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Fallen Jacksonville officer to be escorted to funeral home

The remains of fallen Jacksonville officer Lance Whitaker will be transported to a funeral home Thursday, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is encouraging their members and the public to pay their respects by lining the route.

Whitaker- who was on the force 17 years- died during a single-vehicle crash on 295 at Alta Tuesday morning. He was responding to another crash as the time, and investigators believe weather was likely a factor, although the investigation is still ongoing.

JSO says he will be moved from the Medical Examiner to the Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home Thursday at 11AM. The route will be on Jefferson Street, from 8th Street down through Riverside Avenue. The escort will then turn right on Edison Avenue, left on Oak Street, and in to the back of the Funeral Home, which is on Park Street.

JSO motorcycle units will be providing an escort, and personnel have been asked to line the route with their patrol cars with lights on, to show respect. JSO says the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department also plans to have engines along the route, and officers from other local law enforcement agencies are welcome to participate.

Members of the public  who want to line the route are being asked to stand in the sidewalks along either side of Riverside Avenue, between Jackson Street and Forest Street.

If you’re unable to attend, the Fraternal Order of Police 530 is also encouraging donations to Whitaker’s family.

PHOTOS: Hole opens up along Beach Boulevard on the Southside

From lane closures to slow traffic, a hole that opened up along Beach Boulevard, eastbound, just before Hodges Boulevard, Wednesday afternoon caused all sorts of issues for Southside drivers. 

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has closed down the right turn lane into the Wolf Creek Condos, the right lane, and the sidewalk through at least midnight, due to crews on scene working to make repairs.

The hole has been described by witnesses as a ‘small swimming pool’ and is said to be at least 10 feet deep.

WOKV has reached out to the Florida Department of Transportation for information on what may have caused the hole to open up and whether all the recent rain may have played a role, but we’re told that’s something that’s still being looked into.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) say due to the hole, the eastbound Route 9 and any Paratransit service are being detoured from the area.

End of Watch: JSO Officer Lance Whitaker killed in Northside crash

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has identified the officer who died in a crash off 295 and Alta as 48-year-old Officer Lance Whitaker.

“We will miss your kind heart and contagious smile. You are gone but will not be forgotten,” JSO said in a tweet.

Police say Whitaker was responding to a crash, when he was involved in a single-vehicle crash. Weather is likely a factor, according to Sheriff Mike Williams, but the investigation is still ongoing.

JSO says Whitaker has been on the force for 17 years, and was working the midnight shift on Jacksonville’s Northside.

“His tragic passing in the line of duty highlights the grave dangers our men and women in blue face every day when they put on their uniforms to keep us safe. Officer Whitaker’s oath was to serve and protect those in his community, and he died in pursuit of that mission,” says a statement from Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.

A memorial has been set up at the Fallen Officers Memorial in front of the Veterans Memorial Arena in Downtown Jacksonville, for anyone who wants to leave flowers or notes.

Leaders, Law Enforcement extend support to JSO following officers death

The Tuesday morning death of a JSO officer in a crash on the Northside coincides with the National Police Memorial Day. 

The death brings the total to 61 officers killed in the line of duty in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The last death in March 2014. 

Across the state, support is pouring in from Florida leaders and law enforcement agencies as the department mourns the loss. 

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer dies responding to crash on northside

A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer has died in a morning crash on the I-295 East Beltway and Alta Drive. 

The officer was responding to a vehicle crash around 4:30 a.m. when the officer crashed into a tree line. 

“Weather was probably a factor but that is under investigation”, said Sheriff Mike Williams. 

The officer’s name has not been released by the Sheriff’s Office until family members are contacted.  The officer worked a Midnight shift.   

“It’s a tough day for JSO and for the city”, Sheriff Williams said.  “It doesn’t get any more real than this”. 

A Florida Highway Patrol Trooper had already been on scene investigating a crash and witnessed the crash involving the Officer.  FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan tells WOKV News that rain was heavy in the area and likely played a role in the crash. 

Today is Peace Officers Memorial Day, first established in 1962, to pay special recognition to law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.  

Sheriff Williams said there is a JSO Honor Guard in Washington D.C. for Police Memorial Day observances.  

Fallen Police K-9s honored during Police Week for the first time

As Police Week gets underway in Washington DC, it’s with a new ceremony that officers say was much needed. 

For the first time in the event’s history, fallen police service dogs were honored as part of the week of commemorative ceremonies and services. Close to 40,000 law enforcement officers are in DC to take part in events like the memorial Friday, honoring those that made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Hillsboro, Oregon Police Department Officer Corey Zaugg lost his dog Billy, when a car side-swiped his patrol car. 

“The K-9s, they dedicate their lives to us, and they dedicate their lives to the citizens,” Zaugg says. 

Billy is one of 24 dogs that made the ultimate sacrifice in 2017. 

GALLERY: Police K-9s honored as part of Police Week

There is a candlelight vigil for fallen officers on Sunday, and a ceremony at the Capitol Tuesday, where the President is expected. 

The memorial service Friday included a wreath laying ceremony to honor the memory of police K-9s who have given their lives in the line of duty. Although Police Week formally starts Sunday, events are already taking place.

Teen accused of trying to steal Blake Bortles’ truck, trespassing in Brandon Linder’s home

A Fletcher High School student has been arrested after rummaging through Jacksonville Jaguars’ Quarterback Blake Bortles’ truck and entering the home of offensive lineman Brandon Linder without invitation.

The arrest report for 18-year-old Joseph Horton says video surveillance at Linder’s home on Hopson Road shows Horton walking up the driveway and getting in to Bortles’ truck. Bortles told police the vehicle was unlocked and had the keys inside, according to the incident report. He also left his wallet inside, with the arrest report saying Horton looked through it, although he didn’t take anything. 

Police say Horton turned on the truck’s engine, moved it back and forth a little, and looked around- as if trying to figure out how to get the truck out of the crowded driveway. Eventually, he abandoned it, and went in to the home itself. 

The arrest report says at one point Linder asked Horton who he was, but didn’t think much about it because there was a “large number of people” in the home. Later on, Linder and another person found Horton walking upstairs, at which point they contacted police, according to the arrest report. 

When Jacksonville Beach Police arrived, they found Bortles, Linder, and offensive lineman Chris Reed all standing with Horton. 

The arrest report says Horton claimed he went in to the home to look for an ex-girlfriend, but he couldn’t say why he was looking for her or why he got in Bortles’ truck. Nobody in the home knew Horton or the name he gave as his ex-girlfriend. The arrest report lists Hortons’ home as a different location on the same street as Linder, Hopson Road. 

Horton is charged with burglary, motor vehicle theft, and trespassing.

THE PLAYERS parking sold out for Saturday

Parking continues to quickly sell out for THE PLAYERS Championship.

The tournament now says parking is at capacity Saturday. This comes a day after we were told parking was sold out for Friday as well.

FAN GUIDE: What to know for THE PLAYERS 2018

Tickets to the tournament are still available, and parking passes can still be purchased for Sunday and the remainder of Thursday. No parking passes are sold on site, instead you have to reserve it online.

If you don’t already have a pass, other options include the Downtown shuttle, Uber, and more. 

Motorcyclist dies following Southside crash

A Southside crash that tied up traffic for hours, has left a motorcyclist dead.

The crash was on I-295 northbound before Baymeadows. For a period of time, all lanes of the highway both northbound and southbound were shut down, then, only northbound lanes were closed for several hours, while JSO redirected traffic on to Philips Hwy. Just before 4:30PM, all lanes re-opened.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department says the motorcycle was on fire when crews arrived on scene.

The Florida Highway Patrol now confirmed to WOKV that this all started when the motorcyclist hit the back of a pickup truck, although the reason for that is not yet known. The motorcyclist was ejected, and FHP says he was then run over by a semi truck. The motorcyclist was taken to the hospital, but has since died as a result of his injuries.

FHP says both drivers stayed on scene and are cooperating as the investigation continues. Any additional charges stemming from the initial collision are pending further investigation. The identity of the motorcyclist has not yet been released.

FHP says they’re working as quickly as they can to clear the travel lanes, and hope to have that done before rush hour. The WOKV Traffic Team is frequently updating the drive in that area. Tune in to 104.5 FM/AM 690 for the latest information on delays and detours.

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