- - Monday, May 21, 2012

BUFFALO — A man plunged at least 180 feet Monday over Niagara Falls and survived - only the third person known to have gone over without a safety device and live.

Police say witnesses reported seeing the man climb over a railing at 10:20 a.m. Monday and “deliberately jump” into the Niagara River 20 to 30 feet above the Horseshoe Falls. He surfaced in the lower Niagara River basin near the Journey Behind the Falls observation platform.

The man, believed to be in his early 40s, was rescued about two hours after he collapsed in waist-deep water near the rocky shore. A waiting helicopter flew him to a hospital for treatment of what police said were life-threatening injuries. Police did not identify him.

Since 1901, when Annie Edson Taylor was the first person known to go over the falls and live, 17 others have replicated the feat, most by using safety devices such as Taylor’s oak barrel or the foamed-lined pickle barrel and inner tube contraption Steve Trotter used to go over in 1985.

Disputed dinosaur fossil auctioned for $1M in NYC

NEW YORK — A fossil of a fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex relative has been auctioned in New York City despite the Mongolian government’s objections and a judge’s order blocking the sale.

Heritage Auctions says the 24-foot-long tarbosaurus skeleton sold for $1,052,500 Sunday. But the sale is contingent on the outcome of the auction house’s court fight with Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia.

A Texas judge Saturday ordered the sale stopped while the case plays out.

Elbegdorj lawyer Robert Painter said Monday he’ll ask a judge to find the auction house defied the court order. A Heritage spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an email.

OSHA cites builder in collapse that killed 1

NEW YORK — Federal officials say a New York City contractor didn’t ensure a building under construction was stable before it collapsed and killed a worker and hurt four others last fall.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited SP&K Construction Monday with 11 safety violations. The Brooklyn-based company didn’t immediately return phone or email messages.

The company could face more than $77,000 in fines.

MISSOURI

Obama: Joplin’s graduates a ‘source of inspiration’

President Obama said Monday that the graduating seniors of a Missouri town devastated by deadly tornadoes are a “source of inspiration” to him and the nation.

Mr. Obama said the story of Joplin, Mo., is one of a community coming together in response to tragedy.

The president was speaking on the eve of the first anniversary of the tornado that killed 161 people. Joplin High School was destroyed and the students spent their senior year taking classes in a converted department store.

CALIFORNIA

4 arrested after man’s beating at stadium

LOS ANGELES — A driver was beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after a weekend game and four people were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, police said Monday.

The driver, a man in his 20s, was in stable condition with scrapes and cuts to his face and his injuries are not life-threatening.

The man was involved in a minor collision with another driver as he was leaving the stadium parking lot, and three men from another car also got involved, police said.

The violence comes after a Giants fan was severely injured in a beating during last year’s opening game. Bryan Stow was left brain damaged during a confrontation in the parking lot, and stadium officials had promised to increase security after the attack.

Former county appraiser charged with corruption

LOS ANGELES — Corruption charges were filed Monday against a former Los Angeles County appraiser as part of an investigation into influence-peddling claims involving the assessor’s office.

Scott Schenter, 49, was arrested in Beaverton, Ore., and charged with 60 counts, including falsifying accounts and records. If convicted, he could face up to 33 years in prison. He was being held on $1.5 million bail.

A phone listing could not be immediately found for Mr. Schenter, and it could not be determined if he had a lawyer.

Mr. Schenter is accused of unlawfully lowering property values by more than $170 million while he worked for the assessor’s office from 1988 to 2011.

He secured campaign contributions from the owners of homes and businesses for Assessor John Noguez, authorities said.

District Attorney Steve Cooley said he doesn’t believe Mr. Schenter’s actions were isolated, and the investigation is ongoing. Mr. Cooley’s investigators searched Mr. Noguez’s home and office last month. Mr. Noguez has denied any wrongdoing.

The arrest of Mr. Schenter was part of an investigation launched last year by Mr. Cooley’s public integrity unit into allegations that property values had been reduced for wealthy clients of Ramin Salari, a tax consultant and campaign contributor to Mr. Noguez.

Officials ID suspect, victim in bus shooting

LOS ANGELES — Officials on Monday identified a bus driver and the man suspected of fatally shooting him in West Hollywood over the weekend in what could be the first on-duty murder of an operator in the transit agency’s history.

Anthony Chambers, 41, of Los Angeles, was booked late Sunday on suspicion of murder and remained held on $1 million bail, sheriff’s investigators said. It wasn’t immediately known if he had retained an attorney.

No motive has been given for the shooting, which happened early Sunday when Mr. Chambers and the bus driver were believed to be the only people on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus. The shooting occurred just blocks from the route of the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race.

Rick Jager, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County transit agency, identified the driver as Alan Thomas, 51, of Los Angeles. Thomas, who was married, worked for the authority for five years, Mr. Jager said.

Authority officials said they can’t recall a murder of an on-duty driver in the agency’s nearly 20-year history or with its predecessor, Southern California Rapid Transit District.

The bus was equipped with video cameras but it was unclear if they recorded the incident.

The vehicle, which was on its regular run through a neighborhood on the busy Santa Monica Boulevard, appeared to have stopped alongside a curb just before Mr. Thomas was attacked, authorities said.

FLORIDA

Season’s first tropical storm to stay offshore

MIAMI — Alberto is holding on to tropical storm strength as it spins east off the coast of Florida.

Alberto’s maximum sustained winds were near 40 mph Monday evening with some weakening expected during the next two days.

The storm was centered about 225 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla., on Monday evening.

Alberto was moving east near 8 mph but is expected to turn northeast in the next two days before fizzling out.

TEXAS

Bomb plot suspect wears mask in court

A soldier accused of planning to bomb Fort Hood troops in a restaurant last summer wore a mask in court for the first time Monday as a jury was selected in his federal trial.

Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, who has been accused of spitting blood on authorities escorting him, wore an oval mask over his nose and mouth. Several U.S. marshals seated near him in the Texas courtroom wore protective glasses.

Abdo, a Muslim soldier who was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., is accused of planning to bomb a restaurant in Killeen that was filled with soldiers from nearby Fort Hood and then shoot any survivors.

He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

 

OHIO

Couple get engaged after running half-marathon

CLEVELAND — Two Akron residents are celebrating after their half-marathon ended up being a sort of race to the altar.

Allison Ramsey says she was “completely shocked” when her boyfriend got down on his knee to propose after they finished the Cleveland half-marathon Sunday. The Plain Dealer reports Miss Ramsey, 30, was crying but nodded yes when Nolan James Jr. popped the question.

Mr. James, 25, says proposing at the race was appropriate because the couple’s first date about a year ago started with a two-mile run.

He says carrying the engagement ring for all 13.1 miles of the race made him nervous. He says he had to keep touching his pocket to be sure he hadn’t lost it.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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