Police crack down on belt violations

TALLAHASSEE — Florida police are ticketing over a thousand motorists every day for seat belt violations.

Authorities have written more than 190,000 seat belt tickets since a new, tougher law took effect June 30 that requires drivers to buckle up. That averages slightly more than 1,000 drivers each day.

The primary seat belt law permits officers to pull drivers over if they or their front seat passengers are not buckled up. Anyone under 18 must wear seat belts regardless of where they sit in the vehicle.

Florida Highway Patrol Capt. Mark Welch said it’s estimated the new law will save about 125 lives annually and prevent more than 1,700 serious injuries.

An October survey shows 85 percent of Florida drivers are buckling up now.

Man charged with misusing 911 after calling for ride

OLDSMAR — A Pinellas County man was arrested after authorities say he called 911 to ask for a ride to a bar.

The sheriff’s office reports that 37-year-old Gregory J. Oras called 911 three times early Tuesday morning. One call was made while Oras was leaving a bar, and he reportedly told the 911 operator that he had a broken nose, bleeding ears and people shooting at him. It turned out he just wanted a ride to another bar in Oldsmar.

Deputies arrested Oras, who reportedly kicked one deputy as they were putting him into the back of a patrol car. Deputies then used a Taser to stun Oras.

Pastor contacted police about runaway convert

ORLANDO — A Florida pastor who took in a runaway teenage girl from Ohio after she converted from Islam to Christianity says he was never told that he was in violation of the law by housing her.

Blake Lorenz said in an affidavit filed in Ohio juvenile court Tuesday that he contacted authorities about 17-year-old Rifqa Bary on at least four occasions after the teen came to Florida. He said police officers didn’t pick her up until more than a week after his first call.

Lorenz’s affidavit contradicts statements made by a former colleague who says the pastor ignored advice to contact authorities.

Bary currently is in a foster home under state custody in Ohio while the juvenile court decides whether she should be returned to her parents.

Quilts swiped during holiday burglary

ORANGE CITY — An Orange City woman says 50 handmade quilts were among the items stolen from her home over the holiday weekend.

The thief or thieves also stole a flat screen TV and some jewelry from the woman this weekend. She told The Daytona Beach News-Journal that the stolen quilts are valued between $25,000 and $30,000 and were sewn by her mother or grandmother.

The stolen jewelry also has some sentimental value for the woman, a widow. One of the stolen pieces was her wedding ring.

According to a sheriff’s office report, the incident happened sometime between Christmas Eve and Saturday.

Tampa teen returns home after shock, fall from pole

TAMPA — A Tampa teen who was shocked and fell from a utility pole nearly three months ago has finally been released from the hospital.

Avi Davidson returned home Tuesday afternoon. The 16-year-old boy had been at a Tampa hospital since Oct. 1, when he climbed a power pole near a suburban recreation center to photograph a sunset.

The accident left Davidson paralyzed below the waist. He suffered severe burning on his chest and arms, and his left arm was amputated.

Davidson’s mother, Lea Merrill Davidson-Bern, says the family’s home is undergoing renovations.

— Herald wire reports