- The Washington Times - Friday, September 24, 2004

FLORIDA

Fire kills five in house with storm shutters

HOMESTEAD — Firefighters had trouble getting into a burning home yesterday because the windows were covered by burglar bars and plywood storm shutters. Five persons died in the blaze.

The pre-dawn fire did not reach the bedroom where two adults and three children might have been sleeping, and the five apparently died of smoke inhalation, fire officials said. Authorities are trying to determine the cause of the fire. The house did not have smoke alarms.

Some homeowners in this city 25 miles south of Miami have left up storm shutters because of the three hurricanes that have hit Florida this year.

MONTANA

Forest Service workers survive plane crash

KALISPELL — Two days after they were reported killed in a plane crash, two Forest Service employees emerged from the wilderness, astonishing their relatives and baffling rescuers still picking through the charred wreckage.

Jodee Hogg, 23, of Billings, and Matthew Ramige, 29, of Jackson Hole, Wyo., were spotted along a highway on Wednesday, nearly 48 hours after the crash that killed three persons, officials said.

Mr. Hogg was hospitalized in stable condition yesterday, while Mr. Ramige was in intensive care in serious condition with a spinal fracture and burns on his face, hands and chest.

The single-engine aircraft under contract to the Forest Service left Kalispell on Monday on a 30-minute flight to the Great Bear-Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

ARIZONA

Officials vote to keep retailers out of city

FLAGSTAFF — City officials approved rules intended to keep big-box retailers from moving into the city.

The ordinance restricts retail outlets to 125,000 square feet and requires a conditional-use permit for any store bigger than 75,000 square feet. Existing businesses that decide to expand also would have to follow the new standards.

CALIFORNIA

Peterson altered look, agent testifies

REDWOOD CITY — Scott Peterson altered his appearance and loaded his car with cash in the days before he was charged with murdering his pregnant wife, an agent with the state Department of Justice testified.

Special Agent Alex Quick, who tailed Mr. Peterson just before his arrest on April 18, 2003, a few days after the bodies of his wife and her unborn child were found, testified Wednesday at Mr. Peterson’s double-murder trial.

Mr. Quick, one of up to 10 agents who followed Mr. Peterson, told jurors that the former fertilizer salesman had altered his appearance, bleaching his dark hair and eyebrows blond and growing a thick goatee.

The agent said he began following Mr. Peterson at about 7 a.m. on the day of his arrest. Mr. Peterson drove “erratically” north from San Diego into Orange County, and it appeared that Mr. Peterson knew he was being followed, he said. Mr. Peterson continued driving several more hours and eventually was arrested near San Diego, Mr. Quick said.

GEORGIA

Student dies, choked on hot dog

ATLANTA — A Midway Elementary student who fell unconscious on Sept. 9 after choking on a hot dog in the school cafeteria has died, officials said.

Arely Rodriguez, 9, and some friends apparently were joking about who could be the fastest at eating a hot dog, witnesses said. A school nurse unsuccessfully tried to dislodge the food. The child never regained consciousness.

LOUISIANA

Fisherman catches 135-pound bull shark

SIMMESPORT — Call it the catch of the day — or a lifetime.

Seafood merchant Richard Durrett was fishing Tuesday morning on the Red River near his business, Simmesport Fish Co., when his catfish net dredged up a 6-foot, 135-pound bull shark.

“I’ve been fishing since I was 10 years old, and I’ve caught some strange fish, but nothing like this,” the 35-year-old said Wednesday. “Things happen, but I wasn’t ready for this.”

Finding a shark in the Red River is unusual, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) biologist Ricky Moses said Wednesday, but it has happened before. Mr. Moses, who specializes in inland and freshwater fish, said the LDWF office in Opelousas has been asked to examine the shark. Bull sharks have been known to swim into freshwater areas, he said.

MASSACHUSETTS

Charges to be filed in hazing incident

SANDWICH — Prosecutors said yesterday that they will seek criminal charges against nine high-school football players in a hazing in which a freshman was slammed to the ground and suffered a ruptured spleen.

The players were accused of tormenting 14-year-old teammate Garrett Watterson before a Sept. 14 football practice at Sandwich High. They face charges of assault and battery and hazing, prosecutors said.

Garrett was hurt after a varsity player grabbed his ankles from behind and lifted his legs into the air during an event that the boy’s mother said was known as “Freshman Beat Down Day,” according to authorities. He had to have his spleen removed.

After the incident, Sandwich High forfeited its Friday night game and suspended the nine players indefinitely.

MINNESOTA

Motorcyclist caught speeding at 205 mph

WABASHA — A motorcyclist racing at an estimated 205 miles per hour might have won — the record for speeding in Minnesota.

State Patrol pilot Al Loney was flying near Wabasha, in southeastern Minnesota on the Wisconsin state line, and saw two motorcyclists racing along U.S. Highway 61 on Saturday.

One of the riders shot forward, and Mr. Loney clicked his stopwatch once when the motorcycle reached a white marker on the road and again a quarter-mile later. The watch read 4.39 seconds, which Mr. Loney calculated to be 205 mph.

Several law-enforcement sources said that although no official records are kept, it was probably the fastest ticket written in the state. The state’s next fastest ticket since 1990 was for 150 mph in 1994 in Lake of the Woods County.

After about three-quarters of a mile, the biker slowed to about 100 mph and let the other motorcyclist catch up. By then, Mr. Loney had radioed another state trooper, who pulled the two over soon afterward.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Association honors Guard member

NEWINGTON — New Hampshire National Guard Airman Emily Cole was named the 2004 First-Term Airman of the Year by the Air Force Sergeants Association. It’s the first time that the award has gone to someone who’s not an active-duty member of the Air Force.

Airman Cole, 21, works as an intelligence journeyman at Pease Air National Guard Base.

PENNSYLVANIA

Court rules horse isn’t a vehicle

PITTSBURGH — The state Supreme Court ruled that Pennsylvania’s drunken-driving law can’t be enforced against people on horseback.

The court ruled Wednesday in a case against two men in Mercer County in 2002. Riders Keith Travis, 41, and Richard Noel, 49, were charged with drunken driving along with a man driving a pickup who reportedly rear-ended the horse that Mr. Travis was riding away from a bar on a dark country road.

All three men failed field sobriety tests, police said, but a judge threw out the charges against Mr. Noel and Mr. Travis after they argued that the word “vehicles” in the state’s drunken-driving law doesn’t apply to horses.

Prosecutors said the code specifically includes people riding animals. But the majority justices cited a similar case in Utah, where judges said such a statute is confusing and too vague about which regulations would apply to animals as well as vehicles.

UTAH

Hacking waives hearing in wife’s murder

SALT LAKE CITY — Mark Hacking, accused of killing his wife while she slept and dumping her body in the trash, waived a preliminary hearing yesterday, acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to try him on murder charges.

There have been no plea negotiations, Deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney Robert Stott said.

Authorities think Lori Hacking was killed in July after learning that her husband was not enrolled in medical school in North Carolina, even though they were packing to move there.

Mr. Stott said he was prepared to prosecute Mr. Hacking on murder charges without a body or weapon, based on other evidence and his reported confession to his brothers.

WASHINGTON

State union calls for contract approval

OLYMPIA — The Washington Federation of State Employees is recommending that the 30,000 workers it represents approve a contract agreement. It calls for a 3.2 percent pay raise next year, if the Legislature approves.

The union is the largest of the state unions that negotiated for the first time this year with the governor’s office.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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