- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 30, 2006

‘MI-III’ gimmick was a blast

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — A newspaper promotion for Tom Cruise’s upcoming “Mission: Impossible III” got off to an explosive start when a county arson squad blew up a news rack, thinking it contained a bomb.

The confusion: the Los Angeles Times rack was fitted with a digital musical device designed to play the “Mission: Impossible” theme song when the door was opened. But in some cases, the red plastic boxes with protruding wires were jarred loose and dropped onto the stack of newspapers inside, alarming customers.

Sheriff’s officials said they rendered the news rack in this suburb 35 miles north of downtown Los Angeles “safe” after being called to the scene Friday by a concerned individual who thought he’d seen a bomb.

“This was the least intended outcome. We weren’t expecting anything like this,” said John O’Loughlin, the Times’ senior vice president for planning.

Storms batter eastern Texas

GAINESVILLE, Texas — Storms battered eastern Texas with wind up to 100 mph and hail the size of baseballs, damaging buildings and slamming parked airplanes into one another at an airport.

No major injuries were reported in the storms late Friday and early yesterday, authorities said.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged and some areas still lacked power yesterday afternoon, said Kay Lunnon, spokeswoman for the city of Gainesville, near the Oklahoma state line.

Hangars were damaged at the Gainesville Municipal Airport, and the high wind shoved airplanes parked outside, Airport Director Matt Quick said.

About 15 planes were damaged at the airport, where about 70 aircraft are based, Mr. Quick said.

Soldier’s death ruled an accident

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A Fort Benning soldier missing for 12 days before his body was discovered in a downtown hotel died after he got caught in an industrial-sized air conditioner, officials said yesterday .

A maintenance worker at the DeSoto Hilton hotel found the man’s body Friday in an area accessible through a maintenance door after guests complained of a foul odor in the lobby.

He died after being struck by a large, spinning blower wheel, said Lt. Mike Wilkins, a spokesman for Savannah-Chatham County police.

“At this point, it appears to be an accident,” he said.

An autopsy yesterday confirmed the identity of Spc. Robert Hornbeck, 23, of Lapeer, Mich., who was last seen outside the hotel April 16 after a late night of barhopping with an Army friend.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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