State Briefs Dead mana­tees in Ga. likely killed by pro­pel­ler

The Covington News - - Local news -

SA­VAN­NAH— Four en­dan­gered mana­tees have washed up dead within a few miles of the down­town Sa­van­nah river­front in the past week, lead­ing wildlife of­fi­cials to spec­u­late they may have been killed by a sin­gle large ship.

Clay Ge­orge, a wildlife bi­ol­o­gist with the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, said Tues­day three of the man­a­tee car­casses pulled from the Sa­van­nah River suf­fered deep pro­pel­ler wounds. One had been sliced in half.

Ex­am­i­na­tion of the fourth man­a­tee Tues­day, the day af­ter it was found be­neath the Tal­madge Bridge that spans the river from Sa­van­nah into South Carolina, re­vealed no lac­er­a­tions. But the car­cass had sev­eral bro­ken bones that could have been caused by a ship, Ge­orge said.

The mana­tees were dis­cov­ered up­stream from the bustling Port of Sa­van­nah, which cargo ships reach by nav­i­gat­ing about 20 miles of the Sa­van­nah River from the At­lantic Ocean. Judg­ing by the size of the cuts, the mana­tees ap­pear to have been hit by a ves­sel the size of a tug­boat or larger, Ge­orge said.

“Con­tainer ships or some other large ves­sel would be an ob­vi­ous place to start,” Ge­orge said. “We’re not try­ing to blame any­one. Most likely it was an ac­ci­dent. I’d be very sur­prised if any­one on the ves­sel even knew what hap­pened.”

Though most fre­quently found in Florida, mana­tees mi­grate north to Ge­or­gia’s shore­linewa­ters and rivers each year from April to Oc­to­ber.

A 2007 re­port by the U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey iden­ti­fied boat col­li­sions as the top longterm threat to mana­tees, which weigh up to 2,000 pounds and can be 10 feet long. In Florida, wa­ter­craft strikes killed 73 mana­tees in 2007 and have caused 60 deaths through July 31 this year, ac­cord­ing to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion.

Ge­or­gia aver­ages one man­a­tee death per year from boat col­li­sions, Ge­orge said.

AT­LANTA — The fam­ily of a child whose foot was maimed in an es­ca­la­tor ac­ci­dent at the At­lanta air­port is su­ing Crocs Inc., say­ing the Colorado-based footwear com­pany failed to put safety fea­tures in the soft-soled shoes.

It’s the sec­ond fed­eral law­suit filed this sum­mer in­volv­ing a child wear­ing Crocs in­jured on es­ca­la­tors at Harts­field-Jack­son At­lanta In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

The law­suit filed Aug. 26 by Clark Meyer, who is the fa­ther of a 4-year-old boy iden­ti­fied as “A.M.,” seeks $2 mil­lion in dam­ages.

At­tor­ney Stephen McCon­nell said the boy was rid­ing an es­ca­la­tor at the air­port July 15 when the ma­chin­ery man­gled his Crocs and “se­verely and per­ma­nently dam­aged” his right foot.

Crocs spokes­woman Tia Matt­son de­clined to com­ment.

New York-based at­tor­ney An­drew Laskin, who is lead­ing the case, also is han­dling the case of a 3-year-old girl from Louisville, Ky., in­jured when an es­ca­la­tor ripped skin from her foot and broke three toes in June.

Laskin is also su­ing Crocs over a child who was hurt at a Los An­ge­les mall. He has set­tled two other cases with the footwear com­pany, but de­clined to com­ment on them.

“This is hap­pen­ing ev­ery­where and Crocs is ba­si­cally say­ing it’s the fault of the es­ca­la­tors — or the par­ents are not watch­ing their chil­dren,” Laskin said. “But that would be the case only if it kept hap­pen­ing on the same es­ca­la­tor over and over again.”

In April, Ja­panese and Filipino au­thor­i­ties asked the Ni­wot, Colo.-based com­pany to con­sider chang­ing the footwear’s de­sign be­cause of sim­i­lar es­ca­la­tor ac­ci­dents in their coun­tries.

The shoe com­pany has promised to in­sert safety tags into its packaging by next year.

The U.S. Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion has doc­u­mented 77 soft shoe en­trap­ments on es­ca­la­tors since Jan­uary 2006 and is­sued a warn­ing in May.

In a 16-page let­ter to the U.S. Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion in June, the com­pany’s en­gi­neer­ing di­rec­tor Erik Ol­son said Crocs has knowl­edge of 186 ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing its shoes and has ini­ti­ated “safety in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

But he added, “Crocs shoes nei­ther present nor in­tro­duce a unique haz­ard pat­tern when worn by chil­dren or adults on es­ca­la­tors.”

Matt­son would not say how many times the com­pany has been sued or set­tled law­suits.

HOSCHTON — Or­ga­niz­ers of the Hoschton Fall Fes­ti­val are con­fi­dent they’ve ex­ceeded their goal of putting up more than 4,000 scare­crows by Sept. 1 to break the world record for hav­ing the most scare­crows in one lo­ca­tion.

Mayor Bill Copen­haver heads the north­east Ge­or­gia city of 1,700 res­i­dents. He es­ti­mated Tues­day that Hoschton has more than 5,000 scare­crows on dis­play now. Of­fi­cials are still count­ing and won’t have a fi­nal num­ber un­til next week.

The cur­rent ti­tle be­longs to the Cincin­nati Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety’s Cincin­nati Flower and Farm Fest, which set the record in 2003 when 3,311 scare­crows were gath­ered.

Hoschton res­i­dents will have to wait 10 to 12 weeks af­ter they send pho­tos and videos to Lon­don for of­fi­cials with the Guin­ness Book of World Records to val­i­date their col­lec­tion.

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