- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

CONNECTICUT

Car plows into crowd

NEW LONDON — An Amtrak video surveillance tape might help police determine what caused a man’s car to plow into a crowd and injure 27 persons at a festival.

The victims, whose injuries ranged from scrapes to severely broken bones, were treated at a hospital after the crash Saturday and released later that day and early yesterday.

The driver, 89-year-old Robert Laine, was not injured, and no charges have been filed.

Police impounded Mr. Laine’s Chevrolet station wagon and plan to have a mechanic examine it, Capt. Kenneth Edwards said yesterday. A witness said a shaken Mr. Laine told her after the crash that his gas pedal had stuck.

NEW MEXICO

Teen rescued from flash flood

ALBUQUERQUE — Flash flooding carried a teenager on a five-mile ride down a drainage channel before he was rescued, as water blocked roads, inundated homes and forced evacuations in parts of the Southwest.

More thunderstorms and heavy rain were likely yesterday in New Mexico, the National Weather Service said. More rain also was possible to the north, in Colorado.

A 15-year-old boy fell into a flooded diversion channel in Albuquerque on Saturday evening, and the turbulent current carried him miles, said Albuquerque fire inspector Gabe Serna. The boy, who was treated for hypothermia and abrasions at a hospital, had dropped his keys and slipped into the arroyo when he tried to retrieve them.

CALIFORNIA

Judge waives fine in jaywalking case

LOS ANGELES — An 82-year-old woman who was given a jaywalking ticket for taking too long to cross a busy street won’t have to pay the $114 fine.

Mayvis Coyle had become something of a sensation after her case was publicized in April. Senior-citizen advocates were outraged at her treatment. News camera crews showed up at her door unannounced.

Two weeks ago, however, Mrs. Coyle received a mailed notice that a court commissioner had found her guilty of jaywalking but suspended the fine.

“It sounds like a compromise, like they’re trying to save face,” Mrs. Coyle’s son, Jim Coyle, told the Los Angeles Daily News, which first reported the ticketing. “We’re grateful for everyone’s support.”

FLORIDA

Boat tries to ram Coast Guard vessel

MIAMI — A boat overloaded with Cubans being smuggled into the U.S. tried to ram a Coast Guard vessel in rough seas early Saturday, and a woman aboard the boat died, authorities said.

Those aboard the 36-foot, go-fast boat ignored orders to stop when the Coast Guard tried to intercept it four miles south of Boca Chica at about 6:30 a.m., said Petty Officer James Judge, a spokesman for the Coast Guard. Coast Guard crew then fired two shots into the vessel’s engine to disable it, he said.

The boat carried 31 Cubans and three persons who authorities said were smugglers.

The woman who died suffered a head injury and severe bruising to her face, and an autopsy was scheduled yesterday.

Judge said three men on the boat were treated for minor injuries.

GEORGIA

Small aircraft crashes into house

SUCHES — A small aircraft crashed into a house and burst into flames in northern Georgia on Saturday, and authorities thought three persons were killed. Two were injured critically.

The single-engine Piper 32 crashed at about 12:50 p.m., said Union County Sheriff’s Lt. Matt Hromalik. The victims were aboard the plane, and no one on the ground was injured.

The aircraft was coming from Hilton Head Island, S.C., and overshot the runway while trying to land at High Valley Airport in Suches, said Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

IDAHO

WWII detainees visit camp site

HUNT — Tomi Okano was 6 years old in 1942 when the federal government forced her and her family to leave their Oregon home to live in a World War II detention camp for Japanese Americans.

More than 60 years later, she has few vivid memories of this place in the southern Idaho desert, save one.

“I remember the fence,” she said Saturday as she walked past the remnants of an entry checkpoint to the former 33,000-acre Minidoka Relocation Center compound. “I remember thinking, ‘If I could just go over that fence and over those mountains, there would be the ocean, and I would be home.’ ”

Miss Okano of Seattle was one of about 100 former detainees and their families who made a pilgrimage from Seattle and Portland, Ore., to the Idaho camp now designated the Minidoka Internment National Monument.

The National Park Service hosted the visit with former internees to discuss its plans to develop a 73-acre parcel set that President Clinton set aside in 2001 for an educational exhibit focusing on civil rights and the wartime experiences of Japanese Americans. Minidoka was one of 10 detention camps operated from 1942 to 1946 in the western U.S. and Arkansas.

ILLINOIS

Limo driver gets big tip — a kidney

CHICAGO — As tips go, Chicago limousine driver Abdul Faraj got a priceless one last week when one of his regular customers offered up a kidney, media reports said.

Mr. Faraj and Minnesota businessman Dave Baker underwent transplant surgeries at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“He gave me part of his body. He saved my life,” Mr. Faraj, a diabetes sufferer whose kidneys were failing despite a three-times-a-week dialysis regime, told area television stations.

Mr. Baker has used Mr. Faraj, a native of Lebanon, as his driver on trips to Chicago for several years. Making small talk months ago, Mr. Baker learned of Mr. Faraj’s poor health and struggle to find a kidney donor with a matching blood type.

“At that time, he tells me, ‘What’s your blood type?’ I tell him O-positive,” Mr. Faraj said. “He said, ‘I’m 0-positive. I’ll give you one.’ ”

MINNESOTA

Man mows lawns for weight loss

COON RAPIDS — A man who has struggled to lose weight is hoping a lawn mower will help him shed between 30 and 50 pounds.

After working up quite a sweat mowing his own lawn this summer, Darrell Nelson thought that he could get a good workout by mowing lawns for other people, as well. So he placed an ad on the Web site Craigslist.org offering to mow lawns for free.

He figures that if he eats better and mows a lawn per day nearly every day of the week, he will be able to keep an exercise program going. He said he has a difficult time keeping commitments to himself, but he will stick to commitments he makes to others.

Mr. Nelson is a former power lifter who’s about 5-feet 9 inches tall and weighs 258 pounds. Since news of his ad spread, he has fielded calls from reporters, strangers — even some women who have asked him out on dates.

“My life has been turned upside down, man — unbelievable,” he said. “I was planning on doing five lawns: mine plus four others. Now, I’m doing six lawns: mine plus five others. … I was just trying to do some yards and lose some weight, and it just — voila — away it went.”

OHIO

Prisoner, wife donate to crime tip line

COLUMBUS — An organization that operates a crime tip line received a $31,000 donation from a man in a prison.

Michael Spillan, 39, is serving a four-year sentence at the Noble Correctional Institution for planting a bomb on his front porch and trying to frame his son-in-law, as well as for unrelated convictions for theft and forgery.

He and his wife, Melissa, donated $31,000 to Central Ohio Crime Stoppers on Thursday after two tipsters complained that they had not received their reward in the case of an Ohio State University student whose body was found near a reservoir weeks after she disappeared in August.

The suburban Gahanna couple made the donation because they “feel strongly about the importance of Crime Stoppers and people who commit crimes being punished,” Mrs. Spillan said.

WISCONSIN

Marriage proposal tilled in cornfield

LUXEMBURG — Stacy Martin needed a bird’s-eye view to see her boyfriend’s marriage proposal. Brian Rueckl’s proposal came as a 40,000-square-foot message, “Stacy will you marry me?” tilled in a cornfield.

“At first, I was in shock and forgot to say, ‘Yes,’ ” Miss Martin said.

Mr. Rueckl, an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, persuaded Miss Martin to take an airplane ride with him Monday to take pictures of the land.

The proposal came after a year of planning and 40 hours of work. Mr. Rueckl, 23, tilled the message, which included two intersecting hearts, on a farm that his boss owned.

He used geographical software to plot the coordinates of the letters and Global Positioning System data to till his message manually.

WYOMING

Drought makes lake smellier than usual

LARAMIE — LaBonte Lake, which locals often refer to as “stink lake,” is living up to its nickname this year, in part because of drought conditions.

Water levels have dropped 1 to 2 feet below normal this year, and the shoreline has receded 25 to 30 feet because of a lack of spring precipitation, said Laramie Parks and Recreation Director Paul Harrison.

The receding water has leftan organic goo that’s ripening in the summer heat, causing the stagnant lake to smell even worse than usual.

LaBonte Lake sits atop a natural spring and also collects storm-water drainage, but there’s little movement in the lake. It also sits on the site of a former city dump, which may contribute to the foul odor in the area.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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