News Cast 01/27

The Harlem MLK Scholarship Committee holds annual events to raise funds for its scholarships. Students from area schools are given the opportunity to apply for said scholarships and they are scored based on a rubric of qualifying data. Last night at Greater Friendship Baptist Church, 4 outstanding students were selected as recipients of the 2020 Awards:  Moore Haven Terrier Kiyah Coco, Clewiston Tiger Kaitlynn Lee, Jonathan and Jorim Vickers are both Glades Central Raiders, and all of them are members of churches in the community. The Harlem MLK Scholarship committee awards students each year in 4 different amounts: $1000, 750, 500, and $300 amounts. This year, through anonymous donations, the committee was able to ensure that each winner received a $1000 scholarship. Kiyah Coco has decided to follow her dreams of becoming a UCF Knight, along with Jorim Vickers. Kaitlynn Lee decided not to reveal her school of choice and Jonathan Vickers, is ready to become an FAU Owl. Congratulations to all of the recipients.

For 7 years now, Eric Friedman has run an event called Skydive Ultra out of Skydive Spaceland in Clewiston. If you saw some runners in Clewiston over the weekend and were wondering what was going on, well so were we. WAFC caught up with Friedman out at the airport and he explained it like this. He takes a group of runners, loads them in an airplane and then they willingly, jump out; with a parachute of course. Once they land, freefalling for 13,000 feet, pulling their parachute at 6,000 feet, they start their race. They have a choice to run anything from a 10k, to a marathon and they even have people running as far as 100 miles, running for a full 24 hours or longer, after skydiving to the start line of the race. Friedman is a native Floridian and started skydiving in Clewiston many years ago. Friedman says its an annual event and anyone who may be interested should visit the website

The Hendry County Sheriffs Department met with the Harlem Tenants Association last week to discuss safety concerns for the people living in Harlem Gardens. We are told the meeting was very productive and the residents feel excited about the results. The Harlem Tenants Association has been in the community since 1971 providing low income housing, senior citizen outreach and scholarships. Lavita Holmes, current board member says safety has always been a priority. This meeting is the one of the many extensive steps toward the safety of the residents. Holmes goes on to say, this partnership with HCSO will mean more visibility and community policing. She also added, there are 2 vacancies for Board Members and as of now, you don’t have to live in Harlem to be a board member. The next meeting will be held in March.

A Labelle woman was in critical condition after being hit by a car in Hendry County Saturday. Alfredo Morales of Greenacres was traveling east on State Road 80 approaching Belmont Street. 23 year old Sheniya Ray was walking on the sidewalk when, according to FHP, she started to walk into the roadway, and into the path of Morales’ vehicle. As of yesterday, Ray was reported in critical condition at Lee Memorial Hospital. WAFC has reached out for updates. Alcohol is not said to be a factor in the accident. No further information has been provided.

A bicyclist has died following a hit-and-run crash on SR 29 and F Road in Hendry County, according to Florida Highway Patrol. Eduardo Castillo, 79, of Immokalee died from his injuries on Jan. 24. On Jan. 3, around 8 a.m., a van was headed southbound on SR 29. Castillo was riding his bicycle across the north and southbound lanes of the road when he proceeded directly into the path of the van. Castillo was propelled onto the van’s hood as it left the roadway. The van then got back on the roadway and continued southbound, fleeing the scene. The investigation into this wreck is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to please contact FHP or Crimestoppers.

FHP reports that an Okeechobee man is dead following a motorcycle crash on SR 78 in Moore Haven Sunday afternoon. 77 year old James Ruttan of Michigan was driving his Harley Davidson followed by 60 year old Dale Reiss on SR78 just east of Gun Glub Drive. Ruttan slowed down to make a turn into a parking lot and Reiss failed to slow down, crashing into the back of Ruttan and his passenger 75 year old Marcia Kubacki. Reiss was pronounce deceased at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet. Ruttan was transported to Lawnwood Regional Hospital with serious injuries, his passenger with only minor injuries. This crash is still under investigation.