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Young Belgian-British pilot aims for solo flight record months after FLL stop

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FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) – A young European woman continues to soar to new heights, as she prepares to become the youngest female in history to fly solo around the world.

Zara Rutherford is set to earn that title on Monday, when she lands in her native country of Belgium.

“It’s a dream I’ve had my entire life,” she said.

It was in Belgium where her journey began last year. South Florida became one of her stops when she landed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Aug. 31.

“I have been to, well, Belgium, I traveled through the U.K., Iceland, Greenland, Canada and then the U.S.,” said the 19-year-old. “Now I’m here in Miami.”

Both of Rutherford’s parents are pilots, and she said this journey soars beyond her own accomplishments.

“I’m hoping to encourage girls to get into STEM, so science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and aviation,” she said. “This is something that, growing up, I didn’t see many women do, and so that was always quite discouraging for me, so I’m hoping to change that.”

In order for her trip to qualify as a flight around the world, the Belgian-British pilot needed to reach two countries on opposite sides of the planet. She chose Colombia and Indonesia.

If all goes well, she’ll have flown 32,000 miles, covering five continents and 52 countries.

“It was just a crazy idea, and I always thought it would be impossible, but then I decided, if I didn’t tell anyone about it, then it’s never going to happen,” she said, “so I told my parents, and straight away they’re like, ‘Yes, let’s do this.’”

Rutherford will soon trade in her plane for textbooks. She is preparing to start college this year, and she aspires to become an astronaut one day.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Watch What Happens: South Florida woman returns pricey timepieces, owner pays it forward

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(WSVN) – A South Florida woman did a good deed after finding some expensive jewelry. Now just “Watch What Happens” when she returned them to their rightful owner. 7’s Kevin Ozebek reports.

There are two things in life that Michelle Bucur is passionate about: rescuing homeless animals…

Michelle Bucur: “So right now, I have three fosters. One of them is Hunter. (to Hunter) You’re so sweet. I love you.”

And Teslas.

Michelle Bucur: “I have 10 Teslas.”

In her spare time, Michelle volunteers at Wonder Paws Animal Rescue in Fort Lauderdale.

She also rents out her Star Wars-themed Teslas through a rental service called Turo.

Michelle Bucur: “Which is a peer-to-peer rental platform similar to Airbnb, but instead of for homes, it’s for vehicles.”

During the Christmas holiday, Michelle rented out a Tesla Model Y to a man from Boca Raton. When the rental period ended, she picked up the car and took it straight to a car wash.

Michelle Bucur: “Long story short, a week later, the previous guest contacted me and lets me know that he’s lost some of his belongings, and if we found them. I actually hadn’t seen them.”

The car had already been rented out to a new guest, who told Michelle nothing was in the car.

She then called the car wash … and got some good news.

Michelle Bucur: “They said, ‘Oh yeah, we found some watches on the side of the door, and we shoved them in the glove box.’”

Michelle wanted to keep the watches safe until she could get her car back, so she used the Tesla app on her phone to lock the car’s glove box.

When she finally got hold of the watches, she realized she was in possession of some pretty pricey timepieces.

Michelle Bucur: “They turned out to be super high-end watches worth like over $100,000 combined.”

They definitely were. They were a Rolex and an Audemars Piguet.

The owner told Michelle that even though they are expensive, their sentimental value is much more.

Michelle Bucur: “One had been given by his mom, who was suffering with Alzheimer’s now.”

Michelle says he offered her a finder’s fee for returning the watches. She declined the money, but gave a suggestion:

Michelle Bucur: “‘I do help with the rescue, and if you’re willing to donate, it’s tax deductible. I can give you the link and whatever donation you want to give to us.’”

He made the donation to Wonder Paws Animal Rescue, but the amount was quite a surprise: $10,000!

Paulina Claure, Wonder Paws Rescue: “We were speechless! We couldn’t believe it. We were in shock when we found out.”

Paulina Claure runs Wonder Paws with her mother, Patricia Lara. They just moved into a storefront in Fort Lauderdale and say this generous donation will make a huge impact.

Paulina Claure: “We have tons of medical cases every day and medical bills that are piling up, so it’s really nice to be able to have that money to be able to put towards our bills.”

Michelle’s foster dog, Hunter, just finished a pricey round of treatment for heartworms. She is excited that more rescued animals can now get the same care.

Michelle Bucur: “What comes around, goes around. I think, if we just continue to do good deeds and always try to help without expecting anything in return, eventually somebody comes around.”

For Michelle, that “eventually” is right now. Her good deed shows that timing is everything.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Mark Rosenberg resigns as FIU president, cites ‘recurring personal health issues’

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WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) – Florida International University has begun a national search for their sixth president after accepting Mark B. Rosenberg’s resignation, Friday afternoon.

In a letter to Board of Trustee Dean Colson, Rosenberg wrote that he has chosen to step down immediately to focus on himself and his family.

“I am stepping back so that I may give full attention to recurring personal health issues and to the deteriorating health of my wife, Rosalie,” he wrote in the letter.

He also wrote, “I want to thank our university community. I have always appreciated the ‘can­ do’ attitude of faculty colleagues, professional staff, and our hardworking students, and am grateful for the widespread community support that our university now enjoys.”

Rosenberg had been president since 2009.

FIU students hearing the news said they feel sad to see him go, calling him part of the school’s legacy.

“He was a really good president, and I’m definitely going to remember him,” said student Maria Aguirre. “He did a lot for the school and for the community, and he was always with the students.”

“Everything comes to an end at one point, so I think it’s time for him to retire, so he can just rest and be with his wife,” said student Katherine Cadavid.

Prior to Rosenberg’s letter to the FIU community, a letter was sent out by Colson.

Along with accepting Rosenberg’s resignation, the letter went on to reference a possible interim president.

“I will be nominating Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration Dr. Kenneth Jessell to serve as interim president while we conduct a national search for FIU’s sixth president,” wrote Colson.

In ending his letter, Rosenberg said, “It has truly been the honor of a lifetime to represent our community and help build our FIU.”

FIU’s Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting Friday afternoon.

While Rosenberg had celebrated success in FIU, he also helped the student body through one of the school’s darkest days, after 2018’s bridge collapse.

But despite rave reviews and more than a decade of leadership, conspicuously missing from the Board of Trustees’ emergency meeting was any mention of Rosenberg’s long list of accomplishments. In fact, his name was never mentioned at all.

The only FIU official to mention his name publicly was the school’s new interim president, during a taped video message.

During the emergency meeting, the board of trustees appointed Jessell to the job.

“I want to thank former president Mark Rosenberg for his leadership and heard work, and making FIU what is is today. I know that we will continue to elevate our university to new heights,” said Jessell.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Homestead Police release picture of person of interest in fatal hit-and-run

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HOMESTEAD, FLA. (WSVN) – Homestead Police released a picture of a man they consider to be a person of interest in a hit-and-run that left an elderly man dead.

Police on Friday said they would like to question 20-year-old Edgar Mendez about Sunday’s crash in the area of Northwest Eighth Street and Campbell Drive.

Investigators said 71-year-old Carlos Diaz was walking was hit by a driver who took off before police responded.

If you have any information on this hit-and-run or Mendez’s whereabouts, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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