- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2007

CALIFORNIA

Robotic cameras search for bird

SAN FRANCISCO — Deep in the bayous of eastern Arkansas, two robotic video cameras keep vigil for an elusive bird, aiming to capture conclusive evidence the ivory-billed woodpecker is not, as long feared, extinct.

Recent sightings have revived hope of the survival of the large and dramatically marked bird, with its characteristic white beak and red crest.

Now the search is on for proof — something scientists hope the robotic video cameras can provide.

The cameras are part of a new project funded by the National Science Foundation to create automated observatories that can capture natural behavior in remote settings.

“Our idea is that robots can be useful for advancing science,” said University of California at Berkeley professor Ken Goldberg, speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.

FLORIDA

Pet dog, turtle survive misadventure

BRANDON — A palm-sized pet turtle and the golden retriever that gobbled it up survived the misadventure thanks to the quick actions of a 12-year-old girl, a veterinarian said.

The saga of Pepper, a red-eared slider turtle, and Bella, a golden retriever, started two weeks ago. Shelby Terihay, 12, moved her pet pond turtles indoors to protect them from a cold snap — a plan that worked well until Bella found some of the turtles in a bathtub, the Tampa Tribune reported.

A quick head count confirmed Bella had swallowed one of the turtles. Shelby insisted on a rescue mission and, on the advice of a vet, her parents made Bella vomit. Out came Pepper, still alive despite a shattered shell and an estimated 10 minutes inside Bella’s belly.

Veterinarian David Thomassy patched up Pepper’s shell and credited Shelby with saving Bella, too.

“The turtle would definitely have caused an obstruction,” Dr. Thomassy said. “Without cutting it out directly, it eventually would have killed the dog.”

GEORGIA

Company recalls chicken strips

ATLANTA — Carolina Culinary Food is recalling packages of Oscar Mayer ready-to-eat chicken breast strips with rib meat because they may be contaminated, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said yesterday.

Officials said Georgia Department of Agriculture food scientists found Listeria monocytogenes in a sample. That type of contamination can cause listeriosis, which is uncommon but potentially fatal.

No illnesses have been reported, officials said.

The nationwide recall affects all six-ounce packages of “Oscar Mayer/Louis Rich chicken breast strips with rib meat, grilled, fully cooked, ready to eat” that bear the establishment number “P-19676” inside the USDA mark of inspection on the front of the package. On the back of each package is a “Use by” date of “19 Apr 2007.”

LOUISIANA

Barge catches fire; 1 killed, 1 injured

VENICE — The body of a welder who was aboard a barge that burst into flames was recovered yesterday, the Coast Guard said.

The barge, which was holding about 17,000 gallons of crude oil, exploded and caught fire Saturday as the welder was working on board, authorities said. A second man was taken to a hospital and treated for second-degree burns, the Coast Guard said.

The identity of the victims had not been released yesterday.

The barge was moored with a crane barge, which caught fire and was destroyed. It took 4 hours to put out the fire on the tank barge, the Coast Guard said.

The accident occurred at Garden Isle Bay near Pass a Loutre — a waterway heading east through the delta at the tip of the Mississippi River.

MONTANA

5 persons dead after avalanches

HELENA — Weekend avalanches killed five persons in Montana, Utah and Idaho, with one bruised survivor traveling miles by snowmobile and on foot to reach help, authorities said.

In Montana’s Big Belt Mountains, the bodies of two snowmobilers caught in an avalanche Saturday were found by searchers early yesterday and removed by helicopter later in the day.

Families of the snowmobilers issued a statement identifying the deceased as Kris Rains, 26, and Brett Toney, 27, both of Townsend, and the survivor as Jason Crawford, 27, of Helena. Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Cheryl Liedle described them as friends from the Townsend area.

In Utah, two snowmobilers died in separate avalanches on Saturday. Zachary Holmes, 16, of Farr West, was buried by an avalanche estimated to be 300 feet wide near Tower Mountain in the Uinta Mountains, the Wasatch County sheriff’s office said. Earlier Saturday, a snowmobiler on Signal Peak in southwestern Utah triggered the avalanche that killed him, the Sevier County sheriff’s office said.

In Idaho, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho Falls confirmed the death of a Utah man in an avalanche near Palisade Peak. His name was not immediately available.

NEW YORK

Mummified body found in front of TV

NEW YORK — Police called to a Long Island man’s house discovered the mummified remains of the resident, dead for more than a year, sitting in front of a blaring television set.

The 70-year-old Hampton Bays, N.Y., resident, identified as Vincenzo Ricardo, appeared to have died of natural causes. Police said Saturday his body was discovered Thursday when they were called to the house over a burst water pipe.

“You could see his face. He still had hair on his head,” Newsday quoted morgue assistant Jeff Bacchus as saying. The home’s low humidity had preserved the body.

Officials could not explain why the electricity had not been turned off, considering Mr. Ricardo had not been heard from since December 2005.

Neighbors said when they had not seen Mr. Ricardo, who was diabetic and had been blind for years, they assumed he was in the hospital or a long-term care facility.

OHIO

Plane runs off runway; no injuries reported

CLEVELAND — A commuter plane carrying 74 persons ran off the end of a runway after landing at the Cleveland airport yesterday, an airline spokeswoman said. No injuries were reported.

The flight, traveling from Atlanta to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, landed about 3 p.m., said Thonnia Lee, a spokeswoman for Delta Air Lines Inc.

The flight was operated by Shuttle America, a Delta connection carrier, she said. Miss Lee said she did not know what caused the plane to leave the runway or how far it went off.

WISCONSIN

Truck breaks gas line; blast kills driver

PRESCOTT — A pickup truck crashed into a home and ruptured a natural gas line, causing an explosion that killed the driver and injured a police officer, authorities said.

Officer Benjamin Henrich went to investigate the late Saturday crash and detected a strong odor of natural gas, and as he was trying to make contact with the driver an explosion destroyed the house.

Officer Henrich was thrown 15 to 20 feet and the lone occupant of the pickup, a woman, died in the subsequent fire, the chief said. Acting Police Chief Mike Bondarenko said Officer Henrich was treated for minor lacerations and burns.

Police said the couple who own the house were inside at the time but were not injured.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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