- - Sunday, July 24, 2011

ALASKA

Grizzly bear mauls two on wilderness excursion

ANCHORAGE — A grizzly bear that was with her cub attacked several teens participating in a survival-skills course in remote wilderness in Alaska, badly mauling two in the group, state troopers said Sunday.

The teens were among seven students participating in a 30-day backcountry course by the National Outdoor Leadership School when the attack occurred Saturday night in the Talkeetna Mountains north of Anchorage. They were rescued early Sunday.

The teens told troopers the attack occurred as they were lined up in front of each other for a river crossing. Those in the back of the line heard scream about the presence of a bear, with the two at the front of the line taking the brunt of the attack, trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

Another group of seven students and three instructors was waiting about six miles away for a helicopter hired by the Lander, Wyo.-based NOLS, said Bruce Palmer, a spokesman for the organization, which leads many such excursions in Alaska and elsewhere.

Mr. Palmer said the worst injured with bear-bite wounds are 17-year-old Joshua Berg of New City, N.Y., and 17-year-old Samuel Gottsegen of Denver. They were being treated at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. Hospital spokeswoman Crystal Bailey said both are listed in serious condition.

GEORGIA

Chickenpox vaccine cut fatalities 90 percent

ATLANTA — Chickenpox vaccine has dramatically reduced deaths from the disease, especially in children, says a new government study proclaiming an important public health victory.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that chickenpox deaths fell from an average of 105 per year to 14 — a decrease of almost 90 percent — after the vaccine had been available for a dozen years.

Deaths declined in all age groups, but the drop was most significant among children.

“To see the near-elimination of chickenpox deaths in this country is very exciting,” said Jane Seward, a CDC official who co-authored the paper. She has been involved in the agency’s chickenpox vaccine program for 15 years.

The report was released online Monday by the journal Pediatrics.

NEW YORK

Father of bombing plotter convicted

NEW YORK — The father of an admitted terrorist was convicted Friday of charges he destroyed evidence and lied to investigators to cover up his son’s al Qaeda-sanctioned plot to attack New York City subways in 2009 as one of a trio of suicide bombers.

A Brooklyn jury found the father of Najibullah Zazi guilty of conspiracy and obstruction of justice at a trial detailing the disintegration of a working-class family of Afghan-Americans amid chilling allegations of domestic terror.

Mohammed Wali Zazi, 55, had no visible reaction when the verdict was read. He faces up to 40 years in prison at sentencing Dec. 2, although the term could be much lower under federal sentencing guidelines.

OHIO

Suspect in 11 killings is convicted of murder

CLEVELAND — An Ohio sex offender charged in the killing of 11 women and hiding their remains around his home was convicted Friday of aggravated murder.

Anthony Sowell, 51, was convicted in the killing of Tonia Carmichael, who disappeared in November 2008 and was strangled with an electrical charger for a cellphone or camera.

The jury deliberated for just more than 15 hours before announcing the verdict on one of the first of the 83 counts against Sowell. The verdicts to dozens of other counts were still being read Friday afternoon.

As soon as the first guilty count was read, Sowell turned around and was handcuffed by a court deputy. Carmichael’s mother and daughter hugged each other and cried.

The aggravated murder conviction means Sowell is eligible for the death penalty.

TEXAS

Man shot estranged wife, family, self at roller rink

GRAND PRAIRIE — A gunman shouted at the children to leave his son’s birthday party at a Texas roller rink before shooting his estranged wife and four of her relatives and then killing himself as others panicked and some fled screaming in their skates, police and witnesses say.

Police said the couple have been having ongoing marriage problems that investigators think led to the shootings at about 7 p.m. Saturday at Forum Roller World in Grand Prairie, about 20 miles west of Dallas. No young children or rink employees were killed. Some people at nearby businesses said they watched as adults and children spilled from the rink in horror.

“They just looked terrified,” Cody Poston, a witness, told WFAA-TV, outside the rink. “There’s several people crying. The kids were just kind of oblivious.”

Grand Prairie detective John Brimmer identified the gunman as Tan Do, 35, of Grand Prairie and said the party was for his 11-year-old son. Do ordered the children to leave the party and then, after they ran and hid, he opened fire, Mr. Brimmer said.

Do’s son and his other child are safe with other relatives, he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports