- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2000

Crash investigators say pilot was showing off

An Air Force Reserve pilot who died when his jet slammed into the ground in August was showing off for his in-laws, investigators said yesterday.

Maj. Stephen Simons was flying an F-16C over his in-laws' farm near Tulia, Texas, on Aug. 28 when he attempted a loop. He miscalculated his altitude, speed and dive angle and was unable to pull out of the loop, Air Force investigators said.

"There is clear and convincing evidence that the cause of the mishap was pilot error," they said in a report. "The [pilot] breached flight discipline in attempting to execute the unauthorized acrobatic maneuvers."

Maj. Simons, assigned to the 457th Fighter Squadron, 301st Fighter Wing at Fort Worth Naval Air Station in Texas, was returning the jet from Hill Air Force Base near Ogden, Utah, where it had been taken for maintenance.

Advisers urge approval of breast cancer pill

A large international study found a drug called Femara may fight advanced breast cancer a little better than today's top treatment, prompting government advisers yesterday to recommend approving the pill as a first-line option.

The move signals a possible shift in care of late-stage breast cancer, as a new class of drugs starts to challenge the longtime standard therapy, the drug tamoxifen.

The study provides "fairly compelling data" that Femara "is at least equivalent to tamoxifen and possibly superior," said Dr. George Sledge, an Indiana University cancer expert and adviser to the Food and Drug Administration.

In a study of 907 postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer, Femara provided a median of 3.6 more months before tumors worsened than did tamoxifen. Overall, the risk of disease worsening was 30 percent less among Femara patients than tamoxifen patients, FDA medical officers concluded. The study is continuing to determine whether Femara or tamoxifen helped women live longer.

Man sentenced for brick attack

NEW YORK A New York man was sentenced yesterday to the maximum of 25 years in prison for bashing a Texas woman in the head with a pavement brick in broad daylight in midtown Manhattan last year.

Paris Drake, 36, was convicted last month of assault and weapons possession for attacking Nicole Barrett, 28, with a six-pound brick on Nov. 16, 1999. The attack led to a crackdown on the homeless by crime-fighting New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani after Drake was initially incorrectly described by authorities as homeless.

Man shot and killed by sheriff's deputy

CLEVELAND, Tenn. A Marine recruiter apparently fatally stabbed his son and daughter because he wanted to "pay back mom," then was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy.

Tracy Thacker, 39, had removed the 5-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl from school on Tuesday morning, writing on a sign-out sheet that he was taking them "to pay back mom."

The retired Marine and his wife, Holli, were separated and planning to divorce, authorities said. She was not home when the deaths occurred.

Subway 'pusher' gets 25 years in prison

NEW YORK A homeless New Yorker convicted of pushing another man in front of a New York City subway train was sentenced yesterday to spend 25 years in prison.

Julio Perez, 44, was found guilty of attempted murder and assault in the April 28, 1999, incident that caused victim Edgar Rivera to lose both of his legs.

Perez, who has a long history of mental illness, had pleaded not guilty "by reason of mental disease or defect" but the jury in October rejected his claim and convicted him instead.

Later, outside the courtroom, Mr. Rivera, who has become an advocate for improved treatment for mentally ill people, told reporters he forgave his attacker.

In sentencing Perez to the maximum punishment, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge James Yates addressed his remarks to the victim, telling Mr. Rivera he was one of the most admirable people he has ever met who is "making the best opportunity of an adverse situation."

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