News

Lightning sparks Clay County fire


CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- Firefighters had to put out a small forest fire sparked by lightning in Clay County Monday evening, authorities said.

It started about 5 p.m. at a hunting camp near Bobby Padgett Road, neighbors told First Coast News. Capt. Bernita Bush with the Clay County Fire Department said firefighters had to cut the lock to the camp to reach the slow-moving fire.

At its peak, the fire measured about 100 square feet, but crews quickly put it out, Capt. Bush said. There was no property damage to the camp or any of the surrounding structures.

Brandi Shaffer, who lives on Bobby Padgett Road, said she was the one who called 911.

"The fire spread some and some ash was falling from the sky," Shaffer said in an e-mail. "It looked like it was snowing on our property."

Update: Post office finds woman's sister's remains


Update: Dionne Montague, spokesperson for the USPS, contacted On Your Side on Thursday night and said the package has been found and is being delivered to the customer. Debi Peirson said by email they delivered my sister to me tonight (thursday. Thank you for all your help. They said she was in a bag with the paperwork by a locker. I would still like some answers how this happened. Jacksonville postmaster Debra Gronik who hand delivered the package herself said,"We are pleased we were able to locate the and deliver the package safely to our customer." September 2013 the USPS instituted guidelines for handling cremated remains, the investigation revealed the new guidelines were not followed.

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- Debi Peirson has a problem with the United States Postal Service; she can't believe what happened.

"The post office lost the package with my sister's ashes," said Peirson.

Scam leaves 'K9 Pets 4 Deserving Vets' in limbo


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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jack Jennings, 68, served during the Vietnam War and has a heart for veterans returning from the front lines overseas.

He's the founder of the non-profit K9 Pets 4 Deserving Vets.

"That's what I'm doing here, helping vets for free, that's what this organization is set up to do," said Jennings.

He said he found the ideal property in Middleburg and paid $60,000 at a public auction at the Clay County Courthouse.

"They had 300 homes that day," he said. "I had been watching this home because I wanted to turn it into a dog retreat."

Family remembers son who died from rare brain disease


ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- A young man from Middleburg who received his high school diploma during a special ceremony in the hospital earlier this month died on Tuesday from a rare brain disease.

Daniel Hopkins, 21, was diagnosed nearly ten years ago with neuro-degeneration brain iron accumulation. He attended high school in MIddleburg until last December and this year was homebound with a teacher helping him meet the exceptional education requirements for a certificate of completion.

Shelly Brannen says she was at her son's side when he died early Tuesday morning at her sister's home in Orange Park.

"I think that is what gives me more peace of mind, I was here. Like my mom said you brought him in and you were here when he went out. So that gives me peace," said Brannen who was busy on Wednesday making funeral arrangements.

Father charged in death of 11-week-old son


MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- A 19-year-old is facing felony charges related to the death of his 11-week-old son.

According to a police report form the Clay County Sheriff's Office, 11-week-old Jacoby Logan Helms suffered multiple subdural hematomas to his brain, blunt force trauma to his abdomen and severe retinal hemorrhaging in his right eye June 11 that led to his death.

Clay County Fire and Rescue responded to the 1900 block of Bridlewood Place and transported the infant to St. Vincent's Hospital. The infant was subsequently transported to Wolfson Children's Hospital where medical staff found the victim did not have any brain activity. He was pronounced deceased.

Seriously ill high student to graduate from hospital bed


ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Daniel Hopkins won't be able to go on stage for graduation later this month due to a rare brain disease, but Middleburg High School will come to him at Orange Park Medical Center for graduation.

His teacher, principal, and friends from Middleburg High School will gather with his family for a graduation ceremony hosted by the hospital Monday afternoon at 3pm.

"He is a trooper, everything he goes through is awesome," said his mother by his hospital bed on Friday afternoon.

Shelly Brannen's 21 year old son Daniel Hopkins is seriously ill with a disease called neuro-degeneration brain iron accumulation, N-B-I-A for short. Iron accumulation in the brain ganglia restricts nerve signals to the rest of his body. He was diagnosed with NBIA in 2001 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

" And we were told that he would die by the time he was 13." said Brannen.

Winner, winner chicken dinner


MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – One hundred Chick-Fil-A customers now have something extra to be happy about. They were picked out of 175 customers to be the first at the new Middleburg store. They will get 52 free meals from the popular fast food restaurant. A drawing was held Wednesday for the people waiting in the parking lot to see who would be in the group of 100.

One group of people called themselves the "Gator-eight". They are eight University of Florida students. All eight of them were picked. They started lining up before 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, and slept in dozens of tents, braving the cold and wind.

Another couple has been to 105 grand openings. Libby and Jake Knupp traveled from Gulf Port, Florida.