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California woman reunited with man she found buried alive as baby 

A California woman who found a newborn buried alive 20 years ago was reunited with him Thursday, KABC reported.

>> Read more trending news

As Matthew Christian Whitaker celebrated his 20th birthday, his biggest present was meeting Azita Milanian, a woman who saved his life after finding him covered with dirt along a hiking trail in Altadena, California.

On May 17, 1998, Milanian was jogging with her dogs on the hiking trail when her pets began sniffing around a pile of dirt. Milanian brushed the dirt away and found a newborn boy with his umbilical cord still attached, KABC reported.Minanian ran for help and returned to clear dirt out of the infant’s mouth and nose. After he was taken to the hospital, the infant recovered and was sent to Child Protective Services. He was adopted, and Milanian never saw the child again, KABC reported.

This year, Whitaker learned he was adopted. His friend requested a 23andMe DNA test for him, and the story came to the attention of Patty Rodriguez of KIIS radio in Los Angeles. As her staff researched the story, Rodriguez wondered if Milanian knew anything about the child she had found, KABC reported.

Rodriguez posted the story on her Instagram account, and it led to an emotional reunion between Whitaker and Rodriguez.

Ohio golfer, 93, scores hole-in-one in final round of career

It was a great way to cap off a long golf career.

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Ben Bender, 93, who has been playing golf for 65 years, played his final round at Green Valley in Zanesville, Ohio, last month. He went out in style, scoring his first hole-in-one, the Times Recorder of Zanesville reported.

Plagued by hip bursitis that caused him to cut his round short, Bender used a 5-wood to score an ace at the third hole at Green Valley.

"I'd come close to some hole-in-ones, but this one was level on the green before it curved towards the hole and went in," Bender told the Times Recorder. "I was in awe watching it. I played a few more holes, but my hips were hurting and I had to stop. It seemed the Lord knew this was my last round so he gave me a hole-in-one."

Green Valley manager Steve Galloway said that Bender got off to a rocky start, shooting at least a 7 on the other five holes he played.

"(Ben) shot 8 on 1 and 7 on 2 so you guessed it, a hole-in-one on 3," he said. "What an amazing feat by Ben (in his final round)."

Bender, a former 3-handicapper who has played since he was 28, played six days per week when he lived in Florida.

When he retired, Bender moved back to Zanesville and regularly played Green Valley, the Times Recorder reported.

"I was lucky to play golf this long, but I never expected (a hole-in-one)," Bender told the newspaper. "It was the last time I was able to play, and I think God had a hand in this. I loved the game and hate to give it up, but I can't play forever.”

Report: Hertz customers arrested after rental cars mistakenly reported as stolen

More than  half a dozen customers of a national rental car company were arrested after their vehicles were mistakenly reported as stolen, WPVI reported.

Hertz is being forced to pay thousands of dollars to customers after they were jailed despite being paying customers with no delinquent accounts.

Pennsylvania resident Kelly Grady was driving her rented Chevy Yukon from Hertz when the lights flashed and sirens went off.

"I thought, it's got to be a mistake," Grady told WPVI.

It wasn’t. Several Pennsylvania state troopers pulled her over.

"They were yelling over the loudspeaker for us to turn the car off, put our hands out,” Grady said. “Turn the car off put the keys out the window.”When Grady and her passenger exited the vehicle, she said troopers “were screaming and yelling.”

“All of them were pointing guns literally to the back of our head,” Grady told WPVI.

Hertz, had reported her Yukon stolen in 2013. Grady showed troopers her contact, and they called Hertz who admitted the error.

And a month later, Grady was pulled over in New Jersey and was arrested for grand theft auto, WPVI reported.

"I was in jail for 12 days. It was humiliating. It was scary. It was horrible. It was degrading,” Grady told WPVI. “I was sexually assaulted and gang beaten.”

Hertz filed criminal charges, but a judge threw them out, WPVI reported.

"It's been four years and it still affects me to this day," said Grady, who sued Hertz and was awarded $100,000 by a civil jury.

Civil attorney Francis Alexander said that Hertz has a pattern of wrongly reporting vehicles stolen. He cites cases in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Texas, and Indiana where his client, Ramanda Vanpay, was pulled over for auto theft in late 2016.

Vanpay also spent time in jail, Alexander told WPVI

"I mean I was scared. I cried,” Vanpay told the television station. “I told the officers that there's no way.”

Vanpay said her rental car from Green Bay got a flat tire. She returned it to an Indianapolis Hertz branch for a new one. She claimed the company failed to update its computer system and reported the initial rental car stolen. Eventually, the charges were dismissed.

"I just want everybody to be careful because it could happen to anybody," Vanpay said.

Hertz declined comment, WPVI reported.

Meghan Markle, Michelle Obama trace families to same Georgia town

Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle both can trace their families to the same Georgia town, and not only were their ancestors both Jonesboro residents, they also lived there at the same time.

>> Read more trending news

According to professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak, both had third great-grandmothers living in Jonesboro in the years after the Civil War.

Meghan Markle’s great-great-great grandmother on her mother’s side was Martha Henderson, but was known as Mattie.

In the 1870 census Mattie was 10 years old, the daughter of Walker and Elizabeth Henderson.

That same 1870 census notes that Michelle Obama’s great-great-great grandmother, Melvinia Shields, also lived in Jonesboro at the same time.

She would have been an adult at that time, with children of her own.

>> Who is Meghan Markle?

“Maybe Mattie was a friend of Melvinia’s kids,” said Smolenyak, who discovered Michelle Obama’s connection to Georgia in 2009.

A Google alert drew Smolenyak’s attention back to Georgia, and to Markle’s connection.

She marveled at finding “both of these women in the same little town, living so closely together. ... Both families would have recently come out from under slavery; this was barely post emancipation.”

Examining the handwriting on the census documents, she said, it’s evident that the same census worker recorded both names, which shows their proximity.

Melvinia Shields grew up on a farm just outside the village of Rex, near Jonesboro, and also in Clayton County.

Mattie was married twice, and had a daughter, Claudie Richie (or Ritchie or Richey), with her first husband.

Claudie married J.M. Ragland (J.M. were initials for “Jerry Miah” said Smolenyak), and their son Steve was Doria Ragland’s grandfather.

Claudie and J.M. moved to Chattanooga, where he worked as a tailor.

So the same Georgia town produced a First Lady and a Royal. Perhaps after Meghan and Harry are married they will stop by Georgia for tea. 

Harry and Meghan’s new titles: Duke and Duchess of Sussex

On the morning of the royal wedding Queen Elizabeth II conferred the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, CNN reported.

Harry will hold several titles: His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Markle will be known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.

Titles are decided by the Queen when a relative either comes of age or gets married, CNN reported. The queen can choose from five titles for a man, CNN reported -- duke, marquess, earl, viscount or baron. For a woman, the choices are duchess, marchioness, countess, viscountess and baroness.

The titles of duke and duchess are the highest titles among the five possibilities.

It has been 175 years since a man held the title of Duke of Sussex. That was Prince Augustus Frederick, who was the sixth son and ninth child of George III, the BBC reported. He died in 1843 at age 70.

Affidavit: Santa Fe High School shooting suspect spared students he liked

The suspect in the Santa Fe High School shooting in southeastern Texas said he did not shoot people he liked and meant to kill the students he targeted, according to a probable cause affidavit.

>> Read more trending news

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, allegedly used a shotgun and a revolver to kill 10 people and injure 10 others. He has cooperated with police, Galveston County Magistrate Mark Henry told CNN. 

>> Santa Fe shooting: 10 dead, 10 injured

In a video court hearing, Pagourtzis answered “Yes, sir,” when asked if he wanted a court-appointed attorney but did not say much more, CNN reported. Henry denied bail for Pagourtzis, who is accused of capital murder of multiple people and aggravated assault on a public servant.

The student was not asked to enter a plea, CNN reported.

>> Texas shooting: Who is Dimitrios Pagourtzis?

According to the affidavit, Pagourtzis told an investigator that he spared people he liked because he wanted his story told.

Police said Pagourtzis was armed with a shotgun, a .38 revolver and explosives when he opened fire at the school, KHOU reported.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Pagourtzis had planned to kill himself but instead surrendered, calling him a coward, KHOU reported.

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt offers to pay for funerals of Santa Fe victims

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has offered to pay for the funerals of all the victims in Friday morning’s mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, KRIV reported.

>> Read more trending news

“Absolutely horrific,” Watts tweeted Friday in response to the shooting, which left 10 people dead and 10 others injured at the high school located southeast of Houston. 

The Texans confirmed Friday night that Watt will pay for the funerals, KTRK reported.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, a student at the school, was arrested and charged with capital murder and aggravated assault of a peace officer in the shooting in which 10 people were killed and 10 others were injured. 

>> Santa Fe High School shooting: 10 dead, 10 injured

Watt has been honored for his philanthropic efforts. He was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year in 2017, along with Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, for his work in helping Houston recover after Hurricane Harvey. Watt helped raise $37 million through the Houston Flood Relief Fund.

Watt was also given the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award during Super Bowl LII weekend.

On Facebook, Chris Allen of Crowder Funeral Home wrote that Mount Olivet Cemetery was offering free plots for the victims, KHOU reported.

Hawaii volcano shooting lava bombs 200 feet in air; more than 40 buildings destroyed

Powerful eruptions accompanied by thunderous booms punctuated the air Friday around Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.

>> Read more trending news

The volcano spewed lava bombs the size of cows as molten rock flowed from several of the 22 fissures that have opened around the volcano. 

More than 40 structures, mostly homes, have been destroyed in the eruption that started more than two weeks ago. Lava has now inundated almost 325 acres around Kilauea.

Update May 19, 2018, 2 a.m. EDT: Fast-moving lava isolated about 40 homes in a rural subdivision, forcing at least four people to be evacuated by county and National Guard helicopters, the Star-Advertiser of Honolulu reported.

According to the Hawaii County Civil Defense, police, firefighters and National Guard troops were stopping people from entering the area.

Update May 18, 2018 11:30 p.m. EDT: Hawaiian authorities have sent the National Guard, police and fire units into the East Rift Zone in Puna, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency.

“There are approximately 40 homes in the area that are isolated. Officials are gaining access by helicopter to the area to assess how many people are there and if they need assistance. All persons in that area are asked to stay where they are and wait for further instructions,” the agency said on its website.

The Hawaii Volcano Observatory has confirmed another fissure opened on Friday, bringing the total number of fissures to 22. 

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as Kilauea continues its violent eruptions.

Update May 18, 2018 8:35 a.m EDT:  More lava is spewing 

from the Kilauea volcano as the 21st fissure opened Thursday, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, state officials have been handing out masks to protect people who live near Kilauea, ABC News reported. About 18,000 masks have been distributed, CNN reported. The safety measure protects residents from breathing in pieces of rock, glass and crystals that fall as the volcano continues to erupt, ABC News reported.

Update May 17, 2018 10:45 p.m EDT: Lava is erupting from points along the fissure system on Kilauea volcano, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but the agency is calling it a “low-level eruption” at this point. 

Although lava is still spattering from Fissure 17, the flow has not advanced significantly over the past day, the USGS said.

There are currently 18 fissures that have opened due to seismic activity on Kilauea’ over the past two weeks. 

Volcanic gas emission are still elevated throughout the area and residents are urged to remain on alert. 

“This eruption is still evolving and additional outbreaks of lava are possible. Ground deformation continues and seismicity remains elevated in the area,” the USGS reported late Thursday

Rain on the Big Island Thursday helped the situation with the ashfall, but volcano experts are warning the situation on Kilauea is  still very dynamic.

(Previous story)

Several schools were closed as ash continued to fall Thursday due to elevated sulfur dioxide levels. Officials warned people in the area to take shelter and protect themselves from the falling ash.

>> Here's how to help victims of Hawaii volcano, earthquakes

"The resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area," officials with the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in a 5 a.m. alert. In a subsequent update, USGS officials said the ash plume was moving to the northeast.

The plume could be seen in an image taken from a webcam at the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

"Driving conditions may be dangerous so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves," the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency warned.

Michelle Coombs, of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, told Hawaii News Now that the situation remained “very, very active and very dynamic,” on Thursday.

“The potential for larger explosions is still there,” she said.

Officials with the USGS warned Tuesday that an eruption of Kilauea's volcano appeared "imminent."

>> Red alert declared on Hawaii’s Big Island; major Kilauea eruption ‘imminent’

The eruption on Kilauea began May 3. It has since forced thousands of people from their homes, destroyed nearly 40 structures -- including dozens of homes -- and created more than two dozen fissures in the ground surrounding the volcano.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

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