State Briefs Dead manatees in Ga. likely killed by propeller
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.