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State & Regional

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say a bus driver is dead following a crash with another bus in Orlando. News outlets report the Lynx bus crashed into the other bus early Friday morning. Police said no passengers were on the bus when the crash occurred. Several lanes of traffic were closed while police investigate. No additional details were available.
  • PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. (AP) - Police in South Florida say a 66-year-old doctor is accused of giving patients medical marijuana cards without meeting them in person, conducting physical exams or requiring a debilitating medical condition. The SunSentinel reports Tommy Louisville used closed-circuit television to evaluate patients who came to Miracle Leaf Health Center in Pembroke Pines. Louisville was arrested Thursday and had his medical license restricted. Prosecutors say he appears to be the first Florida doctor charged with illegally prescribing marijuana since voters legalized the drug in 2016. Police said Louisville approved a prescription for one patient who said his employer drug-tested him and he needed an excuse for his positive results. Louisville faces two misdemeanor counts of unlawful issuance of a medical marijuana certification. An attorney wasn't listed for Louisville.
  • FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - The United States Coast Guard seized cocaine with an estimated street value of around $500 million during a series of interdictions in international waters. The 18.5 tons (16.7 metric tons) of cocaine was unloaded at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale Thursday. In a news release, Coast Guard officials said they worked with other U.S. agencies and law enforcement from other countries to seize the drugs from 15 smuggling boats off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America. The operation also led to the arrests of 49 people who will be prosecuted in South Florida. Capt. Jeffrey Randall tells the Miami Herald the volume of cocaine being smuggled by water is draining the Coast Guard's resources. In 2017, the agency seized 226 tons of cocaine and brought in 708 suspects.
  • KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say 13 adults suffered minor injuries when a school bus crashed on Florida's Turnpike. The Orlando Sentinel reports the crash happened Thursday morning in Osceola County. Florida Highway Patrol says the bus driver was trying to change lanes to make a U-turn but got in the direct way of a semi-truck. The bus was knocked onto its right side, and the semi-truck came to a stop nearby. No serious injuries were reported. The bus driver was cited for improper lane change. ___ Information from: Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com/
  • KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) - Rare twin manatees Millennium and Falcon have been released back to their home in the Florida Keys. With satellite tracking transmitters strapped to their bodies, the two marine mammals were returned to waters leading to Florida Bay on Thursday. They were found in October 2016, after their mother was accidentally killed by a boat strike. They each weighed about 100 pounds when staff from the Keys-based Dolphin Research Center rescued and had them transferred them to the Miami Seaquarium. They were subsequently sent to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio for rehabilitation before returning to the Seaquarium about two months ago. Experts say manatee calves usually stay with their mothers one to two years, adding that twin manatees make up less than four percent of all births.
  • LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Frontier Airlines has started offering a nonstop flight from Louisville, Kentucky to Orlando, Florida. A statement from Louisville International Airport on Thursday says the flights to Orlando International Airport will be offered three times a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. It's the third nonstop flight added by Frontier at the Louisville airport this year. The airline added nonstop flights to Denver in May and to Austin in August. Two other airlines offer low-fare flights from Louisville to Orlando: Southwest and Allegiant.
  • DENTON, Texas (AP) - DeAndre Torrey had 17 carries for a career-high 187 yards, including a 92-yard touchdown run with 4:06 to play, and North Texas beat UNT 41-38 on Thursday night. Mason Fine was 22-of-33 passing for 295 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for UNT (8-3, 4-3 Conference USA). The junior - who is already the program's career leader in completions, attempts and TD passes - left the game in the third quarter with an injury to his non-throwing hand. Backup Quinn Shanbour led back-to-back touchdown drives while scoring on runs of 5 and 18 yards before Fine returned. The Owls (5-6, 3-4) scored 17 consecutive points to take a 24-21 lead early in the third quarter after Vladimir Rivas made a 31-yard field goal. Torrey ripped off a 46-yard run on the next play from scrimmage and, after Fine was injured two plays later, Shanbour scored from 5 yards out. Nate Brooks picked off a pass from Chris Robison three plays later and Shanbour's second TD run made it 34-24 with 6:33 left in the quarter. Devin Singletary's 8-yard scoring run capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive on FAU's next possession and both offenses sputtered until Torrey's long TD run. Robison hit Jovon Durante for a 55-yard touchdown three plays later and the Mean Green went three-and-out on its next possession but Khairi Muhamad poked a pass from Robison high in the air and picked it off with 1:53 to go. Singletary finished with 91yards rushing and two touchdowns and Harrison Bryant had six receptions for 138 yards and a score for FAU. UNT, which had three yards rushing at halftime, finished with 511 total yards, including 208 on the ground. Career-high rushing yards for Torrey
  • SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - For months, members of the panel investigating Florida's high school massacre have called the sheriff's deputy assigned to guard the campus 'a coward' for hiding and not rushing inside in an attempt to stop the shooter. Given an opportunity to confront his critics Thursday, now-retired Broward Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson sent his attorney instead before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. Attorney Joseph DiRuzzo III told the 14-member panel he had filed a lawsuit hours earlier attempting to block their subpoena. DiRuzzo dropped a copy on the lectern and then walked away. Fred Guttenberg, whose child Jaime died along with 16 others, said to DiRuzzo as he passed: 'He didn't do his job. My daughter should be alive.' The panel, which has been meeting periodically since April, has a Jan. 1 deadline to report its findings to Gov. Rick Scott on the shooting's causes and recommendations for avoiding future school massacres. On Friday, the commission is scheduled to learn about the medical response to the shooting and begin debating its findings. The panel includes law enforcement, education and mental health officials, a legislator and the fathers of two dead students. Peterson, the longtime deputy assigned to Stoneman Douglas, has become the second-most vilified person surrounding the Feb. 14 shooting after suspect Nikolas Cruz. Security video shows Peterson arrived outside the three-story building where the killings happened shortly after the shooting began, about the same time the gunman finished slaying 11 people on the first-floor. Peterson drew his handgun, but retreated to cover next to the neighboring building. The video shows Peterson never left that spot for 50 minutes, even after other deputies and police officers arrived on campus and went inside. Panel members have said they believe Peterson's inaction allowed Cruz to climb to the third floor, where five students, including Jamie Guttenberg, and one teacher were killed. They believe if Peterson, 55, had confronted Cruz, who authorities say was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, and engaged him in a shootout he could have killed him or given others more time to reach safety. 'Peterson could have saved my daughter. My daughter was the second-to-last to be shot ... a few more seconds and she would be alive,' Fred Guttenberg told The Associated Press after DiRuzzo left. Peterson, a decorated 32-year veteran of the sheriff's office, retired shortly after the shooting rather than accept a suspension while his actions were investigated. He is now receiving a $100,000 annual pension. There had been speculation Peterson might attend the meeting but invoke the Fifth Amendment, as a criminal investigation of law enforcement's response continues. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the panel's chairman, said Thursday he wanted to ask Peterson, 'Why the hell did he go hide and run away and not do his job?' Peterson told investigators shortly after the shooting and reporters last spring from the 'Today' show and The Washington Post that he heard only two or three shots and didn't know whether they were coming from inside the building. That is contradicted by radio calls in which he correctly identifies the building as the shooter's location. Bullets also came out a window almost directly above where he took cover. About 150 shots were fired and were heard by others a quarter-mile away. Cruz, a 20-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student, is charged with the slayings. He has pleaded not guilty, but his attorneys have said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The panel also heard Thursday from two other Broward County officials criticized for their actions before and after the shooting: Sheriff Scott Israel and school Superintendent Robert Runcie. Israel, whose triplet sons graduated from Stoneman Douglas a few years ago, was asked why his agency's policy on engaging an active shooter says a deputy 'may' confront a shooter rather than 'shall.' The sheriff said deputies are trained to engage immediately, but 'I want an effective tactical response, not a suicide response.' Israel said a different policy wouldn't have prompted Peterson to rush into the building, saying 'you can't train courage.' Runcie said he's focusing on the recovery and well-being of students, improving school safety and holding administrators accountable. Runcie outlined security improvements, including single points of entry and armed guardians or police officers at all schools, and expanded mental health resources for students. ___ Fischer reported from Miami.
  • TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida's acrimonious U.S. Senate contest is headed to a legally required hand recount after an initial review by ballot-counting machines showed Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson separated by fewer than 13,000 votes. The contest for governor between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum appeared all but over Thursday, with a machine recount showing DeSantis with a large enough advantage over Gillum to avoid a hand recount in that race. Gillum, who conceded on Election Night only to retract his concession later, said in a statement that 'it is not over until every legally casted vote is counted.' The recount has been fraught with problems. One large Democratic stronghold in South Florida was unable to finish its machine recount by the Thursday deadline due to machines breaking down. A federal judge rejected a request to extend the recount deadline. 'We gave a heroic effort,' said Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. If the county had three or four more hours, it would have made the deadline to recount ballots in the Senate race, she said. Meanwhile, election officials in another urban county in the Tampa Bay area decided against turning in the results of their machine recount, which came up with 846 fewer votes than originally counted. And media in South Florida reported that Broward County finished its machine recount but missed the deadline by a few minutes. Counties were ordered this past weekend to conduct a machine recount of three statewide races because the margins were so tight. The next stage is a manual review of ballots that were not counted by machines to see if there is a way to figure out voter intent. Scott called on Nelson to end the recount battle. It's time for Nelson 'to respect the will of the voters and graciously bring this process to an end rather than proceed with yet another count of the votes - which will yield the same result and bring more embarrassment to the state that we both love and have served,' the governor's statement said. Six election-related lawsuits are pending in federal court in Tallahassee, and at least one in state court. The situation drew the ire of U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who slammed the state for repeatedly failing to anticipate election problems. He also said the state law on recounts appears to violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that decided the presidency in 2000. 'We have been the laughingstock of the world, election after election, and we chose not to fix this,' Walker said at a hearing Thursday. Walker vented his anger at state lawmakers and Palm Beach County officials, saying they should have made sure they had the equipment to handle this kind of a recount. But he said he couldn't extend the recount deadline because he didn't know when Palm Beach County would finish its work. The overarching problem was created by the Florida Legislature, which Walker said passed a recount law that appears to run afoul of the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision, by locking in procedures that do not allow for potential problems. Walker also ordered that voters be given until 5 p.m. Saturday to show a valid identification and fix their ballots if they haven't been counted due to mismatched signatures. Republicans challenged this order and were turned down by an appeals court. State officials testified that nearly 4,000 mailed-in ballots were set aside because local officials decided the signatures on the envelopes did not match the signatures on file. If those voters can prove their identity, their votes will now be counted and included in final official returns due from each county by noon Sunday. Walker was asked by Democrats to require local officials to provide a list of people whose ballots were rejected. But the judge refused the request as 'inappropriate.' Under state law, a hand review is required when the victory margin is 0.25 percentage points or less. A state website's unofficial results show Scott ahead of Nelson by 0.15 percentage points. The margin between DeSantis and Gillum was 0.41 percent. The margin between Scott and Nelson had not changed much in the last few days, conceded Marc Elias, an attorney working for Nelson's campaign. But he said that he expects it to shrink due to the hand recount and the ruling on signatures. Democrats want state officials to do whatever it takes to make sure every eligible vote is counted. Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have argued without evidence that voter fraud threatens to steal races from the GOP. ___ Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg and Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale contributed to this report.
  • CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - Beatrice Mompremier set career highs with 24 points and 21 rebounds to help the No. 24 Miami women beat No. 19 Marquette 63-55 on Thursday night. The Golden Eagles closed the deficit to 56-55 with 4:55 left. Both teams then went scoreless for over four minutes and the Hurricanes pulled away in the final minute with seven straight points. Miami (4-0) built a 49-33 lead on Taylor Mason's 3-point play with 5:10 left in the third quarter. Marquette (3-1) answered with nine straight points to get within single digits and used a 6-0 run in the fourth quarter to get within one. Emese Hof added 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Laura Cornelius scored 10 for the Hurricanes. Erika Davenport scored 15 and Danielle King added 10 for the Eagles.