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Around the state

Lightning hits governor's plane

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 28, 2003

MIAMI BEACH -- Gov. Jeb Bush's plane was struck by lightning as it flew from Tallahassee to Orlando Thursday.

None of the seven people aboard the Beechcraft King Air was injured, said Alia Faraj, a spokeswoman for the governor.

The twin-engine plane landed safely in Orlando. The governor and his staff then took another plane to Miami Beach, where Bush's schedule included meeting with Manuel Angel Nunez Soto, the governor of the state of Hidalgo in Mexico.

Speaking at the Miami Beach convention center, Bush commented on the lightning strike.

Was he scared? "No, I wasn't scared. Alia, on the other hand, was frightened, paralyzed," the governor said with a smile.

Cancer won't sideline Wetherell

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State University president T.K. Wetherell is back at work while receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

Wetherell, 57, said he is being treated by H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.

When Wetherell learned of the cancer, "my first thought was let's cut the S.O.B. out," he said.

Doctors at Moffitt urged him to consider a different approach: hormone shots to shrink the cancer, followed by five weeks of daily radiation treatments. Wetherell took their recommendations to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for a review before settling into a treatment routine.

He will return to Moffitt in April before beginning daily radiation treatments in Tallahassee. He plans to work during the treatments.

Judge rejects arsenic wood suit

A federal judge in Palm Beach has thrown out a class action lawsuit filed against the makers of arsenic-treated wood and Home Depot.

The decision is a victory for the companies that manufacture pressure-treated lumber, which is infused with a powerful pesticide called chromated copper arsenate, or CCA. The suit alleged that CCA is "defective and unsafe" because it leaks arsenic and other chemicals.

A second class action suit is still pending in Louisiana.

U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks ruled the Florida suit didn't meet all the tests for class action status. Among other things, he said there are too many differences in the way individual pieces of wood are treated, and the chain of liability is complicated because many homeowners who claim harm got the wood through a contractor or subcontractor.

The American Wood Preservers Institute said it was pleased with the ruling and stands behind the safety of CCA wood.

Under an agreement reached last year with the U.S. Environmental Protection agency, the makers of CCA wood will pull their product from the market at the end of this year. The phaseout applies only to CCA wood used in places where it might come in contact with people. CCA wood will still be allowed for many outdoor uses, including marine pilings and oyster farms.

Rilya's caregiver gets two years

MIAMI -- Rilya Wilson's caregiver received a two-year sentence Thursday for stealing a friend's identity to buy a sport utility vehicle.

Geralyn Graham apologized to the judge when he announced her sentence for vehicle title fraud, obtaining a vehicle by trick and two counts of forgery.

Graham claims that a state social worker took away Rilya, then 4, in January 2001. No criminal charges have been filed in her disappearance, which the Department of Children and Families didn't discover for 15 months because DCF caseworkers had skipped required monthly visits.

Graham, 57, hobbled by arthritis, was handcuffed to a walker as she stood before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Daryl Trawick.

"This wasn't intended to be a fraud," Graham said, claiming her friend in Memphis gave her permission to use her driver's license and Social Security number for the SUV purchase. "I really am sorry."

-- Staff, wire reports

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  • From the state wire [an error occurred while processing this directive]