News

New: Injured Marine Getting Stronger Everyday

MACCLENNY, Fla. -- Four months ago the life of a Clay County Marine changed forever when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan.

On Saturday, family and friends of Gunnery Sgt. John Hayes held a benefit for the 29-year old in Calendar's Restaurant in Macclenny.

Hayes is at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. His family told First Coast News he wanted to be at Saturday's benefit, but he can't travel yet.

His wife Janel attended in his honor.

"He was never upset about losing his legs. He was just upset because he wouldn't be able to do certain things with the kids," said Janel Hayes.  

Support for the family was evident in Macclenny. 

The car show and an auction brought out hundreds of people who wanted to donate to the family. 

Kerwin Bell's Son to Play Football at JU

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- After a stellar senior season as the quarterback at Fleming Island High School, Kade Bell has chosen to play football at Jacksonville University where his father, Kerwin is the head coach.

In his three years at the football coach at JU, Kerwin Bell has led the Dolphins to a pair of Pioneer Football League championships.  This past season, the team finished with 10 wins which is the best total in the program's history.  They were also ranked in the top 25 for the first time ever and finished the year ranked 21st.

Kade Bell led the Fleming Island to a pair of playoff wins in 2010.  The Golden Eagles defeated Palm Coast and First Coast before losing at Lakeland.  Fleming Island finished the season with a (12-1) record with Bell as the quarterback.

Orange Park Cruise-in to Fill Fire Truck

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- This weekend a classic fire truck will be parked hoping to get filled up.  It's not looking for fuel, but for donations.

The First Coast Car Council is putting the truck in the KMart parking lot at the corner of Kingsley Avenue and Blanding Boulevard Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. as part of their Saturday Cruise-in program.

The group is looking for donations for the Ronald McDonald House, who needs food items, office supplies, basic household supplies, kitchen supplies and gift cards to local stores.

The Cruise-in is always free to the public and features classic cars.

The First Coast Car Council is a group of philanthropic car enthusiasts.

Update: Combined Effort Leads to Healthy County

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- St. Johns County's ranking as one of the healthiest in the state is no coincidence, according to one local dentist.

The county ranked third in the state, according to data just released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Ronald Dixon, a St. Augustine dentist, credits part of St. Johns' high ranking to the work of the county and non-profits.

Dixon serves on the St. Johns County Human and Health Services advisory board.

"I think everybody is pulling together from the same end of the rope," said Dixon, who said the county worked hard for the high ranking.

In Florida, Collier County retained the highest ranking for the second year in a row. Union County came in last, ranked 67.
Duval County graded out as the 46th healthiest county in Florida.

Homeowners Escape Fire in Orange Park

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- One person has been taken to the hospital after a house fire in Clay County.

Firefighters responded to the home at 2:56 a.m. Saturday.

An 911 call to dispatchers led police to the fire on the 300 block of Leo Ct.

A total of 20 firefighters responded to the blaze including five engine companies, three rescue crews, one Battalion Chief and the Fire Marshal. Upon arrival they found heavy fire throughout the home.

The homeowners and their two dogs were home at the time of the fire and were able to exit the home safely. One person was transported to a hospital for evaluation. No firefighters were injured.

By 5 a.m. the fire was under control.

The Fire Marshal is now investigating.

FSU Shooting 911 Call: 'Did you Kill her?'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Emergency calls from the night an FSU student from Orange Park was accidentally shot depict the frantic aftermath.

"Did you kill her?" one caller could be heard saying during 911 recordings.

20-year-old Ashley Cowie died in January during a party at an off-campus frat house.

Evan Wilhelm, her twin sister Amy's boyfriend, was charged with manslaughter.

In the 911 recordings from several different calls, yelling is heard in the background, as callers try to explain what happened.

"I have a gun and somehow it got loaded and someone just got shot," one caller said. "I don't even know what happened."

Some callers seem stunned, some frantic.

"I don't know what happened. I heard it... It was a girl. A girl got shot," one caller said.

According to Cowie's father, while the calls were going on, Amy was performing CPR on her sister.

Body of Missing Boater Found Near Goodby's Creek

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Coast Guard has found the body of the man who didn't return from a fishing trip on the St. Johns River Thursday.

According to Petty Officer Chris Evanson, 55-year-old Eddie Harding went fishing in an 18-foot aluminum bass boat off the east side of the Buckman Bridge, and told his wife he'd be home by 7 p.m.

At 7:45, his wife reported him missing, and rescuers from the Coast Guard, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the Florida Wildlife Commission began a search.

The Coast Guard found the man this morning in the Goodby's Creek area, significantly north of the Buckman Bridge.

JSO is currently working to determine the cause of death.

First Coast News will continue to provide the very latest as details become available.