- - Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Thousands of fish die after swarming harbor

VENTURA | Thousands of anchovies and sardines have died in Ventura Harbor after using up all their oxygen, officials say.

Pat Hummer of the Ventura Harbor Patrol said the fish died Monday, although they moved into the harbor a week ago.

Mr. Hummer said three patrol boats drove around scooping up dead fish before they started sinking and stinking. They filled up more than 20 50-gallon barrels throughout the day. The carcasses were dumped at sea.

In early March, 175 tons or 2.5 million sardines died in Redondo Beach after running out of oxygen.

Officials said they don’t know why the fish entered the harbor, but they could have been chased by a sea lion, dolphin or strong tide.

FLORIDA

Job center blasted for giving capes to jobless

ORLANDO | State officials are investigating an unemployment agency that spent public money to give 6,000 superhero capes to the jobless.

Workforce Central Florida spent more than $14,000 on the red capes as part of its “Cape-A-Bility Challenge” public relations campaign. The campaign featured a cartoon character, “Dr. Evil Unemployment,” who needs to be vanquished.

Florida’s unemployment agency director asked Monday for an investigation of the regional operation’s spending after the Orlando Sentinel published a story about the program. State director Cynthia Lorenzo said the spending appeared to be “insensitive and wasteful.”

Workforce Central Florida Director Gary J. Earl defends the program, saying it is part of a greater effort to connect with the community. The agency said it served 210,000 people during its last fiscal year, placing nearly 59,000 in jobs.

IDAHO

Rescuers alter search operation for miner

BOISE | Rescuers trying to reach a trapped Idaho silver miner on Tuesday were forced by unstable conditions to alter their operation and are now attempting to reach him from a new direction that more than quadruples the distance they must dig to reach him.

The changes were necessary due to dangerous conditions inside the Lucky Friday Mine, said Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman Amy Louviere. Before, workers needed to clear through about 50 feet of the collapsed area; from the new, safer set-off point more than a mile underground, there are 225 feet left.

Larry Marek, a 53-year-old employee of Hecla Mining Co., was trapped Friday by the collapse and hasn’t been heard from since the collapse.

NORTH CAROLINA

Death toll rises to 23 from storms

RALEIGH | Family members and officials say at least 23 people were killed in North Carolina by the violent storms that devastated parts of the state.

Police said Tuesday an infant in Raleigh died from storm-related injuries. Elsewhere, the family of a man in Lee County man said he died over the weekend.

Authorities previously identified only one person killed there.

A confirmed tally had been difficult to reach because of the far-flung destruction and multiple government agencies involved. The Associated Press confirmed the identities of each of the 23 who died with relatives, local officials or state troopers.

Bertie County was the hardest hit with 11 people killed.

OKLAHOMA

Families observe bombing anniversary

OKLAHOMA CITY | More than 300 people have gathered at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum to mark the 16th anniversary of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building that killed 168 people.

Antonio Cooper Sr. walked across a field of empty chairs that represent the bombing victims and strapped a colorful bouquet of flowers on the one dedicated to his 6-month-old son, Antonio Cooper Jr. The child was attending daycare in the building.

Mr. Cooper said Tuesday he has tried to move forward in the past 16 years, but he still wonders what could have been if his son had lived.

Gov. Mary Fallin said the memorial is a testament to the sacrifices of those killed and injured and it’s important they are not forgotten.

PENNSYLVANIA

Duck boats return after fatal crash

PHILADELPHIA | Duck boat tours will return to the Delaware River in Philadelphia on Thursday, more than nine months after a collision between a tourist boat and a barge killed two exchange students.

The revised river portion of the land-and-water tour this year will be shorter and closer to the Philadelphia shoreline.

Ride the Ducks has also pledged to adopt other safety precautions after discussions with the Coast Guard. And passengers won’t be “quacking” their way through the 70-minute tour because of complaints from nearby residents about the duck-call noisemakers distributed to those on board.

Two Hungarian students were killed July 7 when a 2,100-ton city barge struck a disabled duck boat in the shipping channel, sinking the tour boat and dumping 35 passengers and two crew members into the river.

The pilot of the tug boat pushing the barge was distracted by cellphone calls about a family emergency, the National Transportation and Safety Board revealed in a recent report. Federal prosecutors are reviewing whether any charges should be filed against him or others in the crash.

TEXAS

Kindergartener brings gun to school; 3 hurt

HOUSTON | A kindergartener brought a gun to his Houston elementary school and was among three students injured by fragments when it dropped from his pocket during lunchtime and accidentally fired, officials said.

One bullet discharged about 11 a.m. in the school’s cafeteria, spraying fragments at the students, said Houston Independent School District Assistant Police Chief Robert Mock.

Two 6-year-old boys, including the one who had the gun, were wounded in the foot, said district spokesman Jason Spencer. A 5-year-old girl also suffered a foot injury, Mr. Spencer said.

Images taken from Houston television station KPRC’s news helicopter showed three children being wheeled to ambulances on stretchers. All were sitting up and appeared to be talking with emergency personnel. Upset parents rushed to the scene.

Houston is the state’s largest school district with more than 200,000 students.

WEST VIRGINIA

Feds: 3 face charges after U.S. marshal’s death

MORGANTOWN | Federal prosecutors say three West Virginia residents have been indicted on federal charges stemming from a February shootout that killed a deputy U.S. marshal and an Elkins man.

Prosecutors announced Tuesday that Sherry Lou Smith, 49, Cassandra Smith, 25, and Anthony Lambert, 23, are named in a 14-count indictment. Charges include conspiracy to obstruct justice, making false statements and possession of a machine gun.

They were arrested Tuesday and taken to U.S. Magistrate Court in Elkins. It was unclear if they have lawyers.

Deputy Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller died in the Feb. 16 shootout with Charles Smith of Elkins, who also died.

Federal and state officials went to Mr. Smith’s Elkins home that day to serve a warrant. Marshal Hotsinpiller became the first deputy U.S. marshal killed by gunfire in 19 years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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