Deck Collapse at Beach House Injures at Least 14 People

iStock/Thinkstock(EMERALD ISLE, N.C.) -- At least 14 people were injured Saturday when a deck collapsed at a North Carolina beach house, officials said.

According to Emerald Isle Police, members of a family were on a deck overlooking the ocean preparing to take a family photo shortly before 7 p.m., when the structure collapsed.

First responders from Emerald Isle arrived on scene within minutes and began treating and triaging patients, police said.

"About a 12-by-12 section of deck collapsed, about ten to twelve feet. We transported fourteen patients from that collapse," Emerald Isle Fire Chief Bill Walker said, and added that there were about 20 people on the deck at the time.

Walker said that the deck itself gave way and collapsed inward, while the pilings holding up the deck remained upright.

Due to the number of casualties involved, neighboring agencies were called in to assist in transporting and dealing with the victims. Indian Beach, Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores and Western Carteret all sent Fire and EMS units to assist, while Broad and Gales Creek Fire Departments were also dispatched to provided assistance. Morehead City EMS provided a mass casualty bus to treat and transport victims.

Police reported that at least one victim was airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center and at least two others are reported to be in critical condition.

Police said 14 people were transported to the hospital from the scene.

Of the people who were taken to Carteret General Hospital, three were in critical condition, hospital spokeswoman Tonya Fluellen said.

Another two people were airlifted from the scene to a different hospital, and were also believed to be in critical condition, the Carteret hospital spokeswoman said.

Injuries varied from people with several broken bones to those with minor scratches and cuts, according to Walker.

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Six Hurt in Lightning Strike in Louisiana

LukaTDB/iStock/Thinkstock(SABINE PARISH, La.) -- At least six people were injured following a lightning strike in Louisiana’s Sabine Parish, an official said.

The incident occurred after 7 p.m. local time Saturday at Cypress Bend Park on Toledo Bend Lake, Sabine Parish Warden Joe Dewil said. Lightning is believed to have struck a tree.

Six adults who were in the vicinity of an RV camper that sustained damage during the strike suffered non-life-threatening injuries. They were taken to Sabine Medical Center and their injuries range from headaches to chest pain, said Dewil.

Along with the RV, a truck was also damaged.

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Fireworks Land on Tree, Damage Two Homes in Sacramento

ABC News(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A person throwing fireworks may be to blame for damaging two homes and engulfing a tree in flames in Sacramento, California, according to fire department investigators.

Someone apparently tossed fireworks into the air and it landed onto a dry juniper tree, ABC News affiliate KXTV-TV reported.

The tree caught fire, and the flames later spread to a fence and two nearby homes, Sacramento City Fire Department spokesman Roberto Padilla told KXTV-TV.

Amateur video, which was posted on YouTube on Friday, captured the fast-spreading flames.

No one was injured and the damage to the homes was reported to be minor.

Padilla said that juniper trees are rich in oil and very flammable, particularly in drought conditions.

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Miniature Horse Tied for World's Tiniest Poised for Big Things

Itty Bitty Hope, a miniature horse, lives at Mini Hooves of Love. (Linda Woods)(MELISSA, Texas) -- Even for a miniature horse, Itty Bitty Hope is pretty small.

Her height at birth -- just 14 inches -- was tied with the record of the smallest horse on record, according to her owners.

And while being tiny may not always be seen as a positive, for a horse who will spend her life as a therapy animal, it couldn't be better.

"She'll be able to navigate around hospitals and nursing homes and medical equipment more easily," said her owner Linda Wood, who runs the Mini Hooves of Love Miniature Therapy Horses non-profit with her husband Jim Wood.

"Hope" as they refer to her, will also be great with the many kids she'll be visiting.

The Woods came to be Hope's people parents through and old-fashioned barter. A woman who breeds miniature horses hoped Jim would build her stalls, and offered the Woods their pick of any of the three pregnant mares. They chose Jazz, Hope's mother, because she was the smallest and would have the best chance of having a small baby.

The Woods got into therapy without exactly meaning to. They were showing their miniature horses when a friend who runs a horse therapy farm with large horses asked them to bring some of their minis to an event. Since then, their horses spend their time visiting hospitals, hospice care and the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas. Kids with Down syndrome, autism and other developmental delays come to visit them.

One of their first visits was a hospice care for a baby born with Trisomy 18, a fatal genetic condition. The baby's mom said she just wanted her child to have the chance to touch a horse before she passed.

It's that big kind of comfort that little Hope will bring people in her life.

"If you can imagine a child been doctor of hospital all day, having a bad day, as soon as they see the horse their mood changes, their blood pressure drops. Everything about them changes and they have a big smile on their face," said Jim Wood. "It just makes your day."

Linda Wood added, "Many people who are in nursing homes now are of the age that they had interaction with horses when they were young. One man who had been a farmer had tears in his eyes as he pet one of the horses, he said he hadn't touched a horse in 16 years." In another anecdote, a woman whose nurses said was unable to move reached out and stroked the head of one of the miniature horses while the nurse stood by in shock.

Hope is still with her mom at the breeder and since she is nursing, she can't be away from her mom for more than an hour or so. But there's a hospice call the Woods are thinking of taking her along on coming up, as long as mom can come, too.

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Guinness Names Blosom the Holstein the World’s Tallest Ever Cow

Blosom was posthumously declared the tallest cow ever by Guinness World Records. Blosom stood 6' 4". She died in May on her owner's farm in Illinois. (Guinness World Records)(ORANGEVLLE, Ill.) -- It’s official. At 6-foot-4, Blosom is the world’s tallest cow ever.

That’s the determination made by Guinness World Records, which had previously named the female Holstein the world’s tallest living cow.

The new record was announced on June 25.

Blosom lived on a farm in Orangeville, Illinois. Her owner, Patty Meads-Hanson, got Blosom when the cow was just eight weeks old.

Blosom was 13 years old when she died on May 26. During her life, she was the official "greeter" for Memory Lane Crafting Retreat, a retreat situated on the farm.

ABC News couldn’t reach Meads-Hanson for comment, but a post on Blosom’s Facebook page said the cow “was called to graze in a more glorious pasture.”

Blosom died after suffering a leg injury.

Meads-Hanson found the cow down in a pasture, her left leg in “a position that wasn’t normal,” according to a post on the Facebook page. Two veterinarians worked in the pouring rain to try to lift the cow but they were ultimately unsuccessful.

“Her injury appeared to happen when she laid down, slipping in the mud, and damaging a ligament in her hip, and would never be able to stand. I had to make that hard decision - I wouldn't let her suffer. It's the last act of kindness you can do for an animal you love, but it sure is hard,” Meads-Hanson wrote on Facebook.

Donations are being sought to erect a memorial to Blosom on Meads-Hanson’s farm.

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July 4th Celebrations Put America on High Alert 

Antonprado/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's a Super Bowl test for America's national security.

Celebrations marking the nation's 239th birthday are facing what some call the most serious threats since 2001.

“The threat stream is very high,” Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Michael Downing said Friday. “In fact, we don't think it's been this high since 9/11.”

From Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., Chicago and Boston Saturday morning, law enforcement is fully deployed.

Authorities have cited no specific plot or threat but are concerned about ISIS and supporters possibly lurking inside the United States.

“Obviously, a lone wolf is our worst nightmare,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said Friday, “but there's nothing to indicate we have any of that going on.”

It was in Boston where the marathon bombers originally planned to target Independence Day. They struck early, authorities say, because the bombs were ready sooner.

That attack -- and others in Tunisia and France recently -- were on the minds of tourists hitting the National Mall in Washington, as they navigate a security maze.

“You just pray that it doesn't happen,” Dan Hagan of Columbia, South Carolina, said.

Added Shola Sutton of Houston: “I've seen police all over the place.”

In Chicago, police are working 12-hour shifts.

Elsewhere, an extra 7,000 officers were deployed this weekend in New York City: on the ground, in the air, and on the water around Ground Zero.

But despite all the security, it's always important to say something if you see something, authorities say, because the best defense is what they call people’s "sixth sense."

"If you believe something is wrong,” U.S. Park Police Chief Robert MacLean said Friday, “or that the hair stands up on the back of your neck, don't feel ashamed or embarrassed to reach out to a member of law enforcement that is in the area to let them know, ‘Hey, please check this.’”

That's what a 911 caller did earlier this week at the Washington Navy Yard when she thought she heard gunfire. It turned out to be a false alarm but, police say, that's exactly what they want people to do.

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Small Plane Crash-Lands on Crowded California Beach

Courtesy Jason Koons(CARLSBAD, Calif.) -- A small plane that was towing an advertising banner crash-landed Saturday on a crowded California beach, after its engine cut out.

The single-engine Piper PA18 lost engine power shortly after 3 p.m. and landed on Tamarack State Beach in Carlsbad, Federal Aviation Administration officials said.

The pilot of the plane suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, according to the Carlsbad Police Department.

One person on the beach was also reportedly injured in the crash-landing.

According to witness accounts, the plane's engine cut out and then the pilot dropped the banner the plane was towing, before circling, apparently looking for a place to land.

When the plane's wheels hit the sand, it flipped over, witnesses said.

Fire department, state park lifeguards and Carlsbad police responded to scene.

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Sailboat Passengers Rescued After Being Stranded Off Florida Coast 

iStock/Thinkstock(RIVIERA BEACH, Fla.) -- A man was recovering Saturday from severe sunburns after he and another person were rescued after spending nearly a week stranded at sea off the coast of Florida.

The two people left St. Lucie County, Florida, in a sailboat headed to the Bahamas, but they got stuck in bad weather and eventually anchored the boat, Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios of the U.S. Coast Guard in Miami told ABC News Saturday.

The day the boat was anchored remains unclear, Rios said.

They were unable to call for help because the boat's battery died, he said.

A Carnival cruise ship spotted the boat Friday. The cruise ship then notified the Coast Guard who came to the rescue.

One of the two passengers, a man, was severely sunburned and needed medical attention, Rios said. He was taken to the Bahamas, an official from Riviera Beach, Florida Fire Rescue said, and was then brought to Florida Saturday to be treated for second-degree burns to his face and legs.

The second passenger, who was healthy, stayed on the disabled boat and was towed to the Bahamas by the Coast Guard, Rios said.

Riviera Beach Fire Rescue said the trip began 14 days ago and the passengers were stranded for six days. Rios said it was unclear how long they were stranded, but said the passengers left on the trip roughly one week ago.

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Pygmy Whale Washes Up on Texas Beach

Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network(SURFSIDE, Texas) -- A sick whale washed up on a Texas beach Friday.

According to ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV, beachgoers found a sick pygmy sperm whale washed up on Surfside Beach on Friday. They immediately contacted the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network and waited until help arrived.

Efforts to try to save the whale failed however, and the whale had to be euthanized. According to KTRK-TV, the whale was "extremely underweight" and weighed about 500 lbs while a typical adult would weigh anywhere between 1,000 to 1,200 pounds.

The TMMSN will perform tests to figure out the cause of death, said KTRK-TV.

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All Clear Given After DC Police Investigate Suspicious Package

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Police in Washington, D.C. investigated a suspicious package on Saturday morning, eventually determining that it was not a threat.

U.S. Capitol Police closed down an area on First Street SE, near the National Mall, while they investigated. The D.C. Police Department later cleared the scene and said that all lanes were open.

The investigation was part of heightened security around the Capitol for the July Fourth weekend.

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