. The owners of one of those homes called his company out a couple weeks ago after noticing a depression in their yard.</p><p> "We were in the process of repairing a sinkhole at the house and with the heavy rains that passed through a couple night ago, it reactivated," said Geologist Drew Glasbrenner. </p><p> Crews continue pouring grout into the hole to try and keep it from expanding, but late Saturday night officials said they were concerned it was getting bigger and moving towards the road. </p><p> Both homes are unoccupied. Kay told Local 6 the owners of one home are in Alabama and the other is a rental property. He said the tenants were already scheduled to move out Saturday.</p><p> Dozens of people who live in the neighborhood stood outside and said they're keeping a close eye on the situation. </p><p> "I think it's terrible, I do. I think it's terrible. But this is The Villages and we take care of each other," said resident, Linda Wiernasc.</p><p> Stay with Local 6 and for more on this story.</p>

Published: Sun, 20 Apr 2014 03:36:48 GMT

Man drowns in rough surf in Cocoa Beach

<p> Cocoa Beach police said a man was found floating in the surf Saturday morning, unconscious.</p><p> Police said the 51-year-old man, later identified as Michael Markwell of Tennessee, was found floating in the surf around 10:26 a.m. at the beach end of Young Avenue.</p><p> Police said they, along with Cocoa Beach Fire Rescue responded and performed CPR on Markwell.</p><p> Police said Markwell was taken to Cape Canaveral Hospital where he was pronounced dead.</p><p> Police said the death was not suspicious.</p><p> Beach Patrol officials are warning swimmers about the rough surf and rip current conditions because of recent storms.</p><p> Stay with Local 6 for more on this story.</p>

Published: Sat, 19 Apr 2014 22:23:04 GMT

Hoax devices evacuates Lowe's store

<p> Leesburg police said around 9:45 a.m. they were called to the Lowe's Home Improvement store at  9540 U.S. Highway 441 about a suspicious male subject located near the outside of the lumber department entrance. </p><p> Police said they made contact was made with the man who was later identified as 56-year-old James Edward Hilliard.</p><p> Police said Hilliard was located sitting on the curb just outside the entry doors leading into the lumber entrance and he was applying duct tape to what appeared to be a "Molotov Cocktail."</p><p> Police said the device was described as an item in the shape of a bottle, wrapped with gray tape, and having with what appeared to be a paper fuse coming out from one end. </p><p> Police said due the suspicious nature of the device and for the safety of customers of the business, it was removed Hilliard`s possession.  When questioned by officers about the contents of the bottles he stated that there was an accelerant to send a rocket to outer space.</p><p> During the initial search of Hilliard, a straight edge razor that was observed to be opened and in the locked position in the middle of his waist band and police said he made a threatening statement towards them.</p><p> As the investigation continued, a second suspicious item was discovered sitting next to the left rear tire of the Hilliard’s vehicle, police said.</p><p> Police said  Hilliard said that the second suspicious item also contained a propellant inside and an electronic device for ignition.  \</p><p> Hilliard said the device was safe to be opened and offered to open it up for police.</p><p> He advised the suspicious item was not going to blow up, was safe to be opened, and offered to uncover it.</p><p> Police said the devices were secured by Lake County deputies and the store was</p><p> Police said a two more containers were found inside of Hillard's car.</p><p> The deviceswere later removed to a safe location and rendered safe by a remote controlled robot.  After being rendered safe, the suspicious items were determined to not be bombs, with no explosives or dangerous chemicals, police said.</p><p> The Store was searched by an explosive detection K-9 team and other officers and was determined to be safe.  The store reopened shortly after 2:00 pm, police said.</p><p> Hilliard is being charged with multiple crimes in connection with this case.  He will be transported and booked into the Lake County Jail shortly.</p><p>  </p>

Published: Sat, 19 Apr 2014 20:15:31 GMT

Workers overcome by fumes at Universal Studios

<p> Five workers were taken to area hospitals early Saturday morning after being overcome by paint fumes at Universal Studios.</p><p> Officials said the construction workers were in the Islands of Adventure, working on the Harry Potter expansion when fumes from a paint foundation made them ill.</p><p> Orlando Fire rescue responded and took all the workers to area hospitals as a precautionary measure.</p><p> Officials said all the workers were treated and released.</p><p> Universal Studios officials said no rides are effected and the park is open today.</p>

Published: Sat, 19 Apr 2014 20:15:21 GMT

Rebecca Sedwick: New questions about bullying

<p> It is a case about alleged bullying that garnered national and international attention.</p><p> Before she jumped to her death in September,12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick of Lakeland, Florida, was repeatedly bullied on- and offline, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at the time.</p><p> About a month later, Judd announced that two teens, 12-year-old Katelyn Roman and 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw, were charged with aggravated stalking and accused of being Sedwick's chief tormentors. </p><p> But then, just a month after the arrests, the charges were dropped, with attorneys for the accused citing "zero evidence" of stalking in the case. (CNN does not typically identify minors who are charged as juveniles, but the network is doing so in this case because their identities have been publicized by law enforcement and have received broad publicity in local media.)</p><p> Now, as the extensive police file surrounding the case has become public, there are new questions about what evidence existed to back up claims that Roman and Shaw cyberbullied Sedwick and that their bullying, on- and offline, continued right up until her suicide, as alleged by the Polk County sheriff.</p><p> 'Abysmal lack of any evidence'</p><p> "I don't think I was prepared for the abysmal lack ... of any evidence of bullying for the seven months prior to her suicide," said Nancy Willard, director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age, a group that focuses on combating cyberbullying, and author of a handful of books including "Positive Relations @ School (& Elsewhere)."</p><p> Willard, who has no direct affiliation with the case, obtained the police files and reviewed them. She points to the Sedwick case as yet another example of law enforcement and the media being quick to make a judgment that bullying caused a suicide when other factors might have been at work.</p><p> "The research ... clearly indicates that when bullying is implicated in a suicide, there are other factors involved," Willard said, referring to research on bullying in general. "Are we going to, at this point in time, any time a child suicides, find another kid to blame?"</p><p> Judd's office says it stands by the arrests and the investigation. The police documents "support the probable cause that our detectives found during their investigation -- probable cause that clearly supported the charges of aggravated stalking," said Donna Wood, a public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff's Office.</p><p> "We never said that bullying was the only reason Rebecca committed suicide," Judd told The Associated Press. "But what the bullies did is that they continued to stack bricks on an already overloaded wagon till finally, it broke."</p><p> Inside the police file </p><p> More than a year before her death, Sedwick had been battling depression resulting from her deteriorating relationship with her father, according to intake reports from a counselor that are included in the police file. She also complained about fights between her mother and stepfather. The file, which has been reviewed by CNN, says she cut herself on a few occasions, had suicidal ideations and had been committed for psychiatric evaluation for two days.</p><p> In November 2012, she accused her mother of abusing her and then took back the accusation, saying she was pushed to lie by classmates who forced her off campus and told her they wouldn't let her return home unless she lied to an officer. Her mother denied abusing Sedwick but said she slapped the girl's face once during an argument about Sedwick being too young to date.</p><p> Sometime before her death, Sedwick's relationship with an online boyfriend came to an end, according to the documents. Family conflict, in addition to bullying from girls at school, weighed on her.</p><p> In her notes, Sedwick wrote about suicide and in the weeks before her death she did Web searches on how many sleeping pills or Advil it would take to die. </p><p> Mother: Bullying was the cause</p><p> As a more complicated picture of Sedwick emerged in media reports about the police file last week, Tricia Norman, Sedwick's mother, said people were looking for other sources to blame. Norman told The Ledger, a local newspaper in Lakeland, that she remains convinced bullying was the reason her daughter decided to end her life.</p><p> "I really don't think there was any other factors involved," said Norman, who accused people of trying to dig into her personal life. She added: "What Rebecca was upset over in her life was these girls not leaving her alone."</p><p> Norman alleged in a recent interview with CNN that once Sedwick's suicide and the bullying allegations began making headlines, the girl's social networking page was deleted from the site. Any evidence of bullying may have been wiped away, she said. </p><p> "I most certainly want to know what happened. ... I know she was bullied, I know it was horrific, but that morning is what pushed her over the edge," Norman said.</p><p> Norman and Judd are on a mission to ensure that companies behind "disappearing apps" that can be used for bullying keep records of data that passes through the sites and provide it to law enforcement when appropriate.</p><p> said it cooperates willingly with authorities and recently added a "safety" page to its website, saying bullies are not tolerated. The company said in a statement: "From our experience we have seen that reports of suicide cases often tend to present premature and simplified conclusions about tragic events, which are always a complex overlap of different factors."</p><p> Norman's attorney, David Henry, said last week that he has evidence to prove that Sedwick was repeatedly bullied until her suicide and that the bullying was a cause of her death.</p><p> "Our position is that the bullying did continue under a few different forms, but had the school stepped in and stopped these girls early on, then it would not have continued, and it would not have built up," said Henry, who would not comment on specific evidence proving the ongoing bullying.</p><p> Henry said he plans to go forward with a lawsuit against the Polk County School Board and one or both of the girls who were arrested in the case. </p><p> "As of right now, on our end, we haven't received the lawsuit, and we wouldn't comment until that actually does happen," a Polk County School Board representative said. The girls' attorneys could not be reached for comment.</p><p> Teens admit some 'bullying'</p><p> What's not in question is that Sedwick had issues and run-ins with Roman, Shaw and possibly others from December 2012 through February 2013, seven months prior to her suicide.</p><p> In an interview with investigators, Roman confessed that she "bullied" Sedwick during the sixth grade at Crystal Lake Middle School, calling her names such as "ugly" and saying she was a "ho." Shortly after a fight in February 2013, she admitted sending Sedwick a message saying "No one will miss you if you die." During the police interview, she also said that she was "sorry" for bullying Sedwick.</p><p> Shaw, who went on to date Sedwick's ex-boyfriend shortly after they broke up, admitted under questioning to sending a Facebook message to Sedwick stating "Nobody likes you" and said that she used to "bully" Sedwick but that it had been a long time.</p><p> Other students remembered it. A student who said Shaw bullied her in elementary school said she witnessed Shaw tell Sedwick that she "should go kill herself' and that she "should die" on numerous occasions during the school year.</p><p> Another student told investigators she observed Shaw bullying Sedwick on a daily basis between December 2012 and January 2013 and recalled a specific incident in which Shaw told Sedwick to "drink bleach and die."</p><p> Norman, Sedwick's mother, said the bullying got so bad that she took her daughter out of Crystal Lake Middle School in February 2013, home-schooled her for the remainder of the school year and enrolled her in a new school in September. At the time of Sedwick's death, Norman said, she had only recently learned that the bullying from former Crystal Lake classmates had continued via social media and text applications.</p><p> Little evidence of cyberbullying</p><p> The police file does not contain extensive evidence that the bullying continued until Sedwick's death. There is also little evidence to support Judd's claim that Shaw and Roman repeatedly bullied her online.</p><p> In one text exchange with an unidentified friend, Roman says she bullied Sedwick in person and online, according to the police documents. When her friend asked, "So your telling me for the past few weeks you've been bullying her online?" Roman responds, "Yea im bully i deserve to die it was me and not her."</p><p> The piece of cyberevidence, which Judd said led to the arrest of Shaw and Roman, was a Facebook post on Shaw's page on October 12th of last year, which said, "Yes ... I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF," the ending short for "I don't give a f***." But Shaw's parents said that she was asleep at the time of that posting and that her account had to have been hacked.</p><p> Sedwick's family captured screen shots of anonymous messages on various text message apps telling Sedwick to "kill" herself and to "just die," but those messages were ultimately deleted.</p><p> Judd's office said it attempted to obtain records from companies that run anonymous social media apps, and the requests "were in process" at the time the state attorney "resolved the charges" with Shaw and Roman, said Wood, the sheriff's spokeswoman. "Because the case was closed at that time, we ended our attempt to obtain the records from those companies."</p><p> Although no one can yet say who sent those anonymous messages, it is clear that Rebecca Sedwick was a girl in turmoil.</p><p> In the police file, there are handwritten notes from Sedwick, including one in which she listed "bad things" people called her such as "ugly, "slut" and "outcast" and "good things" she got called including "pretty," "nice" and "beautiful." At the bottom of the page was the word "suicidal."</p><p> Another one of her notes began, "There is a war in my mind," according to the police file.</p><p> "She was fighting with herself over whether to commit suicide," said Willard, who wrote her first book about cyberbullying in 2007.</p><p> Willard hopes the Sedwick case raises awareness not just on how bullying "is never the whole cause" of suicide but on how the whole theory that bullying causes suicide can end up endangering children who are suffering. For instance, she points to a case in Illinois where a student who was bullied killed himself the day after watching a movie in school about bullying.</p><p> "There's absolutely zero evidence that that's going to stop kids from bullying, but there's major concern that it's going to give kids who are being bullied the idea that that's something they should consider."</p><p> For more on this story, follow Kelly Wallace on Twitter and like CNN Living on Facebook.</p>

Published: Sat, 19 Apr 2014 18:58:57 GMT

Hop flop: Easter Bunny pics

<p> Check out some unique pictures with the Easter Bunny.</p>

Published: Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:29:34 GMT

Fun facts about Easter

<p> Easter is right around the corner. Check out some fun facts about this spring holiday. </p>

Published: Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:01:31 GMT

Eastbound lanes of I-4 opened after car fire

<p> Volusia County firefighters shut down eastbound lanes of Interstate 4 because of a car fire.</p><p> Firefighters said they shut down all eastbound lanes of Interstate 4 near Interstate 95 because of a car fire.</p><p> Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the flames and traffic is backed up to mile marker 130 traffic officials said.</p><p> Florida Highway Patrol took over the investigation and all lanes of eastbound Interstate 4 were opened by 4 p.m.</p><p> Firefighters could not advise if there were any injuries.</p><p> Stay with Local 6 for more on this story.</p>

Published: Sat, 19 Apr 2014 20:15:48 GMT

Teacher in sex case resigned after texting Orange County middle-schooler, officials say

<p> A Lakeland teacher<a href="" target="_blank"> accused this week of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student</a> was sending inappropriate text messages to an eighth-grade student while she was teaching at an Orange County middle school in 2008, according to a report.</p><p> According to Orange County Public Schools records, Jennifer Fichter was texting one of her eighth-grade male students at Robinswood Middle School in Orlando and told other teachers she felt he was her "boyfriend."</p><p> Fichter, 29, who was an English teacher at the Polk County Central Florida Aerospace Academy, was charged on Monday with six counts unlawful sexual activity with a minor in Polk County. She was arrested in Hillsborough County on Tuesday on an additional three counts.</p><p> Police said on Monday Fichter told the 17-year-old student's mother she had sex with him 20 to 30 times, got pregnant at one point and had an abortion. She also professed her love for him and said she does not regret her actions, police said.</p><p> <a href="" target="_blank">Fichter was employed at Robinswood Middle School in Orlando </a>from August 2007 to December 2008. She resigned during the internal investigation in 2008, according to the report.</p><p> While teaching there, school officials said Fichter told the student that he made her "melt" and had an inappropriate dream about the student, according to the report.</p><p> In one of the text messages with the student, she told the student she was "going to smash" him, meaning have sexual intercourse, officials said.</p><p> Fichter told school officials that it didn't state that she could not text message students and didn't know it was inappropriate.  Fichter also said she had feelings for all of her students and cared about them.</p><p> According to the report, Fichter believed the girlfriend of one of the male students she was text messaging started the issue. The student whose girlfriend Fichter was referring to said he didn't believe his girlfriend started the rumor and said Fichter didn't like his girlfriend.</p><p> The investigation into Fichter at Robinswood was not complete and the State Department of Education said OCPS was legally obligated to notify them of the investigation.</p><p> If the state was aware of the investigation, Fichter could have lost her teaching license statewide. School officials who were responsible for not reporting the findings could lose up to a year of pay, according to the state law.</p><p> OCPS says it reported the allegations to the Department of Children and Families and Orange County Sheriff's Office.</p><p> Watch Local 6 for more on this story.</p>

Published: Fri, 18 Apr 2014 22:09:04 GMT

Weather causes crashes throughout Central Florida

<p> Troopers had a busy night after the weather and wet roads caused crashes throughout Central Florida.</p><p> [TOOLS:  <a href="" target="_blank">Download free app</a> | <a href="" target="_blank">Live radar</a> | <a href="" target="_blank">Weather warnings</a> | <a href="" target="_blank">Extended forecast</a>]</p><p> Severe thunderstorm watches were issued for Lake and Flagler counties through 8 p.m. A high surf advisory and a rip current statement were also issued in Flagler County through Saturday morning.</p><p> The National Weather Service said a storm spotter reported pebble-sized hail in Mount Dora.</p><p> In Altamonte Springs, traffic was backed up as a tree fell down near Lake Brantley High School, blocking part of Sand Lake Road.</p><p> The forecast in Central Florida calls for a very wet Good Friday, but conditions are expected to dry out by Easter.</p><p> Saturday's high will reach 80 degrees, with some scattered morning rain.</p><p> The high temperature on Easter Sunday will be 82 degrees, with a 10 percent chance of rain.  Sunrise on Sunday will be at 6:55a.m.</p><p> Watch Local 6 News and stay with for more on this story.</p>

Published: Sat, 19 Apr 2014 11:35:34 GMT

Central Fla. mother wants wandering boy back

<p> A Central Florida mother wants her boy back after <a href="/news/orange-county-deputies-seek-parents-of-boy-found-wandering-on-street/25549574" target="_self">he was found wandering in Orlando</a>. She said it was all miscommunication but now after questioning her, the Department of Children and Families said it's trying to figure out exactly what happened.</p>

Published: Sat, 19 Apr 2014 04:03:36 GMT

Florida man smothered crying toddler so he could play Xbox, deputies say

<p> A Florida father suffocated his crying son so he could play video games and watch TV, sheriff's deputies said on Friday.</p><p> [RECOMMENDED:  <a href="" target="_blank">Students hold 'fight week'</a> | <a href="" target="_blank">Fishermen catch 805-pound shark</a>]</p><p> Cody Wygant, 24, is charged with third-degree murder and child neglect. He was being held Friday without bail at the Citrus County Jail.</p><p> Daymeon Wygant wasn't breathing when emergency crews arrived at the home Thursday morning. The 16-month-old was pronounced dead at a hospital.</p><p> "It is inconceivable that a father could kill his infant son -- it just baffles the mind," Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said. "Our only sense of relief now comes from knowing that we did exactly what we needed to do to bring justice to him swiftly. Our prayers go out to those who knew and loved Daymeon."</p><p> [DOWNLOAD:  <a href="" target="_blank">Free apps</a>]</p><p> Wygant said he was frustrated because the boy was crying uncontrollably, preventing him from playing his Xbox games, according to investigators. He covered the boy's nose and mouth for three to four minutes until he became lethargic, then placed him in a playpen and covered him with bedding, which was tucked around the boy's body and head, officials said.</p><p> Wygant didn't check on Daymeon for five hours, investigators said, while he played Xbox and watched three episodes of the television show "Fringe." By the time he checked on the child, Daymeon had turned blue and was unresponsive, they said.</p><p> [SEE THESE?  <a href="" target="_blank">Fla. mug shots</a> | <a href="" target="_blank">Tattoo spell check</a> | <a href="" target="_blank">Worst ink ever</a> | <a href="" target="_blank">Fail prom photos</a>]</p><p> Wygant is the primary caregiver for the child, and the mother -- Wygant's girlfriend -- was not home, officials said.</p><p> During preliminary interviews with the parents, they indicated the child had been placed in the playpen about 7 a.m. Thursday, officials said. But upon further questioning, Wygant said he suffocated the child around 1 a.m., they indicated.</p><p> The medical examiner performed an autopsy, but results haven't been made public.</p><p> Sheriff's officials said Wygant moved to Florida in 2013 and has no family in the area except for his girlfriend. Her name was not released.</p><p> They have a 3-month-old daughter, who is in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.</p>

Published: Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:53:34 GMT

Hop and flop: Creepiest Easter bunny pics ever!

<p> For some, the Easter Bunny is scarier than both circus clowns and ventriloquist dummies combined. You can judge for yourself... just don't say you weren't warned. </p>

Published: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 16:40:34 GMT

Photos: Florida mug shots

<p> Here's a look at some of the individuals who have been arrested recently in the Sunshine State.</p>

Published: Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:59:03 GMT