BREAKING: Deputies with Guns Drawn in Arbor Oaks

A reader reports a heavy police presence going on right now in Arbor Oaks:

Heavy police presence in Arbor Oaks. 6 Sheriff cars. Guns drawn.

Arbor Oaks is on the east side of 441, just north of West Boca Medical Center.

The same reader followed up, telling us:

One person arrested and ambulance removing someone from an apartment.

We will update if and when we get more information.

Rollover Fatality? 441 Northbound Closed From Palmetto

WARNING: THE PHOTO AT THE BOTTOM MAY BE DISTURBING. DO NOT SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM IF SUCH IMAGES BOTHER YOU.
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Fire Rescue posted an alert on Twitter this morning about a car rollover accident on 441 in front of West Boca Medical Center.
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Several readers notified us of the situation and sent pictures, including the one above from what looks like one of the Med Center buildings looking down on the situation. It appears from our reader reports that a person was ejected from the vehicle and was killed.

Update: One of our regular contributors advises the person was alive at the time of the photo, and was taken to Delray’s trauma center. PBSO reported that the driver passed away in the afternoon. The driver has been identified as Robin Pace, 59, of Boca Raton

We’re told by readers that 441 northbound is closed going north from Palmetto. Google Maps shows substantial traffic backup, mostly northbound but also problems on the southbound side.
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We received another shot from a reader of the car flipped over, though the lighting is bad due to the position of the sun. We edited it as best we could.
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One other reader sent us a photo of what we’re told is the other car from this accident:
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We received a few more photos.
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WARNING: THE PHOTO BELOW MAY BE DISTURBING. DO NOT SCROLL DOWN IF SUCH IMAGES BOTHER YOU.
One final photo – a reader sent us this shot of what appears to be a body on the shoulder of the road amidst debris.

Wear your seatbelt. We received many reader comments about cars speeding or drivers texting. While these may be problems, you can’t get ejected from your car if you’re wearing your seatbelt. Vehicle ejections are extremely dangerous to people. Princess Diana died because she wasn’t belted. Buckle up!

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The Bell Tolls for Brett Knowles: Finally Arrested

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Brett Knowles (30) was finally arrested for Hit-and-Run and additionally for causing serious injury while driving without a license.
We originally reported from the accident scene on September 19th. Three kids on skateboards were allegedly hit by Knowles’ car on the northbound shoulder of 441 near West Boca Medical Center and across from Target. Two of the kids had fractures requiring surgery, and there were also head injuries. We included videos from the scene in that article.
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Back in October we reported that charges had not been filed yet. Our readers may remember from that article that Knowles had posted on Facebook appearing to brag about leaving the scene:
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A week ago we reported that the State’s Attorney Dave Aronberg was stalling on the case. His office dropped yet another driving while suspended charge against Knowles from a mid-October incident. It’s possible our coverage caused them to move, though we’re hopeful there’s a good reason they took their time.
As we previously reported, Mr. Knowles has had over 40 cases in the courts, including multiple charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license. We will keep an eye on this case to see if the so-called justice system actually holds Knowles accountable.
These new charges do not show up in the court system as of yet. The Sheriff’s blotter indicates that Mr. Knowles remains in custody.
He is, of course, innocent of these charges at this stage of the process.

State Attorney Stalls on Hit-and-Run

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Dave Aronberg (above left), the State Attorney for Palm Beach County is stalling on a hit-and-run case involving alleged driver Brett Knowles (right, 30) of Boca Isles North. We spoke with Natalie Cruz and Mike Edmonson from Aronberg’s office. So far they have refused to provide any documents or answer any substantive questions about the case.
Back in September there was a serious car accident on 441 in front of West Boca Medical Center (across from Target) where three pedestrians were hit by a driver who then fled the scene. We reported on the accident at the time and followed up in October regarding the fact that the alleged driver had not been charged yet.
After 60 days the Sheriff sent us a copy of the crash report, which is at the bottom of this article. One brief excerpt from it is below:
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The Sheriff also provided a narrative from one of deputies or investigators. The full narrative is at bottom, but here are some key excerpts:

Upon arrival to XXXXX Preserve Drive. I observed a Brown Nissan Murano with major front end damage baring FL tag XXXXXX to be properly parked in the driveway of the above listed residence. The vehicle damage appeared to be consistent with injuries sustained by the victims. The hood had sustained major damage in the center and had a direct impact point crack in the windshield that was consistent with the size of the victims head …
While at the residence, Brett began to make excited utterance statements to me stating that “he was going to come back, and he just wanted to tell his parents what he did.” He then made another statement to me stating that “he was driving the vehicle and he wants to know if everyone is alive and ok.” These statements were all made without any questions being asked. …
Based on the aforementioned to include the utterance and unprovoked admissions made by Brett Knowles, witness statements, severity of injuries and evidence left at the scene of the crash, probable cause exists that Knowles was the driver … at the time of the crash. Knowles is therefore being charged with three counts of leaving the scene of a traffic crash with injuries …. It should be noted that two of the pedestrians … had sustained serious bodily injuries each as a result of the collision. Knowles is also being charged with one count for driving with a suspended license with knowledge ….
This case will be forwarded to the Palm Beach County State’s Attorneys Office for further review.

In short it appears that the Sheriff provided sufficient evidence for the State Attorney to go forward with prosecution. But no charges have been filed yet well over two months later.
We previously pointed out that Mr. Knowles has a substantial history in the courts with over 40 cases including multiple charges for driving with a suspended license. The State Attorney and Sheriff have allowed his repeat offenses to be filed as first offenses, reducing the consequences Mr. Knowles would have faced. Aronberg’s spokesman, Edmonson, refused to comment on that.
Edmonson and Cruz refused to provide us with any documents from the case claiming that it’s “an active investigation”, which is an exception to Florida’s Sunshine Laws. This struck us as odd since it appears PBSO completed its investigation well over a month before our conversation, but they stood by that refusal.
We also previously covered Mr. Knowles joking about “leaving the scene” on Facebook:
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That is something prosecutors could potentially use as a further admission.
Shortly after making that joke, Mr. Knowles was yet again ticketed on October 23rd for driving with a suspended license. Yet again it was not treated as a repeat offense. And as we see so frequently, the prosecutors dropped the charges.
It should be apparent to our readers that Mr. Knowles likely continues to drive on our roads. State Attorney Aronberg appears unconcerned about the threat that poses to the residents of West Boca and the rest of the county and South Florida.
We contacted the State Attorney again today to see if they have any further comment. So far we have received no response.


Crash report:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/14121902-Crash-Report.pdf”]
PBSO Narrative:

I responded to the residence of 19424 Preserve Drive in unincorporated Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Florida in regards an investigation involving a hit and run traffic crash with injuries. I was notified by Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office dispatch that they received a 911 phone call from witness, later identified as XXXXXX stating a Nissan Murano baring Florida tag “941VJN” had hit three pedestrians on the side of the roadway. This incident occurred in the area of 21644 South State Road 7, which is located just south of Glades Road. It was discovered that the vehicle that was seen leaving the crash scene had a registration address of 19424 Preserve Drive. Boca Raton, FL. 33498.
Upon arrival to 19424 Preserve Drive. I observed a Brown Nissan Murano with major front end damage baring FL tag “941VJN” to be properly parked in the driveway of the above listed residence. The vehicle damage appeared to be consistent with injuries sustained by the victims. The hood had sustained major damage in the center and had a direct impact point crack in the windshield that was consistent with the size of the victims head, showing were the victim Victor Carneiro Brito’s head was struck. While outside the residence, I could hear three subjects arguing while walking exiting the front door of the residence. When I walked over to the front door, I observed a white male later identified as Brett Knowles to be wearing a white tee shirt with shorts and no shoes arguing with his mother. Knowles was identified verbally, and was not the registered owner of the vehicle.
While at the residence, Brett began to make excited utterance statements to me stating that “he was going to come back, and he just wanted to tell his parents what he did.” He then made another statement to me stating that “he was driving the vehicle and he wants to know if everyone is alive and ok.” These statements were all made without any questions being asked. I detained Brett by placing him into handcuffs which were checked for proper fitting and double locked. Photographs of the scene were taken by Investigator Robert Stephan (ID 7240) of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Vehicle Homicide Investigations Unit. The crash investigation report was conducted by Deputy Sheriff Terry Drake (ID 5310) of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
I then read Brett his Miranda warnings which he understood but did not want to talk to me. After conducting my investigation at the residence Brett was taken out of hand cuffs and release on scene.
Sworn written statements were also provided by witnesses to include, XXXXXXXX. XXXXXXX had observed the traffic crash in front of her and observed the Nissan/ Morano leave the scene. XXXXXXXX called 911 and provided PBSO dispatch with pertinent information to include the vehicle make, model and tag. See sworn statement for further.
On September 30, 2014, Investigator Ken Noel (ID 7660) of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office DUI Enforcement Unit and I met with Marco Barreto, who was one of three victims from the hit and run traffic crash. While at Marco’s residence, with his mother present, a taped and a written statement were provided about what had happened on the night of September 19, 2014. Marco told me that he was skateboarding to the Shadowood Movie Plaza located at Glades Road and State Road 7 with two other friends Daniel Palmer and Victor Carneiro Brito. He said they were traveling from SW 3rd Street heading north on State Road 7, in unincorporated Boca Raton, Florida. He then said they were just about north of Palmetto Park Road when they decided to walk the rest of the way. Marco told me that while they were walking he heard tires screeching, and when he looked backwards he saw really bright headlights. He then stated that he was then struck by the vehicle and was impacted so hard he went flying in the air and landed on his back in about the middle lane of State Road 7. During the interview, Marco stated that as a result of the crash he had a broken right femur, broken nose, broken right ring finger, and multiple road rash injuries on his entire body. Finally Marco ended the interview by saying that due to this incident his dreams of joining the United States Army have been dismantled. Due to the traumatic injuries he sustained, Marco will no longer be able to join the military. Attempts to interview Brito and Palmer were made on several attempts; however, yielded with negative results.
Based on the aforementioned to include the utterance and unprovoked admissions made by Brett Knowles, witness statements, severity of injuries and evidence left at the scene of the crash, probable cause exists that Knowles was the driver of the Nissan/ Murano at the time of the crash. Knowles is therefore being charged with three counts of leaving the scene of a traffic crash with injuries F.S.S. 316.027(1)(A). It should be noted that two of the pedestrians, Barreto and Brito had sustained serious bodily injuries each as a result of the collision. Knowles is also being charged with one count for driving with a suspended license with knowledge F.S.S. 322.34(2). This case will be forwarded to the Palm Beach County State’s Attorneys Office for further review.

Deputies Chase Thief, Find Bees

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Readers contacted us about an incident on Palmetto Park Road just east of 441. A reader at the Walmart saw roughly seven Sheriff cars on the north side of Palmetto near Lowe’s and Walgreen’s.
After that the cars moved first into the parking area of those stores, and later even more PBSO vehicles were seen by other readers at the West Boca Medical Center emergency room.
We contacted PBSO information officer Teri Barbera. She’s not in the office but told us what little she knows at this time:
Deputies were chasing a suspect in a case involving theft. The chase led into an area with bees and deputies were stung. They are being treated at the medical center. Ms. Barbera did not know if the thief was caught when we spoke.
A reader updated us on what she saw:

I personally was there at the scene during almost the entire time. I was on the North side of Walgreens near the wooded area. The young guy who ran from Police to get away and hide stayed down in the murky area with water until the Canine finally arrived.
I only heard one Officer’s request to him to come out before the dog arrived as he would be bitten. All the Officers were standing watching the area where he went in. Nothing was said to try and get him out peacefully before the dog arrived on scene. Must have been 25 minutes before dog arrived. Since I was on the back side, I heard the dog go in and get the guy. I was heading out just after I heard the dog on the South side, making my way around and back to the scene. When I approached, the white guy was laying on the ground with no shirt and handcuffed behind his back. I did see blood on his arm.
Then I heard and noticed all the yelling and jumping…OMG…they were all being stung by bees! I felt so sorry for them all. I looked in my car for anything to help with the swarm of bees, but I had nothing to assist with. They quickly put the guy in the Police car and drove off. Many Officers were clearly visibly shaken with all the bees and stings. I felt so bad for them all.

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We at West Boca News send our best wishes to the deputies and hope for their quick recovery.

Serious Accident Closes 441 Northbound: Scene Photos & Video

Update: Per a reader the road is still closed as of 11:40 pm on Friday night.
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A friend alerted us tonight to an accident scene on the northbound side of 441 near Target and West Boca Medical Center. We went to the scene and took several photos as well as video. A brief video summary is below, but it was early in our investigation and we learned more afterward.

We also received the following thanks to Palm Beach County Alerts:

***WEST BOCA*** Pedestrian Accident — Central Park Blvd S @ State Road 7 — R51 onscene in front of West Boca Hospital, vehicle hit multiple pedestrians, Incident Commander advising they have 2 Trauma Alerts going to Delray Trauma Center by ground & 1 other patient non-critical — Tac 4A

Here’s a map showing the location:

At the scene this reporter was able to see various items of debris in the roadway and on the shoulder. In particular there was a shoe or sneaker, a flip-flop, and a hat, all in the travel portion of the roadway.
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I also saw two different skateboards, an orange one just off the shoulder at the south end of the scene, and a green one further into the grass at the north end of the debris area. In the picture below, the orange skateboard is at the lower left corner and you may be able to see the shoe in roughly the middle of the picture.
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I’m not sure why this worked with my camera but the shot below gives a good sense of the amount of debris in the roadway behind one of the cars that was on the scene:
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Later on deputies from PBSO were spray-painting the roadway where the items were and then collecting the items as evidence, as seen in the two videos below:


Piecing it all together based on my experience in handling criminal and personal injury cases including accident reconstructions, certain details stand out. First of all the shoe, flip-flop and hat in the roadway suggest that there wasn’t just one pedestrian hit by a vehicle but multiple and they were in the roadway when they were hit. It is somewhat common for a pedestrian to be literally knocked out of their shoes when hit by a car. In this case it would appear that two different pedestrians were hit, as it seems unlikely that one person would be wearing a flip-flop on one foot and a shoe on the other.
There is not much lighting on the northbound side of the road and it may have been difficult for a driver to see skateboarders crossing the road in the dark. We were notified of the accident after 8:30 pm and it was dark.
Shortly before we left the scene the individuals we saw at the side of the road were allowed to leave. It’s unclear if they were just witnesses, or if one of their vehicles had been involved in the collision. I did not see any damage to either vehicle though the lighting was poor and I was not allowed to get close to the vehicles.
I should also note that a reader told us:

Two teenagers on the ground by west boca medical center. Looks like they must have been hit by a car or something.

Also, per CBS 12: “Three people were riding skateboards in the bike lane when they were hit by the vehicle. The vehicle then fled the scene and the driver was later caught, according to The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.”
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West Boca Medical Center Okay With Cigna

West Boca Medical Center
West Boca Medical Center

Tenet Healthcare has reached an agreement with Cigna Insurance. We previously reported that the two were in negotiations and that Cigna might drop Tenet, leaving their West Boca customers to seek care from other providers.
Tenet is the parent company of both West Boca Medical Center and Delray Medical Center, facilities commonly used by West Boca residents. The two issued a joint press release that included the following:

“We are pleased that this agreement provides Cigna customers access to our entire network of quality healthcare services,” said Clint Hailey, chief managed care officer at Tenet Healthcare. … “This agreement provides multi-year coverage stability for their customers, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration to improve quality outcomes and cost effectiveness.”

West Boca News had heard from at least a few Cigna customers concerned about access to care at our local hospitals. This news should reassure everyone.