Valley briefs: Hwy. 99 closed as man tries to jump
A man threatening to jump off an overpass forced the closure of Highway 99 in southern Madera County Wednesday afternoon, the California Highway Patrol said.
The man, who was standing on the Avenue 7 overpass, was arrested about 4:40 p.m., the CHP said. He was not injured.
The CHP began receiving calls from motorists about 4 p.m. The highway was closed for about 25 minutes.
Lightning sparks 350-acre blaze
Two fires sparked by lightning strikes over the weekend in the Sierra National Forest have merged into a 350-acre blaze called the Bear fire, a forest spokeswoman said.
The fire is in the Ansel Adams Wilderness between Edison and Florence lakes, just south of Bear Diversion Dam near Beard Dome.
The fires that merged were among seven sparked by lightning on Saturday. The merged fire is 50% contained. There was one injury, but no structures have been threatened.
Tulare man gets prison in molest case
A Tulare man was sentenced to 16 years in state prison on three counts of child molestation on Monday, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office said.
The DA said each of the three charges is considered a violent felony and thus a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.
Jason Whitten, 30, must serve 85% of his sentence before he is released on parole, pay a $6,000 fine and register as a sex offender for life.
Elder abuse alleged in Clovis hot-car case
Charges were filed Wednesday against a 46-year-old woman accused of leaving a 101-year-old man in a hot car last weekend.
The caretaker, Tina Ann Johnson, was charged with elder or dependent-adult abuse. The man she allegedly was caring for was found inside a car in the Clovis Walmart parking lot Saturday afternoon in apparent distress from the heat.
Johnson was found at a McDonald’s restaurant inside the store an hour after police arrived, the Clovis Police Department said.
Marine’s family will get his Navy Cross
The family of Marine Sgt. Matthew Abbate, who attended Buchanan High School, will be presented a posthumous Navy Cross, the Navy’s highest medal, on Friday at Camp Pendleton.
In October 2010, when Abbate’s squad was pinned down by Taliban fighters in an Afghanistan minefield, the Fresno man ran forward to draw the enemy’s fire from injured and dazed survivors and led a counterattack that cleared the enemy from a landing zone so helicopters could evacuate the wounded.
Abbate’s bravery was cited in June by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who awarded the Navy Cross to Abbate. The 26-year-old died in a battle just six weeks later.
The Navy Cross is second only to the Medal of Honor for military valor. Fewer than 10 members of the military have earned the Navy Cross for service in Afghanistan.
Abbate, a scout sniper section leader who served with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, was killed during a subsequent battle on Dec. 2, 2010, while fighting in a Taliban stronghold in Helmand province, according to military officials.