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Blue Spring State Park: 61-Year-Old Man Found Dead in Florida Water was Killed by Alligator



Blue Spring State Park: 61-Year-Old Man Found Dead in Florida Water was Killed by Alligator

Families were back in the clear waters of Blue Spring State Park on Wednesday, tubing and swimming down the narrow run that becomes packed with manatees every winter.

Park visitors said they weren’t deterred by what the Volusia County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Wednesday was the first fatality from an alligator attack since 2007.

Jennifer Burroughs, 30, visiting with her family from Melbourne, said the news scared her at first. But she had already booked a cabin and spent money to make the visit happen.

“We booked it, we’re doing it, we’re committed,” she said as she was loading her small children into an inflatable ring. “I feel like I’m going to be on the lookout now. I know what happened, so I’m going to be looking out.”

Questions into the specific circumstances of 61-year-old James Okkerse’s death linger as officials remained closed-mouthed about what park officials did or did not do leading up to the tragedy. The day before, visitors reported two sightings of the 12-foot alligator linked to his death. The alligator was later shot and killed.

The DeBary man’s body was pulled from the shore of the swimming area Monday, apparently facedown, with wounds that looked to be from an alligator attack, after friends reported that he disappeared, according to documents of the incident. An outside expert assisted the medical examiner, according to county officials. The full autopsy report will take six to eight weeks to complete.

Russell Anen, who was swimming with Okkerse the morning of the attack, questioned park policies that led up to his friend’s death. His wife, Carol, called 911 to report that Okkerse had not returned on time from a swim upstream toward the spring.

Okkerse and the Anens were not told about the alligator sighting when they entered the park Monday, said Russell Anen, 73, who lives in Orange City about 3 miles from the park. They would have returned home had they known an alligator of that size was spotted nearby, he said.

“There should be more information put out there for keeping the park in control rather than things getting out of hand,” he said. “We’re not foolish people. We should have been cautioned, and we probably would have asked for the size of the alligator…”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees state parks, did not respond Wednesday to questions about the events leading up to Okkerse’s death, including who decides when to open or close the swimming area when an alligator sighting is reported.

A timeline provided by the agency shows the swimming area closed for an hour Sunday from 11:55 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. after the alligator was spotted. Park staff searched by canoe and from the shore but did not see the gator. A second sighting was reported about 4 p.m.

Patrons of the park, who enjoy kayaking in the St. Johns River, snorkeling in the narrow channel leading to an underwater cave or viewing manatees during the winter months, are aware that alligators lurk in the waters.

A sign near the boardwalk that runs parallel to the river emanating from the spring warns that “large alligators … occasionally attack larger animals such as deer, and may even attack humans.”

Many alligators, including smaller ones at 4 to 6 feet, do not generally approach people, experts said. But they can become bold if people feed them directly or toss leftovers in the water.

“It trains them remarkably fast where to get food from,” said Jeff Woolfenden, a contract trapper for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “They ambush anything … they will eat anything they can get their grubby little grips on.”

Okkerse’s death marks the end of the state’s longest recorded period without a fatal alligator attack, according to FWC. The second-longest stretch occurred from 1979 to 1983. There have been 22 fatal alligator attacks since 1948. In the same time period, there have been 338 nonfatal alligator attacks.

Anen, Okkerse’s friend, said he hopes the tragedy will lead to better safety measures at the park.

He proposed removing all alligators from the swimming area.

“I just want things done that are right for Jim and the other people that attend the park,” he said. “I just want to make sure safety measures are in place.”

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.


80 Million Stimulus Check Direct Deposits Have Been Processed. When Will They Arrive?



80 Million Stimulus Check Direct Deposits Have Been Processed. When Will They Arrive?

Americans will start to see their stimulus payments this week, a centerpiece of the $2.2 trillion rescue package meant to provide a buffer against the coronavirus pandemic that’s shuttered much of the U.S. economy.

The Internal Revenue Service has begun sending $1,200 payments to middle and lower income adults, plus $500 for their minor children, though it could take until September for every eligible person to get the money.
The first payments “should be deposited directly into individuals’ bank accounts; the precise date you will see payments in your account depends on how long individual banks typically take to process direct deposits,” according to a press release from House Ways and Means Committee Republicans.

The IRS will first send the money to individuals for whom the agency has direct deposit information. The remainder will be mailed as checks. That process is expected to begin April 20 but could take until the fall to complete.

The IRS processed more than 80 million payments on Friday that should be available in bank accounts early this week, Sunita Lough, the IRS deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, said in a video conference Monday.

Payments will be made first to those earning the least.

The IRS has launched a tool for non-tax filers, such as those who had income under $12,200 last year and weren’t required to file a federal return, to enter direct deposit information to get their payments.

The agency plans to have a second website up by April 17 that will show people the status of their payments, including the date the money is scheduled to be deposited or mailed. That tool will also let people who’ve typically gotten their tax refund in the mail to provide their bank account details to get their stimulus payment more quickly.

The IRS is using information from 2018 and 2019 tax returns to process the payments. It says taxpayers who’ve yet to file a return this year should do so as soon as possible, and elect to receive the refund via a direct deposit. The information can then be used to distribute the stimulus payments. Social Security and disability recipients will receive their payments automatically.

The tax deadline was extended to July 15 from April 15 to give people more time to file and pay during the pandemic.

Taxpayers who don’t need extra time and who expect to get a stimulus payment should file as soon as possible so the agency has their most up-to-date details on file, said Christina Taylor, head of operations for Credit Karma Tax.

“The quicker, the better,” she said.

Americans earning $75,000 or less, or $150,000 and below as a couple, are eligible for the full $1,200 payout per adult, plus $500 for each child under 17. Those amounts are reduced for people with higher incomes, and people who make $99,000 or more in earnings (or $198,000 for a couple) get nothing, even if they have children. Individuals must have a Social Security number to receive a payment.

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A Case of Hantavirus Has Been Reported in China. Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry.

A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming…



A Case of Hantavirus Has Been Reported in China. Here's Why You Shouldn't Worry.

A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming.

Hantaviruses are a family of virus that spread through rodents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Yunnan Province, a man died on his way back to Shandong Province, according to Global Times, an English-language Chinese news outlet.

“He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” the news outlet tweeted.

The tweet, sent amid a pandemic caused by a new coronavirus, has been shared more than 15,000 times.

Though countries across the globe are on high alert due to uncertainty around the coronavirus, there is no indication that the hantavirus poses a global public health threat.

According to the CDC, hantavirus cases are rare, and they spread as a result of close contact with rodent urine, droppings or saliva.

Certain kinds of rats and mice in the United States can carry the virus, which is transmitted when someone breathes in contaminated air.

“The hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another,” the CDC says on its website. Rare cases in Chile and Argentina have seen person-to-person transmission when a person is in close contact with someone sickened by a type of hantavirus called Andes virus, the CDC says.

In the U.S., the virus can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a severe respiratory disease that can be fatal. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems. Coughing and shortness of breath can occur later in the disease as the lungs fill with liquid, the CDC says,

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, found mostly in Europe and Asia, can also occur, which causes pain, fever, chills, nausea, and blurred vision, the CDC says. More serious symptoms include acute kidney failure.

Cases in the United States have typically been concentrated in the western and southwestern states.

From 1993 to 2017, there were only 728 confirmed hantavirus cases in the United States, with most being non-fatal, according to CDC data. In comparison, since late January, when the first known coronavirus case was identified in the U.S., there have been 46,805 confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

In May 1993, a hantavirus outbreak occurred in an area between Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. A 2012 outbreak in Yosemite sickened 10 people. In seven states, 17 people were infected in a 2017 outbreak.

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Developments in Presidential Race, Trump does Terribly at Forum as Clinton shines

November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States…



November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States.

First of all, Donald Trump, according to Kristina Vong’s article at, wrongly corrected a veteran Marine during a forum. The veteran, a woman named Rachel Fredericks, asked Mr. Trump how he plans to stop 20 veterans from committing suicide, daily. Trump tried to correct the woman, who needed no correction. He said it is actually 22, trying to emerge correct, when he was essentially incorrect.

Mr. Trump also does not have a real plan to defeat ISIS, as “his plan is to have a plan” according to Igor Bobic at the Huffington Post. He also insulted military leaders calling them embarrassments to the country when they were under President Obama. He wants to give the generals 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS.  Of course, this even makes it more obvious that Mr. Trump does not have a plan to defeat ISIS. Why, then did he call our current president the founder of ISIS? How can you give your vote to someone so unprepared and unfit for the presidency that constitutes a whole country? Sorry to say, but Donald Trump is not someone to vote for, at least not as US President!

According to Sean Colarossi at, a presidential forum highlighted how prepared Trump and Clinton are compared to each other, with Clinton appearing as the more prepared one, very easily. Clinton was engaged with questions, expressed gratitude, and was very prolific and intelligible in her responses. To reiterate, Trump has not a plan to defeat ISIS, where Hillary has a well thought-out plan. She outlined her plan, entailing it could take any form and she iterated and supports the idea that terror suspects should not be able to purchase firearms. Clinton also covered issues like mental health, illuminating the fact that it is overlooked, and mental health should no longer be stigmatized and victims of mental disorders should have access to resources. On the other hand, Trump gave generic answers like that he knows what is going on in the world. Also according to Colarossi’s article, Trump showed as an “empty suit” and “showed he is not prepared to be commander-in-chief” and that the contrast between him and Clinton could not be clearer”; this essentially means Clinton showed to be immensely more prepared to lead and did not focus on attacking others, like Trump’s approach does.

Lastly, Donald Trump has insulted women, children, ethnic groups, religious groups, his opponent, our current president, the military, and the list goes on. He is patronizing and unprepared to preside over our country as well. He constantly attacks others, with no action in mind. Consider if you want to have him as president, seriously!

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