Governor Jet Skis to the rescue
BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney jumped on his Jet Ski during the holiday weekend to help save six persons and a Scottish terrier as their boat rapidly sank in a New Hampshire lake.
Mr. Romney, credited with rescuing the 2000 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics from a financial meltdown, jumped into action Saturday evening after his sons heard screams from a boat near their vacation home on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Mr. Romney and sons Craig and Josh mounted a Jet Ski each and throttled their way to the boat sinking fast about 300 yards offshore, said Jodi Charles, a spokeswoman for the governor.
The New Hampshire State Marine Patrol said other vessels joined the Romneys in the rescue.
Man, twins injured in bridge collapse
PORTLAND — A historic covered bridge suddenly collapsed, injuring a man and his 5-year-old twin grandsons as they walked across it, authorities said.
Billy Haynes, 56, and the boys, Cleo and Mickey Harvey, were hurt when the bridge, built in 1892, crumpled Sunday afternoon in Wimer, a small southern Oregon town.
Mr. Haynes was in serious condition yesterday at Providence Medical Center in Medford, and Cleo was in fair condition after surgery, a nursing supervisor said. Mickey was treated at another hospital and released.
Rise in humidity cuts wildfire danger
TUCSON — A rise in humidity calmed a wildfire burning a half-mile from an exclusive desert enclave yesterday, greatly reducing the danger to dozens of houses, officials said.
The same blaze destroyed more than 300 houses last month in and around the vacation hamlet of Summerhaven, high on Mount Lemmon. As of yesterday, the fire had burned at least 81,000 acres in the mountains north of Tucson.
Humidity between 30 percent and 50 percent extinguished flames in some areas above the homes in Ventana Canyon and cooled the fire in others, said Brad Smith, a fire-behavior analyst with the team fighting the blaze.
Firefighters used aircraft to drop water and retardant along the fire’s leading edge, but because of the change in the fire’s behavior, they dropped plans to burn away vegetation uphill from the homes.
Dog owner jailed in mauling death
RUSSELLVILLE — A man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of a woman attacked by his pit bull terriers was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison.
Prosecutors reached a plea arrangement last week with Carl Smith and his wife, Kim, in the Oct. 13, 2001, death of Carolyn Shatswell, whose mauled body was found in woods near the Smith residence.
A medical examiner found she had multiple dog bites that caused her to bleed to death. The three dogs were put to death, and their teeth matched wounds on the victim’s body.
The same judge sentenced Mrs. Smith last week to five years of probation and ordered her to pay a $1,000 fine.
Students to fight loss of homes
IRVINE — University of California at Irvine students living in Irvine Meadows Trailer Park say they will fight plans to turn their homes into a parking lot.
Students who pay $130 per month says it is the best deal around. The area has the highest average rents of any city in the country whose population is greater than 100,000.
Officials prepare to dismantle gallows
DOVER — Delaware prison officials are preparing to impose the death penalty on the state’s gallows.
Last used in 1996, the gallows at Delaware Correctional Center in Smyrna will be dismantled today, having been rendered obsolete by lethal injection and the resentencing of death-row inmate James W. Riley.
The dismantling of the gallows will leave New Hampshire and Washington as the only states in which hanging is allowed as an alternative to lethal injection.
Riley, sentenced to death in 1982 for his role in the robbery and killing of a Dover liquor-store owner, was the last prisoner in Delaware eligible for hanging. Prisoners sentenced to death prior to 1986, when lethal injection became the method of execution, have had the choice of choosing either hanging or lethal injection.
Riley refused to choose a method of execution and therefore faced hanging under his original sentence. After spending 20 years on death row, Riley, 42, was granted a retrial earlier this year. In May, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Tour bus flips after driver collapses
HONOLULU — The driver of a tour bus collapsed at the wheel and the vehicle crashed into a guardrail, flipped onto its side and slid 150 feet, injuring the driver and two dozen Japanese tourists.
The bus was returning the tourists to their hotel when the accident happened Saturday night on a highway on the outskirts of Honolulu.
The 65-year-old driver was in critical condition Sunday at the Queen’s Medical Center, and two of the passengers were in serious condition, authorities said. Twenty-two other passengers were treated for minor injuries and released.
Two passengers tried unsuccessfully to take control of the bus after the driver slumped over, police said. The bus ran off the right shoulder, hit an embankment, flipped and then slid before coming to a stop, police said.
Cat population jumps at shelter
EVANSVILLE — A bad situation has worsened at the Vanderburgh Humane Society. With the shelter already bursting at the seams with cats, workers are scrambling to find homes for 24 cats that one owner dropped off there. The group brings the total number of cats at the Humane Society and in foster care to about 90.
Shelter officials say adoptions are at a much slower pace than the incoming population this time of the year, and the result is an inevitable increase in euthanasia.
Kendall Paul, Humane Society spokeswoman, said the new cats are receiving good care and are good candidates for adoption, but they just came at the wrong time.
“They’re all nice and sweet and all have tested fine and are in good shape. We just have every cage full,” Miss Paul told the Evansville Courier and Press.
Rebound reported in bald eagle population
AUGUSTA — State wildlife biologists conducting a census of bald eagles believe the number of nesting pairs will top 300 for the first time since eagle populations were decimated by chemicals after World War II.
Maine’s population of bald eagles is the largest in the Northeast. In 2001, the state counted 269 nesting pairs.
Seventh victim of drownings found
ST. JOSEPH — The body of the last of seven swimmers who drowned along a rough, three-mile stretch of the Lake Michigan shoreline on the Fourth of July was found yesterday.
The swimmers got into trouble during a three-hour period after thunderstorms created strong riptides and an undercurrent.
The seventh body was recovered off Bethany Beach. The other victims disappeared at Warren Dunes State Park and Harbert Beach.
No lifeguards were stationed, but red flags warning swimmers to stay out of the water were flying on Friday and Saturday, and the sheriff’s department said warnings also were made over a public-address system.
Two of the persons who drowned had gone into the water to save a 12-year-old boy off Warren Dunes. The boy was rescued.
Mom faces charges in tot’s drowning
ST. PAUL — A woman was charged yesterday with murder and attempted murder for throwing her twin sons into the Mississippi River on the Fourth of July. One toddler died; the other was rescued.
Naomi Gaines, 24, also jumped into the river, shouting, “Freedom” on the way down, authorities said. She was rescued, taken to a hospital and later arrested.
She was charged with murder in the death of her 14-month-old son, Sincere Understanding Allah, and with the attempted murder of his twin brother, Supreme Knowledge Allah, who survived the 75-foot fall and was rescued from the water by an onlooker.
Neighbors and friends have described her as a sad and lonely woman. Her sister, Phyllis Chew, said Sunday that she was always a “very caring mother” but had been under “continuous and emotional distress over a long period of time.”
Temporary budget means lower tuition
DURHAM — Tuition at the University of New Hampshire will be lower than expected in the fall, thanks to a temporary budget adopted by the legislature.
Tuition for in-state students will be $3,385 for the fall semester, a 6.8 percent increase rather than the 8.8 percent announced last month. However, tuition for the spring semester isn’t set.
Interchange opens at Routes 1, 130
NORTH BRUNSWICK — Gov. James E. McGreevey presided at the opening of a $55 million interchange linking heavily traveled Routes 1 and 130. Ground was broken for the project in December 2001.
The intersection carries upward of 130,000 vehicles per day and had one of the highest accident rates in the state.
Convicted murderers escape from prison
ELMIRA — Two inmates convicted of murder escaped from a maximum-security prison early yesterday, officials said.
Guards at the Elmira Correctional Facility discovered the men, who shared a prison cell, were missing during a routine inmate count at 6:30 a.m., said Jim Flateau, spokesman for the state Department of Correctional Services.
Guards later found sheets tied together that led down an outside wall of the 1,856-bed prison, 75 miles southwest of Syracuse in the western part of the state, Mr. Flateau said.
The inmates were identified as Timothy Vail, 35, who is serving 49 years to life in the 1988 rape and murder of a pregnant secretary, Mary Kopyar; and Timothy Morgan, 26, who is serving 25 years to life for the 1998 murder of cabdriver Joseph Boop.
Between 80 and 100 law enforcement officers, including state and local police, were patrolling the highways and setting up roadblocks in the area, Mr. Flateau said.
Community spruce-up rated successful
EDGELEY — A project that offered residents and businesses here $100 each to spruce up their properties has proven successful, officials say.
Two months ago, the Edgeley Economic Development Corp. set aside $10,000 for the project. Now all the money has been spent. Residents used it for projects ranging from home upgrades and landscaping to removing junk cars.
Flooding chases residents from homes
ROCKFORD — Flooding forced some people from their homes yesterday in western Ohio and others piled sandbags after the latest in a series of storms poured heavy rain on already-saturated ground.
A line of strong thunderstorms rolled across northern Illinois, southern Michigan and northern Indiana yesterday, with wind gusts up to 70 mph in Illinois’ McHenry County. The same states were pummeled by weekend storms that knocked out power and flooded roads.
“It’s just an extremely unstable atmosphere. When it’s this hot and humid, it doesn’t take much for a storm to develop,” National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Koch said in Indiana.
More showers and thunderstorms are likely through today, the weather service said.
Fifty to 60 residents of a mobile-home park left their homes in Rockford early yesterday.
Woman thankful for noisy grandchildren
HARRISBURG — A woman traveling through Pennsylvania may never complain again about her noisy grandchildren.
Their back-seat antics may have saved her life, police said.
Patsy Harvey, of Muncie, Ind., climbed into the back seat to quiet the children as her husband, Selby, drove through Harrisburg on Saturday. Minutes later, police said, a falling log crashed through the passenger-side windshield.
“Thank God for noisy kids,” said George Drees, assistant chief of the Susquehanna Township Fire Department. “As a parent, I never thought I’d have the chance to say that.”
A tractor-trailer had overturned on a highway ramp above the interstate, sending about a dozen logs raining down on the highway, Chief Drees said. The logs weighed about 1,000 pounds each, authorities said. No other vehicles were hit.
Governor signs bill to toughen fire code
PROVIDENCE — Gov. Donald L. Carcieri signed tough new fire-safety requirements yesterday, prompted by a fire that claimed 100 lives at a Rhode Island nightclub earlier this year.
The changes include mandating sprinklers in more nightclubs and other businesses, banning pyrotechnics in all but the largest venues and increasing the authority of fire inspectors.
“I think we’re going to set the stage for what happens nationwide, to make sure this never happens again,” Mr. Carcieri said.
The blaze ripped through the Station nightclub in West Warwick on Feb. 20, sparked by a pyrotechnic display during a performance by the band Great White. The decades-old building had no sprinklers.
Town celebrates its white squirrels
KENTON — The Fourth of July holiday weekend in this western Tennessee town turned out to be about more than celebrating the nation’s birth. It was also about white squirrels.
Kenton, a town of about 1,300 residents 40 miles north of Jackson, is home to hundreds of the rare animals. To honor its unusual residents, Kenton hosted the annual White Squirrel Festival over the weekend.
“We have had this since 1985 and every year it gets bigger,” said Mayor Virginia Davidson. “The whole community looks forward to it.”
The weekend’s events included a parade, street dance and community worship service on Sunday morning.
Kenton’s colony of white squirrels is one of three known in North America. The other colonies are in Olney, Ill., and Marionville, Mo.
Cabbie pays tribute to Elvis
SEATTLE — Elvis has not entirely left the cab stand.
Cabbie Dave Groh last week lost his appeal of a $60 fine for violating the dress code for taxi drivers, but says he is determined to continue his lighthearted salute to Elvis Presley from behind the wheel.
Mr. Groh has given up his red Elvis outfit and has returned to black pants and blue shirt, but says he will continue to wear his Elvis-style cape.
“When you’ve got something going on that people love and feel strongly about, it’s easy to get caught up in their passion,” he said of the Elvis shtick. “It’s almost an obligation I feel to do this now.”
It all began three years ago, when a friend persuaded him to dress as Elvis while he worked that Halloween. The costume was a hit, so Mr. Groh started growing out his sideburns for an encore in 2001. He started reading up on his alter ego, the better to answer questions. He makes a lot more in tips than he ever did as an ordinary cabbie.
Student charged in triple homicide
MADISON — A University of Wisconsin freshman was arrested and charged with killing three men in their sleep, authorities said yesterday.
Meng-Ju Wu, 19, was charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide.
The men were found dead of gunshot wounds on June 26 after a woman looked into a window of a duplex in Verona and saw someone lying in a pool of blood. Jason C. McGuigan, 28; Daniel R. Swanson, 25; and Dustin J. Wilson, 17, were killed.
From wire dispatches and staff reports