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  • The state in brief

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
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  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

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    The state in brief

    Compiled from Times wires

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 17, 2000

    Commissioner charged with battering wife

    MERRITT ISLAND -- A Brevard County commissioner was arrested after being accused of grabbing his wife by her hair and dragging her across the patio floor of their home.

    Randy Owen O'Brien, 55, of Merritt Island, was charged with battery of his wife, Virginia, early Sunday.

    Mrs. O'Brien's clothing was torn and her right elbow was scraped, according to a police report. There was broken glass on the floor and items were thrown about the patio.

    O'Brien was released Sunday and given a Nov. 7 hearing date. The judge ordered him and his wife not to see each other unless both agree.

    O'Brien recently was accused by a former aide of improperly raising campaign money by taking and soliciting money in a county building and using a staff to help with the campaign. The aide, Chuck Maxwell, who said he was fired by O'Brien, sued the county and won $750,000 earlier this year.

    Cell phones play a role in rescues of swimmers

    ORMOND-BY-THE-SEA -- A call from a cellular phone may have saved three swimmers struggling with strong rip currents on Sunday.

    While on a walk with his wife, George Goldtrap called lifeguards on his cell phone at about 4:30 p.m. when the couple saw a man waving his hands and calling for help in the ocean off this small town north of Daytona Beach.

    "He was pointing out a girl in the surf," Goldtrap, 63, said.

    A rip current had apparently pulled Allan Park, 24, and Nicole Parent, 18, out into deeper waters.

    Goldtrap said Park made it to shore but was exhausted and asked onlookers to swim out and help Parent. William Lort, 62, and his daughter, who was not identified, swam to Parent, and the three almost reached shore. But a large wave knocked them over and pulled them all back out.

    Meanwhile, the initial 911 call gave directions that were about 3 miles south of the incident, said Beach Patrol Capt. Tim Cunningham. Rescuers searched but gave up, thinking the call was a prank.

    Park then called lifeguards on his own cell phone and gave more accurate directions, Goldtrap said. Lifeguards found them and easily pulled in the three tired swimmers, said Beach Patrol spokesman Deputy Chief Joe Wooden.

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    From the Times state desk