lorence Update: 3-Month-Old Dies When Tree Falls On Home

Death Toll

The death toll from Hurricane Florence and its remnants has risen to 17 as officials say a 3-month-old died in North Carolina when a tree landed on a mobile home.

Gaston County manager Earl Mathers said in an email to commissioners the tree fell on a mobile home Sunday in Dallas, about 240 miles (386 kilometers) west of where Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday in Wrightsville Beach.

County spokesman James McConnell confirmed to The Associated Press that officials believe the tree fell because of the rain and wind from the storm’s remnants.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety says a pickup truck was traveling east on a road near Gilbert, South Carolina, around 6 a.m. Sunday when it drove into standing water on the roadway.  Officials say the driver, identified as 30-year-old Rhonda R. Hartley, lost control and went off the side of the road, hitting a tree. The driver died at the scene.

Flooding

Flash flood watches have been posted in parts of southern West Virginia as the remnants of Hurricane Florence fall on saturated ground.  The weather service says 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain are expected in the watch area with 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) or more possible in parts of the Greenbrier Valley.

A flood warning has been posted in Virginia along the New River, which flows north into West Virginia.  In June 2016, 9 inches of rain fell in 36 hours in parts of West Virginia, leaving 23 dead statewide and destroying thousands of homes, businesses and infrastructure. Fifteen people died in Greenbrier County alone.

A dam overflowed and parks have become submerged in water as unrelenting rain brought by Tropical Depression Florence came down on Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the surrounding area. Water on the Cape Fear River, which passes through Fayetteville, continued to rise Sunday, and according to the National Weather Service had reached more than 44 feet (13 meters) by 6 p.m. The river continues its slow climb to a predicted crest at 62 feet (18.9 meters) Tuesday, prompting a mandatory evacuation for areas within 1 mile of the river.  Fayetteville resident Charles Jockers says the slow rise may lull people into complacency. He says Despite the evacuation order, in-town traffic has been increasing over the last few days.

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GBI Investigates Officer-Involved Shooting After Car Chase

CALHOUN, Ga. (AP) — Authorities in northwest Georgia say police officers shot at and used a Taser on a man who led them on car chase and struck a trooper’s vehicle.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it is investigating the early Sunday incident.

The department said the car chase began when a Gordon County sheriff’s deputy tried to stop of a vehicle driven by 35-year-old Santiago Alberto Franco Marquez.

Marquez struck both a trooper car and a sheriff’s office car. The trooper left his vehicle which Marquez continued to hit.

The department said the trooper fired one shot into the window of Marquez’s vehicle. Marquez fled on foot and was apprehended when a deputy used a Taser.

Marquez was treated for a hand injury and charged with assault and attempting to elude police.

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6 Sickened In Search, Police Believe Unknown Drug To Blame

JASPER, Ga. (AP) — A north Georgia store owner has been arrested after six people got sick during a drug search.

Local news outlets report a drug task force was searching the A-1 Smoke Shop in Jasper on Friday when a detective opened a container and began to feel dizzy and vomited, exhibiting high blood pressure.

Another detective, a drug task force agent, two emergency services personnel and a store employee were also treated for symptoms. Officials believe they found a narcotic, but are testing to identify it.

Hazardous materials crews were called in to take samples and decontaminate.

All five people sent to the hospital have recovered and were released.

Store owner Atulkumar J. Patel was arrested on charges of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute and distributing nitrous oxide.

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Athens Forces Out Police Chief, Citing Officer Discontent

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — There’s an interim leader of the Athens-Clarke County police after Chief Scott Freeman resigned at the request of the county manager.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports that County Manager Blaine Williams named police Capt. Mike Hunsinger to lead the force while the county looks for a new police chief.

The manager says he asked Freeman to resign or be fired. Freeman lists his departure as an “involuntary resignation” because that makes him eligible for severance pay.

Williams says he’s been concerned for months that officers are leaving because of discontent with Freeman. The newspaper reports the department is 29 officers short of its full complement of 225.

Mayor Nancy Denson says Freeman “wasn’t a good fit” for Athens.

The department has seen two controversies this summer over videos showing police conduct.

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Juveniles Come Down From Roof At Southwest Georgia Facility

AMERICUS, Ga. (AP) — Officials say the last of at least 20 juveniles held in a southwest Georgia facility have come down after breaking onto a roof Friday.

Spokesman Jim Shuler says the last juvenile came down Saturday afternoon at the Sumter Youth Development Campus in Americus. Shuler says he has no reports of injuries or property damage.

The department says someone snatched keys from a guard Friday, but denies reports that a guard was overpowered or briefly held hostage. Residents were unable to escape the razor wire-ringed facility.

Commissioner Avery Niles says the department will investigate what happened, determine who’s responsible, and decide on disciplinary or criminal actions.

Police including a Georgia State Patrol helicopter responded Friday, when the facility was briefly on lockdown.

Shuler says juvenile courts statewide assign residents to Sumter.

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Chattahoochee Upgrades Would Span From Lake Lanier To Newnan

ATLANTA (AP) — Backers of a wide-ranging plan to develop a network of parks and trails along a vast stretch of the Chattahoochee River say it holds the promise to transform the Atlanta metro region.

The aims to expand and connect existing greenspace to create a 100-mile corridor from Lake Lanier to Newnan, Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The study is being administered by the Atlanta Regional Commission in conjunction with local communities and nonprofit groups.

The regional commission is expected to announce a firm in the next few weeks to develop the $1.5 million master plan, the newspaper reported. The cost of implementing that plan is unknown, but will likely be paid for with local tax dollars and some federal matching funds.

“With the continued growth of Atlanta, there’s a realization that across the metro area we don’t have enough park land and really don’t have enough great public spaces,” said George Dusenbury, the Georgia director for the Trust for Public Land, a driving force behind the effort.

The vision of a continuous trail along the river has already helped spur public and private investment along the waterway, the Atlanta newspaper reported.

Roswell, just north of Atlanta, is building its own river walk that connects to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

The surge in interest comes after decades of efforts to clean up the Chattahoochee.

Dusenbury said clean water, more than the economic recovery, is driving investment now. He credited the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper with filing a landmark lawsuit against Atlanta in the 1990s that forced the city to stop polluting the waterway.

“There’s an incredible amount of largely untouched greenspace and there’s recognition looking at what other cities have done embracing their waterfronts,” Dusenbury said. “To protect the river, you need people to embrace and love the river.”

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Officials: Golf Carts A Hazard On Busy Georgia Island Roads

SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Local officials say golf carts are posing a traffic hazard on one of Georgia’s most populous barrier islands.

The Brunswick News reports Glynn County’s police chief and a county commissioner are considering an ordinance to ban golf carts from main roads on St. Simons Island.

Police Chief John Powell said at a recent town hall meeting he’s talking with Commissioner Peter Murphy and the county’s attorney about the idea. A proposed ordinance hasn’t been drafted yet, but Powell said: “We’re working on it.”

Murphy said he agrees with Powell that keeping golf carts off the island’s main roads is a good idea. About 13,000 people live on St. Simons Island, located about 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Savannah.

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