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American Scene

- - Sunday, August 14, 2011

ALASKA

2 die, but 4 survive wilderness plane crash

ANCHORAGE — Authorities say two people have died in a plane crash in the Alaska wilderness, and four others aboard the small aircraft survived.

Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said the survivors were being flown to an Anchorage hospital. The identities of the six on board the Inland Aviation Service plane were not immediately released.

The single-engine Cessna 207 departed Saturday evening from the community of McGrath, about 225 miles northwest of Anchorage. A pilot and five Iditarod School District employees on board were heading to the village of Anvik, which is about 140 miles to the west.

CALIFORNIA

Rembrandt drawing stolen from hotel lobby

MARINA DEL REY — A drawing by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, valued at $250,000, was stolen from a hotel in Southern California in what sheriff's investigators said was a well-planned heist.

The pen-and-ink drawing, thought to be called "The Judgment," was nabbed Saturday night while a curator was distracted by a guest at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Marina del Rey, Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said Sunday.

"When the curator turned back to the Rembrandt, it was gone," Mr. Whitmore said, adding that it "was a well-thought-out, well-executed theft."

The drawing was part of an exhibit at the hotel sponsored by San Francisco's Linearis Institute. Detectives think the theft of the Rembrandt drawing occurred during a 15-minute window starting at 10:20 p.m.

KANSAS

Major grocers recall ground beef products

DODGE CITY — At least three major grocery store chains have recalled some of their ground beef packages because they could be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

Winn-Dixie, Publix and Kroger announced the recalls Sunday, saying they stem from problems at the National Beef Packaging Co. of Dodge City. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there have been no reports of illnesses.

The recalls affect products sold mainly in the Deep South, but the meat was sent to several distributors and could have been repackaged for consumers and sold nationwide.

USDA announced Friday that National Beef was recalling more than 60,000 pounds of beef after the Ohio Department of Agriculture found the bacteria during routine testing.

MICHIGAN

Dog back with family a year after fatal crash

VIENNA TOWNSHIP — A Maltese dog that disappeared more than a year ago after a fatal car crash in New Mexico has been returned to surviving family members in Michigan.

The crash in June last year killed Gary Benson and his daughter, Emily. Afterward, his wife and four surviving children searched unsuccessfully for the family pet, named Caesar.

Monica Benson told New Mexico's Quay County Sun she posted pictures of Caesar and her son Benjamin in the hospital room where the then-18-month-old recovered and he kept asking where the dog was.

A volunteer at a shelter in Tucumcari, N.M., contacted Mrs. Benson after scanning a microchip in Caesar earlier this month. He was returned to his family Saturday. Mrs. Benson told the Detroit News the dog remembered her family and "it was an amazing evening."

NORTH CAROLINA

War widow accidentally sells suitcase with mementos

JACKSONVILLE — A North Carolina woman is frantically trying to find mementos she mistakenly sold that had belonged to her husband, a Marine killed while serving in Iraq.

The Daily News of Jacksonville reported that Lindsay Whitehouse said she sold a suitcase Aug. 6 at a yard sale. The couple who bought it said they planned to resell the suitcase at an in-state flea market.

After they left, Mrs. Whitehouse realized the suitcase contained awards, memorial items and photographs belonging to her husband, 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Jason Whitehouse. He was killed in action in 2007.

The suitcase also contained family photos, including irreplaceable ones of the couple's children with their father.

OHIO

Runaway blimp lands in elderly woman's yard

WORTHINGTON — A 94-year-old Ohio woman who woke up to discover that a breakaway blimp from a nearby airport had landed in her backyard said she heard a bang during stormy weather but didn't realize what happened until police knocked on her door about seven hours later.

The 128-foot-long blimp broke free of its moorings at a Columbus airport during strong winds early Sunday, then drifted to the sky, headed eastward and landed in Lillian Bernhagen's backyard in Worthington, less than two miles from Ohio State University's Don Scott airfield. No one was aboard and no injuries were reported.

The remnants of a battered blimp were draped over Ms. Bernhagen's picnic table and birdfeeders, covering half her backyard.

"I looked out the window and I said, 'Wow!' " she said.

Storms had limited the options authorities had to find the blimp until it was spotted in Ms. Bernhagen's yard.

From wire dispatches and staff reports