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Paul Hopkins flies his Eurofighter Typhoon, a remote control airplane powered by a turbine engine, Sunday during the fourth annual Tangerine Airshow in Apopka.

The Associated Press
Published: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 12:06 a.m.

POLICE BEAT: Five hospitalized after U.S. 19 crash, fuel spill

  • A car accident late Sunday afternoon sent five people to the hospital and spilled 150 gallons of diesel fuel on U.S. 19 near Chiefland, Florida Highway Patrol troopers said.
    Jerry Whitworth, 24, of Iron Station, N.C., was driving a tractor-trailer south on U.S. 19 when he tried to make a U-turn from the outside lane, Trooper Leon Gill said.
    Robert Pallaschke, 54, of Almont, Mich., was driving a van in another lane, Gill said, and the van hit the truck, causing the fuel tank to rupture.
    His wife, Rose Pallaschke, 54, sons Jack Pallaschke, 24, and Bobby Pallaschke, 17, and Rose Pallaschke's parents, Jack and Joan Lentini of Hudson, were all taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Gill said.
    Whitworth was charged with making an illegal U-turn, Gill said.
    Traffic was backed up for about 15 minutes, Gill said.
    - Amy Reinink

    STATE: Longtime columnist, Ruester, dies at 75

  • DAYTONA BEACH - Ray Ruester, a longtime political columnist and associate editor at The Daytona Beach News-Journal, was found dead at his home computer on New Year's Day, his family said. He was 75.
    Ruester died early Saturday of a massive stroke that brought on heart failure, said his son, Rene Ruester. He had just wished his wife a happy New Year and went to his computer when he died.
    "Everyone looked to him for history - he had an excellent mind, a great resource for the public," said his friend, Mary Jo Stansfield. "His love of journalism never really stopped . . . He died at his computer."
    Ruester became political editor of the News-Journal in 1969. He wrote a column, "Politics as Unusual" for many years and covered the Legislature, city government and a national political convention before retiring in 1992. He was remembered for explaining why Volusia County should change its governing board from a five-member commission to a seven-member council.
    - The Associated Press

    STATE: Huge Gambian rats have Keys officials worried

  • KEY WEST - The Florida Keys, already dealing with invasive exotics from melaleuca to iguanas, have added another to the list of unwanted newcomers: the African Gambian pouch rat.
    Biologists and conservationists in the Keys say the rodent needs to be eradicated, before it increases its range and harms native species that live in natural areas of the Keys.
    Although it is unclear how or why the rat - which can grow as big as a raccoon - was released on Grassy Key, biologists are saying the animal could be devastating to the Florida Keys' ecological system.
    The omnivores, or animals that eat almost everything, could compete for food with endangered species such as the silver rice rat, carry diseases and eat bird eggs.
    And the greater threat is that the pouch rat could make it to Key Largo, threatening the endangered wood rat, biologists say. And, even worse, the rat that can grow up to nine pounds might make it to the Florida Everglades.
    - The Associated Press "There's no telling what would happen if they made it to the mainland," biologist Randy Grau said.
    Grau, who works as a wildlife biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, says the rat needs to be exterminated. Grau said it could be difficult for the rats to make it across the long bridges to Key Largo and Big Pine Key.
    "But they could get in the back of a truck and make it that way," he said.
    Grau said the Grassy Key pouch rats are the first documented breeding population in the United States.
    "It's another Florida Keys first," he said.
    There have been unconfirmed reports that Gambian pouch rats have made it to Key Largo, but thorough surveys have not revealed any evidence.
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