TEXAS DIGEST: Car thief dumps 7-month-old baby on roadside


Car thief dumps 7-month-old baby on roadside

Houston-area authorities say a car thief left a 7-month-old child on the side of the road in frigid temperatures after stealing the car at a convenience store while the child’s mother was inside.

Harris County constable officials in Humble say the mother had left the car unlocked and running Monday evening while she was in the store.

The suspect got in and drove away with the child.

The baby was later found near an intersection. It’s not clear how long the child was outside in nighttime temperatures that fell to about 30 degrees.

Authorities say the baby was returned to the mother in good condition.

Constables are asking for the public’s help in finding the suspect and stolen car.


Prison inmates launch a hunger strike

Authorities say a variety of complaints has prompted inmates at a North Texas prison to refuse meals.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice initially said 45 prisoners in administrative segregation had begun a hunger strike but TDCJ spokesman Robert Hurst said Tuesday the number stood at 37.

Inmates in administrative segregation are isolated from the general prison population because they’re deemed a security risk or danger to others.

The inmates participating in the hunger strike are housed at the Allred Unit in Iowa Park, outside Wichita Falls.

Hurst said they began refusing meals on Christmas, but that some have food items in their cells that they purchased from the commissary.

He said the inmates have complained about recreational time, food portions and the temperature.


6 hurt, 4 arrested after carjacking chase

Six people have been hurt after a police chase involving carjacking suspects in Dallas ended with the fleeing car crashing into other vehicles at an intersection and rolling over.

Four people from the car are in custody.

Authorities say at least one of them had to be removed from the car after being trapped in the wreck late Tuesday morning in South Dallas.

Injuries to five of those hurt, including the person who was trapped, are not considered life-threatening. The condition of the sixth person, who was driving a van that was involved in the crash, wasn’t immediately known.


Dallas gets its first black sheriff

Dallas County has sworn in its first black sheriff to lead the nation’s seventh-largest jail system after former sheriff Lupe Valdez resigned to run for governor.

Marian Brown took the oath during a midnight ceremony Monday. Brown has been with the department for three years and was Valdez’s recommended choice for a successor, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The 52-year-old Brown will serve as interim sheriff until voters elect a new sheriff in November.

Brown has said her priorities will be learning more about jail issues and focusing on rebuilding trust between the community and the department.

Valdez stepped down in December after 12 years as Texas’ first openly gay, Hispanic sheriff. She’s now running for the Democratic nomination to try to unseat Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.


$1.2 million in fireworks damage in Harris County

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office says a dozen fires blamed on fireworks in unincorporated areas of Texas’ most populous county over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day caused about $1.2 million in damage.

Fire Marshal Mike Montgomery said seven of the blazes were the result of improperly discarded fireworks. He said that problem could be eased if people discarded fireworks in water and in a metal trash can away from buildings or combustible materials.

Besides the monetary damages, Montgomery said at least four people were hurt by fireworks.

Harris County includes most of Houston and several suburbs where fireworks are illegal, but the pyrotechnics are allowed in unincorporated areas of the county.


Man breaks into home in try to save fire victim

A man who accidentally set himself on fire at his San Antonio home has died from his injuries but not before a neighbor forced his way into the home in an effort to save the man.

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said the victim, a man in his 50s, was in his kitchen Tuesday when his clothing caught on fire.

The neighbor saw smoke coming from the home and rushed over to help. He was able to break loose burglar bars on the home to get inside and reach the victim.

Hood says the neighbor found the victim “smoldering” and used flour to extinguish the flames. The good Samaritan suffered burns to his hand.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. It’s not clear how his clothing caught fire.


Mobile home fire kills 3

State fire authorities are investigating a New Year’s Day blaze in a mobile home in West Texas that left three people dead, including an infant.

Motley County Sheriff’s officials say a fire in a fireplace and small heaters were being used at the trailer home in Matador, about 70 miles northeast of Lubbock, but investigators will look into the fire’s cause. The sheriff’s office saidthe fire is not being investigated as a crime.

A relative of the victims says said nephew, the nephew’s fiancée and their 1-month-old child died in the blaze. Three other people managed to flee the burning home.


Fshing spots closed to protect fish during freeze

Texas is suspending saltwater fishing along parts of the Gulf Coast to protect coastal species amid plunging temperatures.

The decision Monday adds to the precautions for a cold front that has dropped temperatures into the 20s and teens.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says the state has roughly 2 million acres of bays and estuaries vulnerable to freeze. It’s closing some fishing spots in deeper waters, where wildlife officials say surviving fish could become overly prone to capture.

Those areas will be closed early Tuesday through Wednesday night. State wildlife officials say one hard freeze event in 1989 killed an estimated 11 million fish.


Port Isabel lighthouse reopens after renovation

A 165-year-old lighthouse in South Texas reopened Tuesday after months of renovations.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Steve Lightfoot said the Port Isabel Lighthouse had been closed since October 2016 for $630,000 in updates.

The Port Isabel structure, according to the agency’s website, is one of 16 lighthouses originally constructed along the Texas coast but is the only one open to the public.

Port Isabel is at one end of the highway bridge connecting to South Padre Island. The lighthouse was built in 1853 and features 75 winding stairs leading to an expansive view of beaches.

Department officials said the Port Isabel Lighthouse has been a favorite spot for couples to exchange wedding vows atop the tower.

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