Review Category : Top Stories

Pet Tortoise Reunited With Family After ‘Walking as Quickly as He Could Away From’ L.A. Wildfire

County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control(SANTA CLARITA, Calif.) — A 75-pound pet tortoise has been reunited with his family in Santa Clarita, California, after he was discovered on a nearby street Saturday fleeing wildfires ravaging the nearby area, a fire department official said.

Well, “fleeing” may be a bit of an overstatement: The reptile was “walking as quickly as he could away from the fires,” said Aaron Reyes, deputy director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC).

Wendy Collins, the tortoise’s self-proclaimed “mommy,” told ABC News Tuesday her beloved “Tank,” whom she also calls “Pebbles,” was left behind early Saturday afternoon by her husband after the family was ordered by sheriff’s deputies to evacuate their home.

“Because of the tight time frame he was given, my husband was only able to take our two dogs, his bearded dragon and the essentials,” Collins said. “I had been trying to come home from work at the time but got stuck in traffic.”

Collins said she became “worried to death” after learning her beloved tortoise was left behind. She explained he had been with them since he was a baby “the size of a small pin.”

After one of Collins’ employees learned what happened, the employee contacted a friend who had contacts at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. That friend contacted deputies, who then liaised with the county animal care and control officers to locate and rescue Tank, a.k.a. Pebbles.

Pebbles was transported to Castaic Animal Care Center, where staff “had a pleasure looking after him,” DACC’s Reyes told ABC News Tuesday.

“He was such a sweetheart and had a big personality,” he said. “He minded his manners, and though he was a very alert fella, he was not snappy at all. He was obviously a well-raised, perfect lil’ gentleman.”

Collins said as soon as she heard her tortoise was safe, she immediately got her keys and drove to the center.

“While the evacuation was still in place, we were at my mom’s condo, and he just terrorized her backyard,” Collins said with a laugh. “He took down her plants and totally wiped out any vegetation in her small backyard.”

Collins said the evacuation for her home was lifted on Monday, and they were overjoyed to learn that the fire hadn’t reached their neighborhood.

“When he got home, the first thing he did was go straight to bed,” she said. “He’s adorable. We’re so glad this had a happy ending.”

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California Declares State of Emergency as L.A.-Area Wildfire Forces Evacuations

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — The state of California declared a state of emergency Tuesday night, as firefighters feverishly tried to control a fast-moving wildfire that has scorched 37,473 acres near Los Angeles since Friday, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

“Acting Governor Tom Torlakson today issued emergency proclamations for Los Angeles and Monterey counties due to the effects of the Sand and Soberanes fires, which have burned tens of thousands of acres of land, threatened thousands of homes and other structures and caused the evacuation of residents,” read a statement from the office of California governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

More than 3,000 firefighters have been deployed to halt the blaze in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to the department. About 25 percent of the fire has been contained.

About 10,000 homes were evacuated because of the massive blaze, dubbed the Sand fire. Some evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes last night, fire officials announced, while residents of areas still deemed too dangerous were not.

As of yesterday, one death has been reported, and 18 structures have been destroyed, officials said.

The U.S. Forest Service has asked residents not to fly drones over the fire.

“Recent drone activity has occurred over the fire in the Bear Divide area. When drones interfere with firefighting efforts, a wildfire has the potential to grow larger and cause more damage. On the Sand fire­­, an FAA temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in effect, and any private aircraft or drone that violates the TFR could face serious criminal charges,” according to a statement on the agency’s site.

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Body Camera Captures FL Sheriff’s Deputy Escort Woman, 3 Kids to Safety During Domestic Incident

Volusia County Sheriffs Office(DELTONA, Fla.) — Body camera footage has captured a sheriff’s deputy’s perspective of what happened when he responded to a domestic quarrel-turned-shooting at a residence in Deltona, Florida.

In part of the dramatic footage, obtained by ABC News Tuesday, a Volusia County sheriff’s deputy is seen dragging a woman, who had allegedly been shot by her husband, to safety. Later on in the same video, the deputy can also be seen helping escort the woman’s three children — between the ages of 23 months and 7 years old — out of the house to safety, as well.

The incident happened this past Sunday around 12:30 p.m., when 26-year-old Emmanuel Rosado got into a squabble with his wife, who told a 911 dispatcher she had been trying to separate from him, according to a news release from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

Rosado had “started acting crazy, locked her in the house and refused to let her leave,” the sheriff’s office said, adding that there were three children between the ages of 23 months and 7 years old in the home at the time.

Roasado’s wife “said that she had asked her husband to leave, but he refused and kept breaking into her bedroom where she had gone to seek refuge,” the sheriff’s office said. “Several minutes into the [911] call, a scream was heard and then the line went dead.”

Around the same time, responding deputies reported hearing a man’s voice from inside the house, proclaiming, “You’re going to die tonight!”

The deputies then reported witnessing multiple shots fired through a door and window of the home and in the direction of deputies. Two deputies returned fire, but the suspect wasn’t hit.

Rosado’s wife, who appeared to have been shot by him, managed to get out of the house, according to the sheriff’s office. A deputy spotted her “crawling on the driveway of the residence” and then “ran to her aid, pulled her off of the driveway and took her to the safety of a neighboring house.”

A few minutes later, the three children in the house at the time later managed to get out and were escorted to safety as well.

Rosado then came out from behind the house, as ordered by deputies, and was immediately taken into custody. His wife was airlifted by a helicopter to Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford for medical treatment.

“Based on statements from the victim as well as one of the children who witnessed the shooting,” investigators believe Rosado “shot his wife with a 9mm handgun,” the sheriff’s office said. “Rosado has been charged with three counts of attempted 1st-degree murder for the shooting of his wife and for two deputies who came under fire during the incident.”

The sheriff’s office added that Rosado has been booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he’s being held without bond.

A spokesperson for the Volusia County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office told ABC News Tuesday that Rosado has not yet entered a plea to the charges against him.

Rosado’s lawyer, Joshua Mott, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

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Child Hot-Car Deaths Reach 23 So Far This Year, Closing in on 2015 Total

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As heat advisories popped up again across the Mid-Atlantic and a heat wave continued in the East, people were reminded again of the deadly dangers of kids and cars as two additional heat-related child deaths were reported.

KidsAndCars said late Monday that it had learned of two additional children — one in Florida and another in Missouri — who had died after being found in hot cars this weekend.

That raised the total number of children who have died of heatstroke in a vehicle so far this year from 23. KidsAndCars said that a total of 25 children had died in heat-related car deaths in 2015.

“We simply cannot accept these deaths as tragedies and move on,” the organization said in a news release.

In Missouri, the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office said that a 2-year-old boy, identified by his family as Raiden Wells, had been found unconscious around 3 p.m. Saturday inside a vehicle parked in the yard of a home in Rocky Comfort.

The boy and other children had been playing in the yard as the father checked on them repeatedly, authorities said. When the father did not see the boy with the others, he went looking and found him in the back floorboard of the four-door vehicle, authorities said.

“The car’s doors were locked and the father immediately broke a side window to gain access to the child,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement, which also noted that the father called 911 and then started CPR.

The little boy was taken to a hospital in Joplin, Missouri, where he was pronounced dead.

Rocky Comfort was under an excessive heat warning that weekend, with temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s as well as high humidity, according to the National Weather Service.

Authorities said its Children’s Division would be investigating.

In Dallas, police were still investigating the death of a 2-year-old boy who had been left in a hot car as his family attended church Sunday. The little boy’s death made him the fifth child to die in a hot car in Texas this year.

National Heatstroke Awareness Day is Sunday, according to the National Child Passenger Safety Board. The board offered several safety tips, including never leaving a child in a car; calling 911 if you see a child unattended in a car; and always locking your car and teaching your children not to play in vehicles.

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FBI Director Says Decision to Forgo Charges Against Hillary Clinton ‘Wasn’t That Hard’ to Make

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In a message to his workforce Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey further defended his decision not to press charges against Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.

“I hope you see clearly what I see, that this investigation was done honestly, independently, and competently,” Comey said in a video message to FBI personnel, according to one government employee who recounted the message to ABC News. “For investigators and their supervisors, all the way up to me, the decision was not only the right one, it actually wasn’t that hard a decision given the facts and the law.”

In fact, Comey said, “What I don’t have patience for is people suggesting that the FBI did it in some way that was anything other than apolitical and independent, because that’s just not true and anybody who knows the FBI should know better.”

Comey has spent recent weeks defending his decision before lawmakers, reporters and the public in general.

Earlier this month, he told a House panel that the question of whether to bring charges against Clinton was “not a cliffhanger,” reiterating his belief that “no reasonable prosecutor” would have brought an indictment in the case.

In trying to explain his decision to lawmakers, Comey told a House panel that two things matter in such a criminal probe: “What did the person do … and when they did it — did they know they were doing something that was unlawful?”

“When I look at the facts we gathered here … I see evidence of great carelessness, but I do not see evidence sufficient to establish that Secretary Clinton or those with whom she was corresponding both talked about classified information on email and knew when they did it that they were doing something that was against the law,” Comey said earlier this month. “No reasonable prosecutor would bring this case.”

Comey has called Clinton and her aides “extremely careless” for their handling of classified information, and he has acknowledged that U.S. law makes it a crime to exhibit even “gross negligence” in dealing with such sensitive material. But testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Comey said the Justice Department has used the law only once in the statute’s 99-year existence — in a case involving espionage — and there has long been “grave concerns” among prosecutors that using the law could violate the “American tradition” of only jailing people who knew they were engaging in illegal activity.

“No reasonable prosecutor would bring the second case in 100 years focused on ‘gross negligence,’” Comey told the committee on July 7. “That’s just the way it is. … Nobody would. Nobody did.”

Nevertheless, the panel’s chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he is “mystified” and “confused” by Comey’s decision, insisting “the average Joe” believes that if they had “sloppily” handled classified information like Clinton did, “they’d be in handcuffs.”

According to Chaffetz, the message being sent is: “If your name isn’t Clinton or you aren’t part of the powerful elite, that Lady Justice will act differently.”

Comey dismissed such criticism, saying the decision was made by career agents and high-level prosecutors who “who didn’t give a hoot about politics, but who cared about what are the facts, what is the law and how have similar people — all people — been treated in the past.”

In his message to FBI employees Tuesday, Comey called these “difficult circumstances at difficult times.” But he said the FBI is “looking pretty darn good” thanks to the agency’s work overall.

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Thousands of Firefighters Battling Raging Wildfire Near LA

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Firefighters are still working to control the fast-moving wildfire that has scorched 37,473 acres near Los Angeles since last Friday, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

More than 3,000 firefighters have been deployed to halt the wildfire’s path, according to the department. About 25 percent of the fire has been contained.

Some evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes Monday night, fire officials announced, with the exception of those living in areas still deemed too dangerous.

About 10,000 homes were evacuated because of the massive blaze near Santa Clarita.

As of Monday, one death has been reported and 18 structures have been destroyed, officials said.

The U.S. Forest Service has asked residents not to fly drones over the fire.

“Recent drone activity has occurred over the fire in the Bear Divide Area. When drones interfere with firefighting efforts, a wildfire has the potential to grow larger and cause more damage. On the Sand Fire­­, an FAA Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in effect and any private aircraft or drone that violates the TFR could face serious criminal charges,” according to a statement on the agency’s site.

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Corpse Flowers in DC, New York Set to Release ‘Stench of Rotting Flesh’ Soon

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An odor comparable “to the stench of rotting flesh” will soon be released at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in New York City and the United States Botanical Garden (USBG) in Washington, D.C., sometime this week, when corpse flowers at both locations are expected to fully bloom.

Despite the putrid stench, a huge crowd of people will likely flock to the gardens to witness the corpse flowers open.

Part of the mystery that shrouds the giant plants, scientifically known as Amorphophallus titanums, are their unpredictable bloom cycles — which only happen every several years to decades. And when the flower actually does bloom, it only stays open for two to three days.

The corpse flower is also considered a “horticultural jewel” because it is one of the largest flowers in the world.

When the USBG put its corpse flower on display last Friday, it said the plant was around 3.5 feet tall.

On Tuesday, the flower was measured to be nearly 6 feet tall, USBG public information Devin Dotson told ABC News.

In its natural habitat, the corpse flower can grow up to 12 feet tall.

The USBG last displayed a corpse flower bloom in 2013. More than 130,000 visitors came to see the plant in person and more than 650,000 viewers accessed the live webstream.

The NYBG, on the other hand, last displayed a corpse flower bloom nearly 80 years ago in 1937. The NYBG added that the corpse flower’s bloom is also particularly special this year as the garden is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary.

The USBG has forecast that its corpse flower will likely enter peak bloom sometime between this Thursday and Saturday, while the NYBG has forecast that flower could begin peak bloom sometime today or tomorrow.

Live streams of both the plants in D.C. and New York City are available below.

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Truck Overturns, Spills 10,000 lbs of Salmon Onto Alaska Highway

Juneau Police Department(JUNEAU, Alaska) — A truck carrying a load of seafood overturned and spilled salmon across a busy highway in Juneau, Alaska, according to police.

“Egan Drive blocked by about 10,000 pounds of Chum Salmon,” Juneau police said in a Facebook post Monday evening.

“The cleanup effort is still underway. The scene smells a bit fishy,” the statement quipped.

Police said the inbound traffic on the highway was completely blocked while outbound traffic was down to one lane.

The spill caused traffic to back up for about 90 minutes, according to officials.

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Man Named Hemingway Wins Hemingway Look-Alike Contest in Key West

ABCNews.com(KEY WEST, Fla.) — Move over “The Old Man and the Sea” — this was many old men in Key West, all vying to be the winner of the 36th annual Ernest “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest.

The reigning champ this year is actually named Dave Hemingway, of Macon, North Carolina, although he claims he is not related to the famous author.

“I think it’s about time that Hemingway won a Hemingway look-alike contest,” he said after winning the competition adorned in a wool turtleneck sweater, much like the famed author’s.

Hemingway beat out 139 other entrants on his seventh attempt for the title.

“I do feel like Ernest because I’m in the same town that he lived in for so many years,” the bearded man explained. “I like to fish, I like to drink a little bit, I like women, and I just like having a good fun time.”

One of the other competitors also included famous southern chef Paula Deen’s husband, Michael Groover of Savannah, Georgia. Groover finished within the top five for the second year in a row.

The contest took place at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, a local watering hole the author often frequented while he lived there in the 1930s.

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Protesters in Philadelphia Voice Anger With Hillary Clinton and the DNC

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) — Protests against the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton continued for a second straight day Monday through scorching temperatures on the streets of Philadelphia, as an atmosphere of division cast a shadow over the Democratic National Convention’s opening night.

The protests stemmed from a number of different groups, including marijuana legalization activists, immigration rights activists, socialists, Green Party supporters, and Black Lives Matter activists, who were unified in their opposition to Clinton and the DNC.

The demonstrations, which have generally been larger than those that took place in Cleveland during the RNC, have followed in the wake of what has been a tumultuous week for Democrats highlighted by an email leak which appeared to show efforts by the party to impede the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the party.

The protests have resulted in multiple people being detained, police said. No one has been arrested.

One phrase seen at both conventions #DemsInPhilly #DNCinPHL pic.twitter.com/RcRnInrc19

— Charli James (@charli) July 25, 2016

Some marchers carried banners that read “Hillary for Prison,” and signs with pictures of Trump and Clinton that read “Either Way, Wall Street Wins.” A group of protesters carried a giant float shaped like a joint, urging government to “end the racist drug war.”

Demonstrators targeted delegates walking on the other side of a dividing line to enter the Wells Fargo arena, and one observer described the mood as “furious.”

In interviews, protesters expressed anger and frustration about the management of the Democratic Party, and about the nomination of Clinton.

“A lot of people feel like their banging their heads against a wall,” a protester wearing a Bernie sticker on his shirt told ABC News in reference to attempts to reform the Democratic Party. “Money corrupts politics.”

“I understand the sentiment never Trump, but there are a lot of people here who are never Hillary,” he added.

He called the alleged efforts of the DNC to stop Sanders “collusion” and “sad to see.”

One woman told ABC News she would be voting for Sanders “regardless” of whether his name was on the ballot.

A man in a Bernie shirt told ABC News that he would be voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

“That’s too bad,” he said, regarding Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton.

The atmosphere of division was felt both inside and outside the Wells Fargo arena. During the invocation, hosted by interim chair Marcia Fudge, boos echoed through the hall, and chants of “Bernie” followed the mention of Clinton’s name.

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