American Scene

CALIFORNIA

Navy to investigate Lake Tahoe flight

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE | Military officials say an investigation is under way after two U.S. Navy helicopters dipped temporarily into the waters of Lake Tahoe, before righting themselves and landing at a nearby airport.

San Diego-based Naval Air Forces media officer Lt. Aaron Kakiel said a YouTube video filmed by tourists represents authentic footage of the Sept. 13. incident, the Nevada Appeal reported.

Lt. Kakiel said two pilots were returning from a cross-country tour when they attempted a “hover” maneuver with MH-60 Romeo helicopters a few feet above the water in Emerald Bay. The aircraft had insufficient power to sustain the hover and slowly descended into the water, he said. Both were able to regain altitude and land.

The helicopters suffered some damage, but no one was injured in the incident and no fuel leaked into the lake, Lt. Kakiel said.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Navy wouldn’t identify the pilots or say whether the helicopters were supposed to be hovering over Lake Tahoe. The Navy did, however, say the entire Sept. 13 flight is under investigation.

FLORIDA

Birthday bet leads to drowning death

DANIA BEACH | Authorities say a South Florida man who bet $50 that he could swim across a canal behind his house drowned while attempting the feat.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said in a release that Timothy Jordan of Dania Beach had been celebrating his birthday when he announced the bet. He would have turned 46 on Tuesday.

Deputies say Mr. Jordan was drunk when he stripped down to his boxer shorts and jumped into the canal early Sunday morning. He made it about halfway across when he started struggling. Divers recovered his body just after 4 a.m.

ILLINOIS

Jackson admits illicit affair

CHICAGO | The wife of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said she and her husband have undergone marital counseling and spiritual therapy since he told her nearly two years ago of an extramarital affair.

“He said it was over. I was mortified and in agony, but he knew if I found out any other way it would be over. That the only way to save our marriage was to come clean,” Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson said in an interview published in Sunday editions of the Chicago Sun-Times.

She said she immediately questioned herself and whether it was her fault, but she never wanted details. When word of the affair became public last week, she said it was like opening the wound again.

Mr. Jackson, a Democrat, also has been dogged by corruption accusations in connection with former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich since December 2008, shortly after Blagojevich was arrested. Mr. Jackson has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in connection with Blagojevich.

He didn’t, however, deny accusations of an affair with the “social acquaintance” and called it a “personal matter between me and my wife that was handled some time ago.” He did not return a call Sunday.

MONTANA

New Zealand honors former Navy pilot

HELENA | A former Navy pilot from Montana has been awarded a medal from New Zealand for helping recover the bodies of 257 people who died aboard a sightseeing plane that crashed on an Antarctic volcano in November 1979.

Dan Ellison was awarded the New Zealand Special Service Medal for his role in the aftermath of the three-decade-old tragedy, still the worst civil air disaster in New Zealand history. 

Mr. Ellison, now a city commissioner in Helena, told the Independent Record he remembers sitting in the mess hall afterward in disbelief, thinking about the tragedy that had just unfolded on Mount Erebus, a 12,448-foot active volcano, about a third of the way through an 11-hour sightseeing flight.

“It was a national disaster for the country of New Zealand,” he said. “This was a bigger event than I’d ever been associated with.”

Just 31 at the time, Mr. Ellison was on his third tour of duty with the U.S. Navy at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. His squadron flew helicopters and ski-equipped airplanes for the National Science Foundation’s polar programs. In the wake of the tragedy, Mr. Ellison flew between the plane crash site, the makeshift morgue and his home base.

“We probably pushed the edge of the envelope a little bit, as far as crew rest and doing things, because we wanted to do everything that we could do to make the recovery effort successful,” he said.

NEW JERSEY

Eyewitness details Seton Hall attack

EAST ORANGE | A Seton Hall University student who attended an off-campus house party at which five people were shot said the gunman stood on her back as she lay on the floor and didn’t appear to be targeting anyone during the chaos she described as “hell.”

“He was just shooting he had no intended target,” said a text message from the woman, who was a friend of 19-year-old Jessica Moore, the only person killed.

The woman spoke Sunday by instant messenger on the condition of anonymity because she feared for her safety while the shooter remained at large and was too upset to talk over the phone. 

Students said the shooter was put out of the party when he refused to pay the cover charge. The woman said she heard a fight erupt before the man was thrown out. Seconds later, she said, he returned with a handgun and started shooting as chaos erupted.

“Everyone was scrambling n stampeding. People were jumping out the two windows n all I cud smell was smoke n blood,” the woman wrote. “The next thing I knew I opened my eyes n saw hell..blood n just panic.”

Authorities had not released the names of the four wounded people, whose injuries weren’t considered life-threatening. East Orange police were following several leads but had not identified a suspect, spokesman Andrew Di Elmo said.

VIRGINIA

Court declines to revisit church case

RICHMOND | The Virginia Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its ruling in an Episcopal Church property dispute.

In June the court overturned a judge’s decision giving nine breakaway Episcopal congregations property worth an estimated $30 million to $40 million. The justices said the judge erred when, relying on an 1867 statute, he ruled that the congregations were a branch of the Episcopal Church and could keep the property.

The breakaway congregations asked the justices to reconsider. The court’s decision Friday means the case goes back to Fairfax County Circuit Court for further proceedings.

The congregations split from the Episcopal Church in a disagreement over acceptance of gays, the ordination of women and other theological issues, and aligned with the more conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

WISCONSIN

Levee fails near popular park

PORTAGE | A levee along the Wisconsin River failed Sunday, flooding the access road leading to a park area and cutting off any residents who did not heed daylong warnings to evacuate.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many of the roughly 300 residents remained in Blackhawk Park around 4 p.m. Sunday when the road was closed after the failure of the Caledonia Levee south of Highway 33.

The Columbia County Emergency Management Office was letting nobody in or out of the park until further notice and warned all morning that emergency vehicles, including police, fire and ambulances, would not be able to reach any residents who stayed behind.

Kathy Johnson, deputy director of the Columbia County Emergency Management Office, told the Associated Press that in the event of an emergency, “people are going to have to come out by boat.”

She said those who evacuated might be out of their homes for up to a week.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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