VIPD Searches For Red Pickup Truck That Hit Cop Directing Traffic

FREDERIKSTED — A motorist speeding through an active accident zone hit a police officer directing traffic and sent him 85 feet in the air before landing in some nearby bushes.

Traffic Investigation Bureau Officers were dispatched at 11:19 p.m. Saturday to investigate a vehicle collision involving a pedestrian (police officer) that occurred on Queen Mary Highway in the vicinity of St. Croix Educational Complex, the Virgin Islands Police Department said.

VIPD Searches For Red Pickup Truck That Hit Cop Directing Traffic

Upon officers’ arrival at the scene, they conducted a preliminary investigation which revealed that officers from the Wilbur Francis Command Police Station had just arrived in the area to investigate two vehicle automobile collision, according to the VIPD.  

The officers had their marked police unit at a stop in the roadway with the blue lights flashing to slow down the traffic and make the scene safe to begin the investigation of the crash, police said.

While the Officer was directing motorists to slow down as they approach the collision area, he observed a red pick-up truck heading eastbound towards him at a high rate of speed, according to police.

The officer then began signaling the driver by, waving his hand at the driver to slow down the vehicle However, when the officer realized that the vehicle was not slowing down, he moved out of the roadway onto the shoulder of the road to avoid being struck by the vehicle. The driver, however, not having control of his vehicle, struck the officer. 

“The officer, after impact, was thrown into the air and landed approximately 85 feet from the area of impact, eastward into the bushes on the northern shoulder of the eastbound lane,” VIPD Communications Director Glen Dratte said.

The officer was transported by an ambulance to the Juan F. Luis Hospital for treatment, according to Dratte.

“The officer sustained a broken left leg,” the police spokesman said.

There is no information available on the driver or the red pickup truck currently, police said.

This case will remain open and under active investigation by the Traffic Investigation Bureau.

The TIB is asking anyone with information for this hit and run incident to call the TIB Detectives at 340-778-2211, 340-227-0184, Crime Stoppers USVI at 1-800-222-8477 or 911

Help Police Find Vernon Sackey Jr. Wanted For Burglary

CHRISTIANSTED Police are asking for your help to find a St. Croix man wanted for burglary.

Vernon Sackey Jr., 23, is being sought by the VIPD’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, the Virgin Islands Police Department said.

Sackey is a black man with a medium-sized Afro and a dark complexion. He stands 5-feet, 6-inches tall and weighs about 120 pounds,

Help Police Find Vernon Sackey Jr. Wanted For Burglary
WANTED BY THE VIPD: Vernon Sackey, Jr., 23, on St. Croix.

The suspect is known to frequent the Basin Triangle, Ruby Rouse housing community, Watergut and Richmond areas of St. Croix.

Vernon Sackey is also known by the nickname of “Pappy.”

If you know the whereabouts of Sackey, please call 911, or contact the CIB
Detective Ellery Quailey at 340-712-6042 or Crime Stoppers USVI at 1-800-222-8477.

Help Police Find Vernon Sackey Jr. Wanted For Burglary

Man Who Backhanded Woman To The Face Surrenders To Police

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A St. Thomas man wanted on a domestic violence charge surrendered to police without incident this weekend.

Tremoii Mills. 22, was arrested at 9:58 a.m. Saturday and charged with simple assault-domestic violence, the Virgin Islands Police Department said.

“Mills admitted to striking a former acquaintance with an open back hand once to the face causing injury,” VIPD Communications Director Glen Dratte said.  

Man Who Backhanded Woman To The Face Surrenders To Police
VIPD mugshot of Tremoi Mills, 22, on St. Thomas.

 Mills was not granted bail as per order of the court pending his advice-of-rights hearing scheduled for today, according to Dratte.  

This case is currently under active investigation by the Domestic Violence Unit/Criminal Investigation Bureau.   

Anyone having information about this crime can notify the Domestic Violence Unit at 340-774-2211 Ext. 5536  

Photo of Harvey Project Shooting Victim Regaldo Cepeda

KINGSHILL — Police on St. Croix have elevated the probe of a shooting at Harvey Project two weeks ago to homicide after the 30-year-old victim succumbed to his injuries.

Virgin Islands Police spokesman Glen Dratte, in a released statement tonight, identified the victim as Regaldo Cepeda.

On Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at 9:01 p.m., the 911 Emergency Call Center reported multiple shots fired within Estate Bethlehem Village (Harvey Project), the Virgin Islands Police Department said.

Photo of Harvey Project Shooting Victim Regaldo Cepeda
REST IN PEACE: Regaldo Cepeda of St. Croix.

Upon the detective’s arrival at the scene, contact was made with the victim, an adult male in the vicinity of his residence, in Bethlehem Village, who had sustained multiple gunshot wounds to his back, legs, and elbow, according to the VIPD.  

The victim was later identified as Cepeda, according to Dratte.

Cepeda was treated for his injuries on scene by officers and was later transported by ambulance to the Juan F. Luis Hospital where he was then airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida.  

“On July 22, 2022, his family and the staff of Jackson Memorial Hospital notified the Criminal Investigation that Mr Cepeda passed away from complications to his injuries,” the police spokesman said.   

This incident is now upgraded to a Homicide by the Criminal Investigations Bureau. CIB is asking anyone with information on this shooting to call the CIB Tip line at 340 778-4850340-712-6092 or Crime Stoppers VI at 1-800-222-8477 or 911

Help Police Find 83-Year-Old Man Suffering From Alzheimer’s

CHRISTIANSTED — Police are asking for your help to find an 83-year-old St. Croix man suffering from dementia.

Rawleigh A. Forbes was reported missing at about 4:45 p.m. today, the Virgin Islands Police Department said.

Forbes’ wife said that her husband was last seen at their residence in Golden Rock 1E Community, just above McDonald’s Restaurant on Miracle Mile, according to the VIPD.

Help Police Find 83-Year-Old Man Suffering From Alzheimer's
MISSING MAN: Rawleigh A. Forbes, 83, of Golden Rock on St. Croix.

Forbes is a black man with a grey beard and a low haircut. He stands 6-feet, 2-inches tall and weighs about 180 pounds.

The missing man was last seen wearing, grey sweatpants, white t-shirt, and black sneakers. He has a urine bag on his right side. He suffers from high blood pressure, is a diabetic, with Alzheimer’s. Disease.

“Mr. Forbes Last was seen walking west on North Side Road passing Five Corners, La Grande Princesse, Christiansted,” VIPD Communications Director Glen Dratte said.

If you see Rawleigh A. Forbes, please call 911,  or the Ancilmo Marshall Command Police Station at 340-773-2530 immediately.  

Harvey Project Shooting Upgraded To A Homicide After Victim Dies

KINGSHILL — Police on St. Croix have elevated the probe of a shooting at Harvey Project two weeks ago to homicide after the 30-year-old victim succumbed to his injuries.

Virgin Islands Police spokesman Glen Dratte, in a released statement tonight, identified the victim as Regaldo Cepeda.

On Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at 9:01 p.m., the 911 Emergency Call Center reported multiple shots fired within Estate Bethlehem Village (Harvey Project), the Virgin Islands Police Department said.

Upon the detective’s arrival at the scene, contact was made with the victim, an adult male in the vicinity of his residence, in Bethlehem Village, who had sustained multiple gunshot wounds to his back, legs, and elbow, according to the VIPD.  

The victim was later identified as Cepeda, according to Dratte.

Cepeda was treated for his injuries on scene by officers and was later transported by ambulance to the Juan F. Luis Hospitals where he was then airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida.  

“On July 22, 2022, his family and the staff of Jackson Memorial Hospital notified the Criminal Investigation that Mr Cepeda passed away from complications to his injuries,” the police spokesman said.   

This incident is now upgraded to a Homicide by the Criminal Investigations Bureau. CIB is asking anyone with information on this shooting to call the CIB Tip line at 340 778-4850, 340-712-6092 or Crime Stoppers VI at 1-800-222-8477 or 911

A Deadly Tropical Disease Pops Up On The U.S. Mainland For First Time

The bacteria can cause severe illness

SAN JUAN — The bacteria behind the potentially fatal disease melioidosis has been found in United States soil for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week.

Historically, the bacteria, called Burkholderia pseudomallei, has been seen primarily in Southeast Asia and northern Australia, where most cases of melioidosis occur each year, although the bacteria can also be found in certain areas of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Central and South America.

In an average year, only about 12 cases of melioidosis occur in the U.S., and these cases can usually be linked to international travel to a country where B. pseudomallei commonly grows, or to contaminated imported products. For example, in 2021, two people became ill, and two others died, after using an imported aromatherapy spray contaminated with the bacteria.

But now, health officials have detected the bacteria in soil and water samples collected from the Gulf Coast region of southern Mississippi.

“Once well-established in the soil, B. pseudomallei cannot feasibly be removed from the soil,” the CDC stated in its health advisory. “Public health efforts should focus primarily on improving identification of cases so that appropriate treatment can be administered.” 

The CDC began testing Mississippi soil and water for B. pseudomallei after two unrelated individuals in the region fell ill with melioidosis, the disease caused by B. pseudomallei that can have a wide range of symptoms and is deadly in up to half of diagnosed cases worldwide. The melioidosis cases occurred two years apart, in July 2020 and May 2022, and neither person had traveled outside the U.S. prior to infection. 

Both patients required hospitalization after developing an intense, body-wide immune reaction (sepsis) due to pneumonia, and both recovered after being treated with antibiotics. Genetic testing revealed that both patients had been infected with the same strain of B. pseudomallei.

With permission from the patients, the CDC and the Mississippi State Department of Health collected soil, water and plants from the individuals’ household products, properties and nearby areas they frequented. Soil and puddle water taken from the 2020 patient’s property tested positive for a genetically similar B. pseudomallei strain to the one both patients caught.

Based on these findings, the CDC concluded that “bacteria from the environment was the likely source of infection for both individuals and has been present in the area since at least 2020.”

People can become infected with B. pseudomallei when the bacteria come into contact with an open cut or abrasion on the skin. They can also become infected through inhaling contaminated water droplets or bits of dust, ingesting contaminated water droplets or eating food grown in contaminated soil.

In regions where B. pseudomallei is widespread and people are often exposed, most healthy people who come into contact with the bacteria never develop melioidosis, the CDC noted; in other words, exposure to the bacteria doesn’t always result in illness. However, people with weakened immune systems, diabetes, cancer, the inherited blood disorder thalassemia, and liver, kidney or lung disease are at higher risk of falling ill and dying following an exposure. Excessive alcohol use also raises the risk of severe melioidosis, according to the CDC.

Melioidosis can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fever, localized pain or swelling, ulcers, abscesses on the skin and in different organs, cough, chest pain, respiratory distress, weight loss, abdominal discomfort, muscle and joint pain, disorientation, headache and seizures. Infections of the lungs can lead to pneumonia, and infections of the bloodstream can lead to septic shock, Live Science previously reported. Worldwide, about 10% to 50% of diagnosed melioidosis cases result in death, according to the CDC.

If you live in or visit the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, particularly if you have any of the medical conditions listed above, the CDC recommends taking the following precautions to protect yourself:

  • Avoid contact with soil or muddy water, particularly after heavy rains.
  • Use waterproof bandages to protect open wounds, cuts or burns from coming into contact with soil or water. If open wounds, cuts or burns come into contact with soil, wash them thoroughly.
  • If you have diabetes, pay attention to foot care, and prevent contamination of foot wounds or other open wounds. Wear footwear and use gloves when gardening or working outdoors (for example, while doing yard work or agricultural work).
  • If you’re working or playing outside, wear waterproof boots during and after flooding or storms, which can prevent infection through the feet and lower legs.
  • Visit your doctor or go to the emergency room if you are ill and have signs or symptoms of melioidosis. It can be treated with antibiotics that your doctor can prescribe to you.
  • If you are diagnosed with melioidosis, be sure to complete all of the antibiotics your doctor prescribes.
  • Drink safe water; do not drink water directly from shallow wells, lakes, rivers, ponds and streams.

Originally published on Live Science. 

SOURCE: Live Science

CBP and Coast Guard Respond To Haitian Smuggling Venture That Resulted In 5 Deaths In Mona Island

AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico — U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Coast Guard and other law enforcement partners rescued 68 Haitian migrants Thursday after smugglers dropped them off near the shores of Mona Island. Five other Haitian migrants perished during the smuggling event.

“Transnational criminal organizations continue to recklessly endanger the lives of individuals they smuggle for their own financial gain with no regard for human life,” indicated Scott Garrett, Acting Chief Patrol Agent for the Ramey Sector of the US Border Patrol.  “Smuggling organizations are abandoning migrants in remote and dangerous areas, leading to a rise in the number of rescues but also tragically a rise in the number of deaths.”

Authorities recovered five bodies from the water and reported that there were 68 survivors (41 males, 25 females, and two minors) who came safely ashore. 

The multi-agency effort included the U.S. Border Patrol, Air and Marine Operations, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Puerto Rico Police Department, Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources and other Police Department municipalities.  

The Coast Guard Cutters Joseph Tezanos and Joseph Napier transported the group to the Mayaguez Port of Entry where Border Patrol Agents assumed custody of the migrants. Border Patrol along with Operation Stonegarden partners transported the group to Ramey Sector in Aguadilla.

Ramey Sector’s Border Patrol station will be processing the group of migrants under US immigration law.

The Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.

USVI Women Get Lieutenant Commander Promotions In The U.S. Coast Guard

WASHINGTON — USVI aviators Ronaqua Russell and Rebekah Seifer were promoted to lieutenant commander in the U.S. Coast Guard, the Coast Guard announced this week.

Seifer and Russell Coast Guard Academy classmates and are assigned to Coast Guard Air Stations Washington, D.C., and Air Station Miami, Florida, respectively.

USVI Women Get Lieutenant Commander Promotions In The U.S. Coast Guard
Capt. Eric Smith, Lt. Cmdr. Ronaqua Russell, Ronald Russell, and Aquanette Chinnery at the promotion ceremony in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Russell graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Operations Research and Computer Analysis. She is also a graduate of the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas, as well as the New Mexico Military Institute.

Russell is also recognized by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands for her achievements as a pilot and for becoming the first African-American woman Coast Guard aviator to earn the Air Medal while flying missions during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Her next assignment will be as a flight instructor at Naval Flight School Advanced Training Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. Her parents, Aquanette Chinnery and former St. Croix Senator Ronald Russell, attended her promotion ceremony in Miami. Florida.

USVI Women Get Lieutenant Commander Promotions In The U.S. Coast Guard
Lt. Cmdr. Rebekah A. Seifer and mother Debbie Cestaro-Seifer at the promotion ceremony in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Seifer graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine and Environmental Science and is a 2008 graduate of the Country Day School on St. Croix. Her next assignment is at Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering.

Her mother, Deborah Cestaro-Seifer, attended the promotion ceremony to place her new rank on her military uniform. During the ceremony, Seifer said it truly took a village in the Virgin Islands for her to achieve her goals and poignantly recognized her mother for her sacrifice and support, her shipmates in uniform, and mentors which included Alvin Dalmida Jr., a Coast Guard retired veteran in attendance.

“I could only attend one promotion, but am significantly proud of Rebekah and Ronaqua,” Dalmida said. “They are among trailblazers that are voluntarily serving in the military. They are also humanitarians continually proving their love of their hometown and diligence in giving back at every opportunity to mentor those that are seeking opportunities in disadvantaged communities.”

While in Washington, D.C., Seifer commanded a state-of-the-art, high-performance aircraft at Coast Guard Air Station Washington, D.C., where it was put into service flying global missions in support of the Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard executive leadership. The aircraft’s overall mission is to operate as a command-and-control platform anywhere in the world for the secretary of Homeland Security, the commandant of the Coast Guard, and other top government leadership.

Each of the two Virgin Islanders are friends, as well as classmates, and strong advocates for mentoring and volunteering in communities at home and where they live.

USVI Women Get Lieutenant Commander Promotions In The U.S. Coast Guard

EXPECT A SCORCHER! NWS Warns of Heat Indices Above 100 Degrees!

SAN JUAN — The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will close out the month of July with heat indices above 100 degrees in several sectors, the National Weather Service said this morning.

Expect another foggy day today due to Saharan dust blanketing St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix and Water Island. Use caution if you decide to go outdoors for activities.

EXPECT A SCORCHER! NWS Warns of Heat Indices Above 100 Degrees!

People in the USVI and the San Juan area will be coping with the extreme heat conditions by drinking plenty of water and applying a cold compress to their foreheads.

The hazy conditions will prevent sightseers from seeing the horizon line on the Caribbean Sea clearly at our shorelines.

EXPECT A SCORCHER! NWS Warns of Heat Indices Above 100 Degrees!

Please exercise all due caution if you’re planning to spend time outdoors in the 100-degree heat today!

#prwx#usviwx#VIFreep

EXPECT A SCORCHER! NWS Warns of Heat Indices Above 100 Degrees!