- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006


Fire nears homes,forces evacuations

MAYER — Residents of a rural Arizona community were ordered to evacuate yesterday as a wildfire threatened their homes, authorities said.

The blaze, started by lightning early yesterday, had spread to about 125 acres by late morning and was within 2 miles of the Pine Flats community south of Mayer, officials said.

The U.S. Forest Service ordered all residents out of the Pine Flats area, a wooded valley with about 20 homes.

“The fire behavior is very extreme right now, and there is a lot of dry fuel up there,” said Debbie Maneely, a spokeswoman for Prescott National Forest. More strikes were likely yesterday.


Boy arrestedin school attack plot

FILLMORE — A 15-year-old high-school student was in custody after telling classmates that he planned to shoot students on the date 6-6-06 before killing himself, authorities said.

The ninth-grader planned to stage the attack Tuesday because it was the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year, sheriff’s Capt. Ron Nelson said. The number 666 is said to be the “number of the beast” in the Book of Revelation.

School administrators heard about the plan Monday and alerted sheriff’s deputies, who arrested the Fillmore High School student that afternoon. Deputies who searched his home found a pellet gun, Capt. Nelson said.

“We don’t know if this was a serious plan, but that’s the way it’s being handled,” said Mario Contini, superintendent of the Fillmore Unified School District, which serves a community about 45 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The boy had not been a discipline problem in the past, school officials said. He was in juvenile custody for investigation of making terrorist threats.


Van crash killsdriver, daughter

JACKSONVILLE — A minivan packed with children ran a stop sign and was hit by a sport utility vehicle, killing the van’s driver and her 2-month-old daughter and severely injuring nine other passengers, police said yesterday.

The SUV’s driver also was hospitalized.

Police did not know whether speed was a factor in the accident but said the van was overloaded, Jacksonville sheriff’s spokesman Ken Jefferson said. Some neighbors said the intersection has been the site of several accidents and needs traffic signals.

Maricela Rodriquez, 29, was killed in the Tuesday afternoon accident. Her 2-month-old baby, Anakaren Gonzalez, died yesterday from her injuries, police said. Eight children and three adults were in the van.

Five of those taken to hospitals had life-threatening injuries, said Bennie Seth, a spokeswoman for Jacksonville Fire-Rescue. Shands Jacksonville hospital had three patients, one of them in serious condition and another in critical condition. The conditions of the others injured in the crash were not released.


Sailboat driftedthousands of miles

HONOLULU — A 33-foot sailboat abandoned by its owner in Costa Rica seven months ago after developing engine trouble apparently kept going — drifting thousands of miles on its own all the way to Hawaii.

The owner of the craft, the Chaton De Foi, was contacted by Coast Guard officials Tuesday and informed of the discovery.

The owner abandoned the sloop Dec. 2 after experiencing engine trouble and severe weather off Costa Rica. He was rescued by a passing boat.

The Chaton De Foi was spotted Monday floating by fishermen about three miles off Milolii Bay on the Big Island, the Hawaii County Fire Department said.

Photos show the white boat in good structural condition with its mast still intact, but the sails missing. The name of the ship was clearly visible, and there were a few birds hitching a ride.


Dispatchers chargedin ignored 911 call

DETROIT — Two 911 dispatchers who authorities say wrongly assumed it was a prank when a 5-year-old boy called to report that his mother had collapsed have been charged with neglect of duty

By the time an officer arrived, the boy’s 46-year-old mother was dead.

“I understand they get a quite a few crank calls, but you have to take it seriously when someone calls 911,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said yesterday in announcing charges against Sharon Nichols, 43, and Terri Sutton, 47.

They could get a year in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor.

The prosecutor said the mother, Sherrill Turner, might have lived had the dispatchers done their jobs correctly.


Ex-official pleadsguilty to bribery

COLUMBUS — A former senior official at Ohio’s $15 billion insurance fund for injured workers pleaded guilty to federal and state charges yesterday, admitting that he took bribes in exchange for government investment opportunities.

Terrence Gasper, 59, also said he was working with prosecutors in their continuing investigation into the state scandal.

Gasper, the first official of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to be charged in the investment scandal, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Akron to one count of racketeering for accepting a gift for business deals, then entered a plea to ethics and other charges in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus.

Gasper acknowledged in the federal case that he accepted tuition for his son and stays at a Florida condominium in exchange for business deals with the bureau’s $15 billion investment fund.

He also said he accepted $25,000 from a dealer who handled the agency’s troubled investment in rare coins. In exchange for the $25,000, Gasper recommended a second investment of $25 million with coin dealer Tom Noe, the prominent Republican donor at the heart of a state political scandal, prosecutors say. Noe pleaded guilty last week to illegally funneling money to President Bush’s re-election campaign.


Mortician faces fines in corpse abuse

AUSTIN — A Texas funeral director accused of hiding a deceased baby in the trousers of a man’s corpse to avoid paying an extra $50 for cremation faces hefty fines and the loss of her license, local press reports said yesterday.

A Texas Funeral Service Commission investigation found that Stephanie Barkley, who ran a mortuary business, told the parents of a deceased premature baby that cremation would cost $150, the Houston Chronicle reported.

But instead of paying $50 to have the baby cremated, she gave the couple two small urns filled with the ashes of an unrelated adult and sent the baby to a suburban Houston crematorium stuffed in the trousers of a dead man. The baby and the man were later cremated separately, but the baby’s family did not know what had happened until a state investigator knocked on their door a year ago and asked to examine the ashes they had been given.

Barkley, 41, pleaded no contest in a criminal court to abusing a corpse and was sentenced in April to two years’ probation and agreed to relinquish her license for two years.

The Texas Funeral Service Commission recommended Barkley be fined nearly $50,000 and that she should lose her license.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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