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3rd Annual Toys for Tots Disc Golf Tournament With the help of Traffic Trooper Disc Golf Driver, we prepare for our 3rd disc golf tournament to raise money for Toys for Tots! This year the tournament will be on Saturday, September 28th in JP Moseley Park in Stockbridge! Registration and more information available HERE.  Call our traffic center with traffic incidents at 404-897-7358. You can also get through to us using the “Triple Team Traffic Alerts” app, free in your phone’s app store! The app provides real-time, traffic incidents recorded by WSB radio traffic reporters. Powered by BriteBox Electrical.

The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • Last week’s column on e-scooters galvanized plenty of reactions. Most people emailed in with their ire about scooter riders and their leaving the electric devices all over the place like litter. But one Twitter exchange took a more defensive approach. User and reader Marian Lou wondered why faulty street design wasn’t part of my list of grievances. She suggested to her followers that Darin Givens from ThreadATL be allowed some time to share his views. Givens and I were both intrigued by the idea.  » RELATED: GDOT completes Cedar Ridge Road Bridge replacement two days early I wanted to learn exactly what street design problems existed and how fixing them would improve the commute, so I reached out to Givens, who co-founded ThreadATL. This organization is a group that advocates for smart design and planning policy in the City of Atlanta.  Givens started his advocacy after harrowing experiences pushing his son in a stroller on Ponce de Leon Ave. in Virginia Highlands. Sidewalks were in bad shape and drivers turned angrily in front of them in crosswalks. He moved into the City of Atlanta from Cobb County.  'I thought when I moved to the city, it would be pretty easy to get around,' Givens recalled, thinking that walking in the city certainly would be easier than even using mass transit. 'And I found out that just wasn't the case and that drivers were often pretty hostile to people who were not in cars.' So Givens started studying urban design as a hobby and began understanding what policies work in other cities. Then he began pushing for these types of plans in Atlanta. One of the biggest problems Givens sees is simply with the inefficient use of space on and around the roads. 'We cannot widen these streets really any more, because there are buildings up against them. So what we need to do is rethink how we use the width of these streets.' Givens noted the undoubted spatial efficiency of putting 50 people on one MARTA bus, which takes many vehicles off the roads and out of parking spaces. But ThreadATL's main focus is even simpler: optimizing street design to allow for safer pedestrian and bike-use. Overall, they want to reduce trips in cars.  Let's stop there - you've probably heard this urbanism train of thought before. Reducing car trips by taking to mass transit is a great goal in Atlanta, but the citizens and MARTA still have a lot of changes to make to make MARTA more viable to many. Givens and his group espouse another transportation strategy that gets less press.  'I feel like the biggest thing we can do is to reduce car speeds in this city, one way or the other,' Givens said, stating he and other advocates in this realm think all city street speed limits should lower to 25 miles per hour. 'The lower the speed you're going in a car, the less of a chance you have for that impact with a pedestrian or e-scooter or bicycle rider to be a fatal impact.'  We cover that concept every back to school season, as AAA data shows that pedestrians are far more likely to die at a 35 mph impact than 25.  Givens thinks the city could be better stewards of transportation funds. Instead of spending $33 million on the Northside Drive pedestrian bridge, he said they should spend money on smaller street improvements, such as narrowing vehicle lanes. 'Wider car lanes generally result in higher car speeds. In narrower lanes, drivers can drive more slowly and carefully.' This adjustment, Givens said, would then allow for construction of bike (and e-scooter) lanes without taking vehicle lanes away or impossibly widening the roads.  Givens looked out his condo window onto Ralph McGill Blvd., as he talked. He said the road is four, wide lanes and passing vehicles take advantage of that space. 'Every night, I mean, it's like they are drag racing out there. Cars are just flying out there. And this is a street that my son walks on.' Givens' point is that narrowing lanes will reduce those speeds, make the road more multi-modal (different types of transportation), and make the environment safer for pedestrians.  Givens and ThreadATL not only appeal to local leaders and administrators, but also neighborhood associations. Some of those neighborhood groups have been vehemently against bike lanes and other more urbanist measures, because of the traffic they fear such changes will create. Atlanta's adherence to car culture could be the biggest obstacle to reducing car trips and trying new ways to commute. But there are difficulties in making the switch. MARTA doesn't go a lot of places and can take longer than driving. Bicycle lanes don't exist in many areas, making rides less safe. And riding a bike in general is not everyone's cup of tea. Walking takes a longer time and more energy and sidewalks are not in great shape at all.  This is why Givens thinks that Atlanta could better spend transportation money and divert more to building 'complete streets' with narrower lanes, bike lanes, smart traffic lights, HAWK pedestrian signals, and more. Having these would at least encourage people to make some changes more easily.  In this same vein, Georgia Commute Options' 'Cear the Deck' campaign this week urges employers to sign up and allow employees to work remotely or to promote carpooling. They do this in an effort to reduce single vehicle occupancy. Last year's campaign yielded over 1,200 parking spaces saved.  The efforts and passion of Givens and people and organizations like him are necessary. Atlanta simply cannot grow and only cater to cars. Both the economy and the environment demand us to be inventive with our travels. But we have to be willing to take that risk. On another note, we cannot only advocate for travel outside of cars. The new and the old have to coexist to move the most people, the most safely, and in the least amount of time.  » RELATED: Work at I-285 and Ga. 400 means traffic hassles in north metro Atlanta Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • With more and more kickstands flipping up on electric scooters in different pockets around Metro Atlanta, especially the capital city itself, the laissez-faire feel of the whole craze has hit a tipping point. The City of Atlanta, under increasing pressure to further regulate e-scooters after the fourth Metro Atlanta rider died last week, has taken the first steps at such. City officials announced Thursday a ban on e-scooter ridership between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. Three of the four scooter deaths have occurred in this time frame. Expect this move to be only a stop-gap change, as more has to fall in place for e-scooters to grow and coexist with other forms of transportation. Atlanta first started trying to curb scooters in January, when the city banned the scooter-riding on sidewalks, instituted a 15 mph speed limit, and levied a $12,000 annual permit fee for e-scooter vendors. And the city has gotten more strict in enforcing the sidewalk ban in recent times, with violators on the hook for up to a $1,000 fine. But these initial stabs at trying to make both scooter riders and sidewalk pedestrians safer obviously didn’t go far enough. In the months since, the number of riders has grown and so have complaints. Pedestrians find the scooters annoying and dangerous, as more aggressive or flippant riders zigzag in and out of crowds. Those sudden moves increase the danger for both parties. Combine this with the fact that e-scooters now are banned from sidewalks and the annoyance level finds another height. But with legal scooterists now taking to streets and bike lanes, they find themselves in more danger. With no skill level required for a scooter patron and no helmet requirement (helmets are suggested, but not included on e-scooters), scooter riders are seemingly even more in danger in the street. So pedestrian safety improved at the cost of the safety of scooter riders. This is easily quantified by the fact that all four scooter deaths have taken place since scooters were banished from the sidewalks. Atlanta has now tried to stymie the increasing hazards by eliminating nighttime e-scooter-renting and riding when conditions are more dangerous and when people are more likely to use the handy bi-wheeled, low-riders to bar hop. And maybe this can at least stop the increase in injuries and deaths. But this doesn’t address the rest of the problems or maybe even the meat of the e-scooter controversy. Where are these things supposed to go? Atlanta cannot feasibly create scooter-only lanes everywhere. Heck, there aren’t even enough bicycle lanes around town for that more established transit vessel. Outside of the dangers of scooter riders being so close to passing motor vehicles unprotected, being mixed in with faster-moving and better-protected cyclists isn’t exactly a recipe for safety. There just doesn’t seem to be a great place for these scooters to operate. When the scooters aren’t in operation, riders dispense them all over the place, left to the mercy of entrepreneurial fellow citizens to gather them in bulk and charge them. As nimble, convenient, and modern as this may be, it does create a blight for many. And the responsibility for scooter operating companies seems very low. Their main overhead is the scooters themselves and then the apps that receive payments and activate the units. One solution to the haphazard scooter disposals could be requiring docks or racks for all e-scooters. But this certainly would be a major buzz-kill on the convenience level of this technology, which allows ridership of any distance. But the docking system works well for bike-share services, like Citi Bike. Enforcement, however, would be quite difficult and would more than likely fall upon the different operators to penalize customers with charges for not following this theoretical docking policy. And the docks themselves could also be aesthetically lacking and logistically challenging. Would all the e-scooter companies make their docks interchangeable, or would there have to be different docks for each company? There are more questions than answers going forward for the e-scooter craze. Not only Atlanta, but other Metro cities will have to decide in their own ways how to handle them as they spread to other city centers. Maybe scooters could soon return to sidewalks and BeltLine passing rules could be in place: the fast go to the left and the slow to the right. But e-scooter success takes cooperation of everyone, not the least of which being the highly criticized riders. One fact is certain — the status quo cannot and will not remain. Turnbull and Smilin’ Mark McKay discuss the e-scooter ins and outs on their most recent WSB Traffic Podcast. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Outside of the Hands-Free Georgia Act changes in 2018, the road rule that seems to draw the most confusion from “Gridlock Guy” readers is about passing school buses. In 2018, Georgia legislators essentially liberalized when oncoming vehicles could pass stopped school buses as a concession for allowing automated cameras to catch violators. The new rule went into effect last July 1st - the same day as the stricter distracted driving rules; it lasted less than eight months.  » RELATED: Legislators take aim at school bus law they say endangers students On February 15th, 2019, newly inaugurated Governor Brian Kemp signed a revision into law that brought back the tougher regulations for oncoming vehicles. The 2018 law had eliminated the need for a raised or grassy median to be in place for oncoming vehicles to pass a school bus with its stop arm extended. Very simply, the 2019 revision has brought back that requirement for a center divider. This was Gov. Kemp’s first signing in his new post: in with the new, in with the old. The 2018 law change had caused confusion, as drivers on busy roads still continued to stop in the opposite direction of buses. Then groupthink persisted. When some people stopped unnecessarily, others stopped also, so as to not have appeared to be in violation. The herd caused people to doubt their own knowledge of the laws. It was a mess. One reader wrote in to describe this mess on Highway 9 in Roswell during morning drive. They, of course, were hoping that people would obey the 2018 version of the law and that traffic would start moving better. Alas, now people again must stop on any road that doesn’t have some sort of median divider. Child safety was the main concern of advocates for this reversion. Although school buses normally offload their precious cargo on the same side of the road as the actual stop, vehicles speeding by at 35 mph or more in the opposite direction seemed to be a recipe for disaster. Gov. Kemp’s Senate Bill 25 signature put the rule changes into effect immediately. So the rules actually got stricter in the middle of the spring semester. But the new school year warrants both a reminder of this change and a grander focus on school-zone safety this month. With 56 million children heading back to school, AAA again launches their “School’s Open — Drive Carefully” campaign. Pretty straightforward, right? The auto safety organization’s data shows that afternoon driving in school zones may require even more attention: nearly a third of all child-pedestrian fatalities occur between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. One factor in this is likely that roads are simply busier when school adjourns than when it starts each morning. Nonetheless, this is a sobering statistic. “We are aware of the risk to children in and around school zones,” says Sasha Marcinczyk, Georgia Field Vice President, AAA — The Auto Club Group, on why AAA has championed this campaign since 1946. “If Georgia motorists slow down and stay alert, they can save lives.” That notion is certainly why the first of AAA’s seven safety tips is about watching school-zone speed. Pedestrians hit by vehicles at 25 mph (the normal school-zone speed) are two-thirds more likely to survive being struck by a vehicle than at 35 mph. If that stat doesn’t prompt someone to drive with an egg shell under their throttle, none will. Other AAA back-to-school driving safety tips including eliminating distractions behind the wheel, being extra careful when driving in reverse, reminding teenagers of driving risks (crashes are the number -one killer of teens and most occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.), coming to complete stops at stop signs and lights, and watching for bicycles. AAA also reminds people to also be on the lookout for its School Safety Patrollers. Around 654,000 school children in this program help remind commuters, parents — and other students — to be mindful of each other and safe. Sometimes schools are hidden atop hills or around curves, so Safety Patrollers with their bright yellow or orange belts really stand out and remind those passing by that they are in a school zone. Whether around buses or schools, we all have a responsibility to keep children and each other safe. Remember in most cases that vehicles must stop around loading buses. And don’t forget the importance of minding speeds and distractions near schools. A small change in speed or a small lapse in attention can be the difference in life or death.  » RELATED: Excitement, fear abound as some metro Atlanta schools open Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Driving with more functionality and conveniences behind the wheel, but also less distractions seems like a choice at divergent paths. That isn’t necessarily true, as newer technology features more voice commands and a sleeker integration into the bigger and bigger screens in vehicle infotainment systems. But recent AAA studies find that while these digital dashboards get better, they still cost far too much brain power for drivers.  » RELATED: Study: Georgia cellphone law reduced distracted driving While in-vehicle navigation, music, and texting may be built-in to the dashboards and hands-free, they still take drivers’ attention off the road. AAA’s most recent study that measured drivers’ maneuvers with both the technology and driving did so on about two dozen different vehicle models. It not only measured how distracted people are overall with this technology, but also which vehicles’ infotainment systems were most and least distracting.  These studies found that, on average, a person is distracted for 40 seconds when programming navigation and that navigation and voice-to-speech (hands-free) texting are the most cognitively demanding tasks on these systems. The studies also show that Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto are easily more safe and less demanding than the various systems that manufacturers use.  Sygic is a worldwide GPS company that hopes to become a part of these infotainment systems. The 15-year old Slovak company, which boasts 200 million downloads of its navigation app of the same name, is hoping to extend the idea of hands-free to another realm of the navigation experience: crash and road obstruction-reporting.  Sygic Senior Global PR official Marek Lelovic said that the app will eventually be able to use the camera on a driver’s phone or that is already built into a vehicle to sense crashes, construction, stalls, and other road problems.  'Artificial intelligence will not only recognize it, but will also warn other users,' Lelovic explained. He said that the traffic info on this app will eventually be more accurate than competitors Google and Waze, because it can instantly get the data that the cams give it, from surrounding Sygic users, and from GPS titan TomTom. Lelovic said they are still working on ways to eliminate duplicate reporting of wrecks (a big problem that Waze has) and they hope that by next year they can have this technology more perfected and used by more commuters in the U.S.  Another Sygic feature is the augmented reality of the route, as opposed to a digitized map. 'We use augmented reality to show you the route in the real world,' Lelovic said. This innovation will overlay road names and other route info onto a view of the roads that looks more similar to Google Earth or Street View.  The WSB Traffic Team released the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App two years ago and we continue to work on some updates we would like to make the experience even easier to use with minimal distractions. For those that haven’t used it, the app’s biggest feature is our automatic audio traffic reports that play automatically (when you’re running the app in the background while you’re driving) when you drive near a big traffic problem. We also send push notifications to different geographical regions when bigger problems break out. And reporting crashes is as simple as pushing the phone button and calling the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center.  We still very much value traffic experts - actual humans - to process and vet this information and decide what is best and most pertinent for commuters.  There is no doubt that in-vehicle technology is continuing to improve, including ours. The idea of apps automatically detecting wrecks is the next step in decreasing distractions. But for every feature added, that’s a new item for drivers to look at and consider. As motorists, we need to do our best to decide what really is worth having at our fingertips when driving. Maybe making a call is, but not a hands-free text. Maybe eliminating reading emails hands-free is a way to minimize distractions. The conveniences will keep expanding. But heed AAA’s warning on trying to use them. Having the world at one’s fingertips is tempting, but the thing between those fingers - the steering wheel - is the most demanding and vital tool and responsibility.  » RELATED: Georgia's distracted driving law: Have you put down your phone? Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Stories and headlines often precede most major holidays about the best and worst times to travel. The large banks of data that firms like INRIX, Waze, and Google collect can be extremely useful in tracking past behavior and informing our present and future. Motorists plan around trends and have more data than ever to do so. But data is only useful if applied within context. » RELATED: Atlanta ranks among America’s ‘most congested’ cities The recent July 4th weekend came with its own headlines about traffic trends. AAA anticipated nearly two million more motorists would hit the road, and more than 40 million would drive. But within their holiday news release came this surprising revelation from travel data firm INRIX: the worst time to travel for the July 4th weekend was supposed to be July 5th from 5-7 p.m. This seemed very much counterintuitive. This past July 4th was a Thursday, meaning traffic data was predicting that the busiest time to travel would be a Friday afternoon. Friday afternoon traffic before holidays is generally awful, with PM rush hours that start and peak very early, but that usually ends early. Recent July 4th holidays have happened midweek, so many people not taking most or all of those weeks off would have to return on a July 5th. This trend is what informed traffic data to spell July 5th as a busy travel holiday. Data is a prism and all sides need examining to make the proper judgment. One beam of refraction seemingly left unseen in this data dump is the day of the week the holiday fell upon and how that would influence driver decision making differently. With Independence Day at the end of the week, that meant people were much more likely to take a four- or five-day weekend and extend the holiday. In fact, PM drive on July 3rd was more like a pre-holiday Friday. The roads got busier around lunch and stayed thick into the evening. Let the weekend begin! But if the weekend was on, why would it end on a Friday afternoon? This report brought news organizations (including the three for which I work) to run the headline suggesting that the worst traffic would be a time when people would be dead-center in the middle of their holiday. The WSB Traffic Team was fully staffed for Friday afternoon, just in case. Here’s what happened: The Friday PM commute wasn’t heavier than normal. It was actually far lighter than normal, just as the morning commutes generally were that week. There was no PM drive. The ride on I-75 in Henry County wasn’t even that slow. The only real delays anywhere in Atlanta were because of wrecks. The robots guessed wrong. In fact, the worst travel period of the July 4th holiday was what we suspected it to be. Saturday and especially Sunday afternoons saw droves of people marching up and down I-75 in the McDonough-Stockbridge area. People leaving town, returning, and passing through stopped it up. And this caught those going merely by headlines and trends off guard. So the lesson here is that we should always question headlines, studies, stories, and data and hold them up against common sense. If any headline causes you to raise your eyebrows, read the whole story. If it still doesn’t sit right, consider what factors the story or study may have missed. Frankly, more media outlets (including my own) would do themselves better to question studies before writing them into stories and presenting them as facts. Fortunately on News 95.5/AM750 WSB, Atlanta’s Morning News host Scott Slade and I talked on the air briefly about if we thought roads would be that bad in that 5-7 p.m. window on July 5th. We each expressed our skepticism and said why we did not. The other lesson learned in this missed prediction is again that raw data is nothing without the proper analysis and filter of common sense. Sure, our sense can be wrong and data has proven that. But traffic statistics have often times come presented as sheer fact and have conflicted each other. Several years ago, there were two studies just months apart that ranked how bad Atlanta’s traffic was. One said Atlanta had one of the top 10 worst commutes in the world. The other said that Atlanta’s rush hours were 12th-worst in the U.S. While those studies are fun to read and brag or moan about, they make little difference on our commutes themselves. Their results were so far apart that the studies just look silly. There are all sorts of ways to measure bad traffic and they can each produce different results. So just as we should with any bit of information, we need to hold them against what we know and expect before accepting them as fact. A little bit more critical thinking around the July 5th commuting data might have made for some different, more accurate headlines and conclusions. » RELATED: Atlanta's traffic mess: More solutions from our readers Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.

News

  • A Nebraska teenager paid tribute to her late father through her high school senior pictures. >> Read more trending news  Julia Yllescas, a senior at Aurora High School, wanted her father to be a part of her senior pictures. Her father, Capt. Robert Yllescas, died Dec. 1, 2008, in Bethesda, Maryland, from injuries he received from an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan. Yllescas had her senior pictures taken Saturday and sent them to photographer Susanne Beckmann to see if she could create an 'angel picture,' KOLN reported. Julie Yllescas loved the first two photographs that Beckmann worked on, They show her sitting and standing next to a faint shadow of her father in uniform, the radio station reported. 'Why it has hit my heart so hard is that I almost felt when I saw those pictures that he truly was there,” Yllescas told KOLN. 'And to have a piece of him with me throughout my senior year. Because sometimes it feels like where are you, why did you have to go.' Beckmann, whose husband has served in the Nebraska National Guard for 16 years, was only too happy to create the images. 'I was teary-eyed when I was editing them,' Beckmann told KOLN. 'All I could think in my head is I don't ever want to have to do this for my own kids.' Beckmann, who has run Snapshots by Suz for eight years, said she has known the Yllescas family since Julia was 9.  'I thought it would be a great idea to do these angel pictures for her as a special gift for her big milestone and to her family,' Beckmann told Cox Media Group by telephone Tuesday morning. 'I am an active duty National Guard wife, which is what inspired the idea and the vision. 'I take a lot of pictures of military families and it is always an honor for me to capture their special memories.' The photographs that include her father are a comfort for Yllescas 'Just to have that on my wall and be like, 'No, he is with me,' even though I can't physically see him,” she told KOLN.
  • A Texas elementary school teacher has a gift for her students.  Richelle Terry is promising no homework for her second- and third-grade math students for the entire school year, KBMT reported.  Terry is a teacher at Evadale Elementary. She had taught pre-K, but this is the first time she's taught the higher grade. >> Read more trending news  Instead of pouring over their math problems for hours at the dining room table, she wants her students to spend time with family and to enjoy their childhood.  'You see them, and they're like, 'I hate school. I don't like school. I don't like learning. That class is boring.' It's because they take the fun out of it. Everything is serious ... and it doesn't have to be that way,' Terry told KBMT. Terry said there should be enough time in class to finish assignments and the school has added a tutorial period for kids need extra help, according to KBMT. Terry said she will take a look at how her students are handling the no-homework rule throughout the semester. The school district allows its teachers to be flexible as long as students meet requirements, KBMT reported.
  • It will forever be called the 'great mattress migration of 2019' when the wind picked up and relocated dozens of air mattresses that were blown up for a movie-in-bed under the stars event in Colorado. >> Read more trending news  People in Stapleton, a neighborhood in Denver, couldn't believe their eyes when they saw the mattresses flying through the air and being followed by people who were trying to catch them, The Denver Post reported. Some of the mattresses that weren't caught became impromptu pool floats after they flew over a fence and landed in a pool area, KDVR reported. One man was able to record some of the craziness, uploading it to social media. Robb Manes said when he glanced over to the event's organizer she told him, 'This is a disaster,' he told the Denver Post. Manes and others spent about 30 minutes trying to catch the beds, he told the newspaper. 
  • A North Carolina man is accused of strangling his 15-year-old daughter before slitting her throat during a weekend visit at his home, sheriff’s deputies said. Joshua Lee Burgess, 32, of Monroe, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Zaria Joshalyn Burgess. Zaria was visiting her father when she was slain. Union County Sheriff’s Office officials said in a news release that Burgess walked into the agency’s lobby just before 9:30 a.m. Sunday and told a dispatcher he was there to turn himself in. The dispatcher began searching for warrants in Burgess’ name. “He stopped her. He said, ‘You’re not going to find my name. I just killed someone,’” Tony Underwood, chief communications officer for the Union County Sheriff’s Office, told WSOC in Charlotte. “At that point, the red flags started to go off.” After Burgess gave details of the killing and told them where to find Zaria’s body, deputies went to Burgess’ home at 5102 Hampton Meadows Road, near Wesley Chapel. Inside, they found the slain teen, authorities said. A reporter with WSOC was in the courtroom Monday for Burgess’ first court appearance, where authorities offered gruesome details of the girl’s death, including how her father reportedly killed her. Reporter Tina Terry said there was a “collective gasp” when the details were revealed, according to the news station. “It’s just pure evil,” Underwood said. No motive for the slaying was given. Burgess' Facebook page is filled with photos of his daughter, who he called his “mini-me.” “I love this little angel more than anything. Nothing beats quality time with my daughter,” he wrote on a post from 2015. >> Read more trending news  Zaria’s cousin, Dytaysha Wadsworth, told WSOC the victim was a sweet girl who loved her family. She was about to start her freshman year at Monroe High School. “She was just the type of kid that would come in a room or come in a house and say, ‘Hey everybody’ -- just wanting to make everybody smile,” Wadsworth said. “She was so young, and nobody deserves to leave this world like that, especially by someone they thought was gonna protect them and be there for them.” Burgess is being held without bond in the Union County Jail.
  • The Coast Guard is searching for two boaters who didn't return from a fishing trip Friday evening off the coast of Port Canaveral, Florida. >> Read more trending news  Brian McCluney and Justin Walker were last seen leaving the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp Friday in a 24-foot center console boat heading toward 8A Reef. McCluney is a firefighter with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and Wilcox is a master technician with the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire and Rescue Department. Update 10:50 a.m. EDT Aug. 20: The wife of one of the boaters missing since Friday morning took her search efforts into the air Tuesday, WFTV reported. Natasha Walker caught a private flight from the Titusville airport to help comb the Florida coastline as the search continues for her husband, Justin Walker, and his friend, Brian McCluney. 'They know that we want them to keep fighting,' Natasha Walker told WFTV before boarding the plane. The U.S. Coast Guard said Monday afternoon that⁩ a volunteer found a tackle bag belonging to Brian McCluney about 50 miles off the coast of St. Augustine. 'This is still absolutely a rescue mission,' Jacksonville fire Chief Keith Powers said Monday at a news conference. 'We're talking about a decorated combat vet here. We're talking about a firefighter paramedic. These guys have the skills ... to survive for a long time.' Kevin McCluney, the brother of Brian McCluney, told WFTV that if any people were resourceful enough to survive, it would be these two men. 'Between the two of them, I know they've got it locked down,' Kevin McCluney said. 'It's just a matter of time.' Brian McCluney's wife, Stephanie McCluney, told WFTV he underwent survival training during his time in the U.S. Navy and that Justin Walker is one of the most resourceful men she knows. 'If I were ever stranded anywhere, those were the two men I'd want to be stuck with,' she said. Coast Guard officials continued to search for the McCluney and Walker on Tuesday. Update 6:44 a.m. EDT Aug. 20: The search for two missing firefighters will continue Tuesday morning, authorities said. The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department is calling on anyone who would like to help with the search and has the following items: A boat that can work in the range of 30-60 miles Binoculars A SAT phone (which is short for a satellite telephone. It’s a type of phone that connects to other phones by radio, orbiting through satellites.) Update 3:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 19: McCluney's wife said in a post on Facebook that her husband's tackle bag was found 50 miles off the shore of St. Augustine, WJAX-TV reported. The search for McCluney and his friend, Wilcox, continued Monday. Update 1:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 19: Officials with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said over 135 people assisted Monday with the search for McCluney and Walker. There were 36 boats searching from Brunswick, Georgia, to St. Augustine, Florida, on Monday, officials said. Searching for the missing boaters will continue until dark, JFRD officials said. Agency officials stressed Monday that the search was still a rescue mission. The missing men were raised on the water, according to JFRD. 'We're talking about a decorated combat vet here. We're talking about a firefighter paramedic. These guys have the skills,' a JFRD official said Monday at a news conference. 'These guys have the skills to survive for a long time.' Update 9:25 a.m. EDT Aug. 19: Authorities and volunteers continued to search Monday for McCluney and Walker. Coast Guard officials said Monday that crews have searched an estimated 24,000 miles since Friday. Authorities said they continued to search Monday from Port Canaveral up to Jacksonville. Officials with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department urged people in the area to contact authorities 'if you see something ... any debris, anything.' McCluney is a Jacksonville firefighter and Wilcox is a master technician with the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire and Rescue Department. Update 3:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 18: Multiple agencies have joined the search, On Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard said crews are investigating reports of a debris field 50 miles east of St. Augustine, Florida, WJAX reported. However, they have confirmed it's not related to the missing boaters. Earlier Sunday, Stephanie Young McCluney, the wife of one of the missing men, thanked the efforts of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department in a Facebook post. According to a tweet from the agency, 50 firefighters were assisting the Coast Guard with the search. The Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters has also set up a link for those wanting to help with search efforts.  'The donations will support the search efforts and ultimately the families of the firefighters,' according to the Jacksonville Firefighter Charities donation page. 'Thank you so much for your support and prayers!' Original report: In a Facebook post Saturday, McCluney's wife said the Coast Guard has suspended the air search until Sunday morning but will continue to search by boat and radar overnight. According to Stephanie McCluney's post, the search area will move north as the Coast Guard continues to survey the coast off Volusia County throughout the night. According to the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, McCluney is a Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department firefighter from Station 31 near Oak Hill Park. The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said in a Facebook post that Walker is a master technician at the Virginia fire department near Washington, D.C. The Coast Guard had deployed a search plane and several boats to look for the overdue boaters. The Navy and Brevard County Sheriff's Office are assisting with the search. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center at 904-714-7558. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
  • Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry is establishing Howard University's first NCAA Division 1 golf program. According to a Monday news release from the university, Curry pledged to support the program for the next six years. Curry was led to establish the program after meeting Otis Ferguson IV, a golfer and senior at Howard, in January. Forbes reported that Curry was on campus hosting a viewing 'Emmanuel,' a documentary he produced on the 2015 Charleston church shooting in which nine African Americans were murdered. >> Read more trending news  'Utilizing his unique position, Curry will introduce and increase access to elite golf at a historically black college, furthermore calling on sport and community giants like Under Armour, Callaway, (he and wife Ayesha Curry's foundation) Eat. Learn. Play., among others, for help with equipment, uniforms, and more,' the news release said. Howard plans to debut the first women's and men's golf teams in the 2020-2021 academic year. 'Golf is a sport that has changed my life in ways that are less tangible, but just as impactful,' Curry said in a statement. 'It's a discipline that challenges your mental wherewithal from patience to focus, and is impossible to truly master, so when you hear about these passionate student athletes who have the talent but don’t have a fair shot at the game, it’s tough. I feel really honored to play a small role in the rich history of Howard University, and look forward to building their first men’s and women’s golf teams with them.' ESPN reported that Howard previously competed in Division II golf. University officials think the teams were disbanded in the 1970s. Curry was joined by Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, Ferguson, the university's athletic director, Kery Davis, and Calloway CEO Oliver 'Chip' Brewer for a tee-off Monday in Washington, D.C. School officials will start searching for coaches, playe