Father, son thank Coast Guard for May water rescue near Port Canaveral

A father and his two sons saved by the U.S. Coast Guard earlier this year got a chance to thank their rescuers Friday at the Coast Guard Air Station Miami.

“We didn’t know they didn’t see us,” Geoff Varell said, recalling the day in May that he, his two sons and a family friend were rescued. “We thought they had seen us, so were overjoyed.”

Lt. Greg Snow, who was a member of the Coast Guard helicopter crew that found the family, remembers not seeing Varell and the others right away.

“We may have flown over them four or five times before we initially spotted them,” Snow said.

Varell, his sons, ages 7 and 9, and a family friend were plucked from the ocean off Port Canaveral in May after their fishing boat started taking on water.

“We tried to shift weight and put everybody up front, and when we went up front, the boat rolled and water came in over the right side of the boat,” Varell said.

That’s when Varell decided to abandon the boat. They spent more than two hours in the water before the Coast Guard found them.

“Obviously, fear sets in,” Varell said. “My friend had my oldest son, and I had my little son. It becomes about the kids.”

Snow said a personal locator beacon is what ultimately led the Coast Guard to find them.

“I can’t thank the Coast Guard enough, you know, just overly professional throughout the entire process,” Varell said.

The boat was never recovered, but Varell is just thankful that he and his sons were OK.

Follow this story

1 in custody after Opa-locka police bust grow house, authorities say

One person is in custody after police busted a grow house Friday in Opa-locka, authorities said. 

Opa-locka police said they received a tip about a grow house at 1877 Opa-locka Blvd.

Officers went to the warehouse and found more than 100 marijuana plants, authorities said.

One person was taken into custody.

Opa-locka Police Chief James Dobson said there were five rooms in the warehouse unit, where the suspect was also living. 

Dobson said one room had a twin bed and a small refrigerator. The next room had small plants, and as officers walked room to room, the plants continued to get larger, Dobson said.

The police chief said the warehouse unit operated as a sophisticated hydroponics lab. 

The suspect’s identity was not immediately released. 


Follow this story

Toddler falls from apartment window in Opa-locka

A 2-year-old boy was hospitalized after he fell from an apartment’s window Friday night in Opa-locka.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to the Lakeview Apartments complex at 135th Street and Northwest 24th Avenue.  

“I was cleaning up the kitchen. It was just a split second,” the boy’s mom, Ronnyce Walker, said. 

Surveillance video shows the toddler’s fall on the parking lot’s pavement. The window’s screen also came down with him. 

“I ran down the stairs and picked my baby up and passed out while I am pulling my baby up,” Walker said. 

Walker said her son’s name is Kevin and she told authorities that the windows of the second-floor apartment were open, because the air conditioner wasn’t working. But the property manager, Paul Embry, said they were in the process of evicting her and the air conditioner in the unit was working. 

“We are not sure how the baby could fall out of a window that size, because the window is quite high,” Embry said. 

Walker said the baby was in a bed that was close to the window. The video shows Walker running in a panic to lift up her son. 

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue used a helicopter to take the boy to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. Walker said she was expecting JMH doctors to release Kevin later tonight or Saturday morning.

“Kevin is fine. He is an angel. I don’t care what happened. I am protected,” Walker said. “He just got little scrapes. That’s it.”

Local 10 News Marcine Joseph contributed to this report. 

This is a developing story. Refresh this link periodically for the latest information. 


Follow this story

High school student accused of stabbing classmate appears in court

A North Park High School senior accused of stabbing a classmate Tuesday morning outside the school appeared in court on Wednesday.

Derion Lamar Howell, 20, said he was supposed to graduate next month, but not he’s in jail and school officials said he has been expelled.

Howell told police that he was jumped Monday morning at the high school in Opa-locka by a group of students.

He said he wanted to be ready when he showed up to school Tuesday morning.

“The fight was happening, he allegedly swung at someone else who was involved in that fight before that without a knife, judge,” Howell’s public defender said.

Police said Howell stabbed Al-Yonni Canez Aumeus, 18, in the abdomen with a 4-inch pocket knife.

Aumeus, 18, was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

“He’s going to be fine,” his mother told Local 10 News.

Police spent much of the day Tuesday in the school parking lot, turned crime scene.

“We were on lockdown. We really couldn’t leave the school,” one student, Jose Cabrera, said.

A neighboring school for children with autism was also placed on lockdown as everything was sorted out.

Police said the stabbing began as an argument between Howell and Aumeus.

Howell was ordered held in lieu of a $16,000 bond. He will be placed on house arrest if he is released and was ordered to have no contact with the victim.

Follow this story

Tractor-trailers explode, burn outside Opa-locka warehouse

Dozens of tractor-trailers exploded and caught fire Monday afternoon at a warehouse in Opa-locka.

Sky 10 was flying above American Fruit & Produce on Northwest 42nd Avenue as numerous tractor-trailers were burning in the parking lot.

American Fruit & Produce and neighboring South Gold Corp. were evacuated.

Thick, black smoke could be seen from miles away.

Authorities said about 30 tractor-trailers, as well as fuel and propane tanks, burned. Several vehicles parked on the other side of a fence also caught fire.

“We heard a big explosion,” a man who works nearby, identified only as Humberto, said. “It sounded like gas tanks or something and it started catching fire pretty quick. We had to close down, put all the cars in because the flames were unbearable.”

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews spent almost an hour battling the flames.

“Miami-Dade Fire Rescue did a great job,” Chief James Dobson of Opa-Locka police, said. “It never made it to the building.” 

Two runways at nearby Miami Opa-locka Executive Airport were temporarily closed because of the intense flames and smoke.

Northwest 128th Street was shut down from Northwest 37th Avenue to Northwest 42nd Avenue while firefighters battled the flames.

No injuries were reported.


Follow this story