Real Miami News

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Real Miami News - CSI Miami
Badly injured Miami-Dade police officer still in critical condition

The Miami-Dade detective badly injured following a brutal attack last week in Liberty City remains in critical condition, doctors say.

Smashed in the head with a cinderblock on Friday, Miami-Dade detective Carlos Castillo has been in and out of a coma and remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit, doctors said Wednesday. They called his prognosis ``guarded'' as they ticked off a list of more than a dozen injuries the detective suffered after he was attacked and run over with his own car. ``We're hopeful, but we realize with this level of injury, this level of blood loss the outcome is not guaranteed yet,'' said Dr. Mark McKenney, medical director of Ryder Trauma Center, where the detective was rushed Friday. ``We're going to continue to work hard to see that he survives.'' A big risk in the coming days is an infection from the vast number of injuries and blood loss. He suffered such extensive trauma in the attack that doctors listed 14 different injuries to various parts of his body. The three areas that most concerns doctors are injuries to his brain, liver and lungs. The damage to his lungs was so severe that Castillo is on a ventilator. ``Eighty percent of patients with this level of injury would die,'' McKenney said. ``He survived the initial part. He survived the shock. We're hopeful, but the situation is still guarded. It's really a campaign to see if we can get all his systems working and better before a bad infection takes place.'' He has been able to mouth some words, but can't clearly follow commands, doctors said. The brain injury is on the right side of his brain, said Dr. Ross Bullock, Director of Neurotrauma at Jackson Memorial Hospital. ``He could make a good recovery from that, but it's difficult to assess the brain injury because it's necessary to keep him sedated,'' Bullock said. Police say Castillo was working undercover on Friday when he was attacked after pulling over Michael Paul Robertson, 33, and his girlfriend, Monica Rene Banks, 25. Robertson, who was wanted on a warrant, fled after the stop. Castillo handcuffed Banks as officers fanned out to search for Robertson. Investigators say Robertson threw a cinderblock from the second story of a nearby building, before running downstairs, kicking Castillo and stealing his car. They say he then ran over Castillo's battered body. Robertson has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and other related offenses. Banks is charged with accessory after the fact to attempted first-degree murder.

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Oil from Gulf spill may even reach Miami says scientist

MIAMI, May 4 (Reuters) - Crude from the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill could eventually slosh ashore on Miami Beach or North Carolina's barrier islands, if it connects with a powerful sea current, an oceanographer said on Tuesday. Robert Weisberg, a physical oceanographer at the University of South Florida, told a conference call the so-called Loop Current that sweeps around the Gulf was poised to connect with the spreading oil slick. Once "entrainment" occurs, he said, the oil would be pulled quickly south along Florida's Gulf coast and out into the Florida Straits, between the United States and Cuba. "Exactly when the oil will enter the Loop Current at the surface is unknown but it appears to be imminent," Weisberg said, referring to the prevailing current in the Gulf. "It could be days or it could be longer but it looks like it's going to happen, and it looks like it's going to happen now sooner than later," he said. However, depending on local winds, Florida's southwest beaches and the Florida Keys, along with coral reefs and the fragile ecosystem of the Everglades, could be spared from the oil slick, Weisberg said. That is because ocean circulation models show it heading out to sea, past the Dry Tortugas islands, before it is caught up in the Gulf Stream and makes its way up the U.S. East Coast, he said. "Once it's at the entrance to the Florida Straits it's only another week or so before it could be in the vicinity of Miami or Palm Beach and one more week or so until it could be as far north as Cape Hatteras," Weisberg said. Asked about the possibility of the oil entering the Loop Current, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the agency had no immediate forecast of this. "As far as the Florida Loop Current (goes), our predictions go to 72 hours out and right now the predictions are not (for) an effect on Florida at this moment," she said. Weisberg said whether or not the oil got into shallow water on its possible ocean journey would be totally dependent on winds. "Whether or not the oil makes landfall anywhere will depend on what the winds are doing at that particular point in time ... It's likely that there could be oil on the beaches in Miami but we really can't say for sure right now." (Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

Oil spill puts fragile world in peril
The oil spill could have ripple effects, threatening mangroves and future generations of fish and other sensitive sea life

PANAMA CITY -- Linked to the Gulf of Mexico by two passes around Shell Island, St. Andrews Bay opens up just inland from the hilly dunes and soft sand of the coast. Fed by creeks and bayous, the bay boasts the lushest seagrass in the Florida Panhandle, as well as salt marshes, tidal flats and oyster bars. In his office at St. Andrews Bay State Park on Wednesday, John Bente, lead biologist for 13 coastal state parks, studied a map wondering if the looming slick of doom will make its way into a fragile estuary supporting some 3,600 species, from endangered beach mice to redfish. ``It has the potential of being a disaster ecologically,'' he said. ``It's just frightening.'' Bente's concern is echoed by scientists and environmentalists from the Yucatán Peninsula to Cape Sable in Everglades National Park. Despite worsening pollution, overfishing and other environmental problems, the vast Gulf of Mexico still ranks among the world's richest fisheries and its 3,500-mile coast is ringed with diverse habitats where imperiled birds and animals could be at risk from a major slick. Kemp's Ridley sea turtles lay eggs on the beaches of Texas and Mexico. Least terns nest on the beaches around Biloxi; snowy plovers along Panama City Beach. Manatees munch seagrass from Florida Bay to Tampa Bay. ``All of these coastal areas, the salt marshes and the sea grass beds and the oyster bars, all support what we call foundation species,'' said Felicia Coleman, director of Florida State University's Coastal and Marine Lab. ``It's the glue that keeps the coastal environment chugging along.'' Gulf waters teem with life: Several species of rare sea turtles, whales, dolphin, and an array of species that wind up on hooks or in nets -- from red snapper to bluefin tuna to pink shrimp -- and supply about a fifth of the nation's seafood. More important, it's a vital seasonal spawning area for those same species, along with grouper, lobster, blue crabs and others. They move to the deep Gulf to set tiny eggs and offspring adrift in swirling currents that help restock coral reefs, bays and marshes from the Yucatan to the Florida Keys. For now, with the Coast Guard and British Petroleum struggling to cap an undersea well gushing an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil daily, it's difficult to predict how widespread the damage to the Gulf might be. It will depend on when, and if, the well can be capped with the risks of wider, more serious damage rising with the volume of oil. James Fourqurean, a marine biologist at Florida International University, views the oil slick like a hurricane with a cone of danger covering the entire Gulf. For now, no one can predict for sure where it will go and not every place will be hit. So far, the confirmed and visible victims have been limited -- blackened salt marsh grasses on the Louisiana Delta and two oil-slimed sea birds. Three dozen dead turtles also have been found along Gulf beaches in recent weeks, but oil hasn't shown up in necropsies and federal fisheries managers are investigating whether shrimpers are to blame. But Audubon reported Wednesday that oil had begun washing ashore in the Chandeleur Islands, south of Gulfport, Miss., which are a breeding spot for sandwich and royal terns and the brown pelican. ``This is another sad milestone in a disaster unfolding in slow motion,'' said Audubon President Frank Gill in a release.

Biologists suspect there may already be massive but unseen impacts in the open ocean that could have ripple effects through the region for years. Slicks of oil are lethal to most of those drifting eggs and fish larvae, said Tamara Frank, an associate research professor at a Florida Atlantic University branch campus in Fort Pierce. ``That is going to be the problem,'' she said. Plankton aren't strong enough to swim away, and if the tiny creatures aren't instantly poisoned, they'll soon suffocate, she said. ``Anything that uses gills, like crustaceans and fish, is going to have problems. They way gills work, they have a lot of surface area. They're really frilly and the oil is going to clump and stick on them.'' If the oil spreads widely in open water, or is pulled into the loop current that circulates around Florida, the Keys and up the East Coast and wipes out larvae, there could be fewer shrimp, fish and lobster to go around for several years. ``It's not just a coastal problem,'' she said. ``Most of us don't see what's going on out there in 300 feet of water.'' Even before the massive spill, pollution and other environmental problems have plagued the Gulf of Mexico. Pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals pouring out of the Mississippi River create a massive undersea, oxygen-poor ``dead zone'' that moves around south of the river mouth every year that, so far at least, dwarfs the spill. Fish-killing red tide periodically hits the Gulf Coast, particularly around Southwest Florida. Commercial and sports fishing have hammered some species so hard -- most notably popular fare like red snapper and grouper -- that federal fisheries managers have issued a series of escalating restrictions. Coastal erosion and decades of drilling industry expansion also have taken a toll on the salt marshes of the Louisiana Delta. There are more than 3,500 platforms in the northern Gulf and thousands of miles of pipelines. ``You can't see the bottom because of all the piping,'' FSU's Coleman said. But even a Gulf in decline remains vibrant, particularly in sections. If winds push the spill east into the Panhandle and Big Bend area, Coleman said, it would threaten what she said was easily the most productive and diverse area in the entire Gulf. Some habitats are more vulnerable than others. Apalachicola Bay's renowned oysters, which feed by filtering water, could be wiped out by a heavy oil bath. ``If you're an oyster, you don't put on your sneakers and leave,'' she said. ``It's going to clog you up and you're going to suffocate.'' In South Florida, the threat will depend on how much of the remnant slick gets drawn into the loop current -- which circulates around the Keys and up the East Coast -- and its conditions. Reefs and seagrass beds could escape largely unscathed from a surface slick, but pudding-like mousse and sinking oil could kill coral algae and crabs, shrimp and other bottom life. The most vulnerable areas could well be mangrove forests that line islands in the Keys and the Southwest Florida coast of Everglades National Park. The trees can't pull oxygen through dense coastal sediments, Fourqurean said, relying inside on ``prop roots'' at the soil's surface -- roots easily drowned by oil. ``Without that air transport, the roots die,'' he said. Bente, the biologist at St. Andrews Bay State Park, called clean water the ``lifeblood of the Gulf of Mexico.'' With it, the system is resilient. Without it, the entire food chain weakens and can collapse. ``It stays in balance until we throw it off,'' he said.

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