Highway fatalities hit low in 2009

TALLAHASSEE — The declining number of highway fatalities in Florida is now at a record low based on highway miles traveled.

State officials said Monday there were 1.3 deaths per every 100 million miles driven in Florida in 2009. While there were 2,563 deaths on Florida roadways last year, that is also almost a thousand fewer highway fatalities than the state recorded in 2005.

FHP: Boy caused fatal bicycle crash at Disney

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Investigators have found that a 9-year-old boy killed in a collision with a Walt Disney World bus while riding his bicycle was “solely responsible” for the accident.

The Florida Highway Patrol report released Monday shows Chase Brubaker’s bicycle also had a flat rear tire and an underinflated front tire that could have contributed to the April 1 crash. FHP says bus driver David Rich was not at fault, and no charges will be filed.

Man drowns trying to rescue two children

MIAMI — Two children are in critical condition and an adult dead after drowning in a South Florida beach.

Miami-Dade homicide detectives say the two children were swimming Sunday in a Miami-Dade County beach near the Rickenbacker Causeway when they began to experience distress in the water.

Two men entered the water to rescue the children. Detectives say one of the men, 47-year-old Douglas Frank Butler, of Gainesville, drowned trying to help them.

Lawyer seeking assets of dead lottery winner

LAKELAND — A central Florida lawyer is trying to regain property and cash pertaining to Abraham Shakespeare, on behalf of the killed lottery winner’s two children.

Stephen Martin is attempting to recover two vehicles being held by the Hillsborough County deputies, in order to sell them and pay for the estate’s operation and trust funds for Shakespeare’s two young sons. He is also attempting to recoup a North Lakeland home and other properties.

Shakespeare won the lottery in 2006, taking a $17 million lump-sum payment. Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore has been charged with first-degree murder.

Deputies discover marijuana cultivating operation

FORT MYERS — Deputies responding to a report of a 21-month-old child left alone in a southwest Florida apartment also found a marijuana cultivating operation.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office says the child was reportedly left alone while relatives went to a hospital emergency room. Deputies found the garage and front doors wide open and the child unharmed inside.

Investigators say marijuana plants were in plain view. A small plastic bag of cocaine and drug paraphernalia were also discovered. On the second floor, there were 25 planters of soil, overhead lights and fans.

Whitney Simonson was arrested on charges of marijuana manufacturing, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

—Herald wire services