- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004


Elderly driver plows into parishioners

LINDEN — A 72-year-old driver lost control of his car and plowed into parishioners leaving a Communion service, killing one woman and critically injuring another woman and a girl, police said.

Two other adults and four other children were hurt in the accident, which began when Andrew Pachana, who had served as an usher at the service, lost control of his car on Sunday afternoon in the parking lot at St. Theresa’s Church.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation, but no criminal charges are expected, police Lt. Bruce Taylor said.


Sheriff pleads guilty to felony, resigns

LEXINGTON — A tough-talking sheriff who dressed in paramilitary fatigues, dressed inmates in stripes and painted the jailhouse pink pleaded guilty yesterday to obstructing justice in a corruption probe and agreed to resign.

Former Davidson County Sheriff Gerald Hege will be spared jail time in a deal with prosecutors on the two felony counts. He was given a suspended six-month sentence on each count and placed on three years’ probation.

District Attorney Garry Frank had collected 113 pages of affidavits describing a sheriff who abused his office, intimidated and threatened his officers, and endangered the public through recklessness. Other reported misdeeds included misusing county money, racial profiling and ordering officers to beat inmates.


Dog takes bullet, saves cops’ lives

GRAND JUNCTION — Gero gave his life for his fellow officers.

The 5-year-old German shepherd was shot in the line of duty, taking a bullet meant for Officers Geraldine Earthman and Eric Janusz.

The two officers were responding to a call for help at an apartment building May 6 when John Martin Martinez came out of a window firing, police said. The police dog darted in front of the officers, who had no cover.

On Saturday, Gero was remembered at a full-dress funeral that reduced officers to tears. Officers came from all over the state wearing black ribbons. Officer Earthman, his handler, cradled his ashes briefly.

The dog was remembered as an animal who loved to bite.

“I’m going to miss being afraid of him,” Officer Lincoln Folkers said.


Dresses donated to military brides

WINTER PARK — Bridal shop owner Millie Harris gave away nearly 100 wedding dresses Saturday to military brides. The normal price tags ranged from $900 to $5,000.

The only requirement was that either the bride or groom must have served or will serve in Afghanistan, Iraq or the Balkans.


Study shows diabetes, Alzheimer’s link

CHICAGO — Diabetes might significantly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a study of 824 nuns, priests and Catholic brothers found, bolstering the evidence linking the two diseases.

Researchers calculated that diabetics faced a 65 percent increased risk of developing the mind-robbing disease.

Previous research has linked diabetes with memory problems, and diabetes is known to damage blood vessels that supply the brain, but studies looking specifically at diabetes and Alzheimer’s have had conflicting results.


Military jets collide; one pilot killed

OAKTOWN — Two F-16 fighter jets collided yesterday over rural Indiana, authorities said. Witnesses said one pilot was killed and the other parachuted to safety.

The jets collided over Oaktown, about 40 miles south of Terre Haute, State Police Sgt. Greg Winkler said.

Resident Lisa Hall said she heard an explosion and saw a pilot’s body in a field nearby. She and other witnesses said another pilot dropped to the ground with a parachute.

“He’s OK. He’s bleeding from facial wounds,” said Don Kirkham, a former Knox County sheriff who was mowing his lawn when he heard a noise and drove to the scene.

One of the planes went down in Illinois, said Sgt. John Waggle of the Illinois State Police department.


Analysts worried about dead ducks

WELLFLEET — Wildlife analysts say they are concerned about an unusually high number of dead ducks washing up on the Cape Cod coast.

Bob Prescott of the Massachusetts Audubon Society says there are unexplained deaths each year of common eiders, but this year’s death toll appears higher than normal. Two dead eiders were sent to the National Wildlife Health Laboratory in Madison, Wis., for tests.


Tours to offer look at park’s burned area

KALISPELL — Free bus tours starting Saturday will offer a look at the area burned by the Robert Fire, the conflagration that closed much of Glacier National Park last year.

Officials from the park and the Forest Service plan to offer the four-hour tours, which will start in Columbia Falls on Saturday. The fire burned about 57,000 acres and cost $30 million to fight.


Range ranger has ‘best job in town’

LINCOLN — Jim Shuey calls himself the range ranger. He is the one who picks up all the golf balls on the driving range at the North Forty Golf Complex.

He drives an old John Deere tractor that has been hit thousands of times: The headlights are broken and the sides dented. He even found golf balls wedged in the engine. But Mr. Shuey says a golf ball has never made it inside the protective cage that surrounds him.

On an average day, Mr. Shuey scoops up about 2,500 golf balls, he said. He retired from AT&T; in 1999 and now everybody tells him he has the best job in town.

“One of the benefits I get is free golf,” he said. “I think it should be free lessons.”


Monorail extension gets federal approval

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas Monorail administrators received federal approval to begin designing a 2.3-mile extension from the Las Vegas Strip to downtown. Officials say work could begin by the end of 2005, with the new segment opening in 2008.

The first phase of the project, a 3.9-mile stretch along the strip, costs $650 million and is expected to open this summer.


120-deer limit eyed for hunters

NASHVILLE — Hunters in some parts of Tennessee might be allowed to kill as many as 120 deer next season, wildlife officials say.

The figure demonstrates how far the herd has come in recovering from near-extinction a few decades ago.


Mexican national to stand trial

BROWNSVILLE — A woman accused of helping her common-law husband kill and behead her three children last year is mentally competent to stand trial, a judge ruled yesterday.

Angela Camacho, 24, could become the first Mexican national woman to face the death penalty in Texas. She is charged with three counts of capital murder.

The case has been watched closely by Mexican officials, who say police failed to properly notify the consulate of her arrest. Such notification is required under an international treaty.

Defense attorney Ernesto Gamez said yesterday he plans to file a motion claiming the woman is mentally retarded. A Supreme Court ruling two years ago bars the execution of mentally retarded persons.

John Allen Rubio, her common-law husband, was convicted in November of murder and sentenced to death.


Couple wed at movie theater

ESSEX — The love story playing at a Vermont movie theater wasn’t made in Hollywood.

This was real life, as Renee Bleau and Travis Vigneau, both 21, tied the knot at their local multiplex Friday evening.

About 50 guests, with tickets and popcorn, watched the couple in their starring role.

Mr. Vigneau said they spent so much time on dates at the movies that they wanted to get married there. Theater manager Dale Chapman agreed.

The theater was decorated with red roses and candles, with live music playing. Shortly before the wedding party entered, the lights dimmed and several previews were screened, including “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Spider-Man 2.”

“Everybody had a great time, so how can you top this?” said the groom’s father, Frank Vigneau.


School bus driver pleads guilty to abuse

MILWAUKEE — A school bus driver caught on tape threatening a boy with Down syndrome pleaded guilty yesterday to child abuse.

Jacob Mutulo’s parents said they had put a tape recorder in their 9-year-old son’s backpack because of reports he was misbehaving on the bus.

The driver, 29-year-old Brian Duchow, can be heard on tape shouting at the boy and threatening to break his arm and beat him.

The driver could receive up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine at sentencing July 22. As part of a plea bargain, a judge threw out a disorderly conduct charge in exchange for Duchow’s guilty plea.

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