Woman faces charges after Fort Lauderdale crash that killed driver, injured passenger

A Pompano Beach woman is facing criminal charges after a crash that killed a driver and seriously injured a passenger Monday night in Fort Lauderdale.

Ashley Rivera, 35, was traveling west on Commercial Boulevard about 7:20 p.m. when the 2005 Infiniti G35 she was driving ran a red light at Northwest 15th Avenue and slammed into the side of a 2014 Nissan Maxima, Fort Lauderdale police said.

The driver of the Maxima was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger in the car suffered life-threatening injuries.

According to a police report, witnesses said Rivera was alone in the car and traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the collision. One witness told police that loud music was playing in Rivera’s car and that she appeared to be “disoriented and dazed.”

A traffic crash reconstructionist determined that Rivera had a red light “for a minimum of six seconds” before impact.

Police said Rivera was driving at a speed “far greater” than the posted speed limit of 45 mph. Police also said the registration for Rivera’s car had expired in November 2016.

Rivera was arrested on charges including vehicular homicide and reckless driving causing serious bodily injury.

Follow this story

2 children pulled from residential fire in Fort Lauderdale

Two children were pulled from a residential fire in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, authorities said.

The fire was reported at a fourplex at 1551 SW 38th Ave.

According to Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue officials, police officers were the first to arrive at the scene, but were unable to get inside the home.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and flames coming from the home.

Authorities pulled two children from the fire. 

One was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The other suffered less serious injuries, authorities said.

A police officer was also taken to a hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

It’s unclear whether any adults were home at the time of the fire.

The children’s ages have not been released.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Follow this story

Dean Trantalis elected mayor of Fort Lauderdale

Voters in Fort Lauderdale elected the city’s first openly gay mayor Tuesday.

Dean Trantalis defeated Bruce Roberts in a runoff election to replace longtime Mayor Jack Seiler.

With all but one precinct reporting, Trantalis received more than 5,600 votes than Roberts.

Trantalis, 64, has been serving as a city commissioner since 2009 and is a longtime champion of equal rights.

Roberts, a former Fort Lauderdale police chief, is the current vice mayor. The 70-year-old was first elected commissioner in 2009 but is facing term limits.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Gwen Graham and Philip Levine took to Twitter to congratulate Trantalis, as did U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida.

Congratulations Mayor-Elect Dean Trantalis!

As mayor, Dean will be a voice for the citizens of #FortLauderdale. I look forward to working with him from the Governor’s Office to strengthen South Florida’s infrastructure and implement smarter growth in our state. pic.twitter.com/zMUB76HDJe

— Gwen Graham (@GwenGraham) March 14, 2018

Congratulations to the new Mayor Dean Trantalis! The city of Fort Lauderdale couldn’t be in better hands! pic.twitter.com/CN9XVDjxnU

— Mayor Philip Levine (@MayorLevine) March 14, 2018

Congratulations to Dean Trantalis on making history in Ft. Lauderale tonight! Mayor-Elect Trantalis has a true passion for public service and fighting for civil rights. This is a massive victory for Broward County and the LGBT community nationwide.

— Debbie Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) March 14, 2018


In nearby Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Chris Vincent narrowly led Mark Brown in the race to replace Scot Sasser as mayor.

Vincent is a town commissioner who is facing term limits. A native of New York, the building contractor moved to Broward County in 1987.

Brown served as a town commissioner for nearly six years before resigning in December to run for mayor.

Sasser announced in October that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Florida Keys

Voters in two Florida Keys cities were presented with ballot questions.

Key West voters were asked to determine whether they wanted to raise the maximum height for affordable workforce housing projects on College Road.

In Key Colony Beach, voters received two ballot questions related to the election process. The first asked voters if city commissioners should serve four-year terms instead of two-year terms.

The other asked voters whether they wanted a tie between two candidates to be decided by the city clerk instead of a runoff election.

Voter turnout for Tuesday’s election was slightly more than 16 percent. The low turnout could be attributed to residents who are still struggling to get their lives back in order after Hurricane Irma.
A Monroe County elections supervisor said three precincts still didn’t have working telephones.

Follow this story

Man killed in shooting near Fort Lauderdale bus terminal

A Pompano Beach man was shot and killed near Fort Lauderdale’s central bus terminal late Friday, police said.

Casey Liening, a spokeswoman for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, said Joseph Burgess, 30, got into an argument with two men just after 10 p.m. in the unit of block of West Broward Boulevard. During the fight, one of the men pulled out a handgun and shot Burgess multiple times, Liening said.

Burgess was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center, where died of his injuries, Liening said.

The gunmen fled before officers arrived on the scene.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact detective Mark Breen at 954-828-5708 or Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.


Follow this story

Openly gay lawyer faces former police chief in Fort Lauderdale’s historic mayoral runoff

If Dean Trantalis wins Tuesday’s election, he could become Fort Lauderdale’s first openly-gay mayor. He is running against  Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts, after falling short of the 50 percent of the votes required to win during the January primary election

The city commissioner won 46 percent and Roberts won 31 percent in the primary election.It’s one of the most competitive races Fort Lauderdale voters have seen in a while. The winner of the runoff election will succeed Mayor Jack Seiler, who was first elected nine years ago. 

He will also have to deal with the challenges of a fast-growing city: A failing water and sewer infrastructure and nightmarish traffic congestion. There is also a lack of affordable housing and homelessness. Roberts said he has the experience needed and he is ready for the job. 

“It feels really good, it feels like palpable change and momentum are going our way now,” Roberts, 70, said about his campaign team’s progress. 

Although the candidates are running for nonpartisan office and their campaigns are not meant to be based on party affiliation, voters are paying attention. The LGBTQ community touts Trantalis, a real estate attorney, as a progressive Democrat. Roberts abandoned the Republican Party, as the city’s population of registered Democrats doubled that of Republicans.

“I may not necessarily be the agent of change, I am a reflection of the change that the city has already become,” Trantalis, 64, said. 

Roberts joined the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in 1973 and resigned as police chief in 2008. When he launched his political career as a fiscal conservative in 2009, he had the support of the downtown establishment and the police union. He believes in limiting the city’s growth. 

“We are not approving any development unless the capacity is there to handle that development,” Roberts said. 

Trantalis, who was born and raised in Norwich, Connecticut, moved to Fort Lauderdale about 35 years ago. The Stetson University School of Law graduate lived in Eastern Europe, Russia and England. Before getting involved in Fort Lauderdale politics, he was an activist for LGBTQ rights. He served as commissioner from 2002-2006 and was re-elected in 2013.

“We need to step back, take a look at what our capacity is, and make sure we are still going full force in placing the pipes underground, so that we can serve the people that it’s supposed to,” Trantalis said. 

The candidates agree about the lease of the city-owned War Memorial Auditorium to host an annual gun show. Although Trantalis would prefer if the show eliminates assault weapons, Roberts said he doesn’t mind if the show sells them somewhere else.  

“I don’t think it belongs in a park where family and children are playing,” Roberts said. 

Follow this story

Cruz observed ‘smiling and giggling’ inside jail cell, report says

A report by jail officials with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office described Parkland school shooting gunman Nikolas Cruz as “smiling and giggling” days after the killings, according to a report by ABC-affiliate WFTS

Jail officials have been observing Cruz at the main jail in Fort Lauderdale. The reports said Cruz was “isolated” and “segregated.” The 19-year-old is not allowed to interact with other inmates for his own safety, jail official said.

Cruz has admitted to killing 17 people and wounding more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Deputies said Cruz dropped his weapon at the school and left the campus by blending in with panicked students. However, Coral Springs police found him about hour after the shooting and arrested him. 

He’s been at the Fort Lauderdale jail since the day of the shooting. The records said Cruz is being held in a single person cell in the infirmary.

The reports noted Cruz’s “quiet misdemeanor” and “blank stare,” but he seems to perk up when he receives visitors. Jail officials observed Cruz laughing after a meeting with his lawyers.


Follow this story