FORT LAUDERDALE — A federal report has found that a pilot whose plane crashed into the Everglades on Sept. 20 reported his aircraft was on fire shortly before it went down.
All four people on board were killed, including pilot Bruce Barber, 46, of Sea Ranch Lakes; his wife, Karen, 46; their son Payton, 14; and friend Phillip Marsh, 46, of Coral Springs.
The group took off from Gainesville for South Florida after the attending the Florida-Tennessee football game.
A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board released Friday says the pilot radioed air traffic controllers that he had smoke in the cockpit and a fire on his single-engine plane.
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The reports says Barber then attempted to land on U.S. 27. The plane crashed into the Everglades.
Teen injured in fall from power pole
TAMPA — Authorities say a teenager was seriously injured after falling from a power pole in a suburb north of Tampa.
Hillsborough Fire Rescue reports that the 16-year-old, who has not been identified, had apparently climbed the pole Thursday evening to take pictures of a football game at a nearby recreation center. The teen touched a power line and fell 35 feet to the ground.
The teen was taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital. The teen’s condition was not known.
Bell-less bikes legal again in Tampa
TAMPA — It’s no longer illegal to ride a bicycle without a bell in Tampa.
The city council repealed a two-decade-old law Thursday that made pedaling a bike without an audible bell a second-degree misdemeanor.
The decision followed a state appeals court ruling earlier this year that says violations of bicycle laws are traffic offenses, not criminal infractions.
Records show Tampa police arrested nine people for riding a bike without a bell in 2008. Nobody has been arrested for the offense since the appeals court ruling.
Council members repealed the law without discussion.
Bat house returns at UF after collapse
GAINESVILLE — A bat house that held some 200,000 bats before it collapsed at the University of Florida is back and bigger than ever.
The university’s pest management coordinator Ken Glover says the structure has been repaired and expanded to house as many as 400,000 bats. A sign on the structure Friday read “vacancy” and “newly remodeled” in both English and Spanish.
Plans are to build a second structure nearby to provide space specially designed to accommodate baby bats. The expanded structure eventually could include a bat cam filming the action.
Company to trap iguana that bit girl for free
OAKLAND PARK — A trapping company has offered to capture the iguana that bit a 7-year-old girl in South Florida for free.
Andy Pinker, a trapper with Iguana Catchers in Hallandale Beach, says the company will waive the $250 fee to catch the 6-foot iguana that bit Madison Wells’ foot.
Authorities say Wells was dropping strawberries on the ground Wednesday when the animal struck. The girl said she thought the iguana would lick her feet.
The iguana clamped its jaws around Madison’s right foot and began to tear away her tendons. The damage required 23 stitches and is keeping her from wiggling four of her toes. She is scheduled to have surgery to repair her tendons.
No joke: UF officials remove zombie plan from site
GAINESVILLE — The University of Florida’s response plans for a zombie apocalypse are no longer available for public consumption.
UF spokesman Steve Orlando said Friday the university removed a link to a disaster recovery exercise, which detailed how the school could respond to an outbreak of the undead. The link was taken down late Thursday afternoon.
Orlando says officials felt the joke “didn’t really belong” on the site, which also included plans for dealing with hurricanes and pandemics.
The exercise lays out the university’s response to attacks by “flesh-eating, apparently life impaired individuals.” It notes that a zombie outbreak might include “documentation of lots of strange moaning.”
Orlando says the employee who wrote the gag wasn’t punished.
Nail removed from north Florida toddler’s skull
PANAMA CITY BEACH,— A Panama City Beach toddler is in critical condition after having a nail removed from her fractured skull and her parents are in jail on drug and child abuse charges.
Police say the 18-month-old’s father was high on methamphetamines Tuesday and broke a chair while jumping on it, sending nails flying, including one that was impaled into the side of the child’s head.
Authorities say the parents, John Paul and Jessica Huskey, waited until the next day to call for medical help.
They are both in the Bay County Jail charged with possession of methamphetamine, aggravated child abuse and other drug charges.
The toddler, who is in a Pensacola hospital, and a 4-year-old are in state custody.
— Herald wire services