- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Toddler feared dead in flash flood

DENVER — Severe thunderstorms sent normally placid streams over their banks across the Denver area, sweeping away a 2-year-old boy in a stroller and a teenager who was trying to help with a rescue. Both were still missing yesterday, police said.

The toddler’s mother had been out for a stroll Monday along a bike path that follows a creek near downtown. It had been a sunny morning, and the thunderstorm developed quickly. In less than an hour, it dumped more than an inch of rain, flooding streets and sending a torrent of water down the tiny creek.

“The water knocked her down; she was dragged for a little bit and was unable to hold onto the stroller,” Denver Fire Department spokesman Phil Champagne said. “What a tragic event — that poor mother to see her child swept away like that.”

In southern Denver, a police officer and firefighters were able to save one teenager from a swollen creek in a park, but another teen who apparently was trying to help was swept away and remained missing, Mr. Champagne said.


Wildfire jumps containment line

LAKE CITY — Authorities evacuated hundreds of homes after a massive wildfire along the Georgia-Florida state line jumped a containment line overnight, authorities said yesterday.

Firefighters pushed the flames back to the containment line, but dry weather and 15 mph wind in northern Florida were expected to further hinder their work. From 250 to 500 homes west of U.S. Highway 441 had to be evacuated for a second time when the fire line was breached, Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Michael Burroughs said. An additional 570 people who were ordered out of homes east of the roadway were still waiting to return.

The wildfire had raced through the Okefenokee Swamp in southeastern Georgia and into northern Florida after being started by lightning more than a week ago. By yesterday, it had burned 109,000 acres in Florida and 139,813 acres of swampland in Georgia — nearly 390 square miles in all.


Accused Marine defends actions

CAMP PENDLETON — A Marine captain accused of failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians said yesterday that he never pursued a probe because he thought the deaths resulted from lawful combat.

Capt. Randy W. Stone also said he never lied about his actions.

“I have never lied and have worked at all times to assist as best I could to shed light on what I knew and when I knew it,” he said.

Capt. Stone, who was the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines’ lawyer at the time of the Nov. 19, 2005, killings in the town of Haditha, spoke from the lectern on the seventh day of his Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding.

It was the first time he addressed the court, and his statement was unsworn, which prevented him from being cross-examined by prosecutors.

An investigating officer ultimately will recommend whether the charges should go to trial. If convicted, Capt. Stone faces 21/2 years in prison and dismissal.


Repaired shuttle back on launchpad

CAPE CANAVERAL — Atlantis returned to the launch pad yesterday with white spots on its external fuel tank the only evidence of 21/2 months of repairs from hail damage that postponed the year’s first space-shuttle flight until June.

The 3.4-mile trip from the vehicle-assembly building to the launch pad took less than seven hours aboard the shuttle’s massive crawler-transporter.

When the spacecraft rolled out before dawn yesterday, the orange tank had hundreds of white speckles at the top showing where technicians sprayed on new insulation foam, hand-poured foam on other areas and sanded down spots.

John Chapman, NASA’s manager of the external tank project, said last week that the agency had “total confidence in the integrity of the repairs.”


Aquarium’s sea turtle heads back to wild

ATLANTA — A loggerhead sea turtle that was a popular attraction at the city aquarium departed yesterday on a trip back to the Georgia coast, where the reptile was hatched.

Specialists hope Dylan soon will be ready to thrive in the wild.

Yesterday morning, veterinarians at the Georgia Aquarium loaded the 7-year-old turtle into a van for a six-hour ride to Jekyll Island, where Dylan was first discovered as a hatchling straggler. The turtle now tips the scales at nearly 140 pounds.

“He reached the point where we felt the size of our exhibit wasn’t meeting his needs,” said Eric Gaglione, the aquarium’s director of animal husbandry.

Now, workers at the newly opened Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island will wean Dylan from human contact. When they think he’s ready, perhaps in a couple of months, they’ll tag him with a transmitter and release him into the Atlantic.


White student settles in admissions case

HONOLULU — A private school system has reached a settlement with a white student who was denied admission because he isn’t a native Hawaiian, ending a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The settlement between the student and the Kamehameha Schools system ends the four-year-old lawsuit. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

A sharply divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the admissions policy with an 8-7 vote in 2006.

John Goemans, an attorney for the student, acknowledged that the settlement came late in the process, but said his client wanted to resolve the case.


Greensburg tornado claims 12th life

PRATT — The massive tornado that devastated the town of Greensburg nearly two weeks ago has claimed another life.

Harold Schmidt, 77, a resident of Greensburg, died Monday at Pratt Regional Medical Center of injuries he suffered in the tornado, the hospital said.

Nine other persons died in Greensburg when the tornado struck on May 4, and the storm claimed two more lives in the nearby towns of Macksville and Hopewell, bringing the number of fatalities to 12.

The tornado destroyed more than 90 percent of the buildings in Greensburg, a south-central Kansas town that had about 1,400 residents before the storm.


Teen ‘shoots’ self without a gun

LAKE LUZERNE — A young man “shot” himself without using a gun.

Damion M. Mosher, who put bullets in a vise and whacked them with a hammer to empty the brass shell casings, was hit in the abdomen by one of the shots, authorities said.

Warren County deputies said they were called to Mr. Mosher’s home in Lake Luzerne on Saturday afternoon after one bullet went about a half-inch into his abdomen. He was treated at Glens Falls Hospital and was released. No charges were filed.

Mr. Mosher, 18, told authorities he was trying to empty the .223-caliber rounds to collect the brass casings for scrap.


Ex-Scout leader sentenced for stealing

DELAWARE — With her troop members watching, a former Girl Scout leader was sentenced to 60 days in jail for stealing nearly $5,000 they had raised through cookie sales and other fundraisers.

The judge told Teresa Wickline at her sentencing Monday that she could serve her jail time on weekends. Wickline, 42, also must repay the troop $4,900 within six months and perform 150 hours of community service.

Wickline, of Lewis Center, pleaded guilty to a theft charge in March.

Authorities said Wickline used the money to pay for personal expenses, including her cell-phone bill.


Commuter trains bump in tunnel

PHILADELPHIA — A commuter train hit another one in a downtown tunnel at the beginning of the evening rush hour Monday, slightly injuring nearly three dozen people, a transit spokesman said.

Gary Fairfax, a spokesman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he did not know whether both trains were moving. If so, neither was going fast, he said.

Mr. Fairfax said 35 persons suffered minor injuries.

The accident caused train delays of about 20 minutes, officials said.


Groups seek to block rent ban for illegals

DALLAS — Hispanic activists and civil liberties advocates asked a federal judge yesterday to block a voter-approved ordinance that prohibits landlords from renting apartments to most illegal aliens in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union, which already have sued the city, requested the temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court.

The ordinance, scheduled to take effect Tuesday, requires apartment managers to verify that renters are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants before leasing to them, with some exceptions. Violators face fines of up to $500.

The city is preparing a response to the request, said Matthew Boyle, an attorney for Farmers Branch.


Cyclist survives truck running over his head

MILWAUKEE — Ryan Lipscomb lived to tell how it felt to have a truck run over his head. “Really strange,” he said.

Mr. Lipscomb, 26 of Seattle, suffered a concussion, but was otherwise unhurt. He was shaken up, especially after he saw his mangled helmet.

Mr. Lipscomb, a graduate student in medical physics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, was riding down a bike path in Madison on Friday afternoon. As he approached an intersection, he said, he noticed the oncoming delivery truck preparing to make a right turn in front of him.

The truck wasn’t going to stop, Mr. Lipscomb said, so he slammed on his brakes, flipping his bike and landing in the street. A moment later, the truck rolled over his head. His black helmet was flattened, tread marks visible on the cracked frame.

Police spokesman Mike Hanson said yesterday that investigators haven’t been able to identity the driver.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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