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Saturday, July 13, 2024

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Orlando Woman Charged With DUI With Serious Bodily Injury After Crash Critically Injuring 2 Young Children In Frostproof Crash

32-year-old Ashauntie Cox (DOB 2/15/1991) of Orlando, who caused serious bodily harm to two children in her vehicle while fleeing from two crashes and driving under the influence, was arrested in Polk County on Friday, May 19, 2023, and charged with several felonies.

According to witnesses and information developed during the investigation, the first crash occurred around 8:00 p.m. on US Hwy 27 at the intersection with US Hwy 98 near Frostproof. Cox was driving a blue Kia southbound on Hwy 27 when she struck a grey Chevy Silverado pickup truck and then fled at a high rate of speed. As she continued to recklessly speed south down Hwy 27, weaving in and out of slower moving traffic, she rear-ended a 2016 Honda CRV while trying to pass between that SUV and the vehicle next to it which were both also going southbound. The victim driving the CRV was taken to Sebring Hospital, where he was treated and released with minor injuries.

The collision caused Cox’s vehicle to flip several times, ejecting two Orlando children, ages 5 and 8 years old. Both sustained significant injuries, and they were taken to Tampa General Hospital where they are both in critical condition. A 27-year-old female passenger was also seriously injured along her spinal cord, hip, and back. She remains at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center in stable condition.

When deputies arrived at the scene of the crash, they detected the odor of marijuana and located a bottle of tequila in Cox’s vehicle. Cox was transported to the hospital and interview by deputies. Cox told deputies they were driving from Orlando to Avon Park to celebrate the 5-year-old’s kindergarten graduation. She admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the day, and to having four shots of tequila. Her blood was drawn for further analysis, and she displayed several signs of impairment. 

She was booked into the Polk County Jail and is being charged with:

·        Three counts DUI with serious bodily injury (F3)

·        Two counts negligent child abuse with great bodily harm (F2)

·        Reckless driving (F3)

·        One count DUI with property damage (M1)

·        One count DUI (M2)

Further charges are pending the outcome of the investigation. 

“This woman had no regard for anyone’s life when she got behind the wheel intoxicated and then drove recklessly down a major highway, but what’s worse is the blatant disregard she had for the lives of the innocent children in her car. I expect a successful prosecution to hold her accountable—and let’s hope she loses her driving privileges if she’s released from jail or prison. Please keep these babies and their families in your prayers.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff

Lake Wales Police Need Public’s Help To Identify Two Women Who Robbed Kohl’s Of Over $1,400 In Makeup


According to the Lake Wales Police Department two females, pictured below, entered the Kohl’s on Highway 27 on July 8th 2024. They distracted the employee and filled two bags with $1,457.00 worth of make-up from the Sephora section. It appears to be one black female with long braids wearing a blue long sleeve top with black bottoms. The second subject appears to be a light skinned pregnant female wearing a Nike sports bra with black bottoms. They left in a white sedan.

If you have information pertaining to this case or the identity of this person, please contact the Lake Wales Police Department at 863-678-4223 ext 2005. Or, if you would like to remain anonymous and be eligible for a CASH REWARD through Heartland Crime Stoppers: call 1-888-400-TIPS (8477) or from your cell phone, dial **TIPS, or visit the website www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on “Submit a Tip”, or download the free “P3tips” app on your smartphone or tablet.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Currently On Scene Of Possible Armed Suspect In A Babson Park Home


Update: As of 1:50pm the suspect has been apprehended by law enforcement! It may be several hours before all details are released per PCSO. We will update at that time!

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office currently has a neighborhood partially blocked in Babson Park. The neighborhood is around Babson Park Dr. Area which is in West Babson Park.

According to Carrie Horstman, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office, the initial reports are that a suspect may have pulled a gun on a family member, then went into the home. These were statements from a witness. It does not appear that anyone else is in the home. They currently are trying to communicate with the suspect, to confirm they are even still in the home.

The incident is being treated very seriously by deputies and a perimeter has been set up around the home. K-9 units, drones and close to a dozen deputies are now on scene.

Update: As of 12:30pm deputies have widened the search for a possibly armed suspect. They are now searching the wooded areas around the Babson Park Drive neighborhood. They currently have the Sheriff’s Office helicopter search as well as multiple K-9 units in the ground searching.

This is a developing situation and we will update as more information is released.

Who Has The Best Fries In Town? National French Fry Day Is Here!

There are a number of eateries, restaurants, and cafés in Lake Wales that have french fries on the menu. Since today is National French Fry Day, you have the perfect opportunity to indulge!

Which way will you go? Straight or curly? Crinkle cut or waffle fry? Cheese or ketchup? Or maybe poutine? What’s your favorite way?

Consider supporting your favorite local business today and partake in an order of french fries today!

Support Young Entrepreneurs At 2nd Annual Creative Kids Market Saturday, July 13

The Lake Wales Arts Council and The Art Barn Studio will host the second annual Creative Kids Market on Saturday, July 13 from 10 AM – 1 PM. The event will be held at the LWAC building, 1099 State Road 60 East in Lake Wales.

The Creative Kids Market is a unique opportunity for children and teens to set up their own booths and sell handmade crafts, artwork, baked goods, and more. Through this event, young vendors can explore and learn new artistic skills or hone their favorite ones. There’s an educational process as well, as costs, pricing, packaging, and customer service tactics will be part of the experience.

Around 50 youth vendors are expected to display their wares, and they will likely be eager to show off their hard work to the public. The event is free to attend and the public is encouraged to come by and find their favorite handcrafted items.

In addition, there will be live music, food vendors, and family-friendly activities throughout the day.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to support young artists and discover one-of-a-kind treasures. Mark your calendar, bring some cash, and join in for a day of creativity, inspiration, and fun at the Creative Kids Market!

Overturned Dump Truck Closes Masterpiece Rd.

Provided to Daily Ridge

At 11:40 AM a call was reported to Polk County Fire Rescue that a dump truck overturned on Masterpiece Rd. near Lake Starr Blvd. S., spilling sand across the roadway. The roadway was subsequently closed in both directions.

Details were not immediately available regarding how the truck ended up on its side.

The driver of the truck was transported as a precaution, for minor injuries. The roadway should be opened shortly.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Sponsors Back To School Bash July 13

Stock image / Canva

As part of a series of events on the same day, the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales will play host to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Back To School Bash on Saturday, July 13, from 9 AM through 12 PM.

This event is supported by Polk Sheriff’s Charities, Inc. as well as by private donors. Essential supplies and book bags will be provided. Children must be present to receive the supplies. The community is encouraged to attend.

The event will be held concurrently at the Northwest District in Lakeland, 1045 Wedgewood Estates Blvd., as well as at the Central District in Winter Haven, 3635 Avenue G Northwest.

Promotional Flyer for the event

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd recently shared his excitement of bringing this event to the community on the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Instagram account.

“Every child that shows up will receive a book bag complete with all kinds of school stuff,” says Judd.

The event will be held at Eagle Ridge Mall, 301 Eagle Ridge Dr., Lake Wales, behind Chili’s restaurant. 

Ramon Theater To Host Murder Mystery Productions

Credit: theramontheater.com

You can now make plans for a mysterious evening of entertainment, and it includes coffee and dessert.

Equated to the fun of the vintage board game, Clue, the fun and interactive murder mystery shows scheduled at the Ramon Theater through the end of the year both ensure an enjoyable night and help to support the theater.

Guests are said to spend a fun-filled evening interrogating suspects and solving a murder. Seating is offered by tables, allowing you the opportunity to bring your own dinner, snacks and beverages. Dessert and coffee are included in the $20 ticket price.

While the July 20 show, titled, “Murder on the Petulant Express”, is already sold out, tickets are currently available for the October 19 show, entitled, “Evil Never Dies.”

The description of the October show involves a Halloween-appropriate theme, the description of which can be read in full on their website. An excerpt from this includes the sentence, “Emil vowed to return one day to wreak his vengeance on the mob and its progeny for the way he had been so rudely tossed out.”

The final murder mystery show for the year is scheduled for December 31, New Year’s Eve. Tickets for either show are $20 per person and are available at www.theramontheater.com.

The Historic Ramon Theater is located at 15 E. Wall Street, Frostproof, Florida. 863-635-7222.

PCFR Conducting A Rescue At Westgate River Ranch In East Lake Wales With Medical Helicopter Evacuation


A call came into the Polk County Sheriff’s Office dispatch regarding a rescue incident occurring at Westgate River Ranch in East Lake Wales. According to initial reports it is listed as technical rescue at the water treatment facility. Approximately 12 units were initially assigned to the incident. A helicopter evacuation was requested. A landing zone was set up and at least one patient was being transported.

The Daily Ridge has reached out to Katelyn Hoverkamp, Public Information Officer with the PCFR, and she could only advise that the call came in as a fall. She was headed to the scene. The call initially came in at 1:46 pm.

As of 3:38 pm a Tampa General Hospital helicopter was leaving the landing zone set up at Westgate River Ranch headed towards Tampa.

This is a developing story and we will update as more information is released.

Stock Photo Of TGH Helicopter

Support Local Teen Moms Through 2-Week Donation Drive Starting Thurs. July 11


Some members of Girls Leave A Mark Inc., from left to right: Oris Bennett, Kira McFarlane, Leah Folb, Simone McFarlane-Tucker, Darlene Smarra, Latecie Gilghrest, Brandy Davis, and Tracy Hill

by James Coulter

Simone McFarlane-Tucker knows how hard it is to be a single teenage mother. She also knows the importance of hard work toward achieving her responsibilities and her own success.

For that reason, she started her non-profit organization, Girls Leave A Mark. Her non-profit will be hosting a two-week donation drive starting with a kick-off party on Thur. July 11.

The Glam Pantry Donation Drive Kick-Off Party will be hosted on Thur. July 11 at 5:30 PM at 225 Lincoln Ave. in Lake Wales. The donation drive will continue until Thur. July 25. Drop-off hours will be from Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5:30 PM.

All donations will help supply the Glam Pantry, which will provide infant care supplies to local teenage mothers. Donations being sought include diapers, wipes, baby clothing, toiletries, formula, and baby food. Cash donations, gift cards, and checks (payable to Girls Leave A Mark) will also be accepted.

Simone started Girls Leave a Mark to provide local teenage mothers with the support and assistance to raise their children. As someone who had her first child at age 16 and her second child at age 18, she knows the hard work required to raise a child at such a young age.

“I didn’t get the resources from the people and places I expected to get it [these resources] from outside of my immediate family.” Simone explained. ” However, Women’s Resource Center and Career Source were essential to my growth…I want girls to understand hard work and to understand why things are not given to you.”

Through Girls Leave a Mark, Simone hosts monthly workshops to teach young mothers the skills they require to help raise their new children. With each workshop, they earn Glam Bucks, with which they can then acquire items from the Glam Pantry.

She invites the community to donate items to her donation drive to help support these young mothers. After all, these young women are essentially raising the future of the community, so it is in the community’s best interest to support them however they can.

“These girls are our future,” she said. “These are teen moms who are raising babies who will be the leaders of our community in the next 20 to 30 years. So, we need the community to empower these girls and let them know that hard work will pay off and they can do it regardless of their circumstances.”

The Glam Pantry Donation Drive will be hosted from Thurs. July 11 to Thurs. July 25 at 225 Lincoln Ave. in Lake Wales. Drop-off hours will be from 9 AM to 5:30 PM. Learn more at: https://www.girlsleaveamark.org/

Evidence of Enormous Reptile Discovered in Lake Wales Backyard

Photo by Maria Iannucci

With the constant construction and development in our area, local wildlife is on the move. This particular creature is one we’d rather not run into.

A resident living off of Masterpiece Road discovered a snake skin in a wooded area beside his home. It appears to be the skin of a water moccasin, or cottonmouth, a venomous snake known to be found in and near bodies of water.

What’s special about this one is that it appears to measure almost 68 inches in length. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History website, the average adult Florida cottonmouth is 30-48 inches in total length. The Florida State record is said to be 74 inches.

This snake is heavy bodied with a pattern of light brown and dark brown crossbands containing many dark spots and speckles. The pattern darkens with age so adults may become uniformly black. The eye is camouflaged by a broad, dark, facial stripe. The color pattern of juvenile cottonmouths is much lighter than in adults, and newborns have a sulfur-yellow tail tip.

Fortunately, in this case, the resident did not encounter the snake that left his skin. But it’s a healthy reminder to be aware of your surroundings when walking in wooded areas.