Cadet who fell off ship thanks rescuers
DENVER — An Air Force Academy cadet who plunged about 50 feet from a cruise ship balcony into the ocean with a female passenger thanked his rescuers yesterday but didn’t discuss the details of what happened.
Princess Cruise’s Grand Princess was about 150 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas, on March 25 when the pair fell from the balcony of the woman’s cabin.
Both were rescued hours later by boats launched from the ship.
In a statement issued through the academy, Ernesto Guzman, 22, thanked Princess Cruises and the U.S. Coast Guard.
“The combination of their quick response and my water-survival training at the United States Air Force Academy combined to save my life during those five hours in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Mr. Guzman, a junior at the school.
The company has not disclosed the circumstances of the incident or identified the 20-year-old woman involved.
1 dead, 2 burned in apartment fire
MIAMI — An explosion started a fire in a high-rise apartment building yesterday, killing one person and severely burning two others, officials said.
About 200 residents were evacuated after the blaze began in a third-floor unit at Royal Palm Apartments, west of downtown Miami, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Eddy Ballester.
He said authorities were still trying to determine the cause of the explosion.
No one was inside the apartment at the time. The person who died was found in an adjacent unit.
Three apartments were damaged in the fire and explosion, and there was smoke damage throughout the hallways and adjacent apartments, Mr. Ballester said.
The conditions of the two injured persons, both airlifted to a hospital with severe burns, were not immediately released.
Woman fatally shot at CNN complex
ATLANTA — A domestic dispute erupted in gunfire at CNN’s headquarters complex yesterday, killing a woman and critically wounding the man who first pulled a gun, authorities said.
The man and woman were arguing near the main entrance of the complex when the man shot her, police Officer James Polite said. The armed man was then shot by a CNN security guard.
The woman was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital, authorities said. The man was in critical condition.
Police said the man and woman had been in a relationship. They were seen being carried out of the building on stretchers. The man’s face was covered in blood, and his shirt was removed.
CNN reported that the offices of its Internet operations, CNN.com, were immediately evacuated. Video footage also showed police pointing guns at a man lying on the ground at the bottom of an escalator inside the building
Boy, 9, not injured when buried in gravel
TIPTON — A boy playing with friends around a gravel bin got trapped inside when a conveyer system started and buried the 9-year-old under the rocks. He was rescued without serious injuries about an hour later.
Police were investigating whether Justin Harshman fell or climbed into the 20-inch opening of the rock bin Monday afternoon at Irving Materials Inc., which makes concrete.
Employees heard the boys’ screams and shut the conveyor off, police said.
Only Justin’s hand was visible, said plant manager Butch May, who tried to remove gravel from the boy’s face so he could breathe. But gravity continued to pull the gravel and the boy toward the bottom of the bin that funnels the rock to the conveyer system.
Rescue crews stabilized the flow of gravel underneath the bin to hold Justin up as workers used buckets and a sewer vacuum to haul rocks out from the top, Tipton Fire Chief Jeff Ogden said.
Yesterday, Justin was sore but had no broken bones and was recovering at his home about 35 miles north of Indianapolis, said Indiana State Police Sgt. Tony Slocum.
Property-tax cut signed into law
TRENTON — Gov. Jon Corzine signed legislation yesterday to give most homeowners a 20 percent cut in the nation’s highest property taxes and to cap annual property tax increases at 4 percent.
New Jersey property taxes average about $6,330 per homeowner, or twice the national average, and have increased at 7 percent a year.
Under the legislation, households earning up to $100,000 will get a 20 percent cut. Those earning up to $150,000 will get a 15 percent cut, and households earning up to $250,000 will get a 10 percent cut. The cut will average $1,051 per household.
About 1.9 million of the state’s 2 million households will get help, with 800,000 renters also getting assistance, state officials said.
Governor to veto cancer vaccine bill
SANTA FE — The governor said yesterday he will veto a bill that would have required girls entering sixth grade to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer.
Gov. Bill Richardson had indicated he would sign the bill after it passed the Legislature last month, but yesterday said he changed his mind after parents and doctors told him their concerns about the program.
“While everyone recognizes the benefits of this vaccine, there is insufficient time to educate parents, schools and health care providers,” he said.
The measure would have taken effect June 15, requiring girls entering sixth grade this fall to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, before they enter public or private school.
The veto will not affect a state health department program — which was in the planning stages before the legislation was passed — that will offer the vaccine to girls entering fifth grade in the fall in school districts that decide to participate.
After search, Google finds snake in office
NEW YORK — Google Inc. may be famous for instant searches, but it took a bit longer to find a 3-foot python that escaped in its massive Manhattan offices.
“Kaiser,” the pet of one of its employees, got loose over the weekend, prompting a search that ended when the snake was found Monday night, said company spokeswoman Ellen West.
“We are pleased to report that Kaiser was located in the office,” Miss West said. “Kaiser was taken home by his owner and is no longer in the building.”
The snake escape was reported Monday by Valleywag.com, a technology-gossip Web site. Valleywag said the gray and brown reptile was brought to the building by an employee who didn’t want to be away from it during the workday. It was dangerous to mice but not humans, Valleywag said.
Miss West declined to say how the python escaped or who found it. The episode “was not an April Fool’s Day joke,” she said.
3-year-old survives fall from window
FAIRMONT — A 3-year-old girl survived a fall from a third-story window, bouncing off an awning before landing on a sidewalk.
Lovely Matthews was listed in critical but stable condition yesterday at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, said hospital spokesman Marc Lukasiak.
She had fallen from her family’s apartment window Sunday evening and bounced off the awning of a first-floor pawn shop below, Fairmont Police Chief Stephen Cain said.
Chief Cain said he wasn’t sure how the little girl got to the window. Four adults and three children were in the apartment, including Lovely’s parents, 31-year-old Cecily Matthews and David Matthews. A family friend and neighbor, Beverly Hunter, said the little girl climbed onto a chair and popped out the window screen.
Although the fall appears to be accidental, Chief Cain said his office will investigate it with the help of Child Protective Services.
From wire dispatches and staff reports