- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2004


Oil well firefighter dies at 89

HOUSTON — Oil field firefighter Paul N. “Red” Adair, who was instrumental in capping Kuwaiti oil wells set ablaze by Iraq in 1991 and was immortalized by John Wayne in a movie based on his exploits, has died at age 89.

Mr. Adair, who once boasted that none of his employees had suffered a serious injury fighting hundreds of dangerous well fires worldwide, died Saturday of natural causes at a Houston hospital, said his daughter, Robyn Adair.

Mr. Adair revolutionized the science of snuffing and controlling wells spewing high-pressure jets of oil and gas, using explosives, water cannons, bulldozers, drilling mud and concrete.


Mother of twins leaves one, briefly

NEW YORK — For the first time since her twin sons were born joined at the head in 2002, the boys’ mother had to decide yesterday which one she should stay with.

Carl Aguirre, who was separated from brother Clarence last week in a 17-hour operation at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, was taken from his room for a routine CT scan.

“This is the first time he’s leaving his brother alone,” said their mother, Arlene Aguirre, according to hospital spokesman Steve Osborne.

A nurse reported that Mrs. Aguirre looked perplexed, “like she didn’t know which boy to stay with,” Mr. Osborne said. She decided to go with Carl for the test, leaving her mother with Clarence.

Dr. David Staffenberg, the boys’ plastic surgeon, said they are recovering so well that sedation, which keeps them from moving too much, could be lightened today.


Hiker says he axed grizzly

ANCHORAGE — Officials closed a backcountry area of Denali National Park after a hiker told rangers he had driven off an attacking grizzly bear by burying his ice ax in the animal’s back.

Park Service spokeswoman Kris Fister said Roberto Cataldo, 29, of Modena, Italy, reported the encounter last week. A 50-square-mile tract that encompasses the area where Mr. Cataldo said he had hiked was closed indefinitely.

Miss Fister said much of what Mr. Cataldo told rangers has not been corroborated, but the park had to take protective measures. A wounded bear “poses a threat to anyone going into the area,” she said Thursday.

Mr. Cataldo was treated for scratches on his left forearm Tuesday and was questioned by Park Service rangers.


Court upholds webcam ban

PHOENIX — A federal appeals panel on Friday upheld a lower court’s decision to stop cameras from transmitting live video of Maricopa County Jail inmates to the Internet.

One of the judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the practice “constitutes a level of humiliation that almost anyone would regard as profoundly undesirable.”

The ruling came on an appeal by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who challenged a U.S. District Court judge’s decision to stop the cameras.

Judge Earl Carroll’s preliminary injunction in March 2003 prohibited the video feed until resolution of a lawsuit claiming the cameras violate 14th Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection.


Thieves’ false boxes take night deposits

EUREKA SPRINGS — Police in Arkansas and Missouri say someone has discovered a deceptively easy way to steal money with the help of their victims.

The thieves apparently install a false box over bank night depositories and watch while unsuspecting customers drop in cash. Officers say the ruse has been used in Eureka Springs and Branson, Mo.

Eureka Springs Police Chief Earl Hyatt said the customers were bamboozled.

“Each one said, ‘Well, it looks strange,’ but they thought maybe they were fixing” the night depository, he said.


Chore keeps woman from harm’s way

CLEARWATER — A pile of dirty clothes may have saved Beauty Harvey’s life last week.

Because of a recent hospital stay, Miss Harvey hadn’t been able to do her laundry. So instead of sitting on her front porch as usual Thursday afternoon, she was washing clothes.

That was when a speeding 1981 Ford Crown Victoria veered off the road, mowed down a street sign and mailbox, snapped a utility pole, and smashed into Miss Harvey’s front porch. The plastic chair in which Miss Harvey usually sits was crushed under the car.

“I had just left,” said Miss Harvey, 68. Police told the St. Petersburg Times they plan to charge the driver with reckless driving.


Americans don’t mind jury duty, poll finds

ATLANTA — People want to serve on juries and would prefer to have jury trials if ever in court, according to a poll that surprised some leaders of the nation’s largest lawyers organization.

Three-quarters of the people surveyed by the American Bar Association disagreed with the notion that jury service is a hardship to be dodged.

Robert Grey Jr., a Richmond attorney who becomes the 400,000-member group’s president tomorrow, said that despite the findings, courts report low response rates for people called to jury duty.

He named a commission to promote jury service and a separate panel to work on standards to make service easier.


Priest questioned about former volunteer

SOUTH PORTLAND — A Roman Catholic priest has been suspended while the Portland Diocese investigates his involvement with a former church volunteer charged with sexual assault.

Parishioners at two churches learned yesterday that the diocese is investigating the Rev. Paul Coughlin’s relationship with a man who once served as a youth minister.

The volunteer, John Skinner, was recently indicted on a charge of sexually assaulting a teenager from 1990 to 1994 while youth minister at St. Mary of Lourdes in Lincoln.

“This is an ethical issue with the church, and we want to know when did Father Coughlin know that there was a complaint against John Skinner,” diocese spokeswoman Sue Bernard said. “We’re trying to find out what he knew and when he knew it.”


Drug arrests rise nearly 40 percent

JACKSON — Drug arrests in Mississippi are running 39 percent higher than they were during the same period a year ago, state officials say.

Gov. Haley Barbour attributed the increase to changes made earlier this year in an attempt to streamline state law enforcement operations by having more coordination between the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and the state Bureau of Narcotics.


Strike shuts down public transportation

BILLINGS — Frustrated by stalled contract talks, more than 350 municipal employees walked off the job Saturday, closing libraries and idling public transportation.

Union leaders warned of a strike after members narrowly rejected a three-year contract offer earlier in the week.

“I feel our hand was forced,” said Les Kutzler, a bus driver who joined other sign-toting members of Teamsters Local 190 on the picket line. The union also represents library and sanitation workers, as well as airport police.

Rick Harden, Billings’ human resources manager, said no immediate talks with the union were scheduled.

Billings officials sought to ensure that essential services were available. At Billings Logan International Airport, police and fire supervisors remained on the job. The city obtained a court order late Friday preventing 911 dispatchers from walking off the job.


Daughter sues over towel in chest

CANTON — The daughter of a woman whose surgeon left a rolled-up towel inside her chest have filed a lawsuit against the clinic where the surgery was performed.

Bonnie Valle often complained about an odd feeling in her chest in the years after a procedure at the Cleveland Clinic, family members said.

Doctors told Mrs. Valle the symptoms reflected the progression of her emphysema and that the benefits of the surgery would not last forever, said her daughter, Jeanne Clark.

When she died in June 2002, a day after her 60th birthday, she donated her body to the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. During dissection, a faculty member discovered a green surgical cloth the size of a hand towel behind her left lung.

Mrs. Clark has filed a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages against the clinic and her mother’s Canton-based physician, Jeffrey Miller. The lawsuit contends that the towel produced costly complications and ultimately caused her mother’s death.


Gun mishap wounds ego

BRISTOW — Drew Patterson wanted to protect himself after hearing reports of a fugitive in this northeastern Oklahoma community.

He didn’t think he would end up nursing a sore rear end.

Mr. Patterson’s .22-caliber pistol, hooked into the waistband of his denim shorts with the hammer pulled back, fired, hitting Mr. Patterson in the left buttock Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. Patterson, 27, said he suffered “one of my most embarrassing moments” when his gun fired.

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