- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2008


Zoo welcomes unwanted exotic animals

MIAMI — With tearful goodbyes and barely contained impatience, more than 100 South Floridians surrendered their exotic animals Saturday at a zoo event designed to give owners an alternative to simply turning them loose.

The canopied plastic tables at the Miami Metrozoo became exhibits of their own as passers-by hoisted children and snapped pictures of the snakes, scorpions and turtles being handed over.

Of the more than 150 pets handed over on “Exotic Pet Amnesty Day” by people who could no longer care for the beasts, all but six found new homes.

Among the more bizarre submissions were a rhino iguana, a spotted African serval cat and a coatimundi — a raccoon-looking mammal found in South America.

Miami resident Ray Padilla, 17, came with seven snakes — Burmese pythons and Colombian boas — each in a pillow case knotted at the opening. He started collecting them as pets when he was 5 and said, simply, “No more room,” and, later, “Eh, new hobby.”


Restaurateur builds 134-pound burger

SOUTHGATE — A Detroit-area restaurant owner thinks he has broken the world record for “largest hamburger commercially available.”

After 12 hours of preparation and baking, the 134-pound burger emerged Saturday at Mallie’s Sports Bar and Grill.

The “Absolutely Ridiculous Burger,” made with beef, bacon and cheese, was delivered on a 50-pound bun, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press reported.

It sells for $350, and orders require 24 hours’ notice.

Flipping the burger required three men using two steel sheets.

Authenticating owner Steve Mallie’s claim could take a few weeks. His burger would outweigh the 123-pound burger made last year by Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub, of Clearfield, Pa.


Skier survives massive avalanche

ANCHORAGE — A skier was rescued from a massive avalanche that buried him for as many as 40 minutes Saturday near the site where another slide killed two snowmobilers earlier this month.

Ian Wilson of Portland, Ore., was blue and unresponsive when he was pulled from 4 feet of snow but was able to talk before he was transported to an Anchorage hospital, Alaska State Troopers said. The 24-year-old, who was vacationing in Alaska, was later discharged from the hospital, said Lt. Barry Wilson, the statewide search and rescue coordinator who is not related to the skier.

The avalanche was reported just five minutes after searchers recovered the body of Christoph von Alvensleben, 25, one of the snowmobilers killed in the Feb. 15 avalanche in backcountry about 65 miles outside Anchorage.

State transportation workers assisting in the recovery effort saw the avalanche and notified troopers about 2:15 p.m., Lt. Wilson said.


5 family members die in murder-suicide

LOS ANGELES — A 14-year-old boy was the lone survivor of an apparent murder-suicide that left five family members, including three children, dead across the street from the Richard Nixon Library.

A neighbor dialed 911 late Saturday to report shots fired. Two minutes later, the teen told police that his father had shot him and his brother at their condo complex in Yorba Linda, a bedroom community about 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Police found five persons, including three children, dead of gunshot wounds. The teen’s mother was discovered on the doorstep, said Lt. Jack Conklin of the Brea Police Department, which was investigating.

Inside the home, police found the bodies of two girls in a bedroom; they apparently had been asleep in their beds. The body of a boy was discovered in another bedroom, along with the body of a man with a shotgun beneath him. Authorities are still figuring out a motive but think the father was the gunman.


Death toll of blast rises to 11

AUGUSTA — Another burn patient has died of injuries suffered in an explosion and fire at a sugar refinery, bringing the death toll to 11, officials said yesterday.

Two weeks after the blast at the Imperial Sugar plant in Port Wentworth, 12 other patients remain in critical condition at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta. Two are in serious condition.

A 15th patient, whose name was not released, died Saturday evening, said Beth Frits of the Burn Center.

A memorial had been held earlier in the day for the other victims, the 10th of whom died Friday.

The explosion was fueled by airborne sugar dust at the refinery, near Savannah, investigators have said. They have not determined what ignited it.


Girl, 12, rescues siblings from fire

EAST ST. LOUIS — As flames consumed her home and prevented her parents from rescuing her and two younger siblings, a quick-thinking 12-year-old girl saved the other children Saturday by kicking out a second-story window and helping them down, firefighters said.

Velma Dorris, the children’s mother, and her husband, Bernard, were sleeping downstairs with three children when the fire started, authorities said. Smoke and flames kept them from reaching the children upstairs.

Meanwhile, eldest daughter Derrionna Adams managed to guide her two siblings, a 9-year-old and an 8-year-old, onto the roof, East St. Louis Fire Chief William Fennoy said.

Once outside, the 9-year-old boy, Dedeonta Neal, not knowing his younger sisters were safe with his mother, went back inside the burning building to find them, suffering burns on his arms before exiting.

He and the others jumped 15 feet from the roof, Chief Fennoy said. The boy broke his ankle in the fall, but the other five children were not injured.

The house was destroyed before firefighters could extinguish the blaze. Firefighters suspect a space heater started it, Chief Fennoy said.


$17,000 paid for presidential hair

LEXINGTON — It might not even really be George Washington’s hair, but it still sold for $17,000.

Four strands reportedly clipped from the first president were sold at auction Friday night to a Richmond, Ky., man who declined to give his name.

Colorado resident Christa Allen said her father, a Philadelphia lawyer, had given her the hair, which was pressed under glass in a locket and accompanied by a watch.

Miss Allen told potential buyers that the hair had been handed down since it was clipped from Washington’s head. The Historical Society of Montgomery County, Pa., inspected Miss Allen’s evidence and gave her its backing.

The hair is thought to have been snipped from Washington when he was briefly disinterred in 1837.


Woman, boyfriend fight as she drives

HAVERSTRAW — A man fighting with his girlfriend clung to a car roof and punched her through the window as she drove more than a mile on a busy road, hitting several other cars, police said.

Both were hurt in the brawl Saturday and were arrested, police Sgt. Manfredo Figueroa said.

The man, William Kremer, apparently jumped onto the car and held on as girlfriend Stacey Sperrazza wove along Route 202 with the car’s air bag inflated, police said. She eventually stopped the car and hit him with it, police said.

Miss Sperrazza, 37, of Stony Point, was arrested on a felony charge of reckless endangerment. Mr. Kremer, 42, of Haverstraw, was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge.

He was treated for a foot injury, she for eye and head wounds, police said.


Churches urge blacks to lose weight

OKLAHOMA CITY — About 15 Oklahoma City churches with predominantly black membership are participating in a weight-loss challenge started by an official at a health care company.

Zora Brown, the director of cultural affairs at Integris Health, said she wanted to challenge the membership of predominantly black churches to address health disparities among blacks by fighting obesity. She said obesity is a risk factor for diseases that disproportionately affect blacks.

Miss Brown issued her challenge during Integris Health’s African American Summit in November. Churches started registering to participate in the challenge on Feb. 1 and can enroll teams through Saturday. The contest will last through Oct. 31.


Bus overturns, injuring 41 aboard

MOSCOW — A Greyhound bus overturned in an interstate median early yesterday, injuring 41 persons.

All 41 of the injured were taken to hospitals, and two were stable last night at Community Medical Center in Scranton, a hospital official said.

The others were treated and released, state police said. The uninjured passengers were taken to a fire hall.

The bus was traveling north on Interstate 380 about 100 miles north of Philadelphia when it rolled over about 4:15 a.m. in Covington Township, according to State Police.

The cause is under investigation.

The bus had left New York City and was headed toward Syracuse, N.Y., said Greyhound spokesman Dustin Clark. Its final destination was Toronto.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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