Virginia family, including toddler, hike entire Appalachian Trail

Published: Saturday, December 23, 2017 @ 10:29 AM

Hikers on the trail.
David McNew/Getty Images
Hikers on the trail.(David McNew/Getty Images)

This is one family that enjoys taking a hike.

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The Quirin family -- Bekah, Derrick and 1-year-old Ellie -- hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail this summer, The Roanoke Times reported.

The Quirins, who live in Roanoke, Virginia, completed the 2,190-mile trek over a six-month period. They began on March 20, heading south from the McAfee Knob trailhead in Roanoke On March 20, they set off from the McAfee Knob trailhead in Roanoke County and headed south to Georgia. From there, they traveled to Maine and marched back to McAfee Knob on Sept. 30, the Times reported.

“She’s a really happy baby, and she loves being outside,” said Bekah Quirin, who like her husband is 26. “She just flourished out there on the trail.”

Ellie is the first baby known to complete the Appalachian Trail. She technically didn’t hike it, because she spent most of the trek in a child backpack, the Times reported.

Ellie didn’t even know how to walk when the journey began. Her parents carried her in a backpack, but Bekah Quirin said they often let her out to explore. Creeks and streams were her favorite to play in.

“She’d grab sticks and play in the dirt or mud,” the mother said. “She was never bored. We didn’t even have to bring any toys.”

Because of her age, Ellie wasn’t permitted to climb to the summit of Katahdin, the trail’s majestic mountain terminus in Maine. The title of youngest thru-hiker belongs to Christian Thomas, also known as “Buddy Backpacker,” who walked the trail in 2013 with his family at the age of 5, the Times reported.

“We thought about how we could incorporate Ellie into that lifestyle early on,” Bekah Quirin said. “We had to adjust our lifestyle when we had a baby, but we wanted to get as close as we could to bringing her on outdoor adventures.”

The Quirins encourage other parents to get outdoors with their children, although they don’t necessarily need to embark on a 2,000-mile hike.“You don’t need to go on a thru-hike to have great outdoors memories with your kids,” Bekah Quirin said.

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2 Florida deputies shot, killed at restaurant

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 12:22 AM
Updated: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 1:49 AM

Gilchrist County sheriff's deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, left, and Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 29, right, a seven-year veteran, were shot and killed at a restaurant in Trenton, Florida, on Thursday afternoon,
Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office
Gilchrist County sheriff's deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, left, and Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 29, right, a seven-year veteran, were shot and killed at a restaurant in Trenton, Florida, on Thursday afternoon,(Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office)

Two Florida sheriff’s deputies were killed Thursday, shot through the window of a Chinese restaurant as they shared a meal, The Gainesville Sun reported. The man who allegedly shot the Gilchrist County deputies was found dead in a car outside the restaurant, authorities said.

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Deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, and Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 29, were eating at the Ace China restaurant in Trenton at 3 p.m. when they were shot, according to a Sheriff’s Office statement.

The Sheriff’s Office identified the shooter as John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell, Florida. Deputies responding to the shooting found Highnote dead from a gunshot wound, the statement said.

Ramirez was a seven-year veteran and was married with two children, Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said.

Schultz called the shooter “a coward,” while Bill Cervone, state attorney for Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit, called the act “inexplicable.”

"It appears (the shooter) just walked up and shot them, then went to his car and shot himself. It’s inexplicable ... people will want to know why and we may never have an answer for them," Cervone told the Sun.

“Sgt. Ramirez and Deputy Lindsay were the best of the best,” Schultz said at a news conference. “They’re men of integrity, they’re men of loyalty, they are God-fearing and they loved what they did. We are very proud of them.”

Schultz added that he did not want to make his remarks political, but said “What do you expect when you demonize law enforcement to the extent it has been demonized?”

The shooting was not prompted by any incident in the restaurant, the Sun reported.

In a statement, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he was “heartbroken.”

"It is true evil for anyone to hurt a law enforcement officer, and in Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence, especially against the police," Scott said.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted their condolences.

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Tree pollen staying high this weekend 

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 5:50 AM
Updated: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 6:04 AM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini talks about the pollen counts this weekend.

This time of year if you notice your allergy symptoms, it is likely because of a toss-up between tree pollen or the mold spores, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.

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Tree pollen is what typically spikes in April and May. Mold spores, during a wet time of year, can also be high. This time of year we can also get low amounts of grass pollen in the air as well.

Friday through Sunday, sunshine, warm temperatures and breezy conditions will allow the tree pollen to climb quickly. Dry weather can allow the mold spores to drop. 

If you suffer from allergies, you will likely notice your symptoms this weekend.

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Oh, boy! Michigan couple with 13 sons adds No. 14

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 6:08 AM

It's another boy for Jay and Kateri Schwandt of Rockford, Michigan.
China Photos/Getty Images
It's another boy for Jay and Kateri Schwandt of Rockford, Michigan.(China Photos/Getty Images)

A Michigan couple with 13 sons just added another child into the family -- and yes, it was another boy.

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Jay and Kateri Schwandt of Rockford welcomed an 8-pound, 4-ounce boy Wednesday night, WOOD-TV reported. The boy was born at 5:56 p.m. and measured 21 inches long. He also was five days early, the Grand Rapids Press reported.

The Schwandts’ other boys range in age from 2 to 25. 

When the couple was expecting their 13th child, a genetics counselor calculated the chances of giving birth to 12 boys consecutively at .02 percent, the Press reported.

Kateri Schwandt also came from a family of 14 children. The couple decided against learning the baby’s sex before the birth, The Detroit Free Press reported.

"That's like opening your Christmas presents on Thanksgiving,” Jay Schwandt told Yahoo! News.

He also said this child would be the couple’s final one -- but Kateri said her husband said that after the 13th child was born.

He also said child No. 14 would be the last — but his wife noted he also said that after No. 13, WOOD-TV reported..

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Freeze Warning in effect; temperatures climb into weekend

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 3:26 AM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini has an outdoor outlook for the weekend


  • Freeze warning in effect south of I-70 until 9 a.m.
  • Sunshine returns today
  • Warming up through the weekend

>> Why freeze warning only issued for the southern Miami Valley


Today: It will be a chilly morning with temperatures in the 30s with frost expected to develop, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. We’ll see sunshine through the day. Temperatures will finally get closer to normal again with highs in the upper 50s. It will be a clear and chilly night.

>> Clear skies in time for Lyrid Meteor Shower this weekend

Saturday: It will be a nice start to the weekend. The day looks to be dry, but clouds will likely increase for the afternoon. Highs will be around 60.

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Sunday: It will be another beautiful weekend day with highs in the low 60s, which is right where temperatures should be. There will be plenty of sunshine.

>> Live Dopper 7 Interactive Radar

Monday: Temperatures will continue to climb as highs reach the mid-60s. Clouds will increase and thicken up into the evening. A passing rain shower at night can’t be ruled out.

Tuesday: We’ll see scattered, mild rain showers. It will be breezy and cloudy. Highs will be around 60.

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