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  1. Until Sunday, visitors to Calaveras Big Trees State Park could walk through the tunnel in the Pioneer Cabin Tree. A powerful winter storm in California has brought down an ancient tree, carved into a living tunnel more than a century ago. The "Pioneer Cabin Tree," a sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, saw horses and cars pass through it over the years. More recently, only hikers were allowed to walk through the massive tree. Over the weekend, a powerful winter storm slammed into California and Nevada, prompting flooding and mudslides in some regions. The Associated Press reports it might be the biggest storm to hit the region in more than a decade. On Sunday, a volunteer at the state park reported that Pioneer Cabin had not survived. "The storm was just too much for it," the Calaveras Big Tree Association wrote on Facebook. It's unclear exactly how old the tree was, but The Los Angeles Times reports that the trees in the state park are estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. Sequoias can live for more than 3,000 years. The iconic tree was one of just a few tunneled-through sequoias in California. The most famous was the Wawona Tree, in Yosemite National Park; it fell during a winter storm in 1969 at an estimated age of 2,100 years. The other remaining sequoia tunnels are dead or consist of logs on their side, the Forest Service says. However, there are still three coastal redwoods (taller and more slender than sequoias) with tunnels cut through them. They're all operated by private companies, the Forest Service says, and still allow cars to drive through — one appeared in a recent Geico ad. SFGate.com spoke to Jim Allday, the volunteer who reported Pioneer Cabin's demise. He told the website that the tree "shattered" when it hit the ground on Sunday afternoon, and that people had walked through it as recently as that morning. An 1899 stereograph shows the Pioneer Cabin sequoia in Calaveras Grove, Calif. Local flooding might have been the reason the tree fell, SFGate reports: " 'When I went out there [Sunday afternoon], the trail was literally a river, the trail is washed out,' Allday said. 'I could see the tree on the ground, it looked like it was laying in a pond or lake with a river running through it.' " "The tree had been among the most popular features of the state park since the late 1800s. The tunnel had graffiti dating to the 1800s, when visitors were encouraged to etch their names into the bark. "Joan Allday, wife of Jim Allday and also a volunteer at the park, said the tree had been weakening and leaning severely to one side for several years. " 'It was barely alive, there was one branch alive at the top,' she said. 'But it was very brittle and starting to lift.' " Tunnel trees were created in the 19th century to promote parks and inspire tourism. But cutting a tunnel through a living sequoia, of course, damages the tree. "Tunnel trees had their time and place in the early history of our national parks," the National Park Service has written. "But today sequoias which are standing healthy and whole are worth far more." The Pioneer Cabin sequoia in Northern California's Calaveras Big Trees State Park was carved into a tunnel in the late 19th century. It fell on Sunday, brought down by a massive storm.
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  2. Smoke inside the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses church at 1304 Empire Street in Cortez caused an evacuation Sunday morning. There were no injuries and the building did not catch fire. Services were canceled. The cause was determined to be a faulty motor in a heating system, according to Cortez Fire Department officials. The electricity was shut off and faulty part was contained. About 75 people were evacuated at about 10 a.m. said church elder Phil Conner. “The evacuation was very orderly, and the response from the fire department, ambulance and police was very quick, helpful and professional,” he said. The heater unit is being repaired. Source Via
  3. That’s a 40 percent increase since last year Citi Bike crushed its own records for the third consecutive year, with 2016 being the program’s most successful year yet. Over the course of 2016, riders took nearly 14 million trips—four million more than in 2015, or a 40 percent increase. According to a release from the mayor’s office, the largest bike-share program in North America now regularly serves more than 60,000 trips per day, putting it on par with Boro Taxis and the Staten Island Ferry. “In 2016, we fulfilled our pledge to grow Citi Bike, a sustainable transit option, to a range of more diverse Manhattan and Brooklyn communities,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. This year, the program added 139 new stations and 2,000 bikes to the fleet. And there’s more to come. Assuming all goes according to plan, Citi Bike should hit Astoria, Crown Heights, and Prospect Heights in 2017. (The future looks somewhat bleaker in Staten Island and the Bronx.) Also in 2017: Motivate, the private company that operates the program, the DOT, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene plan to launch more community partnerships designed to “increase and diversify participation in bike share.” Such a program already exists in Bed-Stuy—and membership is up in the neighborhood by more than 50 percent.
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  4. The Obama administration is giving consumers a few extra days to sign up on HealthCare.gov in time for health insurance coverage to take effect Jan. 1. The new deadline is 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Monday, Dec. 19, says Kevin Counihan, CEO of the federal health insurance markets. The unexpected extension was announced after close of business Thursday. Counihan said it's due to strong interest. The old deadline was Thursday. The Obama administration has set a goal of signing up 13.8 million people for 2017, a modest increase. So far enrollment is running about on par with last year, but the share of new customers is down. Open enrollment ends Jan. 31. President-elect Donald Trump and the GOP Congress have vowed to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.
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  5. RANGER, TEXAS — THE LEADERS OF THIS FORMER OIL BOOMTOWN NEVER GAVE 2-YEAR-OLD ADAM WALTON A CHANCE TO AVOID THE POISON. By Laura Ungar and Mark Nichols, A USA TODAY NETWORK INVESTIGATION RANGER, Texas — The leaders of this former oil boomtown never gave 2-year-old Adam Walton a chance to avoid the poison. It came in city water, delivered to his family’s tap through pipes nearly a century old. For almost a year, the little boy bathed in lead-tainted water and ate food cooked in it. As he grew into a toddler — when he should have been learning to talk — he drank tap water containing a toxin known to ravage a child’s developing brain. Adam's parents didn't know about the danger until this fall. Officials at City Hall knew long before then, according to local and state records. So did state and federal government regulators who are paid to make sure drinking water in Texas and across the nation is clean. Ranger and Texas officials were aware of a citywide lead problem for two years -- one the city still hasn't fixed and one the Waltons first learned about in a September letter to residents. The city and state even knew, from recent tests, that water in the Walton family’s cramped, one-bedroom rental house near the railroad tracks was carrying sky-high levels of lead. Destiny and John Walton got their first inkling of a problem when blood tests in June detected high levels of lead in their son’s growing body. They first learned that their tap water contained lead — about 28 times the federal limit — when a USA TODAY Network reporter told them in early November. Millions of Americans face similar risks because the nation’s drinking-water enforcement system doesn’t make small utilities play by the same safety rules as everyone else, a USA TODAY Network investigation has found. Tiny utilities - those serving only a few thousand people or less - don’t have to treat water to prevent lead contamination until after lead is found. Even when they skip safety tests or fail to treat water after they find lead, federal and state regulators often do not force them to comply with the law. USA TODAY Network journalists spent 2016 reviewing millions of records from the Environmental Protection Agency and all 50 states, visiting small communities across the country and interviewing more than 120 people stuck using untested or lead-tainted tap water. The investigation found: About 100,000 people get their drinking water from utilities that discovered high lead but failed to treat the water to remove it. Dozens of utilities took more than a year to formulate a treatment plan and even longer to begin treatment. Some 4 million Americans get water from small operators who skipped required tests or did not conduct the tests properly, violating a cornerstone of federal safe drinking water laws. The testing is required because, without it, utilities, regulators and people drinking the water can't know if it's safe. In more than 2,000 communities, lead tests were skipped more than once. Hundreds repeatedly failed to properly test for five or more years. About 850 small water utilities with a documented history of lead contamination — places where state and federal regulators are supposed to pay extra attention — have failed to properly test for lead at least once since 2010. This two-tiered system exists in both law and practice. State and federal water-safety officials told USA TODAY Network reporters that regulators are more lenient with small water systems because they lack resources, deeming some lost causes when they don’t have the money, expertise or motivation to fix problems. The nation’s Safe Drinking Water Act allows less-trained, often amateur, people to operate tiny water systems even though the risks for people drinking the water are the same. Officials in West Virginia, for example, labeled more than a dozen systems “orphans” because they didn’t have owners or operators. Enforcement efforts for those utilities amounted to little more than a continuous stream of warning letters as utilities failed to test year after year. All the while, residents continued drinking untested — and potentially contaminated — water. “At the end of the day, it creates two universes of people,” said water expert Yanna Lambrinidou, an affiliate faculty member at Virginia Tech. “One is the universe of people who are somewhat protected from lead. ... Then we have those people served by small water systems, who are treated by the regulations as second-class citizens.” All of this endangers millions of people across the country, mostly in remote and rural communities. Utilities like East Mooringsport Water, serving part of a bayou town of about 800 people, where drinking water went untested for more than five years. Or Coal Mountain, W.Va., a remote 118-person outpost where a retired coal miner pours bleach into untested water at the system's wellhead in hope of keeping it clean. Or Orange Center School outside Fresno, Calif., where for more than a decade regulators let about 320 grade-school kids drink water that had tested high for lead. Individually, the communities served by small utilities seem tiny. But together, the number of people getting lead-contaminated drinking water, or water not properly tested for lead, since 2010 is about 5 million. Virginia Tech’s Marc Edwards, one of the nation’s top experts on lead in drinking water who helped identify the crisis in Flint, Mich., laments that people in America’s forgotten places — rural outposts, post-industrial communities and poor towns — are most at risk from the dangers of lead exposure, such as irreversible brain damage, lowered IQ, behavioral problems and language delays. Edwards said the effects of lead poisoning could make it even more difficult for families in these communities to climb out of poverty. “I’m worried about their kids,” he said. “The risk of permanent harm here is horrifying. These are America’s children.” The Waltons fear lead has already harmed their son. At an age when other kids use dozens of words, Adam says just three: “mama,” “dada” and “no.” Destiny and John wish they would have known about the lead earlier so they could have protected him. “What’s going to happen if my son’s lead levels keep rising? What if the kid next door gets way sicker than my son? What’s Ranger going to do then?” Destiny asked. “They’ve known about it for years now. … Are they going to fix it?” Adam Walton, 2, in the striped shirt, has high levels of lead in his blood. He lives with his mom, Destiny; dad, John; and brother, Andrew, 1, in Ranger, Texas. The water supplying their house tested high for lead. (Photo: Laura Ungar, USA TODAY)
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  6. By @superorly07
  7. All youth of the congregation in Brea, California, gathered for an extensive Family Worship Night.
  8. This investment is expected to grow. The Jehovah’s Witnesses recently unloaded another building in their pricey portfolio of Dumbo properties and the buyer could erect a new residential tower on the site. Williamsburg developer Rabsky Group purchased the church’s four-story recreational facility next to the Manhattan Bridge at Adams and Front streets for $65 million on Nov. 29, as first reported by the Real Deal. The new owner can build a new property of up to 28 stories with residential, commercial, and community space inside under the land’s current zoning, according to a spokesman for the religious organization. Rabsky is no stranger to massive developments — the firm is erecting a futuristic 400-unit apartment complex on the site of the old Rheingold Brewery in Bushwick and is trying to convince the city to let it build more than 1,000 units across two full blocks of the former Pfizer factory in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The Witnesses — formally dubbed the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society — have been based in Brooklyn for more than a century, but are now selling off the extensive real estate holdings they amassed during that period as they prepare to relocate the nerve center upstate. They sold the bulk of their old printing plants and warehouses to developer Jared Kushner — President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law and right-hand-man — who has turned them into an interconnected office complex dubbed Dumbo Heights. Kushner also nabbed the church’s former Columbia Heights headquarters — complete with its iconic neon “Watchtower” sign — and is rumored to be purchasing its massive block-sized parking lot at Jay and Front streets where could build a thousand units of new housing. The birthday-spurning religious organization currently has four other properties on the market — including the site of the former Margaret Hotel at Columbia Heights and Orange Street, and the old Leverich Towers Hotel at Clark and Willow streets — and is still holding onto a handful of other digs it hasn’t put on the market. Rabsky Group did not return requests for comment. Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill Updated 4:50 am, December 7, 2016
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  9. Good Morning Everyone, I just wanted to get this out to you and let you know about the “In Demand” software skills, by industry and state that is a very useful guide when talking to job seekers who are seeking a career in software development and/or software engineering. Just click on each state and run your cursor over each industry at the bottom of the page to see the software programs that are in demand! Enjoy!
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  10. A day of rain did not stop this group of pioneers in Desloge, Missouri from going in service all day and find plenty of people at home! Great results today.
  11. Trabajando juntos en un Salón del Reino en Dickson, Tennessee, Estados Unidos.
  12. A trial date has been set for a lawsuit between a former City of Key West Department of Transportation bus driver and the city, but a federal judge ordered both sides to attempt to resolve the case via mediation. Bobby Walker Jr. claims that he requested, via a letter dated Oct. 23, 2014, to the city manager’s office, that he not participate in the annual Fantasy Fest parade and that his “participation in the Fantasy Fest parade was contrary to his beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness,” the lawsuit states. Walker claims his civil rights were violated, according to the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez has tentatively scheduled a trial date for Jan. 23 at the federal courthouse in Key West on Simonton Street. He also set the mediation deadline for Dec. 14, meaning if the case has not been resolved outside of court by then a trial is likely to begin by the January date. Walker claims that during a meeting with superiors, city management officials “openly mocked (Walker’s) religious beliefs and threatened to write up Walker for purportedly not giving enough time to change the schedule,” the lawsuit states. According to the employee handbook, drivers are required to give at least two hours’ notice of any schedule change request. Walker claims that his two-day notice was more than ample. “A manager treated Mr. Walker differently than persons who were not of Jehovah’s Witness faith by threatening to write Mr. Walker up for not giving him a 48-hour notice of his request for time off, although persons of other religions are only held to a two-hour minimum notice,” Walker’s attorney, Jay Paul Lechner of St. Petersburg, wrote to The Citizen seeking comment. “The same manager made comments to the effect ‘I’ve had enough of this religion stuff,’ and ‘You’re the only one’ causing problems due to religion. Managers also spread rumors to other employees about Mr. Walker, such as that Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘think they are better than others.’” With respect to Walker’s race — he is black — Lechner wrote: “A mechanic manager angrily called Mr. Walker a ‘damn boy’ and purposely locked him out of the break room used by white employees. A manager made a comment to another manager to the effect of ‘get rid of that black son-of-a-(deleted),’ referring to Mr. Walker.” Immediately after Walker’s meeting with superiors, his “hours were decreased and he was subjected to threats of losing his job, vindictive acts and derogatory comments about his race from other members of the management team,” according to the lawsuit. Walker claims he complained to higher-ups but no action was taken, according to the lawsuit. On or about Dec. 31, 2014, Walker again requested a shift change so that he would not have to work the late shift on New Year’s Eve, based on his religious beliefs, the lawsuit states. He was fired shortly thereafter, according to the lawsuit. Walker is accusing the city of violating his civil rights under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as under the Florida Civil Rights Act. He is seeking back pay and benefits as well as his attorney’s fees and punitive damages.
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  13. JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Circuit Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses are holding a conference, “Increase Your Faith in Jehovah,” is the Biblical theme of the semi-annual event. Sponsored by the Circuit Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses from the greater Tri-Cities area and from areas nearby in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, the assembly will be held at Freedom Hall Civic Center, 1320 Pactolas Road, on Saturday, Nov. 19. It will begin at 9:40 a.m. and end at 4:15 p.m. with a break for lunch. “Someone might wonder who is referred to in our assembly theme, ‘Increase Your Faith in Jehovah!’.” said assembly representative Raymond Schneider. “The King James version of the Bible in Psalms 88:18 says, ‘JEHOVAH art is the most high over all the earth.’ The goal then is to ‘increase’ our faith in the God, of the Bible and Jehovah,” he said. “Our scripture, Hebrew 11:6, tells us we first must believe God exists or is real. Then it tells us to be fully convinced he will generously care for us and eventually reward us,” said Schneider. “That takes true faith. Those coming to the assembly will learn about that kind of faith and the rewards that will assuredly come to all of us.” The speakers will answer the following questions: Why is it necessary in all circumstances to have faith? How can we increase our faith? What gives us confidence that those with genuine faith will be rewarded? The main talk will be the public Bible discourse: “True Faith — What Is It, and How Is It Shown?” Attendance and parking is free and no offerings are taken. For more contact Schneider at 423-202-5398 or email rjssas@gmail.com.
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  14. On the 53rd anniversary of the annual sea festival in Apalachicola, Florida, United States.
  15. Donald Trump the Republican candidate to the Presidential Election creates an event today in Tampa, Florida with a cute baby. "Oh look, a future construction worker, a baby, so cute, give me that," Trump said, as he spotted a baby nearby. But behind the smiles and photo opportunities, Trump's path to election victory remains narrow - in spite of a close race in national polling.
  16. Two pioneers and ministerial servants working here at the local community college in Battle Creek, Michigan, USA.
  17. (CNN)Together for 74 years, even death couldn't keep Leonard Cherry and his wife Hazel apart. The Cherrys were high school sweethearts, married in January 1942 in Muldoon, Texas. Last week they died, just a few hours apart. Their only grandson, Craig Cherry, said their love was the strongest love that he had ever seen. "The two were always smiling and always deeply in love," Cherry told CNN affiliate KWTX. Although family members are mourning their loss, the couple's 72-year-old son, David Cherry, is grateful that his mother and father can be together forever. "I feel blessed that Daddy's suffering is over, and I feel blessed that Mom is with him and that she didn't have to live alone." Leonard Cherry, 95, had been in hospice care only days before his death at the St. Catherine Center in Waco, while Hazel Cherry, 93, who was in good health, moved into The Village at Providence Park, a nursing home, just next door. "Mother had been driving around town and still going to the grocery store as recently as two weeks ago, but Dad's health had been failing for some years," David Cherry told the affiliate. Leonard Cherry died at 1 p.m. on Thursday. His wife passed at 11 p.m. It was not immediately clear what caused her death. David Cherry said his parents would be missed. "It's kind of hard you know, you can't pick up the phone and call them anymore, or call mother and can't go by and see Dad," he said. "The more I began to think about it, I began to smile because of how much they loved each other." Leonard Cherry became a B-24 bomber pilot after enlisting in the Army Air Corps at the start of World War II. Stationed at Carswell Army Air Corps Base in Fort Worth, he trained others to fly the plane. Once the war was over, Leonard stayed in Fort Worth and went to work as an auto body repair man. He later owned his own auto repair business that he and his wife operated until 1980, but the couple of almost 40 years wanted to be closer to their grandchild and son. Leonard sold his auto repair business and the couple moved to Woodway to spend the rest of their lives together. A memorial service is scheduled for the two Friday.
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  18. October 30, 2016 10:33 PM An assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses was held Sunday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. The theme was "Do not lose the love you had at first." Although the event was organized by the Jehovah's Witnesses, it was opened to the entire Northland public. "A lot of the parts are about how to improve family life, how to deal with stress, how to get along with people of all backgrounds, so its not so much preaching as its practical Christianity," said News Director, David Kennedy. The event attracted a crowd of about 1,800 people. The assembly is held once or twice every year in Duluth. Kennedy said the next assembly will be held in about six months and added it is open not to only members of the Jehovah's Witnesses. "Persons of all faith and people with no faith are certainly welcome to come. They'll find a lot that’s really practical," Kennedy added.
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  19. Recently released footage shows the moment a crazed man waving a machete tried to attack passengers and security staff at a New Orleans Airport. Richard White attacked two security guards and a number of people waiting at a security check with wasp killer, before taking out a machete and waving it in Louis Armstrong International Airport. The recently released footage from the US Transportation Security Administration, shows White terrorising people at a security check in March last year. White was shot three times by Lieutenant Heath Slyve after he tried to attack passengers and chased a female TSA agent. He was shot in the face, chest and leg and later died of his injuries, reportedly refusing medical treatment because of his religious belief as a Jehovah's Witness, The Daily Mail reported. The TSA agent was also wounded from a bullet, but the wound was not critical. At the time of the incident witnesses described the panic and chaos at the airport in New Orleans. "Everyone was ducking for cover," said bystander, Garret Laborde. He described the scene as "instant chaos" with "lots of females screaming for a short period of time," The Daily Mail reported.
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  20. MLK crash kills five, including two Tampa children ages 9 and 10 By Tony Marrero, Sara DiNatale and Anastasia Dawson, Times Staff Writers TAMPA — Marianela Murillo spent the last evening of her life in one of her favorite places. The 39-year-old Colombian immigrant attended services Wednesday at the Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall off E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The congregation prayed and read the Bible. Afterward, Murillo piled into her Toyota Sienna minivan with her three children and a niece and headed for their apartment about a mile and a half away. "I hugged and kissed them goodbye," said friend and fellow church member Marcia Santana. Pablo Cortes III spent the last evening of his life in one of his favorite places, too. The 22-year-old Brandon man attended a meet-up of fellow car enthusiasts at the Grand Prix go-kart track in Tampa, a friend said. Cortes showed off his metallic blue Volkswagen Golf with the custom rims and tricked-out suspension, then left with a friend in his passenger seat. Soon after, the Volkswagen and Toyota collided on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard Jr. in one of the most horrific local crashes in recent memory. Murillo and two of her children, Maria, 10, and John, 9, died at the scene. So did Cortes and his passenger, 19-year-old Jolie Bartolome of Lithia. Cortes was exceeding the posted 50 mph speed limit, but investigators were still working to determine his actual speed, said a Florida Highway Patrol spokesman, Sgt. Steve Gaskins. Although early reports at the scene indicated the crash may have been caused by street racing, Gaskins said troopers don't have any evidence to support that. A preliminary report states Cortes was driving in a "careless or negligent manner." UPDATE: SnapChat video appears to show driver going 115 mph on night of crash that killed 5 "There were no cars around him right where the crash occurred so racing was not a factor," Gaskins said. "But speed was." Investigators say Cortes lost control near Coconut Palm Drive, just east of the Tampa Bypass Canal, and crossed the grassy median. Murillo was heading east and was about to turn into her apartment complex when the Volks­wagen collided nearly head-on with the Toyota. The Volkswagen then rotated and hit a Toyota Scion. Its driver, Carla Marie Wyman, 54, of Seffner, suffered serious injuries. The force of the collision crumpled the Golf into a mass of metal that hardly resembled a car. The Sienna caught fire. Murillo's 18-year-old daughter, Lina Bernal, and 15-year-old niece Luisa Louisa, who was visiting on vacation from Colombia, were taken to Tampa General Hospital with critical injuries. Murillo's husband and the father of the children, John Bernal, was at the hospital but too distraught to talk, said Santana, the family friend. Lina was in critical condition but able to ask what happened. "They don't want to tell her yet," Santana said. ••• On Wednesday night, Murillo's sister, Paola Murillo, looked over at the crash scene with her brother-in-law, refusing to believe her family could be inside the scorched mini-van, according to a Facebook post she wrote in Spanish. The nightmare of Wednesday night keeps playing back in her head, she wrote. She recalled her brother-in-law telling her, "that is the car of my wife and my kids." "I answered no. It's a car that looks like it. It's not hers," Paola Murillo wrote. "Then why isn't she answering her phone . . . and why haven't they arrived home? "Until the end, God knows I had all the hope." Santana said the couple has lived in the United States for about 15 years and that Marianela became a citizen just a few months ago. Her passion was her church and knocking on strangers' doors to tell them about God's promise to create a paradise on earth. She loved to cook and was known for her pupusa, a tortilla stuffed with beans, meat and cheese. The kids were sweet, happy and loving, like their mother, Santana said. Maria and John attended Mango Elementary, said Hillsborough School District spokeswoman Tanya Arja. Maria was in fifth grade, and John was in fourth, Arja said. Grief counselors were at the school Thursday to help students and staff. The students expressed themselves in sympathy cards. "I was crying," one classmate wrote. "They were to young to die." ••• Cortes was proud of his high-performance Volkswagen. The car dominated his social media accounts. Brown-haired and bespectacled, Cortes drove the VW to area meet-ups where he shared his love for automobiles, said local car enthusiast Sean Le­Roux. LeRoux, 24 , of Clearwater said Cortes was known to be on the "aesthetics" side of the car community. His car wasn't meant to be a full-blown race car, but it was souped up and modified. LeRoux said Cortes wasn't known to race other drivers. Meets-ups like the one he attended Wednesday were a time to show off modifications: custom rims, grills, suspensions. "You hang out," said Dakota Hull, 21, of Valrico. On Wednesday night, Hull stayed home sick while Cortes went to a routine meet-up with friends. It was the first time most of them had met Jolie Bartolome. She was a 2015 graduate of Gulf Breeze High School in the Panhandle and an avid dancer, according to a memorial page on Facebook. When Hull got the call about the crash, he rushed to the scene. He saw Cortes' car from the roadside, barely recognizable. Friends wrote on the group's Facebook page that Cortes would forever be missed. They also mourned Murillo and her children. "Family members of Cortes and Bartolome could not be reached for comment. Santana said her friend would forgive Cortes for whatever role his actions played in the crash. So will her friends and family. "Their family is suffering the same way Marianela's family is suffering," Santana said. "And I hope they find peace." Times staff writer Paul Guzzo and senior researcher John Martin contributed to this report.
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