‘Lucky’ the cat saved by ice
MISSOULA — If cats have nine lives, a kitty here definitely has used one up.
The house cat survived being locked in a cage, thrown off a bridge and stranded in an icy puddle of river slush.
The ordeal ended Tuesday morning when a pair of passers-by spotted the calico cat while crossing a footbridge and called for help.
Missoula firefighters arrived minutes later, donned wet suits and launched a rescue boat.
Someone had put the animal in a cage, with a rock weighing about 16 pounds, and tossed it into the Clark Fork River. But instead of landing in the water, it bounced several times on the ice and then became stuck.
The firefighters named the cat “Lucky.”
Actor says ‘sorry’ for officer’s death
NEW YORK — A young “Sopranos” actor accused in the slaying of an off-duty police officer said in a jailhouse interview that he’s sorry and didn’t know his purported burglary accomplice was carrying a gun.
Lillo Brancato Jr., who starred with Robert De Niro in “A Bronx Tale” and more recently was in several episodes of “The Sopranos,” was charged with murder and other counts in the Dec. 10 shooting of Daniel Enchautegui during a gunfight.
Mr. Brancato told the New York Post in an interview published yesterday that he wept while reading a newspaper account of Officer Enchautegui’s funeral.
“When I saw the picture of his father, it brought tears to my eyes because he looked like one of those old-fashioned men — kind of like my father,” Mr. Brancato said. “I also thought that could have been my father going to my funeral.”
Wood chipper kills tree trimmer
LOVELAND — A man trimming trees was killed when he was pulled into a wood chipper by his gloved hand, authorities said.
Brian Morse, 54, the owner of a tree-trimming service, died Wednesday while he and a co-worker were cutting branches at a home, police Sgt. Rae Bontz said.
The co-worker ran to the house where they were working, and a woman living there called 911.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.
Fence built to keep man from beast
LOXAHATCHEE — Lion Country Safari has erected a fence between man and beast because visitors to the drive-through wildlife park kept violating the rules by rolling down their car windows when they went past the lions.
“We had some guests taking risks and maybe getting a little too risky. If you had one incident where something did happen, it would be very tragic. We didn’t want to wait for that to happen,” park spokeswoman Jennifer Berthume said.
Since the park opened 38 years ago, lions have been able to walk right next to the cars. Warning signs and zookeepers remind visitors to stay in their cars and keep their windows rolled up, but many visitors crack open a car window or a door and some have gotten out and tried to feed the lions.
Officials at the Palm Beach County park said they had been considering a fence for years, fearing a serious injury or a lawsuit. Last month, they erected a barricade.
Bridge builders seek poplars, oaks
BRIDGETON — Organizers are seeking property owners willing to donate the hundreds of poplar and oak trees needed for the reconstruction of a covered bridge that was destroyed by an arsonist earlier this year.
Work is expected to begin next month on building a historically correct replica of the 1868 Bridgeton Bridge.
Boy kills mom with pellet gun
WICHITA — A woman who died after a car crash had been shot in the heart minutes earlier with a pellet gun that her 14-year-old son received as a Christmas gift, police said.
Police said the teen was protecting his grandfather from his mother, Elizabeth White. She was threatening the grandfather with a pair of scissors, authorities said.
The death was ruled a justifiable homicide, said Capt. Randy Landen of the Wichita Police Department.
Mrs. White, 40, of Salina, had spent the weekend in Wichita after she was invited to spend Christmas at the house where her 73-year-old father and her 68-year-old mother were raising her children.
Pioneer surgeon dies at 98
BOSTON — Dr. Bradford Cannon, a plastic surgeon who helped pioneer a treatment for burns and used it on victims of the deadly Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire of 1942, has died at 98.
Dr. Cannon, who died Dec. 20 of pneumonia at his daughter’s home in Lincoln, was the first chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and was credited with saving the lives of soldiers maimed during World War II.
As a young doctor, he used a method he developed with another surgeon to treat survivors of the fire that killed nearly 500 patrons of Boston’s Cocoanut Grove.
He wrapped victims’ burns with petroleum-coated gauze containing boric acid, which preserved skin. The technique eventually became a standard treatment for burns, replacing a more invasive method that used tannic acid, which destroyed skin.
He is survived by three sons, a daughter, a sister, 14 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Man kills mother, co-worker, self
DETROIT — A man killed his mother and a co-worker Wednesday and seriously wounded a teenage niece in a shooting spree that ended when he committed suicide, police said.
Jamal Samuels, 22, shot his mother, Annie Samuels, 56, and his 14-year-old niece multiple times at their home on Detroit’s northwest side, police spokesman James Tate said.
Samuels then drove to the UPS facility in Livonia where he worked and shot a co-worker in a parking lot about 3 a.m., police said. Livonia police Lt. Ben McDermott identified the victim as Kelton Lamarr Kidd II, 23, of Detroit.
No information was available on a motive in any of the shootings. Mr. Tate said family members told police that Samuels had “mental issues.”
From Livonia, Samuels apparently drove to another co-worker’s home nearby in Wayne County’s Redford Township, where he took his own life.
Drunken driver caught drinking
JACKSON — Jacob Vandeven, 27, must complete inpatient alcohol treatment after he was caught drinking less than an hour after pleading guilty to drunken driving.
Earlier this month, Judge William Syler accepted Vandeven’s guilty plea and placed him on probation. Judge Syler later saw Vandeven drinking at a nearby restaurant, and he was arrested for violating probation. Judge Syler could impose jail time after Vandeven completes treatment.
Cotton farmers pull solid yields
LAS CRUCES — Despite roller-coaster temperatures, some New Mexico cotton farmers have pulled in better-than-expected yields.
Agricultural specialists say sunshine in the fall helped tough, drought-tolerant cotton plants end the season on a high note.
“We seemed to vacillate all season between hot and cold weather, but we warmed up for a nice long fall, and that really helped finish out the crop,” said Denise McWilliams, an agronomist with New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.
Miss McWilliams said her office has received reports from southern valley farmers bringing in five bales an acre on their upland cotton. An average crop would be three bales an acre.
Sponsors sought for steelhead trout
BEND — Residents are being asked to sponsor a steelhead trout as part of a two-year research study to track the winter fish in the Coquille River system.
Sponsors can pick a name for their adopted fish and receive regular updates on its activities. The $190 donation is tax-deductible. Sponsors will receive a certificate of adoption and a letter of appreciation from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
From wire dispatches and staff reports