Please make sure to drive safely in the Keys

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.

There have been a number of very serious auto accidents recently and Trauma Star has been quite busy. On Saturday there was a head-on collision on US 1.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “The crash is currently under investigation by Florida Highway Patrol. But clearly one car crossed over. It was a severe head on car crash so we don’t know if it was a passing or someone fell asleep or was distracted driving yet to be determined, but the cars had a head on crash about the 13 mile marker. This is around the area of Bluewater, Bay Point area. This caused a complete roadblock north and south. Obviously a lot of police services and Fire Rescue Service had to respond. Our friends of Fire Rescue determined quickly we had multiple trauma alerts. We had to try to get these people that were entrapped in some of these cars out. We wound up launching both of the sheriff’s office Trauma Star helicopters. Both helicopters were able to fly two patients at a time. We had four critical trauma patients that all required advanced life support air evac, so we sent two ships down south and landed and picked up four people and flew them up to Jackson Ryder Trauma Facility in Miami. FHP responded to work the crash. The sheriff’s office as soon we could tried to start diverting traffic to at least one lane or start moving traffic very slowly, as you imagine traffic back up pretty quickly. But our goal was to try to obviously render aid first to people who are medical conditions and next thing we do is really tried to get traffic flowing. So that was a sad, a horrific crash.”

Another really awful crash happened almost at the same place the very next day.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Sunday morning, another head on car crash right there by Saddlebunch Bridge, and one of the vehicles is a Key West family. The Key West family does not appear to be the fault vehicle but the other vehicle did crossover. We again had to launch both Trauma Star helicopters as we had three trauma patients, two being juvenile children. So we launched both helicopters out again the same time and we air evaced out three trauma patients to Jackson Ryder again.”

Then last night there was another horrible car crash in Marathon.

Sheriff Ramsay said it was on “US 1 and Key Colony Beach, at the intersection resulting in multiple traumas. Again, we had a launch at our Trauma Star helicopter teams to air evac out multiple people to Trauma Center in Miami again. So this is just so unusual and why we have crashes here and we know, but to have these horrific crashes one, let alone three within a 36 hour window, it’s just hard to believe. I don’t think I’ve seen this much carnage in a 36 hour window. So so so so sad to see these injuries. The only good thing about it is that the sheriff’s office does have these trauma helicopters to get people to highest level of care to save lives. These helicopters, we have save lives every day. We average four to five flights a day. So our flights were all advanced life support missions. We thank God that we’ve got this program to respond to these sad situations when they do occur. Obviously, we continue to pray and think about the families who are affected by these crashes.”

It’s so important to have Trauma Star here.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We see these level of damage to injuries, people. These cars are all equipped now with airbags, so imagine before airbag days. These new cars are designed to absorb crashes, almost like a beer can to start slowing down the impact. So even with these new cars and technologies to make it safer, if you’re in a crash and airbags, we still see in these cases, here’s some really extensive damage and injuries which goes to show you the velocity of these cars when they impact and how there was little to no time for somebody to take evasive maneuvers or brake. It was just so sudden in almost all these cases. It’s just a hard time for the sheriff’s office. These are hard for our men and women to go out in these situations and deal with these. Some of these young officers seeing this as well. It’s just so difficult emotionally and in so many different ways to have to go home and carry this with you. But it’s just part of our job each and every day, whatever comes up we have to deal with.”

A marathon Florida man was arrested for trying to defraud a woman of $10,000, cashing four checks of $2,500 after supposedly he did some landscaping work. Another woman was arrested for fraud, stealing $2,500 from a former employer.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We also had another case of down south, a person had passed away at a residence and been there for a while. So the family had to bring in a special team to try to clean the home and deal with it. So while they had these cleaners in there trying to clean the home from a deceased person, apparently they saw some valuables in a home. They saw a lockbox, they saw some guns, different stuff. So apparently they took this lockbox that was not locked at the time and put guns and other valuables in there. Then they hid the box in the house. Then they came back after they were done. They didn’t want to walk out with all this jewelry while they were working on a company vehicle, they came back in a second vehicle, two the workers. Then they entered the house. In this case an alert neighbor was really on the job, saw this car pull up, thought it was suspicious and strange knowing that people had passed away in the house, no one should have been there. Actually got a good description of the people went and got the tag number. They were in the house for about 45 seconds and came out with this lockbox so they absolutely knew exactly where it was, what they wanted because they put it there. So the neighbor got really good information, description, called us, got a direction of travel. We stopped the vehicle in the Marathon area going northbound. We separated the two people, identified them, ultimately as workers that were working at the house to decontaminate the deceased person’s impacts. Then ultimately, we did a track down that they came back to steal belongings. We eventually determined that they got scared and threw the lockbox out of the car into the mangrove area. We did go back to track it, find it and inside was four handguns and some other related stuff. So we did get the valuables back to the family but more so we get these guns from being on the streets. So it’s just scary sometimes, whether it be workers a lot of time workers or people that are doing fraud or checks or different stuff or here come in your house and not uncommon workers come to your house they see something of value or they come back potentially so it’s always a lot of times the crimes of opportunity. So it’s important to always be at your home when people are working or doing something or making sure that before they come in that your valuables are secured, so people don’t see, have access to take them or want to come back later on.”

Charges of theft are pending against a 23 year old and a 17 year old.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “It’s sad to see these young people doing this type of stuff. But yes, it started off with a simple bike theft and turned into burglaries of vehicles that were unlocked. There are people rifling through cars, stealing stuff out of there. We got involved. We’ve identified two people. We had one person flee from us. We eventually identified them both for arrest, the adult and the male both. They’re also suspects in other related crimes, an area that we’ve been investigating. We believe that these two are then committing thefts and auto burglaries and stuff there for a little while. So sometimes we’ll get a case on one person helps us to close other cases because they become a prime target, prime suspect. I guess the only good thing is that we were able to hold these people accountable and stop these crimes from occurring. But it’s still sad to see the youth in our society these days and doing this type of stuff and ruining their lives for nothing. These are young people with a whole life ahead of them and they’re starting out this way this early. If they keep it up they’re going to spend the bulk of their adult life in lock up.”

The Monroe County Public Works informed MCSO of a public health hazard recently that led to two people being arrested in an illegal dumping case.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “I want to say great job to my team. This was not an easy case to investigate. We got a call that came in from my neighbor. He called it in and then public works called us and we went out there in the Big Pine refuge and one of these back roads, this is environmentally sensitive lands, protected species. We go out there to find a large amount of dumped oil. It looks like biodiesel fuel and it looks like hundreds of gallons is on the middle of the road and then the shoulders and leaching into our environment. So we get out there and we were shocked to see just how much was there. We started an investigation. We contacted obviously DEP public works out there. We’re trying to get a game plan how to clean this stuff quickly as you can before it continues to do more damage to our environment before it totally eats the road because when you get a hazard like this, diesel, it eats the pavement and just melts it and turns into like gum. So we actually had to shut the road down. Public Works brought in dump trucks full of sand to try to absorb some of the stuff. They brought in back hoes. They brought in cherry pickers to try to pick all this stuff up.”

Meanwhile, the officers at MCSO were investigating who could have done this.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We get neighbors, a couple of reports that tell us about a white truck and a black car, the black car leading it, the white truck following it. It appears to be some type of metal scrapper. We do canvassing in the neighborhoods, we find a ring doorbell camera, which had a video of the black car going by and right behind it the white truck. The white truck, we see red letters about recycling. So we continue, we eventually identified the car and truck. We identified the car as a resident from the Big Pine area. A guy they call Solar George. We identify the truck as a metal scrapper out of Hialeah. The end of our story that appears to be that Solar George knows this guy in Miami, this scrapper and he wants him to help him move a bunch of stuff, including a large tank with hundreds of gallons of biodiesel from one location to the next. The truck has a lift gate in the back. These two just put this barrel, these couple 100 gallon thing right on liftgate. They don’t secure it and they’re driving down the road back in the neighborhood when it falls off. It’s on the side. So it starts gulping out that biodiesel. Instead of getting out and trying to turn it back over to at least stop it from gulping out, they just decided that they’re going to flee the area and leave it. So they don’t notify the authorities, they don’t try to stop it. They don’t try to turn it over to at least keep it from continuing to spill. They just get in their respective vehicles and just drive out of the area and leave it. So we eventually were able to get probable cause on both individuals, both were arrested for the felony dumping. They’re going to be held accountable. The driver out of Miami did acknowledge that it was his truck, that it occurred, told us that it fell off and he said he was going to come back the next day and clean it up. But there’s no way unless you came up with 20 people, dump trucks, you couldn’t have done it. And the other guy’s stance was it wasn’t my problem. It was my stuff. I told him to move it but it fell off his truck, so it’s his problem. So it was really really sad to see that type of impact on our environment. So we’re going to hold these two people accountable. I’m sure when the courts get done with them, they’re going to have some huge fines from DEP and then the cleanup costs the county derived are going to be pushed back on these two as part of court costs.”