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Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed

An autopsy on former major-leaguer Roy Halladay showed that he had amphetamines, morphine and a sleep aid in his system when he died in a plane crash off the west coast of Florida, The Tampa Bay Times reported Friday.

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Halladay, 40, died Nov. 7 from blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor, according to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner was flying his personal plane -- an ICON A5, which is an amphibious two-seat plane with foldable wings -- when it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near New Port Richey, the Times reported. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the case.

Dr. Bruce Goldberger, a pathologist and director of the University of Florida’s Health Forensic Medicine center, said the drugs found in Halladay’s system were a concern, the Times reported.

>> Former MLB pitcher Roy Halladay killed in plane crash

“The drugs are particularly important in the assessment of the impairment of Mr. Halladay while operating the plane,” Goldberger told the Times. “The NTSB will take this evidence under consideration during their investigation of this accident.”

The autopsy did not say whether Halladay had prescriptions for the medications found in his system, the Times reported.

Halladay, a father of two, was an All-Star during his 16-year major-league career with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies. He had a 203-105 record and won the Cy Young Award in 2003 with Toronto and in 2010 with Philadelphia.

Massachusetts couple accidentally donates savings hidden in a soup can

Amanda Mattuchio said her parents use a fake can of Campbell's Tomato Soup to hide their cash.

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Unfortunately, they stored it alongside real soup cans in their kitchen.

“The bottom would unscrew and it had $2,500 in it and it was a combination of $100 and $50 bills,” she said. “The neighbor upstairs asked them if they had any canned goods they wanted to donate to the senior center.”

Her parents cleared out their soup cabinet, not giving their donations a second thought until several weeks later.

“When they went to put some more money into the can, they realized it had been put in with the donations. It was kind of devastating,” Mattuchio said. 

Frank Leary runs the Middleton Food Pantry where those cans ended up. He says on average, they receive hundreds of donated cans of soup a week. They searched every single one but still haven't found that can.

“I would love to find the can of soup. That amount of money is a terrible, terrible loss for anyone,” Leary said. “For all I know, that Campbell tomato soup is sitting in someone's cabinet right now and they don't even know it.”

Mattuchio’s parents are retired and live on a fixed income. She is asking anyone who went to the Middleton Food Pantry within the past few weeks to open their cabinets and inspect their soup cans. 

“I just hope whoever did find the money. If it has been found that they see this and they find it in their heart to return it,” Mattuchio said. 

Leary said he will remain vigilant in hopes of finding the can. Middleton Police said they have reached out to the family to see what they can do.

“If I opened a can of soup and expected to get a hot bowl of soup and got a hot bowl of cash, it would make an impression on me that I would want to talk to my friends about it,” Leary said. \

Mattuchio's father said if the person who found the can doesn't return it, he hopes they can use the money to help make their own life a little easier.

Patriots’ Tom Brady ‘not talking about’ possible hand injury

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke to the media Friday amid wild speculation about his status after a hand injury was listed earlier in the week. 

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“We'll see,” he said when asked about his status for Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Brady was spotted at practice Friday wearing red gloves on both of his hands, but it wasn't clear if he worked out with the team. 

The issues began Wednesday when Brady was included on the Patriots injury report. He met with medical staff while his teammates and coach Bill Belichick spoke with the media. 

When asked why he was wearing gloves, he responded, “I've worn them before.” 

He declined to discuss his injury or anything about practice. 

“Why are you wearing gloves inside?” one reporter asked. 

“She (reporter) already asked that,” Brady said.

Brady’s teammates, including center David Andrews and backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, avoided the issue. 

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported Brady jammed his hand during practice and X-rays showed no structural damage.

Brady was listed on the Patriots’ injury report as non-participant at practice Thursday and canceled a second media availability later that day.

Brady has missed practices this season due to various minor injuries, but has not missed any games due to injury since 2008. 

Oscar winner, 'Peyton Place' star Dorothy Malone dead at 93

Dorothy Malone, who won an Oscar for her sultry role in the 1956 film “Written on the Wind” and starred in the television soap opera “Peyton Place,” died Friday in Dallas, The New York Times reported. She was 93.

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Malone’s daughter, Mimi Vanderstraaten, confirmed her mother’s death, the Times reported. Malone died a few days short of her 94th birthday at the assisted living facility where she had spent the last 10 years of her life.

Malone earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in her role as Marylee Hadley, the promiscuous daughter of a Texas oil tycoon, in Douglas Sirk’s 1956 drama, Entertainment Weekly reported. Malone performed a memorable mambo dance in the movie and made a play for Rock Hudson in the steamy melodrama. She starred along with Hudson, Robert Stack and Lauren Bacall. 

On television, Malone portrayed Constance Mackenzie in more than 400 episodes of “Peyton Place” from 1964 to 1968. “Peyton Place,” based on the best-selling novel by Grace Metalious. Her character had a dark secret about the birth of her daughter, played by 19-year-old Mia Farrow, and it led to a rating hit as television’s first nighttime soap opera, the Times reported.

Malone would reprise her role in two television movies, “Murder in Peyton Place” in 1977 and “Peyton Place: The Next Generation,” in 1985. 

Malone’s final movie appearance came in “Basic Instinct,” when she portrayed Hazel Dobkins, a mother accused of murdering her family, Entertainment Weekly reported.

“I came up with a conviction that most of the winners in this business became stars overnight by playing shady dames with sex appeal,” Malone said in 1967. “And I've been unfaithful or drunk or oversexed almost ever since — on the screen, of course.”

 

Drake makes surprise appearance at Memphis nightclub

He may have started from the bottom, but rapper Drake is making headlines after doing one dance that started in the Bluff City.

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According to party promoter Curtis Givens, the Grammy winner called him wanting to have a private party at In LOVE Memphis, a popular nightclub.

Givens said it was a last minute call, but he and his business partner were up for the challenge.

As word quickly spread that Drake was in Memphis, videos started to popping up on social media.

He was seen doing the popular "shoot" dance made famous by Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB.

Drake even previewed new music during his appearance at the club.He also made a stop at Friday night's Grizzlies game against the Sacramento Kings.

Drake is no stranger to the area. His father, Dennis Graham, is from Memphis, and Drake is known to visit frequently.

Woman dies after falling from balcony of Carnival cruise ship

A woman died Friday after falling from the balcony of a room on the Jacksonville-based Carnival Elation cruise ship.

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The woman fell from the balcony to several decks below, Carnival said in a statement.

Carnival Elation departed Jacksonville on Thursday for a four-day cruise to the Bahamas.

Carnival sent the following statement to Action News Jax:"Early this morning a guest fell from her balcony to several decks below. The ship’s medical team responded immediately, but, unfortunately, she passed away. The incident was reported to all proper authorities and CARE Team support was offered to fellow travelers and her family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and her family. Carnival Elation departed Jacksonville Jan. 18 on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas."

Scientists worry brain-wasting 'zombie deer' disease could spread to humans

Deer across North America are dying from a mysterious disease that gradually destroys the animals’ nervous systems.

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And scientists are concerned that the infection could make its way to humans. 

Chronic wasting disease — or “zombie deer disease” — was first observed in 1967 in Fort Collins, Colorado, and has since infected wild herds in 24 states and Canada, as well as in South Korea and Norway, NPR reported.

“CWD passes from animal to animal through prions, misfolded proteins that cause other proteins to misfold around them,” NPR reported. “Different prion diseases tend to only harm certain species, but can evolve to overcome those limitations.”

In some herds, as many as half of the animals carry prions.

But direct contact isn’t the only way prions are transmitted. According to The New York Times, sick animals and cadavers can spread prions through plants and soil, which could be coated with deformed proteins for years, perhaps even decades.An animal infected with the disease can live two years before signs of symptoms -- such as a vacant stare, thick saliva, exposed ribs or drooping heads -- become visible.

There have been no reported human illnesses due to the disease, and scientists don’t have conclusive evidence that infected meat has ever harmed people, suggesting there is a “species barrier” between humans and deer.

Researchers led by Mark Zabel, associate director at Colorado State University’s Prion Research Center, found that macaque monkeys who ate infected deer contracted the disease, the first time the disease was shown to spread to a primate through meat.

"While most research shows there's a robust species barrier, this recent study showed that barrier might not be quite as robust as we once thought," Matt Dunfee, head of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliancein Fort Collins, Colorado, told NPR.

Zabel and his team also found that the prions involved in the “zombie disease,” which scientists have only known about for 50 years, are probably still evolving, “which leads us to believe it's only a matter of time before a prion emerges that can spread to humans,” NPR reported.

Mad cow disease, for example, is a prion disease that evolved from scrapie, a deadly disease that afflicts sheep. Once the prions were passed to cows, the cows developed a prion disease of their own (mad cow disease). And when humans ate the beef from those sick cows, they developed prions in their own brains. As of 2016, according to the Food and Drug Administration, 231 people had died from the condition.

Zabel believes the only way to get rid of CWD prions is to set controlled fires. But “there’s a lot that we still don’t know and don’t understand about the disease,” Zabel said in an interview with The New York Times.

According to Michael Miller, senior wildlife veterinarian for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, mule deer transmission more than tripled toward the end of 2017, and CWD continues to be prevalent in Colorado.

Public health officials in the area have been monitoring for CWD and human brain-wasting diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

But over the past 21 years, rising rates of both diseases haven’t impacted human health.

Still, as a precaution, Dunfee told NPR, "if you are hunting in an area where CWD is found, have your animal tested. If it comes back positive, don't eat the meat."

Read the full study published in the “Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews” at mmbr.asm.org.

5-foot tapeworm wiggles out of California man after eating sushi

sushi-loving California man with a habit of consuming raw salmon recently pulled out a 5-foot tapeworm from his own body.

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According to Dr. Kenny Bahn, who treated the man in August and revealed the case on a Jan. 8 episode of the medical podcast “This Won’t Hurt a Bit,” his patient thought he was dying.

"He asked me for worm treatment and I was like, 'Oh, not an everyday request,'" Bahn said on the podcast, skeptical about the patient’s self-diagnosis.It started with abdominal cramps and escalated to bloody diarrhea. Then, the man told Bahn, when he went to the bathroom, “I looked down and it looked like there was a piece of intestine hanging out of me.”

Though the visual is horrifying, the man was relieved to find it wasn’t a part of his own intestines.

Instead, it was a 5-and-a-half foot tapeworm “wiggling” out of his body, likely a result of the man’s daily consumption of raw salmon, Bahn said.

In January 2017, experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that eating raw or undercooked fish heightens the risk of developing an infection from parasites, including Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense, or the Japanese broad tapeworm. And wild salmon caught in Alaska had also been infected.

Doctors warned that eating raw salmon in the United States, particularly along the Pacific Coast, may increase risk of those Japanese tapeworm parasites.

According to the CDC, the Japanese tapeworm and related species can grow up to 30 feet long.

Not everyone infected with the tapeworm will have symptoms, but some common signs and symptoms of a Diphyllobothrium infection can include abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss.

In some cases, complications can lead to intestinal obstruction and gall bladder disease, according to the CDC.

Once diagnosed, a health care provider prescribes an effective medication, typically a pill, to kill the parasite.

Listen to the full “This Won’t Hurt a Bit” podcast featuring Banh at wonthurtabit.com.

Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose, family says 

Tom Petty died from an accidental drug overdose after taking a variety of medications, the family for the legendary rock star said Friday. 

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Petty, who suffered emphysema, knee problems and more recently a fractured hip, was prescribed various pain medications including Fentanyl patches, his family said. 

“On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication,” his family wrote on Facebook

The family called Petty’s Oct. 2 death an unfortunate accident. 

“As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”

‘Ramp of Mystery’ in middle of nowhere was drone test site

If you search on Google Maps for “Ramp of Mystery,” a curious Southeast Austin landmark appears. It’s a concrete structure that leads to nowhere, sitting in an overgrown field.

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It’s a steep ramp with too much of an incline to walk up easily. To the side, an aging and precarious set of wooden steps goes up to the top, where the path that led to the ramp leads to nothing -- just a steep dropoff over a short boundary and lots of graffiti all around the structure.

The ramp has been the subject of lots of online speculation, especially since it became the subject of a Reddit thread in late 2016. Was it part of an old military project, this  thing off an office park at 6900 Metropolis Drive? A structure that once connected to a shipping dock? A base for gravel dumping? A piece of a road that once connected to East Ben White Boulevard? What was this thing?

Adam van Alderwerelt, an Austin lighting designer and video engineer, became a bit obsessed with the ramp after volunteering at a nearby building that housed evacuees from Hurricane Harvey.

“Nobody at the shelter even knew what it was,” he said. “I only saw it because it was on Google Maps when I was looking for directions to and from the shelter.”

Van Alderwerelt shot a YouTube video, “What is South Austin’s Ramp of Mystery??” 

“I thought, let’s bring some awareness to this thing,” van Alderwerelt said. “It’s a hidden oddity of Austin.”

The buzz around this curious structure prompted a reader to ask our Austin Answered project: “Please tell us about the Ramp of Mystery in South Austin; Google it!”

We did. But the ramp didn’t divulge its origin so easily. Visits to the Austin History Center to study old aerial photographs of the area proved inconclusive, except to show that it probably didn’t originate before the early 1980s. A wide call on social media for any local insight on the landmark yielded a few leads, but nothing concrete, so to speak. The current owners of the lot, Zydeco Development Corporation, said by phone they didn’t know what the ramp was for or why it was built.

A request to Lockheed Martin, which owned a facility in the area that opened to much fanfare in the 1980s, was unsuccessful. The company checked but was unable to find records related to the ramp or its purpose.

But leave it to a historian to crack the case.

Austin history buff Lanny Ottosen tracked down names on an old document related to the property he found at the Austin History Center. One of those names was Frank Niendorff, who for many years ran Commercial Industrial Properties Co. (also known as NAI Austin).

Niendorff, who spent two years brokering the property deal to bring Lockheed Missiles and Space to Austin (for one year, the identity of the buyer was a secret even to him), remembered the ramp well.

“There’s nothing mysterious about the ramp,” he said this week by phone, “When Lockheed first came here, they were working on developing a government contract for a drone. This was when drones were first imagined. This was a drone that would be launched from a ramp.”

The program, called “Aquila,” involved hydraulic catapults to launch the drone and a net that would catch the unmanned aerial vehicles. The drones would be used to provide laser guidance for weapons systems.

The San Diego Air and Space Museum has archive footage on YouTube of what appears to be such a system.

Despite the work Lockheed did with the drone project on that ramp, Niendorff said, the government bid was unsuccessful.

“They spent millions of dollars trying to get this contract, building prototypes,” he said. “Ultimately, Lockheed ended up building other things at that facility, including concrete bunker bombs.” 

Kenneth Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed, said that as far as the ramp goes, Niendorff appears to have the right information.

“The info you’ve discovered gives us confidence that you have the right story,” Ross wrote in an email.

When informed of the drone-based answer to the question he’d been asking, van Alderwerelt said by phone Friday, “That’s amazing! I never would have thought of that.”

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