- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2006


Guardian Angels patrol skittish city

PHOENIX — A volunteer public-safety group is patrolling parts of the city amid reports that two serial killers have been striking separately in recent months, killing as many as 11 people.

The Guardian Angels began their patrols in an eastern Phoenix neighborhood last week and have expanded them to the southeastern part of the city, where some of the 16 shootings have occurred.

Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa said the new patrol area was crime-ridden even before the shootings.

“They’re welcoming us and telling us horror stories related to drug-dealing, gang-banging and the prostituting that takes place here,” Mr. Sliwa said. “They generally feel unsafe, so you add to it these serial killers, they’re at their wit’s end.”


Ship’s crew, guests to get TB tests

SAN DIEGO — All 4,800 crew members of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and 1,200 family and friends will be screened for tuberculosis because an initial round of tests showed that a small number of people were infected, Navy officials said.

The initial tests were conducted after a 32-year-old sailor was hospitalized two weeks ago with active tuberculosis. He had been aboard the ship when it returned to San Diego on July 6 after a six-month deployment.

Families and friends were on the ship for the last leg of its voyage — from Hawaii to San Diego.

The Navy tested 776 persons who might have met the infected sailor and 34 — 4.4 percent — tested positive, Capt. Frank Chapman said.

However, none of the 34 showed symptoms of active tuberculosis and was contagious, Capt. Chapman said. Fewer than 1 percent of those who test positive develop the active disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Well-fed alligator gains reprieve

FORT LAUDERDALE — An anonymous donor has put up $1,150 to catch Crusty the alligator, which had become so accustomed to people feeding him that wildlife managers thought he was potentially dangerous, said Todd Hardwick, a Miami-Dade County alligator trapper who helped arrange for Crusty’s new home.

Officials thought they would have to take him from a canal along Florida’s Alligator Alley in the Everglades and euthanize him.

Instead, Crusty will be sent to an animal exhibit in the Seminole Reservation in Hollywood, with three other alligators whom officials have named Speedy, Boomer and Freddy, Mr. Hardwick said. Crusty is the only one of the four who remains on the loose.


Illegal aliens nabbed on military base

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE — Twenty-five illegal aliens employed as contract workers at an Air Force base were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

The arrests of the construction and landscape workers were made Friday.

The workers were “foreign nationals,” according to a press release from the 2nd Bomb Wing that did not specify countries of origin. Most had obtained fraudulent Social Security and alien registration numbers to complete forms, the release said.

The workers did not have access to secure information, 2nd Bomb Wing spokesman Lt. Frank Hartnett said. He would not say how the workers got on the base.


Woman who ‘died’ clears rehab hurdle

GRAND RAPIDS — A woman misidentified for weeks as a college classmate who was killed in a traffic accident has been cleared to walk without a special boot used to help her rehabilitation, according to her family’s online journal.

Whitney Cerak, 19, was one of nine persons from Indiana’s Taylor University riding in a school van that collided with a truck on April 26. She was severely injured.

“We were in tears when she stood up on both legs, took three steps forward and looked at us with a huge smile and said ‘Let’s take the stairs,’” her father, Newell Cerak, wrote Friday in the blog, which details her medical progress.

Miss Cerak had been using a walking boot to help her bear her full weight.

Five persons in the van died, including Laura VanRyn, a 22-year-old Taylor senior. Miss VanRyn’s mother and father were mistakenly told that their daughter was alive while Miss Cerak’s parents were told that Whitney, whose injuries initially left her in a near-coma, was dead.


Cyclist survives crash in record jump try

MIAMI — Motorcycle daredevil Trigger Gumm crashed yesterday while attempting a world-record motorcycle jump at a casino.

Mr. Gumm, 38, fell far short of his attempted goal of 315 feet. Riding a Honda motorcycle outfitted with a custom-built engine and specially designed shocks, Mr. Gumm hit a ramp that launched him about 70 feet in the air before he landed on the top of a dirt ramp, lost control and crashed over the handlebars.

Mr. Gumm leaped 273 feet, 11 inches on a practice jump before the world-record try.

While being treated by medical personnel, Mr. Gumm waved to the crowd of 5,000 gathered at the Buffalo Run Casino, operated by the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. He then got up and walked to a waiting ambulance, which took him to a hospital.


Truck driver escapes after hijacking, chase

FORT WORTH — The driver of a hijacked semitrailer truck escaped safely yesterday after a three-hour chase across three counties.

In a chase that was televised live in Texas, hundreds of police pursued the hijacked truck at low speeds for more than 80 miles before the suspect surrendered.

Police said a man fleeing after an armed robbery in Carrollton, northwest of Dallas, carjacked two other vehicles before reaching a truck stop in Fairview, northeast of the city. Authorities say the man then forced the truck driver, a woman in her 50s, to drive her semitrailer rig on a long chase that never exceeded 25 mph.

The pursuit ended on Interstate 20 west of Fort Worth, where the kidnapper held the woman at gunpoint until police fired tear gas and made an arrest.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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