December 31, 2016

No major injuries in deputy involved crash

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a crash in the early morning hours involving a deputy’s patrol vehicle and two other cars at the 16 mile marker of Highway U.S. One.

There were no major injuries involved in the crash. Deputy Daniel Hill reported that he was northbound at 12:30 a.m., returning to his Marathon duty post after transporting a prisoner from Marathon to the Stock Island Detention Center. He said he saw an oncoming vehicle pull into his lane of travel and it was too late to avoid the crash.

When other deputies arrived at the scene, they found Deputy Hill’s patrol car upside down in the roadway. He had gotten out of the vehicle, uninjured, and had gone to render aid to the occupants of the other vehicles.

The road was closed for approximately two hours as the Florida Highway Patrol investigated the circumstances of the crash. That agency will be releasing more information as they complete their investigation.

December 30, 2016

Update, crash, 16 mile marker….

The crash at the 16 mile marker is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. Any details about the accident will be released by that agency.

The road is still closed and is expected to be closed for the next couple of hours as they conduct their traffic homicide investigation; deputies, troopers and other emergency services on the scene are working to open the road as soon as they can, given the severity of the incident and the injuries involve.

Being safe and legal as you celebrate the New Year

Just some reminders from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to all those planning to celebrate the New Year in the Florida Keys.


Many people light fireworks to welcome the new year. Please keep in mind they can be dangerous, not just to those who are lighting them but to people’s property as well.

With the very windy weather we have been experiencing in the Keys over past days, the Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone to pay close attention to their surroundings when using fireworks. Sparks can blow quite a distance and can ignite burnable material such as tiki huts.

Keep in mind that explosive fireworks are not legal to use in Florida. If we catch you with illegal explosive fire crackers, we will confiscate them and could charge you with a violation of Florida law.


If you decide to use legal fireworks, keep in mind that there are noise ordinances throughout the Keys which generally make it against the law to create a loud disturbance after 11 p.m. Be courteous to your neighbors as you make your plans for celebrating the New Year.


If you plan to drink alcohol, make sure you do not drive. Stay home, designate a sober driver or call a cab to take you where you need to go. Do NOT provide alcohol to minors, even in your own home. It is against the law and you can be arrested for it.


Please make sure to take a few moments to clean up after yourself and/or your family as you wrap up your celebrations. Discard trash properly, in a trash can or a recycling container. It isn’t fair or legal to leave it on the ground or in the water for someone else to clean up; you could be charged with littering.


One last caution: don’t even consider shooting off a firearm to bring in the new year. Discharging a firearm in public is illegal and very dangerous. The old adage “what goes up must come down” applies to bullets and a bullet shot up into the air can come down and kill someone.

December 29, 2016

Man arrested for disturbance on bridge

A man from Knoxville, Tennessee was arrested early today after causing a disturbance on the Seven Mile Bridge.

Deputies responded to a call from a security guard at the Sunshine Key campground. The guard said a man was driving recklessly and yelling, causing a disturbance in the campground. When Deputy Christopher Schwartz arrived at 2:30 a.m., the guard told him the man was driving a smoke gray truck. He said the man – later identified as 22 year old Fortune Odendhal – had been yelling “they took my brother” and seemed to be on drugs.

Deputy George Zakariadze spotted the truck speeding northbound on the bridge. Drivers on the bridge called dispatch to report Odendhal was periodically stopping the truck, getting out and running in front of cars, yelling incomprehensibly. Deputy John Allen responded from Marathon and saw Odendhal jump onto the roof of a car on the bridge. He then jumped down and sat on the side of the bridge with his head down.

Deputy Allen ordered Odendhal to lay down and put his hands behind his back. Odendhal complied and was taken into custody. His truck was removed from the bridge. Odendhal was charged with disorderly intoxication and he was booked into jail.

December 27, 2016

Teens saved from capsized vessel

 Marine Deputy James Hager found and rescued three Orange County, California teens today from a capsized vessel offshore of Little Torch Key.

The boys, 18 year old  Zachary and 16 year old Jacob Sowder and 18 year old Brent Shishido, were on board a 22 foot rental boat about 2.5 miles off of the ocean side. They were anchored in about 30 feet of water when their boat started taking on water. By the time they got the anchor line cut, the boat had taken on too much water and capsized.

Fortunately, they managed to climb on top of the hull and one of them had a cell phone. They were able to call 911 and relay their approximate location. Deputy Hager had just pulled his Sheriff’s Office patrol boat out of the water and had finished cleaning it when he heard the call over his police radio at about 3:15 p.m. He quickly put the boat back in the water.

He and Fish and Wildlife Investigator David Bingham, who was with him, responded to the reported location. They spent some time looking, but they found the three boys and loaded them on board the patrol boat, bringing them safely back to shore.

Traffic stop leads to auto theft arrest

Deputies on patrol in Islamorada spotted a stolen vehicle and arrested the woman driving it Monday afternoon.

Deputies Eric Viergutz and Nicholas Thaler spotted the stolen Toyota Prius southbound at the 87 mile marker at 3:30 p.m. The car had been reported stolen from Miami Dade County. There were two women inside the vehicle when it was stopped.

The stolen car was driven by 42 year old Eleanor Smith, who told the deputies she’d just moved to Florida from Rhode Island. She said she’d borrowed the car from a man she knows as “Uber Man”, who lives at a motel in Homestead. She said he is known as “Uber Man” because he drives lots of different cars. She said she paid him $60 to borrow the car; she claimed she did not know it was stolen.

Smith was arrested and charged with grand theft auto. She was taken to jail. Once at the jail, deputies found a driver’s license in someone else’s name along with four credit cards under other people’s names.

Smith claimed the driver’s license and credit cards belonged to various friends and family members. Deputy Viergutz made contact with the family of the woman whose driver’s license was in Smith’s possession. They said no one had permission to have the identification.

Smith was additionally charged with possessing another person’s ID. More charges may be pending in the case.