American Scene: Charges against Muslim cleric dismissed by judge

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CHARLESTON — A former superintendent at a West Virginia mine where 29 miners died in a 2010 explosion has been sentenced to nearly two years in prison on a federal conspiracy charge.

Gary May received the sentence of 21 months and a $20,000 fine Thursday in federal court in Beckley. May has cooperated with prosecutors in their continuing criminal investigation of the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine.

He admitted to charges that he defrauded the government through actions such as disabling a methane gas monitor and falsifying records.

A plea hearing is set next month for former longtime Massey Energy executive David Hughart, who’s accused of two federal conspiracy charges. Mr. Hughart’s cooperation has been viewed as a sign that authorities may be gathering evidence to target officials further up the Massey hierarchy.

UTAH

Avalanche survivor recalls feeling of ‘strange serenity’

SALT LAKE CITY — A 43-year-old Utah woman who survived an avalanche says she felt a ‘strange serenity’ while trapped under the snow before she went unconscious.

Elisabeth Malloy suffered frost bite in her toes and fingers but lived to tell her harrowing story thanks to her boyfriend, avalanche rescue beacons, a skier wandering by and avalanche rescue teams.

During a Wednesday news conference, Ms. Malloy and Adam Morrey said they are lucky to be alive. They said they were back-country skiing in the mountains east of Salt Lake City on Saturday when they triggered and were engulfed by a 700-foot wide avalanche.

Mr. Morrey found Ms. Malloy using avalanche rescue beacons, dug her up and did CPR to save her. Another skier helped them down the mountain, and a rescue helicopter flew them to safety.

CALIFORNIA

SUV plunges into apartment pool

MERCED — A California woman is OK after crashing her SUV into an apartment complex swimming pool.

Merced police say 69-year-old Pamela Gwyn was in her Chevy Blazer on a city street Wednesday when for an unknown reason she failed to make a right turn and lost control of the vehicle.

The SUV went through a wrought iron fence outside the apartment complex and continued about 50 feet before landing in the pool.

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