Woman goes for a swim in attempt to avoid arrest

OKEECHOBEE — A 25-year-old Okeechobee woman was arrested Monday afternoon when she was seen driving recklessly, then, after ditching her car, ran on foot and swam in an attempt to elude law enforcement.

Courtney Taylor Billie-Cypress, Rainbow Lane, was arrested on a felony charge of fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and misdemeanor charges of driving while license suspended with knowledge and reckless driving. Her bond was set at $7,500.

According to an arrest report by Deputy Ben Vuleta of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2018, he had his patrol vehicle parked in the 3400 block of U.S. 441 Southeast facing west when he saw a black Chevrolet Malibu parked at the Citgo fuel station in the same block.

In his report, Deputy Vuleta said he watched as the vehicle went into reverse and started to leave the parking lot area. The driver of the vehicle was identified as Billie-Cypress and recognized by Deputy Vuleta from a recent incident. She then approached the stop sign and turned left onto U.S. 441 Southeast and then left again onto Southeast 38th Avenue.

Courtney Taylor Billie-Cypress, 25

As Deputy Vuleta turned onto Southeast 38th Avenue he saw Billie-Cypress’ vehicle turn onto Southeast 39th Avenue at a high rate of speed. Billie-Cypress was then seen running through a stop sign at the intersection of Southeast 39th Avenue and Southeast 28th Street, cut in front of a white pickup truck and across the double yellow lines in an attempt to pass a vehicle but was unable to due to oncoming traffic.

Billie-Cypress then reportedly continued to travel east on Southeast 28th Street into Brindaban Forest where Deputy Vuleta then activated his overhead emergency lights and siren to initiate a traffic stop, but Billie-Cypress accelerated in apparent refusal. Billie-Cypress then ran another stop sign at the intersection of Southeast 28th Street and Southeast 47th Terrace, turned right and went around a tree at the end of the road. She then continued to drive and turn back onto Southeast 28th Street where she ran a stop sign at Southeast 28th Street and Southeast 43rd Avenue and accelerated to speeds of approximately 60 mph in a posted 35- mph speed zone.

Deputy Vuleta reported turning off his overhead lights and sirens in the 4100 block of Southeast 28th Street due to her reckless driving. Billie-Cypress was reported to have driven in the oncoming lane and made a vehicle use evasive action to prevent a traffic crash. While in the opposite lane of traffic flow, she ran another stop sign in the 3400 block at the intersection of Southeast 28th Street and Southeast 34th Avenue.

Billie-Cypress reportedly then stopped the car in the 2900 block of Southeast 34th Avenue, exited and began to run on foot. Deputy Vuleta then exited his patrol vehicle and followed Billie-Cypress, but she jumped into the water and swam east toward Southeast 35th Avenue. Deputy Vuleta returned to his patrol vehicle and drove to a residence in the 2900 block of Southeast 35th Avenue, where Billie-Cypress was found in the back yard.

The report concluded that Billie-Cypress was placed in hand restraints, informed of charges against her and later transported to the Okeechobee County Jail for booking. The vehicle was towed by John’s Towing Service. In addition to her arrest, Billie-Cypress received two uniform traffic citations for running stop signs in the 3900 and 4300 blocks of Southeast 28th Street.

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