- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2007

COLORADO

Runaway rail cars spill beer, asphalt

DENVER — A string of runaway rail cars spilled beer in downtown Denver yesterday after they crashed into a parked locomotive and derailed.

No one was hurt, and the railroad’s mainline operations were not affected, said Steve Forsberg, a spokesman for BNSF Railway, based in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mr. Forsberg said a switch engine was assembling a train at about 4:30 a.m. when the crew lost control of the 34 cars, which rolled downhill into the stationary locomotive.

A tanker car carrying Coors beer overturned and spilled its contents onto the rail yard, Mr. Forsberg said. Another car carrying asphalt was damaged and leaked.

Mr. Forsberg did not know how much beer and asphalt spilled.

GEORGIA

Police say fisherman shot at contestants

GREENSBORO — An 86-year-old man didn’t want anyone getting too close to his fishing lines, so he took a few shots at a pair of fishermen competing at a tournament, authorities said. One of them was hit in the arm.

John Burke Yearwood of Madison was jailed on a charge of aggravated assault and later released on bond.

Greene County Sheriff Chris Houston said Mr. Yearwood has been putting his fishing lines out in the area for decades.

Two men competing in a fishing tournament Saturday on the Oconee River told authorities that when they got close to Mr. Yearwood’s lines, Mr. Yearwood raised a rifle and fired two shots that hit the water in front of their boat. A sheriff’s department report says Mr. Yearwood — who was at a fishing camp, but was not in the tournament — fired a third shot that hit Craig Barnett as he sat in the boat.

The men said they sped away in the boat and used a cell phone to call 911.

Investigators found Mr. Yearwood at his home.

MICHIGAN

Detroit bus drivers strike over safety

DETROIT — A quarter-million city bus riders in Detroit were left stranded yesterday when drivers abruptly walked off the job over crime and safety concerns.

The strike marks the latest setback for the city, which has struggled to shed its association with violent crime. It comes a week after a man who had been shot multiple times, including in the face, boarded a city bus to flee assailants before getting off and dying on the street.

About 800 bus drivers of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 have walked off their jobs, union President Henry Gaffney told Reuters.

Mr. Gaffney said drivers are regularly assaulted physically and verbally abused aboard the buses. One driver was badly beaten Tuesday evening by a passenger, he added.

Drivers want police escorts on buses. But city officials have been unwilling to take that step because of Detroit’s deepening budget problems.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Town fires employees gossiping about boss

HOOKSETT — Can you be fired for gossiping about your boss? Four town employees here say they were, raising questions about fairness, free speech and a staple of life in the American workplace.

The employees were fired in April after speaking to a lawyer the town had hired as a fact-finder to rout out chatterboxes.

They say questions about a close relationship between Town Administrator David Jodoin and a female employee, identified only as “A” in the lawyer’s report, drifted into Town Hall sometime in March. They say they weren’t the only ones who discussed the rumor and dismissed it as untrue after briefly talking about it.

Joanne Drewniak was fired. She worked for tax assessor Sandra Piper, who also was fired. Also fired were code enforcement officer Michelle Bonsteel and her assistant, Jessica Skorupski.

Each woman had received positive work reviews and is appealing to get back her job. Miss Skorupski’s and Miss Drewniak’s firings were reviewed at a hearing last week, and the council is set to rule tomorrow.

NEW JERSEY

60-year-old gives birth to twins

TRENTON — A 60-year-old woman became a mother, twice over, when she delivered a pair of boys Tuesday.

Frieda Birnbaum gave birth to “Baby A” at 12:44 p.m. and “Baby B” a minute later by Caesarean section at Hackensack University Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Nancy Radwin said. The twins each weighed 4 pounds, 11 ounces, she said.

“The mom is in recovery, and she and the babies are doing really well,” Miss Radwin said, declining a request to speak with the mother.

OHIO

Probation officer dies while chasing suspect

GALLIPOLIS — A probation officer who dove into the Ohio River while chasing a suspect was found dead early yesterday, authorities said.

The body of David Poling, 32, was recovered from the river about 2:30 a.m., more than nine hours after the chase began, Police Chief Clinton Patterson said.

Mr. Poling, who worked for the Gallipolis Municipal Court, had tried to stop Joseph Harris, 22, on a city street Tuesday afternoon, Chief Patterson said. Mr. Harris had bolted to the nearby river and jumped in from a bank 10 to 15 feet above the water.

Another officer with Mr. Poling ran after him, and Mr. Poling jumped into the river, police said. According to witnesses, Mr. Poling went under and didn’t surface, Chief Patterson said. The other officers were unable to find him.

TEXAS

Court throws out killer mom’s sentence

HOUSTON — A sharply divided appeals court yesterday threw out the death sentence of a woman convicted of killing her newborn son.

The court upheld the woman’s conviction, but it said prosecutors misstated to jurors her likelihood of being a danger to society before deliberations began on the sentence.

Attorneys for the woman, Kenisha Berry, argued that she had no previous criminal record, and defense experts testified that she posed a low risk of being a future danger.

The 5-4 ruling from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals means Berry will serve a life term for the 1998 smothering death of 4-day-old Malachi, who was found abandoned and bound with duct tape in a trash bin.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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