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Around the State

By Times wires and staff reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 8, 2002


Another boater waylaid by leaping sturgeon

Another boater waylaid by leaping sturgeon

PANAMA CITY -- A fisherman who crashed his boat on a river bank when a 5-foot sturgeon jumped from the water and hit him in the chest remained hospitalized Wednesday, three days later.

Including Brian Clemens, 50, at least four Florida boaters have been struck by leaping sturgeon this year.

Clemens' condition was listed as stable Wednesday at Bay Medical Center in Panama City. He was fishing alone Sunday on the Choctawhatchee River when the impact of the fish caused him to lose control of his boat, said his wife, Joy.

Clemens was ejected from the boat onto the bank, suffering a broken sternum, two broken ribs, a collapsed lung, several abrasions and a bad cut on his right knee. He was on the bank 30 to 45 minutes before two men came to his aid.

"They really saved his life," said his wife, who was traveling at the time. "If they hadn't come along he might have laid there all night."

The men helped Clemens back to the landing, and he drove himself home 20 to 25 miles before calling his wife to tell her what happened. She called a neighbor, who called an ambulance.

Gainesville elementary school principal Lacy Redd, 34, suffered a collapsed lung and five broken ribs over the Memorial Day weekend when a sturgeon jumped from the Suwannee River into his boat.

On July Fourth, a sturgeon knocked 19-year-old Danny Cordero and his girlfriend from their personal watercraft on the Suwannee. Cordero cracked some teeth.

Motion tries to limit vouchers during appeal

Voucher opponents returned to court Wednesday to stop Florida from expanding a program a judge has declared unconstitutional.

The antivoucher coalition asked the Tallahassee circuit judge to bar new students from using tax-supported vouchers to attend private schools while allowing some Pensacola kids to continue attending such schools.

The motion was filed a day after the state appealed, triggering an automatic stay of the judge's order blocking the voucher law.

The stay means the students can keep their voucher plans while the state appeals.

The 43 Pensacola children who have used vouchers for three years should be able to continue because "their education could be significantly disrupted" otherwise, the latest motion stated.

The state is expected today to file its own motion to keep the entire program running.

Woman may be first state West Nile case of 2002

ST. AUGUSTINE -- Doctors say a northeastern Florida woman may be the first person infected with the West Nile virus in Florida this year.

Sandy Hudson, 18, of Crescent Beach was tested last Thursday after her doctor saw she had symptoms of the virus, said her mother, April Hudson. It could be Friday before test results are in.

Hudson was resting at home and recovering from flu-like symptoms, her mother said Tuesday.

Mosquitoes spread the virus from infected birds to humans. Most people develop only flu-like symptoms and some don't get sick, but some can develop deadly encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. Close to 100 human cases have been confirmed this year in the United States, with at least five deaths in Louisiana.

The virus infected 12 people and more than 400 horses in Florida last year. A handful of horses died, but no people.

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