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Rare photograph shows sea lion trapped in mouth of humpback whale

WQAD News -

Photographer Chase Dekker has been watching whales his whole life but does not expect to see this ever again. (Courtesy Chase Dekker)

MONTEREY, Calif. – This sea lion found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Chase Dekker has been photographing wildlife for nearly a decade but has never captured a shot like this. He was on a routine whale-watching boat trip last week in Monterey Bay, California, when he noticed a sea lion stuck on the nose of a humpback whale.

He immediately started photographing.

“I didn’t even look at my camera,” Dekker said. “I just leaped up and was screaming to everyone aboard.”

The results were incredible, as Dekker was able to capture the moment when the sea lion fell into the whale’s mouth.

Don’t worry, that sea lion managed to escape to open waters, though it was probably a little shaken up.

Humpback whales are filter-feeding animals who have no interest in consuming sea lions. In fact, that whale’s esophagus is only about the size of a grapefruit or small melon, making it impossible to swallow such a creature.

To feed, these humpback whales open their mouths wide and take in large amounts of water. They filter out tiny ocean creatures such as plankton and krill, pushing the water back out. A humpback whale can hold up to 5,000 gallons of water in its mouth, according to the Maui Ocean Center.

Because the two animals are often feeding together, it makes sense that a whale accidentally catches a sea lion now and then, but up to this point, no one is known to have captured the moment.

The feeding congregation Dekker came across in this photo was made up of only three whales and maybe 200 sea lions. This was a relatively small one, according to the photographer, who has seen groups as large as 100 whales and 3,000 sea lions.

He is a native of Monterey Bay and works often as a marine biologist and photographer on Sanctuary Cruises. He is now heading to Tonga to photograph more humpback whales — but he doesn’t expect to see a sight quite like this one ever again.

Twins’ dad asked wife to pick up babies before finding their bodies in hot car

WQAD News -

BRONX — Juan Rodriguez, the father of 1-year-old twins who were left in a sweltering car while he did his eight-hour shift at work, was talking to his wife on the phone as he left the VA Hospital last Friday.

Phoenix and Luna Rodriguez are seen in a photo posted to Facebook before their deaths on July 26, 2019.

“He made a phone call as he was leaving the hospital,” a law enforcement source told WPIX, “asking his wife to pick up the kids at day care. He was supposed to pick up a uniform for his reserve duty. He truly believed they were at the day care.”

When the 39-year-old dad made the left turn out of the hospital parking lot onto Kingsbridge Road, he drove two blocks and that’s when “he saw the seats in the back,” according to the source.

The car seats were “rear facing.”

Rodriguez normally would have carried his 1-year-old son, Phoenix, and daughter, Luna, in their car seats into the day care.

He instantly realized he had made a terrible mistake.

The father jumped out of the car, finding the lifeless bodies of Phoenix and Luna, foaming at the mouth and still strapped in their car seats.

“I blanked out,” Rodriguez screamed on the street, as nearby pedestrians called 911. “I killed my babies.”

“They were dead for quite some time, at that point,” the source said. It was later revealed the internal body temperature of both babies was 108 degrees Fahrenheit.

Toxicology tests were also performed on both children, to see if they ingested any toxic substance, and results are not expected for a couple of weeks.

But investigators are inclined to believe this was a terrible tragedy.

“Everybody talked highly of him,” the source said, “at work, the neighbors, his ex-wife. His ex-wife said he’s a great father to their children.”

Rodriguez also has a 4-year-old son with his current wife, Marissa, who is the mother of the deceased twins.

Phoenix and Luna had just celebrated their 1st birthday on July 9, and their parents threw a big party for them, complete with a bouncy house.

Marissa Rodriguez put out a statement Sunday night saying, in part, “I still love my husband. This was a horrific accident and I need him by my side to go through this together. Luna and Phoenix will always live in our hearts and memories and we are working hard to come to terms with what has happened.”

Juan Rodriguez is a military reservist who told law enforcement he had done a tour in Kuwait and Iraq.

“He counsels guys who come back,” the source noted about Rodriguez’ work at the VA hospital.

Rodriguez himself was apparently not taking any medication at the time of the tragedy.

Rodriguez’ family was able to post $100,000 bail, so he’s awaiting his next court date at home in New City, Rockland County.

Once the toxicology testing is done, a grand jury will consider the charges he is facing — second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

Rodriguez has pleaded not guilty.

Wounded veterans teach children with missing limbs how to play ball

WQAD News -

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A group of wounded veterans from all over the country are helping children with disabilities this week in Virginia Beach.

The group USA Patriots is teaching kids who live with congenital limb loss or have suffered amputation from illness or injury the basic fundamentals of playing ball sports.

Mother of six Kristy Filbrun drove 12 hours from Ohio with her six children to attend the group's Kids Camp, which is formerly known as the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team.

Her 9-year-old son Wyatt and 12-year-old daughter Jemma both participated in the camp.

“My injury is honestly one of the biggest blessings in my life,” Josh Wege told WTKR.

Wege said he signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps when he was 18 years old. He said he lost both legs in Afghanistan when his vehicle hit a 200-pound IED. He said his injuries put life into perspective.

“I don’t put socks and shoes on in the morning. I literally have to strap legs to my body to be able to walk,” said Wege. “It changed my perspective, and I could share that with anybody else that comes out.”

Wege and the other veterans are sharing that positive perception with 17 kids.

“They deserve to be kids. We get to bring them out to teach them how we’ve gone through it and also learn from them, too,” said Wege.

Organizers say Virginia Wesleyan University allows them to use the fields and stay on campus for free, which saves the organization about $30,000. They said they fundraise all year to pay for the kids and one parent to be flown to Virginia Beach. They said they pay for all activities and meals while they are here.

“We want them to come here carefree and simply have a great time,” said Ellison.

“We’re here to pop that bubble that society has put on them that they’re disabled. They’re not. They’re just kids - they just got a couple more challenges to go through,” said Wege.

Filbrun said it is a powerful example for the kids to see and learn from the veterans who know the challenges they're facing.

“We got knocked down, but we got right back up and we’re still leading by example. That’s what the military taught us to do, so we're going to keep doing that,” said Wege.

The camp runs from July 29 until August 3 at TowneBank Park on the Virginia Wesleyan campus. This is the seventh year the group has hosted the event.

Dow plunges after Powell says not to expect further rate cuts

WQAD News -

The Dow fell as much as 450 points Wednesday afternoon after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the quarter-point rate cut that the Fed had approved earlier in the day was a one-off.

“We are thinking of it as a mid-cycle adjustment to policy,” Powell said during a press conference Wednesday. “I’m contrasting it with the beginning of a lengthy cutting cycle.”

The market had initially interpreted the Fed’s statement about the rate cut, its first since 2008, to mean more cuts were coming, but dropped after Powell threw cold water on that.

“The market is concerned this might be one rate cut and done, as opposed to an extended cycle,” Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at SunTrust, told CNN Business. “It’s a bit of a knee- jerk reaction. We’ve had a big run-up. The market is not getting exactly what it wanted.”

The Dow regained about 200 points after Powell clarified that he meant the Fed could cut rates again soon, but the cycle of cuts wouldn’t last for a long period of time.

“What I said was it’s not the beginning of a long series of rate cuts,” Powell said. “We’ll be taking a somewhat more accommodative stance over time.”

Engineering grad’s clever electronic cap decoration almost caused a bomb scare

WQAD News -

A computer engineering graduate got his diploma and one heck of a story because the DIY electronic decoration on his graduation cap looked a bit like a bomb.

Can Cevik told CNN that police stopped him on Monday evening at a security entrance as he was walking into Florida International University’s graduation ceremony.

They were suspicious of the gadget, which had a flashing, digital display that was connected to a 9-volt battery and electronic boards with red, black, yellow and green wires.

“They said ‘hold on, we need to see what that is on your head,'” and told him to put the cap on the floor and step away, Cevik said. Then they had him empty his pockets and briefly took his cell phone.

“They were just basically trying to figure out what sort of a threat this could be, is it a bomb, that sort of thing,” he said.

Cevik explained to the officers that he made the device with an Arduino Uno, a palm-sized computer micro-controller that can be used in all sorts of electronics projects.

He had programmed it to make the display say “FIU 2019.”

“Initially, I did feel nervous, because I honestly was not expecting this. I probably should have, given the state of the socio-political climate with all these dangerous shootings and everything, which unfortunately does happen,” he said. “To me it was fair for them to assume the worst.”

Cevik said that he made the decoration last month for fun from about $20 worth of parts he’d bought from Amazon.

“I just threw it all together and then I sort of forgot about it until the day of graduation and then I taped it on my graduation cap and went to graduation,” he said.

The officers were very calm, he said, and it took them about 10 or 15 minutes to decide that he wasn’t a threat.

“You have to err on the side of caution,” FIU Police Capt. Delrish Moss told CNN.

The incident didn’t delay the graduation and Cevik got to graduate with his classmates, but he was a few minutes late and missed the singing of the alma mater and national anthem.

Cevik got his hat back, but Moss said bomb technicians took apart the Arduino device as a precaution. “I don’t really care that much because it wasn’t that expensive and that’s their job to make sure the community’s safe and that sort of thing,” Cevik said.

Moss said officers were concerned that someone in the crowd might be scared if they saw it from a distance.

After the ceremony, Cevik posed for a photo with the officer who stopped him.

“She was definitely cool about the whole situation, that’s for sure,” he said.

Cevik said he’s now trying to find a job as a software developer in South Florida.

“I’m on my job search right now, so that’s what I’m focused on,” he said.

Moss said it is the first time he’s aware of something like this happening.

“It’s not that big of a surprise because the students are so doggone talented with what they’re able to do,” he said.

Illinois stiffens penalties for violators of Scott’s Law

WQAD News -

ROCKFORD, Illinois -- Violators of Scott's Law in Illinois will now face tougher penalties.

Scott's Law requires drivers to move over for any emergency vehicles on the road.  The law was named in honor of Chicago Fire Department Lt. Scott Gillen who was killed in the line of duty while responding to a crash.

The legislation that Governor J.B. Pritzker signed on Tuesday, July 30, increases penalties for violators.  Initially, a fine for Scott's Law would be at least 100.  The new legislation increases the fine for a first violation to be at least $250 and at least $750 for any further violations.   The maximum fine someone would be could be up to $10,000.

Click here to read the full bill.

Maintenance workers are also protected under the new legislation.

Basketball event aims to bring East Moline community closer together

WQAD News -

EAST MOLINE, Illinois — An annual activity is bringing police and the community together for a fourth year.

Hoops 4 Hope is an evening of playing basketball and strengthening relationships within the community.  According to a statement about the event, the event started with a vision to unite communities within East Moline.

“We believe that bringing people together through a celebration like Hoops 4 Hope is a great way to unite our different communities into one,” read a statement from the organizers.

The event doubles as a fundraiser, with proceeds going to help neighbors in need.  For the 2019 event, the goal was set to raise $2,500. Running the event costs about $1,500; organizers said the extra $1,000 will go towards improving Hereford Park, located at 400 13th Street in East Moline.

Hoops 4 Hope was set for Wednesday, July 31 from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.  They will accept monetary donations as well as school supplies.

Inching temperatures a bit in the coming days… Humidity, too

WQAD News -

What you see is what you get.  What we call ‘persistence’ in the methods of forecasting and the weather pattern the past few days. Highs today will make their way back in the upper 70s to lower 80s this afternoon with the humidity once again staying in check.  Tonight will once again cool off those temperatures quickly with overnight lows in the upper 50s.

We’ll inch up those high temperatures a degree each day as we slowly increase just a touch more humidity through the upcoming weekend.  Daytime highs are still on track to peak by Sunday and Monday with highs around the 90 degree mark.

Could see a lonely shower or thunderstorm Sunday night before an approaching front scheduled to arrive later Tuesday pops a few showers and thunderstorms.  Still not impressed with the coverage during that period.  Hopefully, that will change in the coming days.  Fingers crossed!

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

Download the News 8 Weather App — for iOS, click here and for Android, click here

Download the free News 8 App — for iOS, click here and for Android, click here

River Bend Foodbank opened pantry in NorthPark Mall following SouthPark

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Following an expansion to SouthPark Mall in March, River Bend Foodbank opened a food pantry in NorthPark Mall.

The pantry is open Tuesdays from  4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

River Bend food pantries can be found on their website. The organization serves 23 counties in Iowa and Illinois with 114,480 adults and children experiencing food insecurity, the limited access to proper food, according to an annual ‘Map the Meal Gap’ study from Feeding America.

A map of the counties River Bend Food Bank serves. Photo from 2018.

The food bank set a personal record in the past year delivering over 17 million meals to those in need. However, the meal gap study claims more than 19 million meals are needed for the River Bend coverage area.

“The new food pantries in NorthPark and SouthPark will help us close the gap in Scott and Rock Island Counties, just as we seek to do in each of the communities we serve,” Michael Miller, President & CEO of River Bend Foodbank said in a statement.

Need to fight the emerald ash borer? Local business can help

WQAD News -

ELDRIDGE, Iowa-- Charles Ray, the owner of Tree Medics LLC, said the infestation of the emerald ash borer has rapidly progressed as of late.

Ray said the borer was first discovered in the Quad Cities and May through October is the best time to treat your trees. Ray joined us Wednesday, July 31 during News 8 at 11 to discuss his business.

The majority of the general public is not aware of the borer, according to Ray, and as a result, many trees have died before the owners became aware of it.

Tree Medics LLC is located in Eldridge, but they serve the greater Quad City area. Their phone number's 563-579-8733 (TREE). You can also learn more about them by visiting their website. 

2 skydivers collide in midair during jump over Illinois

WQAD News -

OTTAWA, Ill. (AP) — Two skydivers are said to be fine after they collided in midair during a jump outside Ottawa, Illinois.

A spokesman for Skydive Chicago said one of the licensed skydivers was knocked unconscious in the collision Tuesday. However, his automatic activation device opened his parachute. Because he unable to steer, he landed in the Fox River.

Skydiver Chicago Director Rook Nelson says when rescuers arrived at the riverbank, the skydiver was on shore and was able to walk to an ambulance.

The Ottawa Fire Department says the other skydiver landed at the airport and both were taken to OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center for evaluation. Neither skydiver was identified.

Skydive Chicago is in the fourth day of its Summerfest celebration. Nelson estimates 500 jumpers were at the venue Tuesday, with more expected this weekend.

Semi sideswipes parked vehicle along I-88 before crashing into ditch

WQAD News -

Image from the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office

HILLSDALE, Illinois — A semi jack-knifed into a ditch after sideswiping another vehicle parked on the shoulder of Interstate 88.

The crash happened around 3:45 a.m. Wednesday, July 31 near Mile Marker 13, according to a statement from Sheriff John Booker with the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office.   The semi was headed eastbound when it  went off the road and hit the parked vehicle on his way into the ditch.

The semi’s cab rolled and the vehicle then came to a stop, said Sheriff Booker.

The driver of the semi, a 54-year-old Illinois man, was taken to the hospital for minor injuries.  The other driver was unharmed.

Both vehicles had to be towed from the scene.


QC airport gets more than $8 million in federal grants to improve runway drainage

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois — The Quad City International Airport received $8.53 million across two federal grants to improve the runway drainage system.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded a $5.53 million airport infrastructure grant to the Moline airport as a part of the $3.18 billion Airport Improvement Program, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced Wednesday.

The airport will also receive a second $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth announced on Friday, July 26.

“These federal dollars are crucial to our ability to accomplish our top priority, which is ensuring the safety and security of the traveling public,” Benjamin Leischner, Executive Director of the Quad City International Airport said in a statement.

The grants will be used to “eliminate standing water on the airfield,” according to a press release.

Under the FAA grants, the Decatur Airport will receive $2.93 million for runway rehabilitation and the Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois in Marion will receive $673,000 to build a terminal.

“This significant investment in airport improvements in Illinois will fund construction and rehabilitation projects that will help maintain high levels of safety in U.S. aviation,” Chao said.

Woman and officer who exchanged fire in Iowa City both released from hospital

WQAD News -

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa City police officer and a woman accused of shooting him with a BB gun have been released from a hospital.

A city news release sent Tuesday night, July 30 says 25-year-old Cierra Lewis was taken to Johnson County Jail after her release and has been charged with two felonies: assault with a weapon on a police officer and willful injury-serious injury. Court records don’t list the name of an attorney who could comment for her.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says the exchange of shots occurred Monday afternoon, after police were called to check a shoplifting report. The officers found a suspect who was later identified as Lewis, and police say she shot one of the officers several times, including in the face. He then shot her.


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