Florida Man Chronicle – July 8

July 8 – Drunken Florida Woman Texts 911 to Get Marital Relationship Advice

Behind every Florida man is a Florida woman who wants to leave him; such was the case of a 68-year-old resident of Pinellas County who was arrested after sending text messages to 911 dispatchers asking how she could get a divorce.

According to a news report aired by Fox 13 of Tampa Bay, Sylvia Shumaker had initially called 911 after she got into a fight with her husband. The police officers who responded did not observe Shumaker to be in distress, and the incident was not treated as domestic violence or any kind of crime. At the time, the officers reminded Shumaker that she should only contact the 911 service in case of real emergencies.

In the hours after the officers left her home in Largo, Shumaker sent text messages to the 911 system on six occasions, and none involved emergencies or reports of crimes. What the Florida woman wanted to know was how she could get started with a divorce filing. She ignored the responses of 911 dispatchers, who gave her the same reminder she received from police officers earlier, and continued sending text messages asking for relationship counseling referrals.

A supervisor at the Largo Department of Public Safety dispatched officers to Shumaker’s home for a second time, and she was far more intoxicated than the first time. She also said that 911 dispatchers were the ones who began sending her text messages, so she continued the conversation thread because she did not want to be rude. She was arrested, taken to the police station, and booked on charges of misusing the emergency dispatch service. Florida has historically ranked in the top ten states with the highest divorce rates since the 1950s, and it is currently sixth below Arkansas.

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July 8 – Florida Man Dressed as the Grim Reaper to Scare Beachgoers

How does a Florida man prefer to make a statement or get a point across? Subtlety is seldom in the communications toolbox of a Florida man; after all, this is a wild state where residents have seen it all, so it helps to get creative when delivering a message. Daniel W. Uhlfelder, an attorney in good standing with the Florida State Bar, was not happy to learn that most beach towns in the Panhandle region reopened to visitors just a few months after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic, so he mounted a protest named the “Grim Reaper Beach Tour.”

Decked in the traditional Grim Reaper attire of a long black robe with a hood, Uhlfelder cut a dark and ominous silhouette as he glided silently across the sand at the beaches of Fort Walton, including Grayton, Seaside, Miramar, and the pristine Henderson Beach State Park. Beachgoers who approached Uhlfelder heard about his complaint against the beach reopening ordered by Governor Ron DeSantis and supported by many coastal communities in the Florida Panhandle. The main points of the protest were proven valid as the pandemic progressed; in essence, Uhlfelder was one of many Floridians who had strong doubts about how the Department of Health was handling COVID-19 statistics, and he also criticized the lack of testing sites in Walton County.

The Grim Reaper Beach Tour got considerable attention from news media outlets in Florida and across the United States. Uhlfelder was featured on “Florida Man” segments aired by CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC; he got so much attention that his law office published a press release and offered a media kit. In the end, his concerns were proving correct; at the time, the genetic structure of the novel coronavirus had not been fully sequenced, and public gatherings were rapidly increasing the contagion rate.