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American Scene: One dead, one missing in oil-platform explosion

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NEW ORLEANS — As crews searched Sunday for a worker still missing after an oil platform explosion and fire that killed one of his colleagues, doctors said one of four other men injured in the blaze is improving and is now in fair condition.

Two remained in critical condition and one in serious condition, doctors said.

The company that owns the platform that caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico vowed Sunday to keep searching for a second worker still missing after a body was found in about 30 feet of water near one leg of the platform.

At Baton Rouge General Medical Center's burn unit, Wilberto Ilagan, 50, of the Philippines, told Dr. Jeffrey Littleton that he wanted to send a message, according to a news release Sunday.

It was, "To my relatives, to my family, and to my country, I am alive and in good health. I am burned, but my heart and lungs are healthy."

The Philippine Embassy in Washington has said all the workers are from the Philippines.

NEW YORK

Prosecutor admits he acted in 1970s porn films

CORTLAND — A district attorney in upstate New York has admitted that he acted in pornographic movies in the 1970s then lied when questioned about it during his second campaign.

Mark Suben, the D.A. in Cortland County near Syracuse since 2008, held a news conference Friday to say he had lied about his past in the days before this year's election.

"Recently materials have been circulated alleging that I was involved in the adult film industry about 40 years ago in New York. Those allegations are true," he said. "I was an actor in adult films for a short period in the early '70s. I was also an actor in other venues, including off Broadway, soap operas and commercial advertisements."

He apologized for his actions and said he used "bad judgment" by acting in porn and by lying about it. He said he would not resign.

Gun in shopkeeper death used in two other killings

NEW YORK — Police are searching for any further links in the deaths of three New York City shopkeepers who were shot by the same gun.

All three victims were of Middle Eastern descent. Their stores are within a five-mile radius, and none of them have surveillance cameras.

The latest shooting death came Friday, when 78-year-old Rahmatollah Vahidipour was killed at his store, She She, in Brooklyn's Flatbush section. He suffered gunshot wounds to the head and torso, police said.

Police said the same gun was used in the deaths of two other Brooklyn shopkeepers over the summer but said they don't know the motive behind any of the killings.

OHIO

Son of Madoff accountant becomes case's latest suicide

COLUMBUS — Authorities say the son of Bernard Madoff's longtime accountant, who pleaded guilty to securities fraud in the scandal centered on the financier, committed suicide in central Ohio.

Police say 23-year-old Jeremy Friehling was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his Columbus apartment last week. He was a second-year student at Ohio State's medical school.

Franklin County's coroner says there's no indication that the Madoff scandal had anything to do with Mr. Friehling's suicide. Police say he left a note but they would not give details about it.

His father, Madoff accountant David Friehling, pleaded guilty in New York in 2009 to securities fraud charges and awaits sentencing. David Friehling's attorney says the family declines to comment.

Madoff's son hanged himself in 2010 in his New York apartment.

TEXAS

Crash probe says truck began to cross tracks as bells rang

MIDLAND — The truck being used as a parade float when it was hit by a train in West Texas resulting in the deaths of four U.S. military veterans was donated for the event, organizers said Sunday.

Investigators say the truck began crossing the train tracks even though warning bells were sounding and lights were flashing. It was the second of two parade floats filled with wounded war veterans. The first float had already cleared the tracks when the accident happened.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a timeline of the accident Saturday, based on information from cameras and data recorders.

"Once the crossing becomes active, people should stop," lead investigator Robert Accetta with the NTSB said.

However, some Midland residents said they think the signal time is too short. They say the guardrails aren't completely down by the time a train comes whizzing by.

"The signals come on, and the arms go down, but before they are fully down, the train is already at the intersection," said Mark Thomas, who lives blocks from the track and says he crosses it daily.

 

MISSOURI

Suspect in 'Twilight' plot had been detained before

KANSAS CITY — A southwest Missouri man who confessed this week to plotting to shoot up a "Twilight" showing and a Wal-Mart store was detained in 2009 after threatening a store clerk, police said at the weekend.

Bolivar Police Chief Steve Hamilton said Saturday that Blaec Lammers, 20, of Bolivar, followed a female clerk around a Wal-Mart store in 2009, threatening her. He wasn't charged, but was committed for 96 hours for a mental health examination. Mr. Lammers, whose mother turned him in Thursday, faces three felony charges in the shooting plot.

In Missouri, hospitals, law enforcement officials and private citizens can request a person be held against their will for up to 96 hours if he appears to be a threat to himself or others.

"It looks like everything was done appropriately at that time," Chief Hamilton said. "The average person will look at it and say 'Why was he not charged criminally?' And the reality is the law only allows so much when a person is having some mental issues."

Mr. Lammers was charged Friday with first-degree assault, making a terroristic threat and armed criminal action. He is jailed in Polk County on $500,000 bond.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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