Yesterday’s wild high-speed chase through Okaloosa County

To: Daily Rundown Readers

TOGETHER WITH

Good morning! I was on my way to a Career & Technical Education “signing day” in Niceville when I got an early morning call about Sheriff’s Officers doing a high-speed chase through Destin. More on this below…

Emerald Coast Open Lionfish Tournament removes more than 10,000 Lionfish

SOURCE: Emerald Coast Open

The Emerald Coast Open, the world’s largest lionfish tournament, returned to Destin, Florida this past weekend removing an nearly 8,000 lionfish in the two-day period.

This impressive number is in addition to the 2,505 lionfish removed during the pre-tournament competition, which kicked off on February 1, 2021. In total 10,250 lionfish were removed.

Locally-based scuba divers, as well as those from around the country and even as far as Canada, descended on Destin for the tournament, which is hosted by Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Over 50 volunteers from organizations such as Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Navarre Beach Marine Science Station and Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center assembled to man the tournament and surrounding festival. 145 individual hunters competed for over $48,000 in cash prizes and $25,000 in gear prizes.

The winning team was Capt. Josh Livingston (DreadKnot Charters) and Team Florida Man. DreadKnot defended their title by hauling in 1,371 lionfish in just 2 days and won the $10,000 top prize for Most Lionfish.

The Largest Lionfish prize of $5,000 was awarded to team Bottom Time who brought in a lionfish that was 440 mm, or 17.32 inches.

The Smallest Lionfish, which also commanded a $5,000 prize, was 41mm, or 1.61 inches was caught by team Into the Clouds and was the smallest lionfish caught in Emerald Coast Open history.

👀 I guess it’s that time of the year

A non-tropical low pressure system is forecast to develop a few hundred miles northeast of Bermuda by tomorrow afternoon and produce gale-force winds.

The low is then forecast to move west-southwestward over warmer waters on Friday and could become a short-lived subtropical cyclone over the weekend to the northeast of Bermuda.

The system is expected to move toward the north and northeast into a more hostile environment by Monday.

Hurricane season officially starts June 1

Our Career & Technical Educations programs are amazing

The Okaloosa County School District Training Room was full of excitement yesterday as they hosted their 2nd Annual Career & College Signing Day.

This event honored Okaloosa County CTE seniors who have made commitments to their future in one of the trade programs.

68 seniors from Choctawhatchee High School, Crestview High School, Fort Walton Beach High School, and Niceville High School signed their certificates of intent to go directly into the workforce, the military, a post-secondary technical college, a college, or university.

Superintendent Marcus Chambers shared with the seniors that their participation in a CTE program has given them the opportunity to gain valuable experience and prepared them for their future.

“Today is a celebration of CTE seniors who are committed to their future success in in-demand career fields,” added Chambers.

Parents, family members, teachers, administrators, school board members, county commissioners, and community leaders watched as students signed their certificates of intent.

Local industry and military service members were also there to witness the commitment of their future employees. A few included:

  • Happy Computers
  • Gordon’s Air
  • Advanced Auto Parts
  • Step One Automotive
  • United States Navy

Nathan Sparks, Executive Director of One Okaloosa Economic Development Council, spoke during the presentation.

“Businesses of all stripes are looking for talent, and they’re looking for people who are qualified,” Sparks said. “Individuals coming through the CTE program are very much in demand because they come with upper-level certifications.”

Signing seniors participate in the following programs:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • Cosmetology
  • Culinary
  • Cybersecurity
  • Digital Design
  • Emergency Medical Responder
  • Engineering
  • HVAC
  • Practical Nursing
  • Robotics
  • Web Programming
  • Welding

The high-speed chase

Yesterday, I think it’s fair to say that a huge portion of the county was affected by the high-speed chase. Some people were hit by the suspects, while many of us were simply stuck in traffic as law enforcement put an end to the pursuit. I don’t normally include news like this in the newsletter, but it was a huge thing yesterday morning…

An armed carjacking and stolen car incident began in Walton County and ended in Fort Walton Beach with two suspects in custody for a total of ten felony counts and three misdemeanor charges between the pair by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

The OCSO has charged 18-year old Elijah Jones of Fort Walton Beach with five counts of hit and run, fleeing and eluding with disregard to the safety of persons or property, displaying a weapon during the commission of a felony, tampering with evidence, resisting an officer, and driving without a valid license.

A passenger in the stolen truck, 23-year old Megan Frazier of Niceville, is charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of heroin, and resisting an officer.

Deputies say Jones hit five vehicles at different times during a pursuit that went from State Road 285 south, across the Mid-Bay Bridge, through Destin, across Okaloosa Island and into downtown Fort Walton Beach. Spike strips were deployed by an OCSO deputy near Destin but Jones continued into Fort Walton Beach before crashing into two vehicles and causing injuries to two people.

Two additional individuals and an OCSO deputy had also been hurt after the suspect made an overt action on Highway 98 near Destin’s Marler Bridge that caused an unavoidable collision. The civilians were taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center for treatment and the deputy went to a medical clinic.

While fleeing across Okaloosa Island, Jones also opened the driver’s door and threw out a handgun, which was recovered. A second firearm was found inside the truck. Both Jones and Frazier had tried to run from the crash site but were taken into custody.

“The teamwork displayed by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol, Fort Walton Beach Police Department, and our deputies to stop these dangerous individuals, who both have extensive prior criminal records, is an outstanding example of professionalism and dedication to duty,” said Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden. “Those involved or injured are in our prayers for healing from this event.”

Other Reads

Destiny Worship Center offers school supplies to community at 20th Backpack 2 School
When Destiny Worship Center launched its Backpack 2 School in 2002, the church gave out backpacks and supplies to 24 students in Walton County. This past year, it distributed supplies to 2,000 students across three counties — Okaloosa, Walton and Bay.
Destiny Worship Center offers school supplies to community at 20th Backpack 2 School
When Destiny Worship Center launched its Backpack 2 School in 2002, the church gave out backpacks and supplies to 24 students in Walton County. This past year, it distributed supplies to 2,000 students across three counties — Okaloosa, Walton and Bay.
Walton County floats idea of ‘career’ lifeguards to improve beach safety
As tourism in Walton County stretches beyond the traditional summer season to a more year-round proposition, the South Walton Fire District’s beach safety director is looking at the possibility of changing lifeguard staffing strategies.
Walton County floats idea of ‘career’ lifeguards to improve beach safety
As tourism in Walton County stretches beyond the traditional summer season to a more year-round proposition, the South Walton Fire District’s beach safety director is looking at the possibility of changing lifeguard staffing strategies.
Pensacola Bay Bridge still on track to reopen the week of May 31
The Florida Department of Transportation says repair work is on track at Three Mile Bridge. FDOT says Pensacola Bay Bridge is still set to open two lanes the week of May 31. The agency says all decks needed to restore at least two lanes of traffic are now in place. Construction vehicles and equipment are currently able to cross the bridge end-to-end.
Pensacola Bay Bridge still on track to reopen the week of May 31
The Florida Department of Transportation says repair work is on track at Three Mile Bridge. FDOT says Pensacola Bay Bridge is still set to open two lanes the week of May 31. The agency says all decks needed to restore at least two lanes of traffic are now in place. Construction vehicles and equipment are currently able to cross the bridge end-to-end.

Ok, that’s all I have for you this morning. Hope you have a great Thursday!

Jared

p.s. What did you think of this morning’s newsletter? Hit the reply button and let me know!

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