- The Washington Times - Monday, April 14, 2008

CALIFORNIA

Small plane crashes into two homes

COMPTON — A twin-engine plane crashed into two homes Saturday outside Los Angeles, injuring the two persons on board and three on the ground, authorities said.

The Cessna 310 went down just before 4 p.m. near the Compton/Woodley Airport, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.

The plane’s fuselage crashed through one roof, and its left wing lodged in a second home.

The plane was carrying two men, and both were in critical condition, Mr. Gregor said.

In one house, a woman was critically injured and a man suffered less serious injuries, Mr. Gregor said. In the other home, a woman complained of chest pains.

The flight originated at Montgomery Field in San Diego and was heading for Hawthorne Municipal Airport, about 10 miles away.

LOUISIANA

Oyster-eating champ shellacks the competition

NEW ORLEANS — Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti looked down at the litter of empty oyster shells in front of him and savored the sweet taste of victory. For Crazy Legs Conti, the bitter taste of defeat could be washed away only with beer.

The Acme World Oyster Eating championship belt — leather, with a silver dish featuring an oyster on the half-shell — hung on Mr. Bertoletti’s skinny hips. The 22-year-old Chicago resident took the title Saturday by slurping 35 dozen of the big bivalves in eight minutes.

“I could probably do a couple dozen more, especially if they were charbroiled,” said Mr. Bertoletti.

Mr. Conti, the defending champion, tied for third, sucking down 24 dozen. Juliet Lee, 43, of Germantown, Md., methodically polished off 31½ dozen for second place.

ARIZONA

Legally blind golfer makes hole-in-one

GREEN VALLEY — An 85-year-old legally blind golfer from southern Arizona made a hole-in-one last week on a par-3 hole.

Robert Dunham accomplished the feat on the third hole at Tortuga in Green Valley. Playing with a group of fellow blind veterans enrolled in a Veterans Affairs health care system program, Mr. Dunham’s volunteer assistant lined him up with the ball, handed him a 9-iron and stepped back.

Mr. Dunham swung through the ball and hit it squarely; it landed softly on the green, taking one hop before nestling into the bottom of the cup.

Mr. Dunham’s group erupted into a cacophony of cheers and high-fives.

The World War II vet’s first reaction?

“I thought they were kidding me,” Mr. Dunham said. “I told them, ‘You guys better not be pulling my leg.’ ”

ILLINOIS

Nesting geese battle shoppers

NAPERVILLE — Buyer beware: A pair of Canada geese guarding their nest outside an Illinois furniture store are attacking unwary shoppers, even drawing blood from a few people.

However, the aggressive birds are still good for business at the P.M. Bedroom Gallery store. That’s because the nest is right outside the front window, and customers love the show.

The company’s Illinois sales manager, Jeff Cleasby, said the location of the nest lets customers watch the birds safely from inside the store.

Mr. Cleasby said he has no plan to do anything to disturb the birds in the Chicago suburb.

The eggs are expected to hatch next month, and the store has started a contest to name the goslings.

NEW YORK

Hospital worker charged in ID theft

NEW YORK — A man who worked in the admissions department at a prestigious Manhattan hospital has been charged with stealing and selling information on nearly 50,000 patients.

Dwight McPherson, 38, a former worker at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, was arrested Friday night, shortly after the hospital announced the security breach.

Mr. McPherson was arraigned Saturday in federal court in Manhattan. He is charged with computer fraud, identity document fraud, transmission of stolen property and sale of stolen property.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV ordered Mr. McPherson not to leave the New York area before his next scheduled court appearance on May 12.

Prosecutors said Mr. McPherson exploited his access to the hospital’s computer registration system to acquire lists of patient names, phone numbers and Social Security numbers over a two-year period.

Authorities became aware that something was amiss when printouts of patient records were discovered in Atlanta during an investigation by postal inspectors, according to a complaint filed by prosecutors Saturday.

Mr. McPherson confessed to a role in the identity-theft scheme when he was interrogated by agents on Friday, an inspector said in the complaint.

OHIO

Troopers disciplined for KKK photo prank

SANDUSKY — A highway patrolman who was photographed in a handmade Ku Klux Klan costume while on duty the day before the Martin Luther King holiday has been suspended without pay, authorities said.

A fellow trooper who transmitted the cell-phone photo of white-masked lawman has been demoted.

Craig Franklin, a 12-year veteran of the Ohio Highway Patrol, is pictured in the Jan. 20 photo with a white cone on his head, white paper mask and a white cloth covering his shoulders, according to a highway patrol report. Mr. Franklin is otherwise in trooper uniform.

Mr. Franklin and Trooper Eric Wlodarsky told an investigator that the picture was taken as a joke and was modeled on a television skit by comedian Dave Chappelle.

Highway patrol officials began an investigation after the patrol’s Administrative Investigative Unit received an anonymous letter that included two photographs of Mr. Franklin in the outfit, an interoffice memo said.

TEXAS

Polygamous moms seek help for children

SAN ANGELO — The mothers of children removed from a polygamous sect’s ranch in West Texas after an abuse allegation are appealing to Gov. Rick Perry for help, saying some of their children have become sick and required hospitalization.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press, the mothers from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also said children are “horrified” by physical examinations that they have undergone while in state custody.

The mothers said the letter was mailed Saturday. Perry spokesman Robert Black said yesterday that he had not seen the letter, signed by three women who say they represent others, and couldn’t comment.

The mothers said they want Mr. Perry to examine the conditions in which the removed children have been placed. A judge will decide this week whether the children will remain in state custody or return to their families.

Yesterday, state officials enforced a judge’s order to confiscate the cell phones of the women and children removed from the ranch.

VERMONT

Police say woman drowned self, child

WARDSBORO — A woman waded into a brook carrying her 6-year-old daughter and purposely eluded the grasp of a police officer attempting to rescue her before being swept downstream, police said yesterday.

Both Nicole Waring and the child died, and a search continued yesterday for Mrs. Waring’s 2½-year-old daughter.

Mrs. Waring, 40, was reported missing early Saturday after she disappeared from her parents’ Wardsboro house with the two girls, the state police said.

As troopers began preparing a search party, State Police Sgt. Robert McCarthy spotted Mrs. Waring and a child standing on the edge of Wardsboro Brook, about 100 yards from the parents’ home, Vermont State Police Capt. David Covell said.

Mrs. Waring had been despondent, but police wouldn’t say why.

Police have spoken with Mrs. Waring’s husband, Michael Waring, who was in Massachusetts at the time, Capt. Covell said.

WASHINGTON

Feeder rats overrun house

ROCHESTER — A woman bought rats as food for her pet snakes but eventually came to think of them as “friends” allowed them to breed and overrun her house, which will need to be razed, officials said Friday.

The rats have gnawed through wiring, walls, cupboards and drawers, “so there’s no lights or heat or sewage” disposal, said Susanne Beauregard, Thurston County animal-services director, on Friday.

Michele Diller, 64, who had rebuffed agencies’ efforts to help her, agreed to move into an assisted living center in order to get her cat back, Miss Beauregard said. The cat had been confiscated along with 11 caged animals — four severely malnourished snakes, five mice and two rats.

Agencies were seeking housing for Miss Diller on Friday and considering what to do about the rats, which have begun turning up in neighbors’ yards.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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