The most wonderful time of the year is also among the deadliest.

According to an analysis by the Associated Press and the USA Today Network, unintentional shootings spike in the U.S. during the holidays.

The analysis determined that 32 people were killed nationwide and 59 injured over the past two years from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day — which is the most likely day for accidental shootings each year.

The victims were mostly male and young, with a median age of 19. Nearly half the shootings were self-inflicted, and most occurred in their own homes.

The AP and USA Today Network looked at holiday shootings after an earlier investigation found that accidental shootings involving children happen far more often than federal government statistics show.

Based on incidents compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, they found that more than 320 minors were killed by unintentional shootings over a 2½ year period that ended June 30.

Several factors contribute to the increase:

  • Children and teenagers are out of school for the holidays and have access to unsecured guns at their homes and those of relatives and friends.
  • Adults are drinking alcohol and inattentive to gun safety or their children.
  • New guns are given and received as gifts in the tens of thousands.
  • It’s a popular time of year for hunting.

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A man was arrested after a selfie with a handgun in the bathroom of an adult entertainment club went wrong on Friday.

St. Petersburg police said that the 34-year-old man went to the bathroom at Club Lust to take a selfie with the gun.

Somehow, the gun went off and the bullet went through to the women’s restroom next door.

Police said that the man tried to run. He was arrested and charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, possession of Xanax and possession of marijuana less than two grams.

It is unknown if anyone in the women’s restroom was injured by the bullet.

Gun violence is a huge problem across the United States. In fact, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, someone in America is killed by gunfire every 15 minutes. While the Second Amendment allows people the right to bear arms, handling guns carelessly can result in real serious harm to innocent bystanders.

Guns should never be used or handled in a joking manner. Injured victims of gun accidents have the right to seek financial compensation for all damages. Our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you recover the full amount for all medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering related to a gun accident. If you lost a loved one in an accidental shooting, we can help you file a wrongful death claim.

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A former Nease High School student was struck by a vehicle while riding a skateboard Monday afternoon on Ray Road near the high school, according to authorities.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said the young man was airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries.

No further information is available at this time.

Skateboarders, just like pedestrians, can suffer serious injuries when they are hit by cars. Because skateboarders are exposed, any impact from a vehicle can result in severe bodily harm. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident while skateboarding, our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help.

Liability in these types of accidents can depend on various factors. Was the driver abiding by all traffic laws? Was the driver operating their vehicle at the appropriate rate of speed? Were they in the proper lane? In many of these cases, drivers are not operating their vehicle properly. A driver that failed to observe the  rules of the road will likely be found liable for all injuries they cause.

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Emergency crews rushed two people to a hospital because of a gas leak at an Orlando strip mall Wednesday.

Two patients were taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center for dizziness but are in stable condition, according to reports.

The shopping plaza at Orange Blossom Trail and Holden Avenue was evacuated.

According to reports, a manager of a food store was chiseling away ice from a freezer containing fish when he hit a Freon line.

Hazmat crews responded to contain it. The Health Department and state fire marshal were called in.

No one ever wants to be involved in a gas leak situation. However, the truth is that these accidents happen, so it is best to be prepared. The following safety steps can be of help should a gas leak arise:  

  • Alert everyone in the near vicinity and immediately get away from the gas odor.
  • Do not use any sources that may act as an ignition to a gas leak such as matches, vehicles, cell phones and flash lights until you move to a reasonable and safe distance away from the area.
  • Get to a safe place and then call 911.

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Two workers have been seriously injured while assisting the move of a 150-ton power plant transformer from Riverview to Lakeland Electric’s McIntosh Power Plant, according to reports.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 24-year-old man was walking alongside the 300-foot trailer Saturday when he tripped on a raised concrete line marker and fell into the path of a wheel.

Then, a 27-year-old man tried to help the other man and was also struck by the trailer, which was traveling at about 2 miles per hour. The incident occurred near the end of the trip.

The report says both men were taken to Lakeland Regional Hospital in serious condition.

Our Florida Worker’s Compensation Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are ready to help you if you have been injured while on the job. We can help with the following types of cases:

  • Construction Accidents
  • Back or Neck Injuries
  • On The Job Wrongful Death Claims
  • Disfigurement & Scarring Injuries
  • OSHA violations
  • Product Liability Cases

If you or someone you love has been injured in a work accident, we can help with your claims. We strongly urge you to focus on your recovery, and leave the legal matters to us.

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A Frontier Airlines flight from Chicago to Florida was diverted to Indianapolis after an issue was reported with its fuel system.

No injuries have been reported.

A Frontier spokesman said flight 1334 left Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Sunday for Palm Beach with 205 passengers and seven crew members aboard and landed late Sunday in Indianapolis out of “an abundance of caution.”

The pilot for the Denver-based airline made the decision to divert the plane, according to reports.

Passengers were put on another plane to get to their destination. According to reports, they arrived in Palm Beach on Monday morning.

The Transportation Security Administration screens over 1.8 million passengers every single day, and each traveler knows that flying has built-in risks and trusts that they will get to their final destination safe and sound. The reality is that planes are machines, and machines can malfunction. Although airlines take as many precautions as possible, when dealing with such high speeds and altitudes, flight mistakes can have serious ramifications.

Airplane accidents can be caused by many different things. The following are some of the common causes of airplane accidents:

  • Instrument failure
  • Pilot error
  • Fuel mismanagement
  • Mechanical failure
  • Tire failure
  • Defective landing gear
  • Inadequate training
  • Inclement weather
  • Metallurgical failures
  • Improper maintenance
  • Mid-air collisions
  • Improper inspections
  • Poor fuel
  • Design defects
  • Inadequate security
  • Improper flight training

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Today is the last day of hurricane season, so we thought we would recap this year’s stats.

The 2016 season started with a rare January hurricane, Alex, and ended with Hurricane Otto which made landfall in Nicaragua on November 24.

This year was an above-average season. There were 15 named storms and 7 hurricanes. There were 3 major hurricanes: Gaston, Matthew and Nicole. Category 5 Matthew was the strongest one.

Tampa Bay was impacted by Tropical Storm Colin in the first week of June. While it stayed out in the Gulf of Mexico, the area saw rough surf, some coastal flooding and strong winds. Clearwater Beach reported a wind gust to 49 mph.

Hurricane Hermine made landfall just east of St. Marks, Florida in the early morning hours of September 2nd with winds of 80 mph. Hurricane Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

It brought a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet to parts of the coast from Manatee County to Citrus County. The storm surge was 7.5 feet at Cedar Key. There was heavy rainfall (6 inches to more than 20 inches of rain in some spots) and strong wind gusts in Tampa Bay. Indian Shores had a wind gust of 78 mph. St. Petersburg reported a wind gust of 63 mph and Tampa had a wind gust of 46 mph.

Tropical Storm Julia formed near Jacksonville on September 13, and was an unusual storm since it formed over land, not over water.  

Then there was Hurricane Matthew. As it moved toward the east coast of Florida, close to 2 million people in were ordered to evacuate. Although the center of Matthew stayed just offshore, there was a wind gust of 107 mph on the tip of Cape Canaveral on the morning of October 7. Fernandina Beach in Nassau County reported a peak water level of 6.91 feet. This ranks as the third highest water level recorded there, above Hurricanes Dora and Jeanne. There was also more than 8 inches of rain in some areas.

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As you and your loved ones get together today and the rest of the week to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, please have safety on your mind as the roads can be crazy out there! With Black Friday shopping starting Thursday evening, there are sure to be many drivers on the roadways at all times of the night and early morning. It is today, though, that is a growing concern for many. The day once innocently called Thanksgiving Eve by those anticipating all the celebrations of the next day, has become known as Blackout Wednesday to bars, law enforcement, and hospitals around the country. This night sees a marked increase in drunk-driving injuries and deaths.

There are many reasons that the day before Thanksgiving has become one of the year’s busiest nights for bars and clubs. College students and recent grads coming home for the long weekend and reconnecting with old friends is one reason for the increase in DUI accidents and deaths. Another reason is that most professionals are off work on Thanksgiving, so a quick drink after work can escalate into a full night out.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with going out tonight and having fun, please be prepared if you are consuming alcohol. Before you go out, know how are you getting home. Do not drive if you have had too much to drink and do not ride with anyone else who is not sober. Just by being on the road your risk of being involved in an alcohol-related accident is about 30 percent higher from Blackout Wednesday through the New Year’s holiday, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

It does not take much effort to be prepared for a good time. Plan ahead for a Lyft or Uber to pick you up and get you home safe. You can always just call a taxi.You can even designate a friend to stay sober and get everyone home in one piece. Just remember, if you are buzzed, you are drunk. Don’t jeopardize your future or the safety of others on the road.

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A lawsuit has been filed by 18 passengers who were aboard an American Airlines aircraft that caught fire last month on the tarmac of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after an engine failed.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court and targets American aircraft manufacturer Boeing Inc. and engine manufacturer General Electric Aviation.

The lawsuit claims GE sold a faulty engine that Chicago-based Boeing used to assemble an unsafe aircraft. The passengers also claim American Airlines employees should have done a better job inspecting the plane. They allege employees failed to provide “assistance, supervision and instruction” during evacuation.

On Oct. 28, pilots aborted the takeoff of American Airlines Flight 383 to Miami. All 161 passengers and nine crew were safely evacuated, with 20 people suffering minor injuries.

Engine failure is one of the most potentially catastrophic aircraft defects that can happen. Once an engine stall after a flight has taken off, the results are usually tragic. Engine failure can arise from many things, including:

  • Congestion from loose air induction systems
  • Flaws in the design
  • Broken engine components
  • Excessive rubbing of engine blades

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A 5-year-old boy was killed in an ATV accident in Polk County Saturday.

Deputies said a 32-year-old father and his son, 5, were riding in an area near the 3700 block of West Socrum Loop Road. The child was sitting in front of his father on the ATV, wearing a soft helmet.

The man told deputies he was running the ATV on a dirt road when he made a U-Turn, accelerated and went over a grass mound. At that time, the passenger side front tire support arm broke, causing the ATV to roll several times.

Both riders were thrown from the ATV.

Both were transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, where the boy was pronounced dead. The father suffered possible broken ribs.

Deputies specified that the helmet the child was wearing was not designed for use with motorized vehicles. The investigation is ongoing.

Polk County has a variety of places where people enjoy tooling around on on all terrain vehicles (ATVs) like four-wheelers, three wheelers, and even dirt bikes. We see a growing number of children playing with these machines each year, which results in more and more injuries and wrongful deaths. Many people do not view these machines as dangerous, and see them as little more than toys, which is sadly not the case.

ATV accidents result in 150 deaths every year.  More than 10,000 children under the age of 16 have been killed on ATVS since the 1980s. According to a survey from Johns Hopkins University, the amounts of deaths from ATV accidents have doubled since 1996.    

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