- - Wednesday, July 4, 2012

NEW YORK

NEW ROCHELLE — A casino bus careened out of control outside New York City on Wednesday, sending 24 people to the hospital with minor injuries and recalling a collision last year that killed 15 casino-goers just two miles up the road, authorities said.

It appeared the driver had been going too fast for the wet conditions, said New York State Police Sgt. John Maasz. The bus company, Star Tag Inc., has received four citations for unsafe driving in the last two years and every recorded inspection resulted in vehicle maintenance violations. Most recently, in May, authorities caught one of its motor coaches going at least 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The bus was on an early morning route from Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut to Chinatown in Queens when it struck a center median barrier on Interstate 95 in New Rochelle, veered right over three lanes, then slid about 500 feet along an outer barrier before stopping.

Charges were not immediately filed, pending an investigation, Sgt. Maasz said. Of the 24 people on board, the driver, who was ejected from the bus, was the most seriously injured. All were sent to hospitals, but none had serious injuries.

The accident happened about two miles south of the site of the March 2011 crash that killed 15 people on a bus bound for New York City’s other Chinatown - the one in Manhattan. At that time, about 30,000 Chinese New Yorkers were boarding discount buses traveling from Chinatown to casinos each week.

HAWAII

State fines Navy $80K for hazardous waste

PEARL HARBOR — Hawaii’s health department has cited the U.S. Navy for hazardous waste and used oil violations.

The state Department of Health said Tuesday it issued a violation notice with an $80,000 fine against the U.S. Navy Public Works Center Makalapa Compound in Pearl Harbor.

Health officials say the base yard compound violated the state’s hazardous waste and used oil rules by disposing of corrosive waste and solvents in the trash instead of handling them as hazardous waste. Another violation involves storing hazardous waste paints and fuels in open containers.

The violations were discovered during a route inspection in August 2011.

Navy Region Hawaii spokeswoman Agnes Tauyan said the Navy has taken corrective action, provided refresher training, and increased internal reviews to ensure compliance.

The Navy has formally requested a hearing to contest the violation notice.

FLORIDA

Lifeguard fired for rescue outside beach zone

HALLANDALE BEACH — Lifeguard Tomas Lopez helped save a drowning man and got fired for it.

The reason: He left the section of a South Florida beach his company is paid to patrol. The Orlando-based company, Jeff Ellis and Associates, said Mr. Lopez broke a company rule and could have put beach-goers in his section in jeopardy.

The (South Florida) Sun Sentinel reported that Mr. Lopez was on duty Monday at Hallandale Beach when a beach-goer asked for help. Mr. Lopez said he ran to assist a man struggling in the water south of his post.

By the time Mr. Lopez arrived, witnesses had pulled the drowning man out of the water. Mr. Lopez and an off-duty nurse helped him until paramedics arrived. The victim survived and was hospitalized.

Afterward, Mr. Lopez was fired.

Two other lifeguards have quit in protest.

ILLINOIS

Train derails; bridge collapses

NORTHBROOK — A Union Pacific spokesman said Wednesday a freight train derailed and a bridge over a stretch of road collapsed in the northern Chicago suburbs.

Mark Davis said four cars of a 138-car freight train derailed at about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday. He said the three-engine train was carrying coal from an eastern Wyoming mine to a utility in Wisconsin.

Mr. Davis said no injuries were reported but some dry vegetation in the area caught fire.

He said the incident happened on a rail line not used by Chicago commuter services.

Union Pacific is investigating the cause of the derailment.

ALASKA

Weather, not limitations, end Mount McKinley climb

ANCHORAGE — Five men all severely wounded in war, including four who had amputations, had to abandon their climb of North America’s tallest peak, but they say it was weather and not their disabilities that ended the summit attempt.

The five men descended Alaska’s Mount McKinley on Monday. The climb of the 20,320-foot mountain started June 11.

They spent nine days waiting out weather at the 14,200-foot level. On Saturday, they again attempted to make 16,200 feet but were turned back by a blizzard.

The expedition was also close to running out of food and time on their climbing permits, factors that led to the decision to end the attempt.

Climber Stephen Martin, 42, isn’t calling it defeat; he calls his encounter with Mount McKinley a tie. “I took everything it could give me, we just ran out of time,” he said Tuesday by telephone from his home in Phoenix.

There were two double leg amputees and two above-the-knee amputees on the climb. All were wounded in wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan. The climb was organized by Disabled Sports USA and its Warfighter Sports program.

PENNSYLVANIA

Smoking banned in public housing

ALLENTOWN — Residents of public housing in one eastern Pennsylvania city will have to light up outside beginning this week as a smoking ban goes into effect, only the second such ban by a public housing authority in the commonwealth

The Allentown Housing Authority’s ban, which applies to all of its more than 1,200 housing units and common areas, doesn’t bar residents from smoking but requires that they do so at least 10 feet from an entrance at all authority buildings.

Daniel Farrell, authority executive director, told reporters Tuesday that he thought the ban would be “a win for everyone.”

“This will create a better environment because it will eliminate the problem of secondhand smoke and it will make our buildings safer in respect to fire hazards,” he said, according to the Allentown Morning Call. “It also saves the authority money on rehabbing the units when someone leaves.”

Not everyone, however, has been won over by the idea.

“I pay rent. How you going to tell me what I can do in my own place?” said Marx Corredor, 35, whose fiancee lives in the Little Lehigh housing development, as he took another draw of his cigarette in the parking lot. “It feels like jail.”

An authority survey indicates that 37 percent of residents in the housing units are smokers.

ARIZONA

Profiling lawsuit against Arpaio set for July 19

PHOENIX — A trial will begin as scheduled July 19 in a racial profiling lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio after the judge who will decide the case rejected Tuesday handing the matter to another judge.

The question of whether U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow should stay on the case had raised the possibility of pushing back the trial until after the November election in which Sheriff Arpaio is seeking a sixth term.

Judge Snow raised the possibility of his recusal in mid-June after lawyers who are pressing the lawsuit on behalf of a small group of Hispanics had learned that the judge’s brother-in-law, Keith Teel, is a partner in the firm for which they work. Mr. Teel isn’t a lawyer in the racial profiling case and is an insurance, patent and product liability litigator who works out of the firm’s office in Washington.

The lawsuit alleges that officers based some traffic stops on the race of people in the vehicles and made the stops so they could inquire about their immigration status.

Sheriff Arpaio denies the racial profiling allegation, saying people pulled over in the sweeps were approached because deputies had probable cause to believe they had committed crimes.

During the patrols known as sweeps, deputies flood an area of a city - in some cases, heavily Hispanic areas - over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders.

UTAH

Mayor to residents: Save or shave 18-inch mustache

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah mayor has put all 18 inches of his handlebar mustache up for a vote.

Residents of the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray voted Wednesday by giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down sign during the annual Fourth of July parade on whether Mayor Dan Snarr saves it or shaves it. City officials were reviewing tape Wednesday night to determine the number of votes along the 2 1/2-mile route.

Mr. Snarr’s wife had been campaigning to shave it by carrying a giant pair of wooden scissors during the parade to convince voters.

Mr. Snarr has been growing the facial hair for the past 31 months and fine-tuning it by firming and freezing the white strands.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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