- - Thursday, July 26, 2012

NEW HAMPSHIRE

CONCORD — Health officials across the country are scrambling to identify and test thousands of patients who may have been exposed to hepatitis C from a traveling medical technician facing criminal charges in New Hampshire.

About 4,700 people in New Hampshire alone have been asked to get tested.

David Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing anesthetic drugs from Exeter Hospital and contaminating syringes that were later used on patients. Thirty of them have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C that he carries.

Health officials have confirmed that Mr. Kwiatkowski held temporary jobs in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania before being hired in New Hampshire in March 2011. The staffing agency that hired him declined to comment Thursday.

NEVADA

Tourism panel OKs air race sponsorship

RENO — The state tourism commission has agreed to a $600,000 sponsorship of the National Championship Air Races to make sure the 49th annual competition goes forward in Reno in September.

Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday in support of the money that air race organizers say they needed to make a final insurance payment. The insurance premium jumped from $300,000 to $2 million after last year’s crash that killed 11 people and injured more than 70.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who chairs the tourism commission, says the details of the sponsorship will be negotiated in the coming weeks.

Mr. Krolicki says the air races are important not only to northern Nevada but the entire state because of their significant economic impact and the worldwide exposure of the region they generate.

PENNSYLVANIA

Man gets 5 years for pilgrimage trip scam

PHILADELPHIA — A suburban Philadelphia man is heading to federal prison for bilking devout customers out of more than $400,000 by promising Holy Land trips that never happened.

A federal judge ordered John Baird, 74, to spend five years in prison for ripping off mostly elderly people who thought they were buying trips to Christian pilgrimage sites.

Prosecutors say the Elkins Park man ran the scheme from 2004 to 2007 as operator of Christian Pilgrim Tours. He promised trips and even an audience with the pope only to cancel the tours after getting paid in advance.

Baird blamed legal advisers for his business problems but U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson rejected that excuse, saying Baird preyed on the vulnerable.

Baird was also ordered to repay his victims about $410,000.

LOUISIANA

Christening set for ship named for 9/11 site

NEW ORLEANS | The USS Somerset, which will be christened Saturday, is the last of three Navy ships named for 9/11 attack sites and embodies many reminders of that fateful day.

It can attack in war and rescue people in disaster and it’s made with steel from a huge mining crane that became an icon for the Pennsylvania field where one plane came down, said Patrick White, president of the Flight 93 Families organization.

Mr. White will be among the speakers Saturday at the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in suburban Avondale when the Somerset, the last of three Navy ships named for 9/11 attack sites, is christened. It is named for the Pennsylvania county where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after passengers rushed the hijackers in the cockpit, killing all 40 passengers and crew members.

The $1.2 billion Somerset is the last of three amphibious landing dock ships named after the places where planes seized by terrorists crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

CALIFORNIA

12-year-old boy’s pelvis crushed by falling tree

PESCADERO — A 12-year-old boy is hospitalized in critical condition after a tree fell on him at a California campground, crushing his pelvis.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported the boy was sharing a tent with another boy in a San Mateo County park when the 40-foot oak tree fell on them before dawn Wednesday.

Assistant County Manager David Holland says the boy was taken to an intensive care unit in critical condition. The other boy suffered minor cuts and bruises.

The tree’s branches hit the family’s other tents, but no one else was seriously hurt.

There were signs of rot in the tree, but officials say the outward appearance of the tree didn’t indicate there was a danger.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports