Category Archives: Volusia County

Tori Otway killed: Teen dies in DeBary rollover crash

Friends and family members shared prayers, sympathy and sorrow after the death of 19-year-old Tori Otway in a single-vehicle rollover crash in DeBary on Sunday.

“Prayers go out to you and your family,” a Facebook user told Otway’s uncle.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, said Laura Williams, a spokesman for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

The crash investigation closed Shell Road for about nine hours, according to Williams. Orange City Fire Rescue pronounced her dead at the scene.

Otway was ejected from the 2003 Ford Escape SUV she was driving when it landed on its passenger side in parking area at 475. S. Shell Road. That’s in an industrial and commercial area south of the Springview subdivision.

“She was not wearing a seat belt,” Williams said in a statement. Otway was the only occupant.

She graduated from Deltona High School in 2016 and attended Daytona State College, according to her Facebook page.

Public records list her address as Deltona but she had recently been staying with a friend in DeBary.

Williams said Otway drove from the home at 1:10 a.m.

“Investigators said she drove west on Benson Junction, turned onto South Shell Road northbound, and the vehicle left the roadway, struck a curb and re-entered the roadway,” the statement said.

“The vehicle crossed the road and flipped onto its side, then rolled onto its roof in a parking area at 475 S. Shell Road.


DeBary murder suspect Anton Sanders left hateful message, report said

The Sanford man accused of fatally stabbing a DeBary woman in her home left behind a profanity-laced message on his ex-girlfriend’s answering machine, a new document shows.

Anton Sanders, 45, is being held without bond in the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on a charge of first-degree murder.

The ex-boyfriend is accused of killing 51-year Lisa Bresie in her home on Lantana Drive.

In his arrest affidavit, released this week, deputies said they found her body and spotted multiple stab wounds while conducting a well-being check. They also found a message from Sanders on her answering machine, the affidavit said.

It was mostly profanity.

A family member and a friend told deputies Sanders had abused Bresie in the past and they broke up sometime this summer. They had not seen her since Nov. 1 and were concerned about her safety.

Sanders was with her vehicle when the Florida Highway Patrol responded to a report of an impaired man showing signs of distress along Interstate 275 in Pinellas County on Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office said.

He had her blood-spattered Hyundai and the keys to her vehicle.

Sanders, also wearing blood-stained clothing, tried to throw himself over a wall that separated the highway from the water below during questioning by the Florida Highway Patrol.

He was transported to a hospital in St. Petersburg as a precaution.

“Sanders was transported to a local hospital for medical evaluation and subsequently admitted to the hospital due to a high amount of cocaine in this body,” a report released this week said

During an interview with officers at the hospital on Nov. 6, he admitted they were no longer a couple but said she would let him drive her car on times.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office on Monday said a fingerprint found in blood inside the house came back as a match to Sanders.

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DeBary prescription-drug dropoff today

Hey, DeBary residents. Got pills you don’t need?

Join thousands of others across the country today by cleaning out your medicine cabinets of unwanted and unneeded prescription drugs during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

The dropoff location in DeBary is at the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office district station at 79 S. Charles Beall Blvd., DeBary.  Call  (386) 668-3830 for details.

It’s easy. It’s free. It’s safe.

“No questions asked. This is a great way to prevent drug addiction, overdose deaths or accidental ingestion by children,” Laura Williams, a spokeswoman for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The DeBary location is among roughly 5,000 across the country participating in the drug-safety, environmentally friendly initiative.

“Disposing of leftover painkillers or other addictive medicines in the house is one of the best ways to prevent a member of your family from becoming a victim of the opioid epidemic,” DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson said in a statement. “More people start down the path of addiction through the misuse of opioid prescription drugs than any other substance. The abuse of these prescription drugs has fueled the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has led to the largest rate of overdose deaths this country has ever seen.”

Three other locations in Volusia County are also taking unwanted pills:

  • 1691 Providence Blvd., Deltona; (386) 860-7030
  • 1435 U.S. 1, Suite D-3, Ormond Beach; (386) 323-0151
  • 101 E. Canal Street, New Smyrna Beach; (386) 423-3301

The dropoffs are open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“For those who miss Saturday’s event, the Sheriff’s Office offers a continuous program where residents can drop off unwanted prescription drugs at a district office or make arrangements to have a deputy pick up their unwanted prescription medicine by calling the Sheriff’s Office’s Communications Center (386-248-1777),” Williams said.

More than 4,000 jurisdictions — including local, tribal, and community partners — are participating, the DEA said.

“The effort will help prevent these drugs, including opioids, from falling into the wrong hands and contributing to a lethal drug abuse epidemic in the United States,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.

“The DEA action comes just days after President Donald J. Trump announced the mobilization of his entire Administration to address drug addiction and opioid abuse by directing the declaration of a Nationwide Public Health Emergency to address the opioids crisis,” the statement added.

More than 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs were turned in at nearly 5,500 dropoffs in April.

“Today the United States is facing the worst drug crisis in our history, as more Americans are dying from drug overdoses than ever before,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We lose one American life to drugs every nine minutes. This crisis affects every American, as it is filling up our emergency rooms, our foster homes, and our cemeteries.”

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Dead people quoted for DeBary Hall ‘haunted history’ story

Dead people are quoted in a questionable online article that attempts to recast the history of DeBary Hall as one with a legacy of spooky happenings.

Ghosts are not part of the standard narrative of the historic property managed by Volusia County except in October for Halloween-themed candlelight tours.

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“The tours are designed to startle and activate the imagination,” the county said in a news release.

The article by Robin Peroldo, released just before Halloween with a black and white photo of DeBary Hall, does not include any direct quotes from anyone to support the writer’s premise that “plenty” of people have scary stories about DeBary Hall.

New York City wine importer Frederick deBary arrived in the area in 1870 and built DeBary Hall a year later for a winter retreat offering hunting and fishing off the St. Johns River.

The article lists two sources for the article published on Oct. 21: A 1997 article by former Orlando Sentinel Volusia County columnist Bo Poertner and a 2001 book by now-deceased author Jack Powell titled Haunting Sunshine. 

Dead Sources

The article repeats information from Poertner’s column, including quotes from two people who died since his column was published. There’s no indication in the text of the article clearly stating that key two sources, Don Valente and Rocky Beall, were quoted by Poertner two decades ago. Valente and Beall are now dead.

“DeBary Hall is renowned as being haunted and there are plenty of personal accounts to go around,” Robin Peroldo wrote.

To support that premise,  Peroldo requotes Valente, an area supervisor for Volusia County parks and recreation who once claimed to have felt a presence in the house during one of his visits. “Just walking inside has an eeriness to it. One time I went through the house with nobody there, and the doors opened by themselves, or they closed — and I mean slammed. And this was on a calm day.’’

Valente died in 2014.

‘Friendly Spirits’

Rochelle ”Rocky” Beall moved into the mansion’s caretaker house on 1996 Halloween night and stayed for several months, according to Poertner’s column and Peroldo’s article.

Although she didn’t see anything suspicious at the mansion, Rocky Beall said she too believes it is haunted.

”I believe there’s friendly spirits there, yeah,” she is quoted as saying. ”Just because it’s such a magic place. It’s so beautiful, I would never want to leave there.”

That’s another direct quote from Poertner’s column. Beall died in 2003, according to her obituary.

The article does not include a key detail from  Poertner’s column. Beall’s father didn’t believe the ghost stories.

Jesse Beall was the city’s historian before his death in 2011.

Similar Passages

Then there’s the similarity between Peroldo’s copy and  Powell’s book. Peroldo wrote:

“A Canadian writer once asked permission to spend the night at DeBary Hall. Although her request was denied she managed to sneak on the grounds to spend the night on the porch. Late that night she woke to a faint vibration within the floor beneath her. A loud moan sounded from within a few feet of her. She turned to look, and saw a ” ‘pale, fleet movement through the window, gone before I could define it.’ ”

This is how it is written in Powell’s book:

“A Canadian writer once asked permission to spend the night in the house. She didn’t get it, but she did slip onto the grounds one night and sleep on the veranda. Late that night she woke to a faint vibration within the floor beneath her. A loud moan sounded from within a few feet of her. She turned to look, and saw a ‘pale, fleet movement through the window, gone before I could define it.’ ”

Two Books

Powell died at his Lakeland home from heart failure on Sept. 8, 2010., according to his obituary in the Lakeland Ledger.

“He loved to write and published two books in his lifetime,” the obit said.

The other book was Time Traveler’s Guide to Florida.

Haunting Sunshine was mocked in a March 4, 2001 review in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Coat on Girl?

David Money’s article ran under the headline Haunting Ranks Low on Boo-Meter.

“Powell asked people in DeBary if DeBary Hall is haunted. He was told it was not,” the article said. “But Powell did a little research and found out about someone seeing a girl on the second floor. Get this — the girl was wearing a coat that should have been downstairs in a closet at the time it was seen on the girl.”

“Shudder,” Money added.

‘Eerie feeling’

The story appears to be a variation of a story recounted in Poertner’s 1997 column and attributed to a man identified as Pete Scovone. A man with the same name and similar age who used to live in Deltona later died in California, records show.

“Pete Scovone was trimming trees at DeBary Hall when he suddenly had the eerie feeling that someone was watching him,” the Poertner column said. “He looked up at the old mansion and saw a young girl in a dark coat looking down at him from a second-story window.”

In his review of Powell’s book, Money wrote that Powell credited newspaper stories for his research, adding that he attempted to contact journalists.

“Oddly, no member of the Florida press has ever returned a call or note from me,” Powell wrote.

DeBary gears up to celebrate on Oct. 26.

Sure, you live in DeBary. But does that mean you’re ready to celebrate DeBary? Well, you have a few days to think about it.

The party is 6 p.m. 9 p.m. Thursday,  Oct. 26 at City Hall, Florence K. Little Hall, the old fire station and the new fire station off U.S. Highway 17-92.

“Meet your neighbors and City staff, discover new community organizations, see your City facilities, and learn about the many services provided by the City of DeBary,” a city flier says.

Participants can expect:

  • Fire vs police competitions
  • Police and fire demonstrations
  • Tour city facilities
  • Best kids police/fire costume contest

This is about DeBary taking part in Florida City Government Week 2017, which runs from October 23-29.

“Join Florida’s cities this year in celebrating, showcasing and engaging citizens in the work of municipal government,” the Florida League of Cities said online. “The Florida City Government Week is a time for municipalities to provide and foster civic education, collaboration, volunteerism and more. All cities are encouraged to participate, and the League is here to help you celebrate what makes your city great.”

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DeBary approves $25M complex on Costa property


After years of debate and study, a mixed-use development proposed on empty ranch land in southwest DeBary cleared a major hurdle last week.

The DeBary City Council on Wednesday approved an incentive package worth $180,000 and a development plan for a 289-unit apartment complex with an estimated value of $25 million.

Construction on Hawthorne Landing could begin in spring 2018 with completion set for summer 2019,  David McDaniel, president of Integra Land Development, told council members.

“I think it will be a first-class project,” City Council member Mike Brady said before the unanimous vote Wednesday.

TOD zone

Hawthorne Landing (also called Integra 289 Exchange) is planned on 16 acres southeast of U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on land commonly known as the Costa property.

The property is part of Steve Costa’s 68-acre parcel with frontage along U.S. 17-92. That is part of a 200-acre, SunRail-anchored Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zone.

In recent years, DeBary has laid the groundwork to encourage and manage growth in the TOD with special rules designed to ensure high-end, consistent growth.

DeBary Growth Management Director Matt Boerger told City Council members on Wednesday the incentive package was offered because of the potential risk for being the first TOD project.

Vice Mayor Lita Handy-Peters said “all or most of the other SunRail areas have provided either some kind public facilities or financial incentives to encourage development of their TOD areas.”

Boerger said the project would generate $55,000 annually in tax revenue once completed.  Amenities will include a clubhouse, pool,  recreational trails and a water fountain.

Incentives offered

In a report, Boerger said the complex would spark additional development in the zone.  Under the  plan approved by the City Council:

  • $93,000 in park-impact fees are waived for providing such recreational space as trails, a trailhead and other  improvements
  • $30,000 worth of building permit fees are waived
  • $57,000 from the City’s Economic Opportunities Fund will be given to the developer when the  certificate of occupancy for the final building is issued

In response to a question from City Council member Erika Benfield about traffic, Boerger said the Florida Department of Transportation plans to install a traffic light on U.S. 17-92 at Fort Florida Road this time next year.

Timing the light correctly will be important to managing traffic on that section of U.S. 17-92, which will provide access to the complex, she said.

“As far as this project and what we are being asked to approve I think that this is a very positive thing for DeBary. I think that we are in desperate need of homes,” Benfield added.

Bigger plan

The apartments are part of a bigger plan for that area of DeBary.

Earlier this year, DeBary City Council members endorsed a $12.5 million community center proposed for property in the TOD next to the Sunrail station.  Voters must approve the funding and a date for a referendum has not been set.

The TOD has a projected buildout of 25 years.

In all, 2,000 residential units and 400,000 square feet of non-residential space (office, retail, restaurant and general commercial) are planned along U.S. 17-92.

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DeBary OK’s $540K for rapid Hurricane Irma cleanup

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a $400,000 debris cleanup option would exclude certain roads.

DeBary’s cleanup from Hurricane Irma will get underway today after City Council members approved a rapid-pickup plan for $540,000.

The plan, approved by a unanimous vote, authorizes two contractors –Waste Pro and DRC –to pick up from public roads,  as well as from private roads in gated subdivisions.

“First and foremost,  our job is to secure the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens. That’s our job,” said Vice Mayor Lita Handy- Peters.

Interim City Manager Ron McLemore offered two options for City Council members.

City Council member Stephen Bacon voiced support for a less expensive plan estimated to cost $400,000. But that would take longer to complete.

Handy- Peters said the more expensive option was a “no brainer” because it would remove the potential public safety threat of brush piles faster and more comprehensively.

“You get it done and you get it done quickly and then you figure out how to make it work,” she said.

City staffers pledged to try for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But since FEMA already owes DeBary nearly $400,000 for Hurricane Matthew, there isn’t much hope that DeBary will get back its costs for that storm.

Still, McLemore said they would try.

Check out the city’s storm-debris guidelines here.

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Hurricane Irma cleanup inspired by Charles Richard Beall

You don’t need to bring gloves or any equipment.

Just show up at 8 a.m. Saturday in the Winn-Dixie parking lot, preferably wearing patriotic-themed clothing,  and prepare for hard work in honor of a local hero.

Hurricane Irma downed trees at a property occupied by the mother of Vietnam War hero Charles Richard Beall. U.S. Highway 17-92 is named in his honor.

Now his mom, 88-year-old Arbutus Beall, and her family need help, according to community activist Bret Douglas, a volunteer who runs the DeBary Legacy page on Facebook.

The DeBary businessman is asking for volunteers to help clear downed trees from her property on Monroe Avenue.

Douglas, a Gulf War-area veteran and horticulturalist, wants the cleanup to be a celebration of  Charles Richard Beall’s life.

Beall was 20 when he was fatally wounded on March 6, 1968 while storming enemy bunkers during the Viet Cong Tet Offensive.

He attacked as snipers shot at an army convoy.

As his platoon tried to rescue the convoy, Beall “rushed the bunkers, one by one, firing into them. Three bunkers were destroyed. He was killed attacking the fourth,” the Orlando Sentinel said in 1996.

That was the year U.S. 17-92 in DeBary was renamed in his honor.

A Beall relative recently reached out to Douglas for help after Irma stormed across Florida.

“I think this is worse than Matthew,” he said, referring to a powerful hurricane in October 2016. Then, as now, the burly man muscled into action.

Douglas, who owns a DeBary landscaping firm called Ironclad Landscape Management, has been highlighted on social media for working hard to help those who need it the most.

The 50-year-old volunteers in DeBary by removing trees, trimming limbs and fixing fences. He said he focuses on helping the elderly, disabled and low-income residents.

Douglas is also building a local ministry with a food bank for the needy.

He says he gets about five to six calls per week from people who need help.

“We answer them all,” Douglas said.

Anyone who wants to help Douglas clean up Arbutus Beall’s property should show up at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of Winn-Dixie at 2 N. Charles R. Beall Blvd.

Douglas will lead volunteers in a prayer and provide directions to the Beall home. He’ll also provide drinks and food. And gloves.

“Just show up,” he added.

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Hurricane Irma orphaned baby squirrels in DeBary, elsewhere


Lisa Kestory gave the furry critter a kiss.

“When God wants to remind humans what falling love feels like, He sends a baby squirrel,” Kestory said on Facebook today.

The squirrel rehabber at Ahopha Wildlife Rescue said 22 baby squirrels, as well as other displaced animals, are being cared for at the DeLeon Springs-based nonprofit owned by Tom Scotti.

SquirrelGirl, as Kestory is called, recently set up an account on to help Ahopha Wildlife Rescue rescue squirrels and other animals displaced or injured by Hurricane Irma.

Most of the rescued animals are birds, including waterfowl and sandhill cranes, as well as “lots” of baby squirrels, she wrote.

“Donations are desperately needed for rescue supplies, pet formula, nipples and syringes, medical supplies, medical care and most importantly, FUEL for the Ahopha Wildlife Rescue vehicle to be able to get to the wildlife at rescue locations all over Central Florida, so they can be taken to the local rehabbers and Veterinarians for emergency care,” the GoFundme account says.
Baby squirrels were found across west Volusia after the storm.

On Sept. 11 , the day after Irma, Ej Bielen‎ posted this on the DeBary Proud! Facebook page:
“Found a baby squirrel in the Streets on naranja and Valencia. He’s still alive and has a small injury to his tail. We bandaged him up. He had a sibling next to him that unfortunately didn’t survive due to cars driving through. Luckily we found him before the next car did. He is very young and not moving too much but looks to be breathing normal. Eyes are still closed. If anyone has any tips on how to care for him or wants to help us out please provide guidance. Thank you.”

Kestory’s call for help prompted positive responses online.

Brandy Dantas of DeLand said this to Kestory on Facebook: “Do y’all need any blankets or supplies like that no extra money right now but can see what I have around the house to donate. Would love to help out any way I can Tom does amazing work and I have brought a few baby squirrels to him in the past.”

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DeBary mayor: ‘Keep your fingers crossed!’

Mayor Bob Garcia this morning expressed optimism about electricity restoration for still-powerless neighborhoods in DeBary.

Electricity has slowly been returning to DeBary homes and businesses after Hurricane Irma downed power lines and caused other problems with distribution networks Sunday.

“I believe that based on what I see the [equipment] and supplies are coming into DeBary,” Garica said online Saturday. “Keep your fingers crossed!”

The message was posted on Facebook’s DeBary Proud! page by DeBary resident Diane M Van Auken on behalf of Garcia, who is “not on social media,” the post said.

“The power company is working hard to get All the power restored in DeBary,” said Garcia. His update also said:

  • Traders Cove has power
  • Highland Marina has partial power restored and is waiting for transformers and tree removal
  • Linemen in Terra Alta are also waiting for tree removal and transformers

“The Vistas area (where Mayor Garcia & his family live) were hit hard and are still without power,” he wrote. “There are many problems there that are being worked on before the power can be restored.”

He said it is possible homes in the Valencia Circle area may get power by tonight or no later than Sunday.

Duke Energy says it has 81,055 Volusia customers. Of those, 65,438 had power restored and 6,126 remained without electricity as of 4 p.m. Saturday. Power restoration was estimated by midnight Sunday.

Florida Power and Light said 20,670 of its 176,800 customers in Volusia County are without power as of Saturday.

According to Florida’s Department of Emergency Management:

Duke Energy had more than 1.3 million customers affected by Irma. Power has already been restored to more than 1.1 million customers.

  • Duke Energy expects power restoration to be completed for western service areas the night of Friday, Sept. 15.
  • Duke Energy expects power restoration to be completed for central and northern service areas the night of Sunday, Sept. 17.

Florida Power and Light had 4.4 million customers affected by the storm. Power has already been restored to more than 3.4 million customers.

  • FPL expects power restoration to be completed for the East Coast the night of Sunday, Sept. 17.
  • FPL expects power restoration to be completed for the West Coast by Friday, Sept. 22.

This isn’t the first time Garcia was featured on social media because of the storm.

On Saturday, as the storm approached, a Facebook user posted video of Garcia urging residents to volunteer for cleanup and repairs after Irma passed.

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