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Two drownings mark tragic week in county

[cqembed title=”Linda Peterson speaks about her daughter” content=”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”]A pair of drownings, one mysterious and the other the result of an apparent deliberate careless act, marked last week in Franklin County.

On October 28, the mother of Staci Peterson, in town from Pennsylvania, gave a news conference, in which she shared her love for her daughter Staci.

“She brought love and light to all of those she touched. Her adventurous spirit and infectious love for what was right instilled in us all the knowledge it is possible to help make this world a better place,” said her mother.

Law enforcement officials continued their search Tuesday morning of the waters off St. George Island for Peterson, who they believe may have drowned while swimming at the state park Thursday morning Oct. 20.

Peterson, 33, had traveled down from Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, where her older sister Kristi is an art history professor.

Peterson, who is five-feet, four-inches tall with brown hair, is a graduate of Florida State University. Her mother said she had taken a road trip to scatter the ashes of her beloved Yorkshire terrier Charlie in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We suspect she may have gone into the water and not come out,” said Franklin County Sheriff Smith. “We do not suspect any foul play.”

State park staff noticed Peterson’s rented Jeep sitting in the parking lot for two days; her cellphone, wallet, keys and hotel key card were found on the beach. The swimming conditions were a yellow flag, meaning it was a medium hazard, with moderate surf and currents.

In an unrelated incident, the body of one of two men who jumped off the Eastpoint fishing pier about 2 p.m. Friday was recovered Sunday morning off St. Vincent Island.

Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission responded to a call from individuals who were engaged in a primitive hunt on the  island, after they had spotted the body of someone washed up on the St. Vincent beach.

Smith said the call came in about 6 p.m. Friday, and the sheriff’s office’s chief deputy, Cliff Carroll and Lt. Lawrence Brannan responded. The call said two men had jumped off the fishing pier on the north side of the Apalachicola Bay, about three-quarters of a mile offshore. Brannan threw a life preserver to one of the men, and he was rescued.

The other man, unable to swim, had already gone underwater. “They were drinking heavily and decided to jump into the bay,” said Smith.

The sheriff said that three other men on the bridge among those who were fishing were arrested at the scene. William Daniel Young, 37, Hendersonville, Tennessee, and Lewis M. Akin, 49, Gallatin, Tennessee, were each charged with disorderly intoxication, and disorderly conduct. Byung Hun Chun, 51, Franklin, Tennessee, was charged with resisting an officer without violence. 

Smith said the names of the two men who jumped in the water are being withheld pending notification of next of kin. He said the men are not from here, and were in the county doing work for a local company.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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