- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2006


2 students found dead inside balloon

LUTZ — Two college students were found dead inside a large, deflated helium balloon after apparently pulling it down and crawling inside it, officials said.

The deaths of Jason Ackerman and Sara Rydman, both 21, appear to be accidental, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Maj. Bob Schrader said.

Their bodies were found Saturday partially inside a deflated helium balloon at the entrance of a condominium complex a few miles north of Tampa. The 8-foot-diameter balloon was used to advertise the complex.

The county medical examiner said yesterday that the cause of death won’t be released for six weeks, until toxicology results come back.

Inhaling helium can quickly lead to brain damage and death from lack of oxygen, according to the Compressed Gas Association, which develops safety standards in the gas industry.


Kidney-cancer drug shows promise

ATLANTA — Wyeth said yesterday that interim results of a late-stage trial of its experimental kidney-cancer drug significantly increased survival in patients compared with standard therapy.

Patients with advanced kidney cancer who took the drug, temsirolimus, had a median survival time of 10.9 months, compared with a survival time of 7.3 months for patients who took the standard therapy.

Data from the late-stage, or Phase III, trial were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Atlanta.

Temsirolimus blocks a protein known as mTOR, which is a signaling protein that regulates cell growth and the growth of blood vessels.

There are about 39,000 cases of kidney cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Patients with the most advanced form of the disease have a five-year survival rate of 20 percent.


Study links obesity to strict parenting

CHICAGO — “Clean your plate or else” and other authoritarian approaches to parenting can lead to overweight children, a new study finds.

Strict mothers were nearly five times more likely to raise tubby first-graders than mothers who treated their children with flexibility and respect while also setting clear rules.

But although the children of flexible rule-setting mothers avoided obesity, the children of neglectful mothers and permissive mothers were twice as likely to get fat.

“The difference between the different parenting groups is pretty striking,” said the study co-author, Dr. Kay Rhee of Boston University School of Medicine. The study of 872 families appears in the June issue of Pediatrics, released yesterday.

Dr. Rhee speculated that parents who show respect and warmth within a framework of rules may help their children learn to make good decisions about food and exercise. Or it could be that strict parents create a stressful household where overeating becomes a comfort and escape, she said.


Mouse in burrito lands man in jail

TRAVERSE CITY — A man who stuffed a dead mouse into his Taco Bell burrito in a botched extortion attempt was sentenced Friday to 16 to 30 months in prison.

Ryan Daniel Goff, 20, pleaded guilty last month to a felony count of attempted false pretenses between $1,000 and $20,000.

Sheriff’s investigators said Goff complained to a restaurant employee in January that his burrito tasted “funny.”

Goff reported finding the mouse to the local health department and Taco Bell’s regional manager. According to court records, he told the manager: “It won’t be a good day if the media finds out about this.”

But investigators said his girlfriend told them that he purchased frozen mice from a pet store and put one of them in his burrito.


Separated twins leave hospital

ROCHESTER — Six-month-old twin girls who were surgically separated last month were released from the hospital Saturday and could return home in a few days, the Mayo Clinic said.

Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen joined their parents, Jesse and Amy Carlsen, at the Ronald McDonald House, which provides care for children who have been treated at the Mayo Clinic.

The family was scheduled to return to its home to Fargo, N.D., tomorrow.

A farewell celebration for the twins was planned for today at the hospital.

The girls were born Nov. 29 attached at the diaphragm, pancreas and liver. They also shared a common bile duct and part of an intestine. They were separated May 12.


Governor signs meth penalties bill

CONCORD — Gov. John Lynch signed a bill into law setting tougher penalties for making methamphetamine.

After Jan. 1, people convicted of making or attempting to make meth face up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000. The law also allows the court to order offenders to pay to clean up the toxic chemicals they use.


Pilot discovers snake on a plane

CHARLESTON — Monty Coles was 3,000 feet in the air when he discovered a stowaway peeking out at him from the plane’s instrument panel: a 4-foot snake.

Mr. Coles was taking a leisurely flight over the West Virginia countryside in his Piper Cherokee Memorial Day weekend and was preparing to land in Ohio when the snake revealed itself. Mr. Coles attempted to swat the snake, but it fell to the pilot’s feet, then darted to the other side of the cockpit.

While maintaining control of the single-engine plane with one hand, Mr. Coles grabbed the reptile behind its head with his other.

“There was no way I was letting that thing go,” he said. “It coiled all around my arm, and its tail grabbed hold of a lever on the floor and started pulling.”

The next step was to radio for emergency-landing clearance. After a smooth landing, Mr. Coles posed for pictures with the snake, then let it loose.

“That snake resides in Ohio now,” he said.


3 persons die in rafting accident

MOOSE — A touring raft overturned and tossed more than a dozen riders into the Snake River in which three persons drowned Friday, Grand Teton National Park officials said.

Two women and a man died in the accident, park spokeswoman Joan Anzelmo said. She declined to release their names, saying the park service was still trying to notify their families.

The Grand Teton Lodge Co. reported the accident just after 11 a.m. When rescuers arrived, one of the victims was found submerged in a logjam; attempts to revive the other two victims at the scene were unsuccessful.

The boatman and the nine other passengers were rescued, including one who had become stranded on an island in the river. Some passengers were picked up by people on other tours that came down the river.

Miss Anzelmo said the rescued passengers reported that everyone aboard was wearing a floatation device, as required by park regulations.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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