Missing child alert for 14-year-old Ocala girl

A missing child alert has been issued for Iyana Dawson, 14, who was last seen on West Highway 40 in Ocala.

The teen is described as a black female with brown eyes and braids in her hair.

Dawson is five-foot, five-inches tall weighing 120-pounds.

She was last seen wearing ripped blue jeans, red shoes, and a navy blue and white striped top.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Iyana Dawson is asked to called 1-888-FL-MISSING or 1-888-356-4774.

Tips can also be phoned in to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at 352-732-9111.

Elephant gets out of enclosure at Jacksonville Zoo for brief stroll

There was a brief scare at the Jacksonville Zoo Sunday afternoon when a bull elephant lumbered through an open gate and caused a code red lockdown.

Officials with the zoo said at 12:20 p.m. Sunday, Ali the elephant briefly wandered from his enclosure through an open gate into a contained courtyard behind the giraffe and elephant night-house.

He was quickly returned and secured in a holding enclosure. There were no guests, staff members or animals, including Ali, injured during the incident.

“In this case, they start clearing people so that there’s no distraction to the animal. You want him to go back into where he is supposed to be, and do that as quickly as possible,” said Dan Maloney, deputy director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Zoo officials said the incident was a result of human error and the elephant keepers immediately realized Ali was not in his holding yard and called a “code-red as per procedures.

“We were fortunate that the animal was contained in a back area. There was never any danger that he was going to be coming into a public area,” Maloney said.

While no guests were in danger, anytime an animal is not where they are supposed to be, established safety protocols go into effect. All traffic traveling near the elephant building was stopped, including the trains on the far side of the zoo.

Elephant keepers were able to quickly and safely lead Ali back to his enclosure. Daily training sessions zookeepers conduct with the animals in their care reinforce the relationship that allowed keepers to encourage the big guy back to his area with nothing but verbal commands, hay and browse.

Ali came to the zoo in 1997 from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. He is estimated to be 28 years old and is an extremely good-natured bull elephant. Ali shares his habitat with two older females named Sheena and Thandi. The females were in the large yard that the public can view while Ali was in the private yard in the rear of the night-house. In the rear yard, Ali has larger enrichment items to play with and gets private feedings away from the rest of the herd.

“We perform animal escape drills so that our team can practice for just this sort of occasion,” said Tony Vecchio, executive director of the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. “I’m proud to say our staff did exactly what they were supposed to and everything was resolved quickly.”

As soon as Ali was safely returned to his holding yard, the zoo resumed normal operations including the trains that pass along the back of the giraffe and elephant barn.

Jacksonville patrol cars crash into each other responding to call

Breaking news of an accident with injuries involving JSO in downtown Jacksonville Sunday afternoon.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said a marked patrol car and unmarked police car were both responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle when they crashed into each other.

Investigators said the officer in the marked patrol vehicle was hurt in the crash and taken to the hospital.

The officer suffered minor injuries according to JSO.

Detectives have not released the names of the officers involved in the crash that happened just before 1 p.m. Sunday.

The accident is causing the closure of the intersection on East Union Street at A. Philip Randolph Street.

A business owner in the area said there have been several crashes at that intersection.

Traffic is being detoured around the wreck while detectives continue their investigation.

7th annual Coming out Monologues returns

The Coming out Monologues returns to Jacksonville for it’s seventh annual production, bringing its award-winning and unique storytelling.

Every year, LGBTQ members of the community share their coming out stories, falling in and out of love, making peace with family, overcoming struggles and the journey of self-acceptance.

COM has raised nearly $60,000 for JASMYN and PFLAG while also providing an outlet for stories that might not otherwise be told.

Members of the group joined Ashley Spicer on The Morning Show Sunday to discuss this year’s planned performance.

Click here for $25 event tickets.

Dates and times:

Friday, June 22, 2018, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 22, 2018, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Location: WJCT

100 Festival Park Ave.

Jacksonville, Florida 32202