Swamp Survivor

You now can say that collecting garbage saves lives. While collecting trash near an Interstate 595 bridge on August 15, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., teen Justin Vannelli spotted Tillie Tooter's car stuck in the branches above a mangrove swamp. When rescuers arrived, they found Tooter, 83, had survived three days of 100-degree temperatures, swarming bugs and a 40-foot fall.

Tooter fell when, on the way to pick up her granddaughter on August 12, she was hit from behind and knocked over a 3-foot concrete barrier into the trees. She survived by collecting rainwater in her steering wheel cover and sopping the water up with a pair of socks.

Vannelli, who was working for his dad's highway cleanup company, noticed mangled branches when he reached down to pick up a bumper. Now Tooter calls Vannelli her hero.

The 21-year-old driver who allegedly hit Tooter, Scott Campbell, was arrested on August 24. Campbell claims he didn't see what he hit and that police on-scene downplayed the possibility he had hit another car.

Source: Reuters, Miami Herald

Lighting a Fire Under the Bureaucracy

When Suffolk County, N.Y., Planning Director Arthur Kunz died in June 1993, so, as it turns out, did any hopes of preventing a massive tire fire that occurred seven years later.

The Suffolk County legislature passed a law in 1992 to regulate waste tire recycling and directed Kunz's planning office to contract for a waste-tire collection site and recycling pilot program.

When Kunz died, his successor, Stephen Jones, took over as planning director, but the pressure to comply with the law had waned. Local incinerators were burning tires to compensate for paper supply deficits, and finding a site for the tire collection center was difficult because of neighborhood opposition, Jones says. Consequently, the site never was created and the pilot recycling program never got off the ground.

Tires continued to pile up at a site in Holtsville, N.Y., and by June 2000 a fire erupted. Although Suffolk legislators promise to investigate, planning director Jones says he does not intend to follow the local law.

In the meantime, many of the tires that survived the Holtsville blaze have been buried.

Source: Newsday