American Scene: Head-on highway crash kills 5, leaves 4 injured

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THERMOPOLIS — Five people were killed and four others were injured when a vehicle returning to Colorado from a Boy Scout camp in northwest Wyoming veered into oncoming traffic and slammed head-on into a motor home, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

A 3-year-old passenger in the motor home and all four people in the other vehicle were killed in the crash on Highway 120 in north-central Wyoming on Saturday morning.

The Honda Element was one of three vehicles taking a group of Boy Scouts back to the Colorado Springs area. The two other vehicles transporting the Scouts were not involved in the crash.

The Highway Patrol declined to release any other information Sunday, including the names of the victims and the extent of the survivors’ injuries.

Hot Springs County Sheriff Lou Falgoust told the Billings (Mont.) Gazette that the troop members were working toward their Eagle Scout badges and had been camping around an area known as Pahaska Teepee, near Yellowstone National Park.

Investigators are still trying to determine why the Honda crossed the center line.

ALASKA

Hoax prompts free tacos in remote town

ANCHORAGE — Residents of Bethel know from cable-TV ads what the major fast-food chains offer: chicken at KFC, burgers at McDonald’s and tacos at Taco Bell.

They just haven’t been able to get any of it.

The city of 6,200 people is about 40 miles inland from the Bering Sea in far western Alaska, and the closest fast food other than a Subway sandwich shop is in Anchorage, 400 miles and a $500 round-trip plane ticket away.

So they were elated to learn that Taco Bell was soon going to open a restaurant.

The joy, however, turned into disappointment. The fliers announcing the chain’s arrival were a hoax - the result, police say, of a feud between two residents.

But all was not lost.

Taco Bell executives learned of the mix-up and arranged an enormous free feast for Sunday. They flew enough ingredients in from Anchorage to make 10,000 tacos.

The chain is accustomed to feeding large groups of people in far-flung places.

“If we can feed people in Afghanistan and Iraq, we can feed people in Bethel,” company CEO Greg Creed said, declining to discuss the cost of the feast.

NEW YORK

Students suspended in bus monitor bullying

NEW YORK — Four seventh-grade students from upstate New York who were caught on video mercilessly taunting a 68-year-old bus monitor have received their punishment.

The school system in the Rochester suburb of Greece says it will suspend the middle-school students from school and from using regular bus transportation for a year for bullying Karen Klein.

The students will be transferred to a special alternative-education program because the district is legally required to give them an education. Each student also will be required to complete 50 hours of community service with senior citizens.

They will be able to reapply to middle school after they complete the discipline.

In a statement, the school system said each of the students involved admitted wrongdoing, accepted the consequences and agreed to let the district publicly release the terms of their disciplinary action.

The cellphone video posted online by a fellow student drew millions of viewers. The video shows Ms. Klein trying her best to ignore a stream of profanity, insults and outright threats.

One student taunted: “You don’t have a family because they all killed themselves because they don’t want to be near you.”

Ms. Klein’s oldest son killed himself 10 years ago.

Eventually, Ms. Klein appears to break down in tears.

A fund drive that began with a goal of $5,000 to help Ms. Klein take a nice vacation raised more than $667,000 as of Friday.

UTAH

Officer falls to death during rescue effort

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah Highway Patrol trooper fell to his death in a search-and-rescue mission near Salt Lake City.

Sheriff Jim Winder of the Unified Police says Trooper Aaron Beesley fell from a 90-foot cliff Saturday during the rescue of two stranded teenage hikers on Mount Olympus.

No one saw the fall that killed the 13-year Patrol veteran.

Sheriff Winder says a rescue helicopter located the hikers and carried them to safety, while the 34-year-old Trooper Beesley was left behind on the ground.

The helicopter returned but was unable to locate the trooper. Sheriff Winder told reporters at a news conference late Saturday night that searchers found him a short while later at the bottom of the cliff.

Officials say Trooper Beesley apparently was trying to retrieve his backpack when he lost his footing and plunged to his death.

Sheriff Winder says the married father of three children “died in the line of duty while engaged in a heroic effort.”

MISSISSIPPI

Southern state’s law to ban abortion clinics

JACKSON — A new Mississippi law taking effect this weekend could soon make it the only state without an abortion clinic.

Critics say the law would force women to drive hours across the state line to obtain a constitutionally protected procedure, or could even force some to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and other top officials say limiting the number of abortions is exactly what they want.

The state’s only abortion clinic is asking a federal judge to temporarily block the law from taking effect Sunday. So far, that hasn’t happened.

The law says anyone performing abortions at the clinic must be an OB-GYN with privileges to admit patients to a local hospital. The clinic contends the admitting-privileges requirement is designed to force it out of business.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

MASSACHUSETTS

Saudi in fatal crash wants warrant tossed

BOSTON — A member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family wants a federal judge in the U.S. to throw out an arrest warrant issued after he violated his probation.

Bader al-Saud pleaded guilty in Massachusetts in 2005 to misdemeanor motor-vehicle homicide after admitting killing a man with his sport utility vehicle in Boston in 2002 while he was under the influence of alcohol.

Mr. Al-Saud served more than seven months in jail. Upon his release, he was escorted to Logan International Airport by federal officials and left the country.

According to the Boston Herald, Mr. al-Saud’s attorneys say in court papers filed Thursday that his 2006 departure from the U.S. relieved him of the responsibility to fulfill his probation.

He left the country voluntarily rather than face deportation. It’s unclear whether Mr. al-Saud intends to return to the United States. Efforts by the newspaper to reach his attorneys were unsuccessful.

CALIFORNIA

Bicyclist in famous ride dies after crash

FRESNO — A Southern California man taking part in what is considered one of America’s most grueling bicycle rides has been killed after he lost control of his bicycle and hit a tree.

Authorities say Nicola Grossi, of La Mesa, was riding downhill on a road near Shaver Lake in Fresno County when he lost control of his bicycle on a curve, went off an embankment and hit the tree around 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

California Highway Patrol officers, deputies and paramedics tried to render medical aid, but Mr. Grossi died at the scene.

He was taking part in the ride known as the Climb to Kaiser.

The event’s website says the ride, which begins in Clovis, is 155 miles long and requires 13,500 feet of climbing, though shorter 62- and 100-mile routes are also offered.

FLORIDA

Palfrey ends swim amid strong current

KEY WEST — A support-team member says endurance swimmer Penny Palfrey has ended her effort to become the first woman to swim unassisted from Cuba to the Florida Keys, about three quarters of the way along.

Andrea Woodburn, one of the team members, says Ms. Palfrey halted her effort early Sunday about 26 miles south of Key West because of a strong ocean current.

Ms. Woodburn says she was in contact with Ms. Palfrey’s boat and was told the swimmer had gotten out of the water right around midnight EDT. Ms. Woodburn says the British-born Australian is fine, but gave no further details.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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