In brief: Mudslides, flash floods strand hundreds
OAK GLEN, Calif. – Thunderstorms across Southern California on Sunday brought flash floods that led to a few rescues, while thick debris flows cut off access to two mountain towns and stranded more than 2,000 people.
About 1,500 residents of Oak Glen, and another 1,000 residents of Forest Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains were unable to get out because the roads were covered with mud, rock and debris, authorities said.
The stranded include 500 people who had arrived at a Forest Falls campground Sunday morning.
“Our concern is that they’re isolated at that campground and no longer have access out of the mountain,” San Bernardino County Fire spokesman Kyle Hauducoeur said.
Authorities made calls using an emergency notification system to urge residents to stay put while crews clear the roads with bulldozers.
Flash floods led to the rescue of at least two people in the San Bernardino Mountains. Hauducoeur said a woman in Mt. Baldy was rescued from her house before it was immersed in mud. Four additional homes in the Bear Creek area were damaged by the debris flow, he said.
Monsoonal moisture brought brief but fierce storms to mountain, desert and inland areas.
The storms dumped as much as 3 1/2 inches of rain on Forest Falls, the National Weather Service said.
Florida to draw new district maps
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Confronted with a judge’s ruling to swiftly redraw the state’s congressional districts, Florida’s House speaker disclosed extraordinary plans late Sunday to convene a rare summer special session to devise a new map.
The speaker, Will Weatherford, sent out an email to legislators advising that they will hold a special session starting Thursday to address the “limited concerns” raised by a Florida judge over the state’s current congressional boundaries. The special session is expected to last up to a week.
The decision to hold a special session was triggered by a ruling by a circuit court judge, Terry Lewis. Lewis, who had ruled in early July that the current congressional map was illegal, ordered legislators on Friday to draw up a new map by Aug. 15.
Voters in 2010 passed a so-called “Fair Districts” amendment that says legislators cannot draw up districts to favor incumbents or a political party. A coalition of groups, including the League of Women Voters, has contended that the Republican consultants used a “shadow” process to draw districts that benefited Republicans.
Security increased for prisons director
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has increased security for its director following threatening phone calls and emails after a botched execution in April, according to records obtained by a newspaper.
The Tulsa World reported Sunday that records show the department bought a bullet-resistant sport utility vehicle with tinted windows for agency Director Robert Patton at a total cost of $40,587 and he is now accompanied by bodyguards.
Members of the Corrections Department’s Office of Inspector General serve as security and drive the vehicle when Patton travels, according to the documents obtained by the newspaper. The state’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services approved the purchase of the SUV.
“After speaking directly with the Department of Corrections, there is a definite concern due to specific threats against the life of the Director of the Department of Corrections related to the recent execution case,” the office’s state fleet manager, Terry Zuniga, wrote in a May 22 email.
“I cannot in good conscience put him at risk,” Zuniga wrote. “As a result, Fleet will approve this request.”
The threats followed the April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on the gurney, moaned and clenched his teeth for several minutes after the lethal injection began. The execution was stopped after a doctor determined there was a problem with a single IV in Lockett’s groin. He was subsequently pronounced dead of an apparent heart attack.
Remains of murder suspect found
PETROLIA, Calif. – The extensive search for an ex-convict suspected of killing his wife and two young daughters last year ended with the discovery of skeletal remains on a Northern California riverbank that officials confirmed Sunday as those of the fugitive.
Dental records determined that the remains belonged to Shane Miller, who had been wanted for questioning since his wife, Sandy, 34, and the couple’s daughters, Shelby, 8, and Shasta, 5, were shot to death in their home in the rural community of Shingletown on May 7, 2013, Shasta County sheriff’s Detective Dave Eoff said.
An anonymous tip Friday led authorities to the grisly find on the banks of the Mattole River in Petrolia, a community near the coast that’s about 200 miles west of Shingletown, Eoff said.
Investigators spent a week searching Petrolia last year after Miller’s pickup truck and his dog were found near there after the slayings.
Boy lost in NYC says it was ‘greatest day’
NEW YORK – A 9-year-old boy who got separated from his family at the Central Park Zoo said being lost for two hours in New York City was the greatest day of his life.
The Daily News reports that Chris Villavicencio, of Union City, New Jersey, got separated from his parents and younger sister Saturday afternoon.
He left the zoo and wandered around Times Square until police found him at the Port Authority Bus Terminal more than a mile away.
The boy told the Daily News, “This was the greatest day of my life because this was the first day I was at the police station!”