Lottery winner out of luck when ticket gets lost in mail

RIDGE MANOR, Fla. — A woman who won $1,000 in a second chance drawing on July 29 isn’t getting her prize because the certified letter she sent to the Florida Lottery’s headquarters never arrived.

Sue Burgess told WFLA that officials in Tallahassee told her “no ticket, no prize.”

The second chance lottery prize gives winners limited time to turn in a ticket to claim the prize. Their options are to either put the ticket in a drop box at a local lottery office, which were not then open to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, or mail them to the headquarters.

Burgess told the television station she felt it would be safer to send the ticket via certified mail with the U.S. Postal Service.

The tracking information shows the ticket arrived at a Tallahassee post office at 7:12 a.m. on Aug. 12. But the online tracking shows the ticket was never delivered to the lottery office.

When Burgess called, lottery officials told her that without a ticket, the prize would go to an alternate winner.

In a second chance game, the lottery has a record of winners because players register their names and contact information. Burgess told the station she was notified she won by a lottery official who called to give her the good news.

Typically, lottery winners of more than $600 can submit winning tickets in person at their local lottery office. But because of COVID-19, offices were closed to the public. Burgess says she was told she could send the ticket via certified mail or leave the ticket in a drop box at a local lottery office.

Burgess said there was a one-week time frame to submit the ticket, but she missed an email about being a winner and by the time the office called her, she only had days to get the ticket post-marked.

“That’s why you chose certified mail,” Burgess told the station. “With COVID, I understand the mail is a little bit slow. But for safety sake, certified mail usually has priority.”

In a statement to the station, the postal service offered an apology to Burgess for any “inconvenience.”

If the package arrives, lottery officials told the station they would bend the rules and pay Burgess the $1,000 if it was postmarked by the original deadline.

Fish will fly in rescheduled Gulf Coast event

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — Once canceled amid coronavirus concerns, the annual Mullet Toss is back on again at a popular roadhouse at the Florida-Alabama state line.

In the annual event at the Flora-Bama Lounge, contestants throw dead fish from a point in Florida across the state line, vying for distance records.

AL.com reports that the April event was postponed this year due to the spread of COVID-19. Now, it’s set for Oct. 23-25.

Co-owner Cameron Price says the organizers are taking advantage of the loosening of Florida coronavirus restrictions. Price adds that it’s an outdoor event in breezy conditions.

Price says free masks will be available but masks won’t be mandatory.

“We are not mandating that anybody wear masks out there,” he said. “If you want to come here and wear a mask, you’re welcome to come here and wear a mask. Nobody’s going to look at you funny.”

The announcement of the rescheduled Mullet Toss comes during a tumultuous year for the venue.

In March, Flora-Bama owners shut down the bar and several related businesses — even before it was mandated by Florida.

In the ensuing months, it operated at times as a bar, at times as a restaurant, depending on state regulations.

Hurricane Sally in also caused a brief shutdown but caused only minor damage.

Police say suspicious devices on Trump signs were theft alarms

EASTON, Md. — Several “suspicious devices” were found on Trump-Pence campaign signs around a Maryland city, but when bomb squads arrived, they realized those devices were small alarm systems.

Easton Police and the State Fire Marshal Bomb Squad said they were busy investigating the devices, which were found taped to the political lawn signs.

The first sign was found in Idlewild Park on Oct. 4. Later, four more signs in and around Easton were found with similar devices on them.

Officials said the devices posed no threat to the public: They’re just audible alarms that sound when a pull pin, attached to a string, is tugged away.

The State Marshal’s office said their apparent purpose was to prevent the signs from being stolen or removed.

The campaign signs were placed in public areas, which is illegal. Campaign signs aren’t allowed on “public rights-of-way,” road shoulders, or on medians.

Officials have asked the public to alert police if other suspicious devices are found on the signs. Officials also asked residents to not remove the devices themselves.

Driverless boat spins of control, smashing docks

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Three men conducting a photo shoot on a boat in a busy Florida river somehow went overboard, leaving the 24-foot vessel unmanned and out of control.

The three men told deputies that they accidentally fell into the St. Lucie River along Florida’s Atlantic coast on Saturday, leaving the boat unmanned. It circled around the men numerous times, forcing them to dive underwater so it wouldn’t run them over.

The boat then straightened out, hit a concrete dock, went airborne and hit a second dock before coming to a stop, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

The men were able to swim to a nearby sailboat. One had a minor injury, the sheriff’s office said.

An investigation into the cause has been turned over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Large Chinese mitten crab crawls into woman’s home

BERLIN — Police in southern Germany say a woman got a shock while airing out her home when a 10-inch Chinese mitten crab scurried in from the terrace through the open door.

Freiburg police said that they received a call reporting the unwanted home invader in the nearby town of Unterlauchringen, near the Swiss border, the previous morning.

Before they arrived, police say, the woman captured the crustacean by putting an upside-down garbage can on top of it.

Officers were able to put the crab into a container and then take it to a local veterinary clinic.

The invasive species, native to Asia, is now found in many rivers in Germany, and the woman’s residence was not far from the Rhine, though the Chinese mitten crab has never been reported in the area before. They’re not considered dangerous.

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