Sawgrass Recreation Park to send 2 airboats to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

Employees from a South Florida park are collecting donations and sending their own airboats to the Houston area to help out.

There’s been a pretty great response at Sawgrass Recreation Park.

Donations keep coming in and not only will they go to the Houston area, but two airboats also will be sent out to help with the rescue efforts.

“Everybody here at Sawgrass Park wants to do something,” Jim Leljedal said.

And South Floridians are answering the call.

“I saw the devastation in Texas and I had some clothes ready just in case,” Veronica Landsmann said. 

After watching all of the devastation Hurricane Harvey continues to leave behind in Texas, employees at Sawgrass Recreation Park in Weston are collecting non-perishable items for those that need them the most, and donations keep pouring in.

“I brought some diapers, wipes, baby snacks,” Kortni Couch said. “My son loves snacks and thought there are babies out there that need help.”

The park also is sending two of its airboats to help with the rescue efforts.

Two airboats from Kissimmee will also head to Texas, and the captains plan on hooking up with the National Guard to get to stranded victims.

“So we are going to be able to go into those flooded areas and help people in a way that ordinary people and vehicles can’t do,” Leljedal said.

The truck with supplies and airboats will be at the park until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

There is no plan for the airboats to return and employees said they will stay out there to help out for as long as it is needed.

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Weston family returns home after witnessing terrorist attack in Barcelona

A South Florida family returned home Friday, a day after they witnessed a van driving into a crowd of people in Barcelona.

The Ritkes family, who are from Weston, were in a market off the city’s popular Las Ramblas mall when the incident began.

Gary Ritkes said his family of six was outside speaking to Spanish police officers when they heard a large commotion.

“Then you just heard screaming, it must have been bodies, we don’t know. It was terrible noises,” his wife, Sonia Ritkes, said after the family arrived at Miami International Airport. “We ran for our lives.” 

The Ritkes family said they are still processing the horror from the attack.

“It was just a wave of people, a stampede. You know, it happened so quickly, and all of a sudden, you see hundreds and maybe thousands of people just running at you,” Gary Ritkes said. “I was able to pretty much get a line of sight on everybody except Charlie. I knew he wasn’t with us and that’s when I started panicking.”

Charlie Ritkes, 14, said he got stuck behind a crowd of people when everyone started running.

“I got stuck behind the stampede, away from my family, and it was just so brief and so fast,” Charlie said.

Charlie said his father eventually found him.

The Ritkes’ said that during the attack they fled to a nearby street and were pulled into a pastry shop by the store owner.

They said more than 40 other people were inside the store, all lying on the floor in complete silence.

“It went by at over 50 miles an hour,” Beau Ritkes, 19, said. “So when I was running, I was thinking if that was a bomb or if that’s a shooter, it would make sense that the next place they would put a second bomb is the other exit. So I was running thinking that potentially I was running into another bomb.”

Gary Ritkes said his family still plans to travel internationally after witnessing the attack in Barcelona.

“You can’t let something like this stop you from wanting to travel,” he said. “We actually reflected when we were walking back after we were out, and we said, ‘Well, it’s unbelievable that this actually happened to us and we were in the middle of a terrorist attack. It really could never happen again.’ So we’re OK to travel.”

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Weston family just feet away during Barcelona van massacre

A South Florida family is lucky to be alive after being just feet away when a van drove into a crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring 80 more in Barcelona on Thursday.

The Ritkes family of Weston were in a market off the city’s popular Las Ramblas mall when the incident began.

Gary Ritkes says his family of six were outside when they heard a large commotion.

“Chaos broke out. We heard screaming and then a stampede.” Ritkes told Local 10’s Jeff Weinsier. “A wave of people almost started stampeding us.”

In the first moments of the hysteria, Ritkes and his wife Sonia lost their son Charlie, 14, in the crowds before finding him in a nearby store.

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. People were falling on the floor, people were running over people.” Ritkes said hours later.

The Ritkes’ fled to a nearby street and were pulled into a pastry shop by the store owner. Over 40 other people were inside the store, all lying on the floor in complete silence.

In a picture sent to Local 10, the family can be seen hiding behind a table with fear on their faces.

Gary said minutes later the entire street was filled with police and still chaotic. While on lockdown in the shop, the family of six could see bodies being carted off through the windows.

“Everyone was in panic mode, basically fearing for their lives.” Ritkes told Weinsier.

Though shaken up, the Ritkes’ say they were able to make it back to their apartment, passing body bags along the way, and are thankful to be alive.

The family, who arrived in Spain on Sunday, are heading home from the vacation to South Florida Friday morning on a previously scheduled flight.

Officials say 2 people are under arrest in what is being investigated as a terrorist attack.

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Weston family just feet away during Barcelona van massacre

A South Florida family is lucky to be alive after being just feet away when a van drove into a crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring 80 more in Barcelona on Thursday.

The Ritkes family of Weston were in a market off the city’s popular Las Ramblas mall when the incident began.

Gary Ritkes says his family of six were outside when they heard a large commotion.

“Chaos broke out. We heard screaming and then a stampede.” Ritkes told Local 10’s Jeff Weinsier. “A wave of people almost started stampeding us.”

In the first moments of the hysteria, Ritkes and his wife Sonia lost their son Charlie, 14, in the crowds before finding him in a nearby store.

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. People were falling on the floor, people were running over people.” Ritkes said hours later.

The Ritkes’ fled to a nearby street and were pulled into a pastry shop by the store owner. Over 40 other people were inside the store, all lying on the floor in complete silence.

In a picture sent to Local 10, the family can be seen hiding behind a table with fear on their faces.

Gary said minutes later the entire street was filled with police and still chaotic. While on lockdown in the shop, the family of six could see bodies being carted off through the windows.

“Everyone was in panic mode, basically fearing for their lives.” Ritkes told Weinsier.

Though shaken up, the Ritkes’ say they were able to make it back to their apartment, passing body bags along the way, and are thankful to be alive.

The family, who arrived in Spain on Sunday, are heading home from the vacation to South Florida Friday morning on a previously scheduled flight.

Officials say 2 people are under arrest in what is being investigated as a terrorist attack.

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Man snatches woman’s purse while she is with 2 young children in Weston

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies are searching for a man who they said snatched a woman’s purse last month as she was walking with her two young children in the parking lot of a grocery store in Weston.

The robbery was reported July 19 outside a Publix at 2465 Glades Circle.

Deputies said surveillance cameras captured the thief approaching the family as they were walking toward the store and snatched the purse with such force that he tore the victim’s shirt in the process.

Deputies said the robber got away with the purse, which contained the victim’s cellphone, wallet and bank cards.

They said he was seen getting into the passenger side of an awaiting car, possibly a black Mustang with tinted windows.

Authorities said someone attempted to use one of the victim’s cards about an hour later to make a $500 purchase at a Walmart in Lauderdale Lakes.

Anyone who has information about the robbery is asked to call Detective Mohammad Razi at 954-321-4547. Anonymous tips can be made by calling Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. A reward of up to $3,000 is offered for information that leads to an arrest.

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Massive beehive worries Pollo Tropical customers, employees in Weston

A massive beehive in Weston is leaving many people concerned since it is very close to a popular restaurant.

“I wouldn’t have even known it was in there. I would’ve just walked right by without knowing,” Miranda Loggans said.

The growing hive, which is full of honeybees, is a not-so-sweet a site for Loggans and her 9-year-old daughter.

“That’s scary if there’s kids and stuff around, and people that are allergic to it. They should probably get someone out to take it down,” Loggans said. 

Managers at the Pollo Tropical restaurant said they have scheduled a professional to remove the hive after noticing the many bees hovering way too close for comfort while doling out drive-thru orders.

Just a few steps away, on the other side of the large hive, there is a Mobil gas station, where people are now taking note of the issue.

“Don’t mess with them. Don’t throw stuff at it,” Fabian Loggans said. “I feel like most of the time when people get bit by hives, it’s their own fault, so just use common sense, basically.”

“It’s something to take care of immediately and not to wait, in my own personal opinion,” Gloria Torres said. “It doesn’t scare me, but I know some people are afraid of it.”

The beehive has not caused any problems so far, people in the area said. But that doesn’t stop them from worrying.

“There are probably hundreds in there,” Miranda Loggans said.

Celina Placensio, a district manager for the chain, released a statement that said: “Guest and employee safety come first. When we noticed the bee hive in a tree near the drive-thru yesterday, we contacted our pest control partner to inspect the issue and recommend next steps for safe removal. We look to have it resolved by tomorrow.”

 

 

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