Monday, July 9, 2007


Police charge girl, 11, with drunken driving

MOBILE — An 11-year-old girl was charged with drunken driving after leading police on a chase at speeds of up to 100 mph that ended when she flipped the car in a beach town.

A video camera in the police car captured the look of surprise on the officer’s face when he approached the wrecked car and got a look at the motorist.

The Mobile Press-Register newspaper said the patrolman saw the Chevrolet Monte Carlo speeding and flashed his lights to signal the driver to stop. Instead, police say, the car sped faster, traveling at up to 100 mph before sideswiping another vehicle and flipping over in the Gulf Coast town of Orange Beach, Ala., on Tuesday.

The girl, who lived nearby in Perdido Key, Fla., was treated at a hospital for scrapes and bruises and released to relatives.

Police also charged her with speeding, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless endangerment. The car belonged to a relative, and police were still trying to find out where she got the alcohol.


Bear on power pole stops traffic

LANCASTER — A black bear that climbed 100 feet up a power pole in the sweltering high desert Friday brought traffic to a halt on a highway below as motorists stopped to gawk and take pictures.

“Not a whole lot we could do except keep the people out of the area and let him decide he needs to come down and continue his way on to the mountains, and with the assistance of the Highway Patrol that’s what we did,” game warden Martin Wall told KCAL-TV.

After a couple of hours on the pole, the bear came down, walked across the highway and ran off into the desert scrub.


Ford family auction benefits charity

BEAVER CREEK — They swung Gerald Ford’s golf clubs, flipped through his record collection with personal greetings from the musicians and paged through some of his books. Then they bought the stuff.

Bidders purchased more than 520 items Saturday belonging to the former president and his wife, Betty, that were auctioned off for charity, the Vail Daily newspaper reported.

Guernsey’s of New York did not immediately have a sales total, but Mr. Ford’s skis went for $16,800, the auction company said.

Mr. Ford died in December at age 93.

Auction proceeds will go to Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, which works to conserve high-altitude plants; OK Corral Camp, an outdoor camp for sick children; and the Eagle River Scholarship Fund, for postsecondary education.


Teens charged in gang-rape attack

WEST PALM BEACH — Two teenagers have been charged with gang raping a woman and forcing her 12-year-old son to join in the assault, police said.

Avion Lawson, 14, and Nathan Walker, 16, were jailed without bail on suspicion of armed sexual battery by multiple perpetrators, sexual performance by a child, armed home invasion and aggravated battery. Both were arrested last week.

Authorities say the boys were among a group of up to 10 masked suspects who forced their way into the woman’s home the night of June 18.

According to the police report, a man knocked on the woman’s door and told her he had a flat tire. The mother and son, whom police have not identified, went outside and were ambushed by a group of gun-wielding masked suspects.

The victims told police they were forced back into the house and beaten and sexually assaulted. Authorities said the men raped, sodomized and beat the woman, then forced her 12-year-old son to participate in the assault at gunpoint, making him have sex with his mother in front of them.

The boy was then beaten and had numerous household cleaning liquids poured into his eyes, according to the police report.

More arrests are expected, according to police, who said that the younger suspect confessed to participating in the attack. Investigators say a palm print and DNA evidence linked the 16-year-old to the crime. Authorities said the two would be charged as adults.


Cherry-pit spitters fight for title

EAU CLAIRE — The Krause family can retain its bragging rights, but its claim to be a cherry-pit-spitting dynasty may be under siege by a 17-year-old girl.

Rick “Pellet Gun” Krause repeated as winner of the International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship, held Saturday at the Tree-Mendus Fruit cherry orchard in Michigan, with a spit of 58 feet, 1½ inches.

But Mr. Krause, 58, needed all three attempts in the championship round to outdistance upstart Amanda Jennings, who finished second in the otherwise all-male championship event with 52 feet, 5½ inches.

Miss Jennings, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, used her determination and focused spitting form to win the women’s division after edging out five-time women’s champion Maureen Krause, Rick’s wife, with a spit of 47 feet, 6½ inches.

The pit spit marks the beginning of the southwest Michigan tart cherry harvest, organizers said.


Leafy disguise used in robbery

MANCHESTER — A man was arrested yesterday after police say he robbed a bank while disguised as a tree.

Just as the Citizen Bank branch opened Saturday morning, a man walked in with leafy boughs duct-taped to his head and torso, and robbed the place.

“He really went out on a limb,” police Sgt. Ernie Goodno said yesterday.

Police said the leafy man didn’t saying anything about having a weapon, just demanded cash, and was given an undisclosed amount.

Although the branches and leaves obscured much of the man’s face, someone who saw images from the bank’s security camera recognized the robber and called police.

Officers said James Coldwell, 49, was arrested early yesterday at his Manchester home and charged with robbery.


State workers face budget furlough

HARRISBURG — Legislators yesterday pushed to agree on a state budget before a partial government shutdown today that would furlough thousands of workers and curtail some services.

Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat, said Saturday he was “not optimistic now” that a furlough could be avoided.

The stalemate between the governor and the narrowly divided legislature over a $27 billion-plus budget and some of Mr. Rendell’s top priorities showed no sign of easing yesterday.

Without a deal, more than 24,000 state workers whose jobs are not deemed to be essential to health and safety will be furloughed without pay today.

The union representing state workers went to court challenging the furlough policy, but a court Saturday denied its request for a restraining order halting the furloughs.

A hearing was set for 9 a.m. today, nine hours after the order was to go into effect.


Missing rafter sought after major flooding

DALLAS — Search teams yesterday continued combing the swollen Trinity River for a missing rafter as drenching rain that has pounded the state for nearly three weeks held off.

Meanwhile, the death toll from storms that have battered Texas since last month climbed to 16 Saturday with the recovery of another victim.

The 26-year-old missing man was on a rubber raft that capsized Friday on the Trinity.

Another man on the raft had to swim about 300 yards against the swift current to safety after their raft flipped. Neither man wore a life jacket.

On Saturday, President Bush issued a federal disaster declaration for Oklahoma, freeing federal funds to aid two counties ravaged by the flooding.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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