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Around the Nation

- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2007

COLORADO

Dog saves boy from rattlesnake

MASONVILLE — Zoey is a Chihuahua, but when a rattlesnake lunged at her owners' 1-year-old grandson, she was a real bulldog.

Booker West was splashing his hands in a birdbath in his grandparents' northern Colorado back yard when the snake slithered up to the toddler, rattled and struck. Five-pound Zoey jumped in the way and took the bites.

"She got in between Booker and the snake, and that's when I heard her yipe," Monty Long, the boy's grandfather, said last week.

The dog required treatment, and for a time, it appeared she might not survive the bites she suffered earlier this month. Now she prances about.

ILLINOIS

Disheveled application causes bomb scare

CHARLESTON — Here is a tip for aspiring college students: Make sure your applications don't warrant a visit from the bomb squad.

Emergency crews evacuated an Eastern Illinois University building Friday, after a campus postal carrier discovered a disheveled-looking package heading for the college's admissions office.

"There was no return address; it was poorly written, poorly addressed to the university, there were misspellings," school spokeswoman Vicki Woodard said Saturday. "There was some tape over it. Just the overall appearance was rather strange."

The stuffed-and-stained envelope was strange enough that police alerted the bomb squad. Explosives investigators X-rayed the package and blocked off a nearby street before they discovered that the envelope contained only an application to the 12,500-student school.

Miss Woodard said the application came from northern Illinois but wouldn't comment on whether the bomb scare would affect the prospective student's chances of admission.

MISSISSIPPI

Adopted girl's mom accused of abduction

JACKSON — An adopted 5-month-old girl reportedly taken at gunpoint by her biological mother in rural Mississippi was found safe yesterday at a military-base apartment three states away.

The woman and her sister were in custody and others were sought in what authorities said appeared to be a kidnapping that sprang from a custody fight.

On Saturday, two women and an armed man wearing masks stormed into Jennifer and Matt Erickson's home in Itawamba County, Sheriff Phil Crane said. They tied up Mrs. Erickson and fled with the baby, Madison Erickson, leaving another young child of Mrs. Erickson's behind. Mrs. Erickson was able to free herself and called authorities.

Authorities contacted military police at Fort Bragg, N.C., where Rikki Swann — the sister of the baby's biological mother, Jamie Kiefer — lived before returning to Mississippi when her husband deployed to Afghanistan.

Agents and military police found a white van with Mississippi plates near the apartment of Amanda Bell, a friend of Mrs. Swann's. After obtaining warrants, they raided the home to find Madison, Miss Kiefer, Mrs. Swann, Mrs. Bell and her child, Miss Kiefer's 5-year-old son, and two children of Mrs. Swann's, ages 6 and 1.

The sisters were arrested. Authorities are still looking for a man and a woman who they say participated in the abduction.

MISSOURI

100 visitors trapped atop Gateway Arch

ST. LOUIS — About 200 people were trapped inside the 630-foot Gateway Arch for about two hours after an apparent power outage, authorities said.

The power went out at about 8:45 p.m. Saturday, stalling two trams filled with about 40 people each, said Mike Maris, deputy superintendent of the Gateway Arch.

About 100 people were stranded at the top of the monument of stainless steel, Mr. Maris said. He said the evacuation of the south tram, where one of nine cables may have broken, took about two hours.

Power eventually was restored to the north tram, and stranded visitors no longer had to use the stairs to evacuate, said Capt. Steve Simpson, a spokesman for the St. Louis Fire Department. He said officials do not know what happened to the equipment.

Capt. Simpson said rescue crews treated two persons. One was given oxygen, and the other was diabetic. He did not elaborate on their treatment.

PENNSYLVANIA

Mayor, bodyguards aid fire rescue

PHILADELPHIA — The mayor and two of his bodyguards happened upon a house fire and ended up rescuing a cat, helping a victim and warning neighbors, officials and witnesses said.

Neighbor Dorothy Young said she saw the smoke Friday morning and went outside to find two children who lived in the house crying at the bottom of her steps.

Mayor John F. Street and two bodyguards, who had been walking to City Hall when they saw the burning home, rushed over to help, Miss Young said.

The bodyguards carried a boy who suffered minor burns into Miss Young's home and went into the burning house to rescue a cat.

Mr. Street, clad in sneakers, sweats and a ball cap, began banging on doors and urging people to leave their homes, city Commerce Director Stephanie Naidoff said. He told her the story before leaving town for the weekend, she said.

Children playing with matches started the fire, and it was brought under control in a few minutes, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said.

TEXAS

Torrential rain ends after heavy flooding

SAN ANTONIO — The sun was finally shining over South and Central Texas yesterday after days of torrential rain that left an Amtrak train stranded, flooded roads and sent Boy Scouts on a camping trip fleeing for their lives.

As much as 17 inches of rain had fallen in some areas between 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday, said Pat McDonald, a National Weather Service forecaster. Dozens of people were rescued, some by helicopter, but no serious injuries were reported.

A Boy Scout troop from suburban Fort Worth camping on the Guadalupe River had to make a quick getaway early Saturday when the water rose rapidly. No one was injured.

An Amtrak train was halted Saturday morning in Knippa after water covered the tracks, stranding 176 passengers. Buses drove most passengers Saturday evening to El Paso, where they boarded another train and were under way by 10 p.m., Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said yesterday.

A woman who authorities say drove a minivan around road barricades south of Austin and became stuck in floodwaters with two children was charged with child endangerment. Laura Delarosa, 30, of Dripping Springs, was arrested Saturday after rescue workers got her and the children to safety.

From wire dispatches and staff reports