- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2005

Four die, 14 hurt in Route 44 crash

AVON, Conn. — A fiery crash involving 20 vehicles, including a commuter bus, killed at least four persons yesterday and injured at least 14, officials said.

Initial reports said at least five persons had been killed, but officials confirmed only four deaths. Avon police officials said the number could rise as rescuers worked through the twisted metal.

The chain-reaction crash started when a long-bed dump truck collided with the bus, which sparked a fire that engulfed several vehicles, including the truck. The driver of the bus was among the injured, but the eight commuters aboard were not seriously hurt.

Investigators were looking into reports that the truck’s brakes failed coming down the hill shortly after 7:30 a.m., officials said. The accident shut down Route 44 during the morning commute, and it was expected to remain closed for at least 12 hours. Avon is about 10 miles northwest of Hartford and on a major commuter route.

Troop leader, scout die in lightning strike

FRESNO, Calif. — Lightning struck a group of Boy Scouts taking shelter from a summer storm, killing the troop leader and a 13-year-old scout, according to a ranger and the boy’s parents.

At least one of the injured was kept alive only because the troop managed to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation for an hour after Thursday’s strike in Sequoia National Park, park ranger Alex Picavet said yesterday.

The deaths come just days after four men were electrocuted while putting up a tent at the National Scout Jamboree in Virginia.

Ryan Collins, 13, died yesterday morning, according to his parents, Sue and Peter Collins. The assistant scoutmaster, Steve McCullagh, 29, was killed instantly when the bolt struck at about 4 p.m. Thursday, the Tulare County coroner’s office said.

The scout group from St. Helena was hit when a lightning bolt made a direct strike on one of the two tarps they had set up in a meadow. The man was killed instantly, Miss Picavet said.

Two teenagers ran 25 minutes to a ranger station, and five helicopters flew in to evacuate the group.

Drunken limo driver stripped of license

WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. — A limousine driver who was busted for drunken driving by the teens she drove to a high school prom has lost her driving privileges.

Christina Tomacelli had her license suspended for 18 months Thursday by a state agency. She was charged April 9 with driving under the influence of alcohol and refusing to submit to a blood-alcohol test and still faces criminal charges.

Tomacelli, 49, of Altamonte Springs, had been driving 10 students to the prom when one used his cell phone to call home and report the driver’s erratic behavior. His father called 911.

Conviction tossed in bouncer’s death

NEW YORK — A judge yesterday threw out the murder conviction of one of two men who have spent 14 years in prison for the shooting death of a bouncer at a Manhattan nightclub.

Prosecutors had recommended throwing out the conviction of Olmado Hidalgo, citing new evidence they said made it likely Hidalgo would have been acquitted of killing bouncer Marcus Peterson, 23.

A Bronx gang member was indicted this year in the slaying, and Hidalgo’s lawyer said prosecutors conceded that no evidence linked his client to other suspects in the shooting or to the second man convicted, David Leamus, 36.

Despite having the conviction overturned, Hidalgo, 39, was returned to jail and still faces deportation to the Dominican Republic on an unrelated gun-possession conviction.

Lawyers for Leamus are also seeking to have his conviction thrown out, but prosecutors recommended against it.

Hidalgo and Leamus have served 14 years of sentences of 25 years to life in prison.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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