- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003


Panel to probe wing crash

HONOLULU — The National Aeronautics and Space Administration named a team of five scientists and engineers to investigate the crash of an unmanned, solar-powered flying-wing plane that went down in the Pacific Ocean.

The Helios Prototype crashed Thursday near the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands about 30 minutes after taking off. The investigators will spend this week on Kauai trying to figure out what went wrong when the remotely piloted, $15 million aircraft broke up and crashed.

Helios was traveling at about 21 mph at 3,000 feet during the flight test of an experimental fuel-cell system for a two-day endurance mission that had been set for next month.


Balloonist abandons flight

BOSTON — A British explorer scrapped his second attempt at crossing the Atlantic Ocean in an open-basket, hot-air balloon yesterday and landed on a farm 31 hours after lifting off from a baseball field in the Pittsburgh area.

Changing wind had forced David Hempleman-Adams, 46, to land near Hardwick, Mass., shortly after 5 a.m. A weather system coming over Canada would have stretched his five- or six-day trip into 11, potentially ending his journey in the middle of the ocean.

“Quite frankly, there was no way you could do it,” he said yesterday.


Demolition worker dies in building collapse

MOBILE — An eight-story building set to be razed collapsed, killing a demolition worker, authorities said.

Darrel Sallas was weakening girders with blowtorches Saturday at the base of an abandoned building owned by BASF Corp., said Lt. David Hill of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department.

The building began collapsing while Mr. Sallas and four other men were inside, Lt. Hill said. All the men except Mr. Sallas were able to escape.


Inmate granted unemployment benefits

LITTLE ROCK — An inmate who lost his job when he transferred from one prison unit to another will receive unemployment benefits based on an order handed down by the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

The court scolded the Board of Review for denying Kirk Rankin unemployment benefits after he lost his work-release job at a Blytheville steel mill when he was transferred for his eventual parole.


2 die in knife attack at grocery store

IRVINE — A man wielding what appeared to be a large knife or sword killed two persons and injured three at an Albertson’s supermarket yesterday before police fatally shot him, authorities said.

Shoppers fled the store as police went in to find the man shortly after 9:30 a.m., said Irvine Police Lt. Jeff Love. The suspect confronted an officer inside the store before police shot him, Lt. Love said.


Company charged in refinery explosion

DOVER — A company has been charged with criminally negligent homicide and misdemeanor assault in connection with a fatal tank explosion at an oil refinery two years ago, authorities said last week.

The homicide charge was not leveled at individual employees of Motiva Enterprises but at the company, which, as a corporate entity, faces a maximum fine of $11,500. Unlike the more serious charge of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide does not imply reckless conduct.

Investigators documented years of lapses in safety and maintenance that preceded the explosion and collapse of a sulfuric acid tank at Motiva’s refinery.


Tropical storm forms in Gulf of Mexico

MIAMI — The second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season formed yesterday in the Gulf of Mexico, and storm watches were issued for parts of the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

Tropical Storm Bill had sustained wind of 40 mph and was centered about 460 miles south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas, yesterday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said.

Some strengthening was expected, but the storm was not forecast to become a hurricane before it reaches land.


Wildlife authorities seize rare animals

DETROIT — State and federal wildlife officials seized hundreds of rare and endangered turtles and snakes in raids during the weekend aimed at breaking up what was suspected to be one of the nation’s largest networks of illegal reptile and amphibian sales.

The morning raids in Ohio, Indiana and southern Michigan followed a two-year investigation by the states’ departments of natural resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, officials said.

The ring had been under observation for more than a decade, and the break came when investigators managed to infiltrate the group by posing as dealers, trappers and customers, officials said.

At least 50 persons in the three states are expected to be charged, officials said.


Freight cars roll away from rail yard

NORTH PLATTE — Union Pacific Railroad, facing criticism after a runaway train in California derailed and injured 13 persons, is investigating how 70 freight cars rolled away from a Nebraska rail yard days later.

The cars rolled five miles out of the switching yard unconnected to an engine last week, Union Pacific spokesman John Bromley said. No one was hurt, and none of the rail cars was damaged.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators said the train disaster last week began when railroad workers failed to set hand brakes on the cars, as required, before air brakes were disconnected.


Bridal shop wants a jump on fleas

NEW YORK — Here come the fleas. A Brooklyn bridal shop temporarily closed last week after employees reported that fleas were biting women trying on wedding dresses.

David’s Bridal first discovered the problem early last month and sent an exterminator the next day, said a spokesman for the national chain of 186 stores.

“It came up again a few days ago, and late last night we shut it down and sent people to assess the problem,” spokesman Gary Schwartz said. “We will not open or give garments to customers until we are satisfied everything is OK.”


Student in trouble gets unexpected support

OXFORD — A Miami University student who got into trouble for sending a hoax e-mail about classes being canceled for a day has received some unexpected support.

University President James Garland told senior Ben Field in an e-mail that he would make a “modest contribution” of $10 to the student’s legal fund, university spokeswoman Holly Wissing said.

“I admire your spirit and willingness to take responsibility for your misdeeds. Best of luck and look forward to seeing you at graduation,” the e-mail read.

The 22-year-old computer science major says he owes his parents about $9,000 in legal fees after sending the e-mail, under Mr. Garland’s name, to 31,000 students, faculty and staff, saying classes were canceled March 6. That is Green Beer Day, when bars open early and serve green-colored beer all day.


Poison center to close because of budget cuts

PORTLAND — The Oregon Poison Center is a source of free, potentially lifesaving information for individuals, doctors and emergency workers in three states, with a hot line that fielded nearly 70,000 calls last year alone.

But it is set to close this month, after a national trend of crippling budget cuts at such centers. Oregon Health & Science University is cutting the program owing to reduced state funding and Medicaid receipts, though an effort is under way in the state Legislative Assembly to salvage it.


Museum honoring Constitution to open

PHILADELPHIA — A national museum honoring the Constitution will open Friday, and its curators say the timing couldn’t be better for a monument to the national charter.

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is scheduled to join a list of politicians and celebrities at the July Fourth dedication of the $185 million National Constitution Center, whose glass-walled galleries will offer sweeping views of the Constitution’s birthplace, Independence Hall, three blocks to the south.

The museum was conceived more than a decade ago and was under construction for three years. The museum embraces 216 years of constitutional disputes.


Judge nixes horse as house pet

CHATTANOOGA — A federal judge refused to allow a miniature horse as a house pet for a 9-year-old born with spina bifida, saying her family must obey a city law prohibiting use of horses without a permit.

The family had argued that Tiffany Masters was so disabled she needed the horse to help her walk. They said the 140-pound horse, named Keepsake, is a service animal, similar to a guide dog. But the judge disagreed.

“The court concludes that Tiffany does not have a disability as defined by the [Americans with Disabilities Act] and she does not have a genuine need to use the horse as a service animal,” Judge R. Allan Edgar wrote.


Sierra Club highlights historic fishing holes

SPOKANE — At the end of a long day exploring the Louisiana Purchase, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark often went fishing.

Now, in using the 200th anniversary of the expedition to promote wilderness protection, the environmental group Sierra Club has produced a guide to 10 fishing spots along the Lewis and Clark Trail. Lewis and Clark ordered thousands of hooks and fishing lines and appointed Pvt. Silas Goodrich as the expedition fisherman.

“Fishing in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark is a lot more fun than reading a history textbook,” said Drew Winterer, a fishing guide in Missoula, Mont., who wrote the booklet.

The fishing holes run from the Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean. They are on the Missouri, Niobrara, Yellowstone, Jefferson, Bitterroot, Lochsa, Clearwater, Grande Ronde and Columbia rivers.

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