Boating fatalities up from last year
Fifty people have died in boating accidents so far this year, state wildlife officials say. That's up four from this time last year.
Carol Keyser of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Boating and Waterways Section says the number of fatalities reflects an alarming trend.
Keyser said Thursday there have been three drownings in the past three months after people jumped into the water from moving boats. Alcohol also is suspected to have played a role in several recent deaths.
WEST PALM BEACH
Jury orders tobacco companies to pay
A jury Thursday ordered two tobacco giants to pay $270,000 in punitive damages to the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer at age 55. The amount is on top of the $2.2 million the same jury awarded Liz Piendle two weeks ago. After finding R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris responsible for the 1996 death of Charles Piendle, it also found the companies had acted recklessly by knowingly putting defective products on the market. That set the stage for this week's three-day trial.
The case is one of about 8,000 cases filed against tobacco companies by smokers and their families statewide. All of the cases sprung from a 1994 Miami-Dade County class-action lawsuit. That jury found cigarette-makers had lied about the dangers of smoking and awarded $145 billion in damages.
Fla. ACT scores remain among nation's lowest
The composite ACT score for Florida high school seniors in 2010 is unchanged from last year but remains among the lowest in the nation. Results released this week, though, show Florida's 65 percent participation rate is above the 47 percent national rate. High participation tends to lower average scores. Florida's composite again was 19.5 compared to the national average of 21, which dropped slightly from 21.1.
This year's result halts a downward trend for Florida, which posted a 20.3 just four years ago.
Florida also trailed in meeting college readiness benchmarks. Only 16 percent of students met all four benchmarks — English, reading, math and science — compared to 24 percent nationally.
WEST PALM BEACH
Police call man's fall from building suicide
A man fell to his death from a 21-story office building in West Palm Beach.
Police say 24-year-old Brett Hall jumped from the top of the Northbridge Centre building Thursday morning.
Police are calling the death a suicide.
It wasn't clear how Hall got to the building's roof. A detective on the scene said only maintenance workers and security guards have access to the area.