Categories
Florida Sports

Two men who ran onto Super Bowl field given year of probation

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Two men who ran onto the field during the final quarter of Super Bowl LV in February have pleaded no contest to trespassing and agreed to a year of probation.
The two reached the deal Tuesday during a virtual hearing in Tampa, Florida. Under the terms of their probation, the men must perform 100 hours of community service, pay a $500 fine and write letters of apology to the
National Football League, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“I think you can tell by now, what might have been amusing back during the Super Bowl was not very amusing,” Hillsborough County Judge Jack Gutman said. “It inconvenienced a lot of people. You exposed people to injury. And hopefully you learned your lesson about all this. It’s not funny at all.”
One of the men told the judge, “No more streaking. I promise.”
He had scampered onto the field Feb. 7 in the fourth quarter of the championship game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs. He was wearing shorts and a pink leotard or swimsuit. He was eventually tackled and removed from the stadium.
The other man ran onto the field first, distracting security officers.
One of them said they planned the gag with another man, a social media personality who runs an adult website that was written on the front of the pink outfit.
The Buccaneers won the game 31-9.

Categories
Florida Sports

‘Continue to pray’: In Surfside, NBA’s Haslem offers support

By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Udonis Haslem had one arm draped over the shoulders of Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava as they walked slowly toward the Champlain Towers condo collapse memorial site Tuesday.
The Miami Heat captain didn’t know what to say. He simply knew he had to say something.
“Continue to pray,” he said.
Haslem, a Miami native who began his NBA career with the Heat in 2003 and has remained with the franchise ever since, is one of the most beloved figures in the city’s sports history.
He laid a wreath of red and white flowers at the photo- and bouquet-laden fence in Surfside, Florida, that has served as a makeshift memorial to the 16 people who died in the collapse and the more than 140 who remain unaccounted for.
He then scrawled a message: “Our hearts are broken for those who have passed. We pray for them and we pray for peace for all the families!!!”
Haslem later visited briefly with first responders and thanked them for their tireless efforts searching through the rubble for seven consecutive days.
“We’re so grateful for a towering man to come and show his love and support,” Levine Cava said, flanked by the 6-foot-8 Haslem. “The whole world is watching us here in Surfside, and this is just a small moment that signifies the magnitude of this event.”
Haslem said he was urging everyone to support relief efforts.
“It’s emotional for me,” he said. “It’s hard to fight back the feelings, the pain, the tears. For me, being a part of Miami and staying in Miami, it was always bigger than basketball for me,. It just breaks my heart. As the captain of this team, as a leader in this city, I ask that we all come together.”
The Heat and nearly all of the city’s other major pro and college teams have had a regular presence at the collapse site. Heat player Tyler Herro and two assistant coaches visited on the day of the collapse, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra attended a vigil near the site earlier this week.

Categories
Florida Headlines

Four more bodies found in condo rubble; at least 16 dead

By RUSS BYNUM and ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON
Associated Press
SURFSIDE, Florida (AP) — Four more bodies have been found in the rubble of a collapsed Florida condo tower, a fire official said Wednesday, raising the death toll in the disaster to 16 people.
Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told family members at a morning briefing that rescuers found the bodies Tuesday night. He said relatives have not yet been identified.
In addition to the four bodies, crews also found other human remains. Rescuers were able to build a ramp for a crane to reach areas at the top of the pile they had not been access before, Jadallah said.
State Fire Marshal Jimmy Petronis described the ramp as “a Herculean effort” that would allow the use of more heavy equipment.
“Now you are able to leverage massive equipment to remove mass pieces of concrete that could lead to those incredible good news events,” Petronis told Miami television station WSVN.
More than 140 people are still unaccounted for.
The discovery of the bodies came the morning after Florida authorities asked the federal government for an additional rescue team to comb the rubble of the tower, a request that underscored the strenuous nature of the open-ended search for survivors in an area prone to tropical weather.
The possibility that severe weather in coming days could further stretch Florida’s search and rescue resources prompted state officials to ask the federal government for the additional team, Kevin Guthrie of the Florida Division of Emergency Management said Tuesday. Already, intermittent bad weather has caused temporary delays in the search.
Guthrie said the new team, which would likely come from Virginia, would be on hand if severe weather hits the area in coming days and allow crews that have been working at the site for days to rotate out. Authorities said it’s still a search-and-rescue operation, but no one has been found alive since hours after the collapse on Thursday.
“There are two areas of (possible storm) development out in the Atlantic, heading to the Caribbean. We have eight urban rescue teams in Florida. We talked about doing a relief,” Guthrie said at a news conference Tuesday night. “We have all the resources we need but we’re going to bring in another team. We want to rotate those out so we can get more resources out.”
The National Hurricane Center says two disorganized storm systems in the Atlantic have a chance of becoming tropical systems in the coming days, but it is unclear at this point whether they would pose a threat to the U.S.
Charles Cyrille of the Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency said 900 workers from 50 federal, state and local agencies were working seamlessly on the search.
Elected officials have pledged to conduct multiple investigations into the sudden collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside last week.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that she and her staff will meet with engineering, construction and geology experts, among others, to review building safety issues and develop recommendations “to ensure a tragedy like this will never, ever happen again.”
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she will pursue a grand jury investigation to examine factors and decisions that led to the collapse.
Gov. Ron DeSantis evoked a well-known military commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield and pledged to do the same for the people still missing in the rubble.
“The way I look at it, as an old Navy guy, is when somebody is missing in action, in the military, you’re missing until you’re found. We don’t stop the search,” DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden planned to travel to Surfside on Thursday.
Work at the site has been deliberate and treacherous. The pancake collapse of the building left layer upon layer of intertwined debris, frustrating efforts to reach anyone who may have survived in a pocket of space.
Several members of an Israeli rescue team worked partly on hands and knees Tuesday over a small section of the rubble, digging with shovels, pickaxes and saws. They removed debris into buckets that were dumped into a metal construction bin, which was periodically lifted away by a crane. The crane then delivered an empty bin.
Late in the afternoon, rescue officials sounded a horn for a second time during the day’s work, signaling an approaching storm with lightning. Workers temporarily evacuated.
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said the work has been extremely difficult, but “we’re out here 110%.”
“These are the times that are the most difficult,” Cominsky said. “We are here to do a job. We are here with a passion. Hopefully, we have some success.”
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Gomez Licon reported from Miami. Associated Press writers Kelli Kennedy in Miami, Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee, Florida, and Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

Categories
Florida Headlines

Ex-official who said Surfside condo was sound leaves new job

MIAMI (AP) — A former municipal official in Florida who assured condo board members that their building was in “very good shape” three years before it collapsed has left his new job, a city spokesman said Wednesday.
Rosendo “Ross” Prieto is on a leave of absence from his temporary job with a contracting business that provides building services for the city of Doral, a city spokeswoman said in an email statement Wednesday. Doral is located about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Surfside, where the Champlain Towers South is located.
When he was a building official in Surfside in 2018, Prieto told members of the Champlain Towers South board that their condo building was sound. His assessment came a month after an engineering firm identified key structural deficiencies requiring major costly repairs.
The Doral statement said Prieto works for a firm called C.A.P. Government Inc., which provides building services to governments. That firm notified Doral that Prieto was on a leave of absence, the statement said, with another person taking over on a temporary basis.
Efforts to reach Prieto by telephone and email since the Surfside condominium collapsed last week have not been successful. He left his Surfside job in November.
The Champlain Towers South collapse has left at least 16 people confirmed dead and 147 still unaccounted for.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

Categories
Florida Headlines

South Florida family loses 92-year-old matriarch in collapse

By FREIDA FRISARO and JOSHUA GOODMAN
Associated Press
SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — A 92-year-old woman who had lived in a beachside Florida condominium for more than 20 years has been found dead amid the collapsed tower’s rubble, her family said Wednesday.
Hilda Noriega had recently put the condo up for sale and was planning to move in with her family. They were notified late Tuesday that she was the 12th victim recovered from the rubble of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida. More than 140 people were still listed as unaccounted for early Wednesday.
Her family announced her death in a statement released by North Bay Village, a nearby city in which her son, Carlos Noriega, serves as the police chief.
“The Noriegas have lost the ‘heart and soul’ and ‘matriarch’ of their family, but will get through this time by embracing the unconditional love Hilda was known for,” the statement said.
Carlos Noriega and his son, Mike Noriega, rushed to the site when they heard of the building collapse. Among the flying debris, they stumbled across mementos that bore witness to her life on the sixth floor of the building she’d called home for more than 20 years. They found an old picture of her with her late husband and their infant son, and a birthday card that friends from her prayer group sent two weeks earlier with the acronym “ESM,” Spanish for “hand-delivered,” scrawled across the yellow envelope with a butterfly etching.
“There was a message in the mess of all this,” said Mike Noriega, who last spoke with his grandmother the day before the disaster. “It means not to give up hope. To have faith.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mentioned the Noriega family during a news conference on Tuesday, calling their story “inspiring.”
“I could see the difference that she made in his life, in his wife’s life, and in her grandkids’ lives,” the governor said.
The Noriegas described Hilda as a fiercely independent and vivacious retiree. Her grandson said she was “the youngest 92-year-old I know … 92 going on 62.”
Her husband died six years ago, the family said, and she had decided to sell the condo and move in with her family.
She loved living near the ocean and friends, but “when you lose a spouse, you want to be surrounded by family … and she wanted to spend more time with her family and grandchildren,” said Sally Noriega, Hilda’s daughter-in-law.
Hilda Noriega built a life with her husband and raised a family after coming to the U.S. from Cuba in 1960, her daughter-in-law said.
“She was just one of those people who from the first time she met a person she instantly loved that person, and that person instantly loved her,” Sally said.
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Frisaro reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

Categories
Hawaii Headlines

Popular east Oahu snorkel spot doubles entry fee for visitors

HONOLULU (AP) — The entrance fee for a popular Hawaii snorkeling spot will more than double for tourists starting this week. Beginning Thursday, out-of-state visitors to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in east Oahu will have to pay $25, up from $12. Entry will remain free for residents with valid identification, children 12 or younger regardless of residency and active-duty military members. Parking rates will remain $1 per vehicle for locals and $3 per vehicle for non-locals. Demand for entry has been high since Hanauma Bay reopened to the public in December after a nine-month break because of the coronavirus pandemic, Honolulu parks officials said. When the park reopened, its water was 64 percent clearer than before the pandemic, Lisa Bishop, president of conservation group Friends of Hanauma Bay, said at the time. “We saw how dramatically Hanauma Bay healed during the pandemic when access to the public was closed. We want to preserve the healing by minimizing human impacts, while at the same time ensuring that there are sufficient resources to maintain the bay and its facilities,” said Honolulu City Council Chairman Tommy Waters, who represents the district that includes the bay. The city has tried to improve management of the bay since it reopened, including limiting entry and launching a ticketing and online reservation system. The pandemic prompted a limit of 720 people per day, which has increased to about 1,600 with the loosening of virus-related restrictions, officials said. Attendance hovered around roughly 3,000 visitors daily in 2019. “Hanauma Bay is uniquely positioned to be an example of how we can better manage our natural resources as we rebound from the pandemic,” said Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation Director Laura H. Thielen. All proceeds from entrance fees go to maintenance, education and research, city officials said.

Categories
Hawaii Headlines

Input sought on manta ray viewing mooring

KAILUA-KONA, (AP) — The state has asked the public to comment on a proposal to install mooring buoys to address overcrowding at two popular manta ray viewing sites off the Kona Coast. The Department of Land and Natural Resources said it plans to install 13 of the buoys at Kaukalaelae Point, off Keauhou, and 12 at Makako Bay, off Keahole Point. The plan would remove and reconfigure existing moorings at the sites, which weren’t permitted and haven’t been managed or maintained by the state, West Hawaii Today reported. The moorings would protect natural resources by eliminating the use of chains and anchors that can damage coral reefs, the department said. More manta ray viewing tour boats could also use the sites if the buoys were installed. A 2015 study by Marine Science Consulting LLC found that the manta tours host up to 300 divers and snorkelers nightly with an estimated 60 operators competing for space and access at the two sites. The effort to address issues related to manta ray viewing off the Kona Coast began in 2014 when the state House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the department to manage the dive sites to address overcrowding, safety and liability issues. A draft environmental assessment, which anticipates a finding of no significant impact for the project, was published last week. Comments are due by July 23. The department will pay for the project, which will be implemented in two phases.

Categories
Florida Sports

Tight end Pitts is last of Falcons’ 9 draft picks to sign

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons have signed first-round pick Kyle Pitts, the tight end from Florida.
Pitts signed the four-year deal with a fifth-year option on Tuesday. The Falcons have signed each of their nine selections in this year’s NFL draft.
Pitts, the No. 4 overall pick, is expected to play a prominent role from the beginning of his rookie season. The Falcons will be looking to replace the production of wide receiver Julio Jones, who was traded to the
Tennessee Titans for a package including a 2022 second-round draft pick. The Falcons also will receive a fourth-rounder in 2023 and sent the Titans a 2023 sixth-round pick.
Pitts was the first pick for the Falcons’ new general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith. He had 100 catches for 1,492 yards and 18 touchdowns in his three seasons at Florida.
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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

Categories
Florida Sports

Miami Hurricanes’ guard McGusty to return for another season

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Guard Kameron McGusty said Tuesday he has decided to play another season with the Miami Hurricanes after going through the pre-draft process with NBA teams.
McGusty has averaged 12.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in two seasons with the Hurricanes. He also spent two seasons at Oklahoma, and sat out 2018-19 as a transfer.
The Hurricanes still await a decision by sophomore guard Isaiah Wong, who also entered his name in the draft while retaining his college eligibility.
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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25

Categories
Florida Sports

Mussels drop opener to Bradenton, 7-2

 

Four Mighty Mussels hitters reached base multiple times Tuesday, but the Bradenton Marauders topped Fort Myers 7-2 in the series opener at Hammond Stadium.
The win pulls the Marauders (33-16) into a first-place tie with the Tampa Tarpons, who were rained out Tuesday night.
However, it was the Mighty Mussels (28-21) who took the lead first. In a scoreless game in the bottom of the first, Aaron Sabato singled to center with two outs. The next batter was Yunior Severino, who sliced a double to the wall in left to give Fort Myers a 1-0 lead.
Bradenton got the run back against Mussels’ starter Miguel Rodriguez (2-2) in the top of the second on a fielder’s choice from Ernny Ordonez.
In a tie game in the top of the third, Sammy Siani launched a solo home run to right to give the Marauders their first lead at 2-1.
After tacking on a run on a passed ball in the top of the fifth, Bradenton strung together three singles against Mussels reliever Carlos Suniaga in the sixth to extend the lead to 5-1.
Still up by that margin in the top of the eighth, Ordonez smacked a two-run shot to left to put the game out of reach.
Mussels catcher Kole McKinnon made his professional debut in the ninth inning, drawing a walk and scoring a run. Right-hander Zaquiel Puentes made his Twins’ debut, working a scoreless top of the ninth inning.
Fort Myers will turn to left-hander Brent Headrick (3-2, 2.87) to try and even the series on today. Bradenton will go with Santiago Florez (4-1, 1.51). Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network.

Box Score: https://atmilb.com/3Ad0pFG

— John Vittas