2 inmates escape from private prison
FLORENCE — Two convicted murderers escaped from prison yesterday by climbing ladders and hoisting themselves over two fences, authorities said. One was quickly captured; the other remained at large.
The inmates were working on a cleaning crew at the Florence Correctional Center when they attacked a guard and tied him down, according to a release from the Corrections Corp. of America, which operates the prison in Florence.
Detective Walt Hunter of the Florence Police Department said both inmates had been transferred to Arizona from Washington state. One of the men, Kollin Folsom, was later found in a building about a mile south of Florence, Detective Hunter said. Folsom, 24, was convicted of murder in the 1999 stabbing death of his girlfriend’s father in Washougal, Wash.
Authorities were searching for the other inmate, identified as Roy Townsend, 37, who was convicted of arson and murder in the shooting of a man in Mason County, Wash.
Regents find new speaker for event
SAN FRANCISCO — Lawrence Summers, the former president of Harvard University, has been replaced as the planned speaker at a University of California Board of Regents dinner after faculty members complained.
“Chairman Richard Blum and Dr. Summers talked last Thursday and agreed that the regents would have a different speaker,” said Trey Davis, director of special projects for the U.C. system.
Mr. Davis could not say whether a protest letter signed by more than 300 people from the university system had any effect on the decision to find a different speaker for the regents” dinner in Sacramento tomorrow. He referred those questions to Mr. Blum — the husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein — who is out of the country.
Mr. Summers, who was Treasury secretary under President Clinton, resigned from Harvard last year after a long-running clash with some faculty members after he questioned whether women have the same innate ability as men in disciplines such as science, math and engineering. He also had thorny relations with minority faculty members during his time at the university.
Susan Kennedy, chief of staff for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, will replace Mr. Summers as speaker at the dinner.
Lawsuit filed over voter-ID law
TALLAHASSEE A voter-registration law wrongly barred thousands of Florida residents from taking part in the 2006 election and should be thrown out, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and others said in a federal lawsuit filed yesterday.
The law prevents voters from registering if their driver’s license or Social Security information doesn’t match what is on the registration form.
Opponents of the law said the law, and similar requirements in a number of other states, have caused problems. Legitimate voters have been thwarted for having a maiden name on a driver’s license instead of a married name, or because of database-input errors that make one digit wrong in a birth date, opponents said.
The lawsuit claims more than 20,000 people had their voter registration slowed down or denied in 2006 because of difficulties in confirming registration data.
Police faulted in crash, disappearance
GARY — The parents of two high school seniors who died in a car crash said their sons were left near the road for hours after police overlooked them while investigating the accident.
Arthur Smith found the body of his son, Brandon Smith, and friend Dominique Green, both 18, Saturday in some brush about six hours after the crash, which injured two others. The father said he had gone to the crash site to look for clues that might have explained where his son went, but instead discovered the bodies.
“It took me all of five minutes to find the boys dead,” Mr. Smith said. “They were right there. I didn’t look under anything. I just seen my son, I seen my baby.”
The deaths of Mr. Smith’s son and Mr. Green in the single-vehicle crash early Saturday were “essentially” instantaneous, the Lake County coroner’s office said.
Cat stuck in tree blasted with hose
YONKERS — A fearful feline that was stuck in a tree for a week, clinging to branches several stories high, was finally blasted to safety with a high-pressure fire hose.
Volunteers with an outstretched sheet made the save as the cat, soaked and hungry but unharmed, was hosed out of the tree by firefighters Sunday night.
“Everyone was cheering,” said artist and animal rescuer Greg Speirs, who was among about 50 people assembled beneath the willow tree.
The cat had previously ignored people who banged cans of cat food and climbed ladders that were just out of reach. It took two shots with the hose to do the trick.
“As soon as the cat landed it jumped out and ran into the woods,” Mr. Speirs said yesterday. “Some kids helped us bring the cat back, and a man said he would adopt the cat right on the spot. You can’t come up with a nicer ending than that.”
Hanna, flamingo get stuck in turnstile
COLUMBUS — Animal specialist Jack Hanna and an 11-month-old flamingo became trapped while trying to squeeze through an airport-security turnstile. It took firefighters to finally get the flamingo out.
Mr. Hanna, the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and a frequent guest on nationally televised talk shows, was returning from a zoo fundraiser with a mongoose, a small leopard and the flamingo. Three other people were with them.
The entourage arrived at the Ohio State University Airport just after midnight Sunday to find the terminal closed. The only way to leave the tarmac was through a 10-foot-tall metal turnstile with several horizontal bars, not the easiest exit to squeeze through when you’re traveling with boxed-up animals, Mr. Hanna said.
Mr. Hanna, 60, said he eventually squirmed free. He then walked to a nearby fire station for help. It took three firefighters to hoist the flamingo’s crate up and out of the turnstile, he said.
Mr. Hanna joked that the next time he flies through the airport, the biggest animal he will bring is a gerbil.
Diocese starts fund for abuse claims
PITTSBURGH — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said yesterday it has created a $1.25 million fund to settle 32 lawsuits claiming abuse or injury by priests.
In a joint statement with an attorney for the plaintiffs, the diocese said it wanted to settle even though Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations barred many victims from filing personal-injury claims.
Plaintiff’s attorney Alan H. Perer said he appreciated the gesture even though he didn’t think the sum fairly compensated the victims for the abuse.
An independent arbitrator will determine how much each claimant will receive, partly based on the type and length of abuse, Mr. Perer said. If evenly distributed, it would be about $40,000 each before legal fees.
Former biker-gang leader sentenced
SEATTLE — The former leader of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang was sentenced yesterday to seven years in prison for racketeering.
Richard “Smilin’ Rick” Fabel, 50, also was ordered by U.S. District Chief Judge Robert S. Lasnik to pay nearly $55,000 in restitution and stay away from other Hells Angels for at least a year.
Fabel, who maintained his innocence, thanked his supporters, including Hells Angels from around the West who packed the courtroom.
A jury found him guilty after a 10-week trial this spring of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering — specifically, mail fraud, extortion and trafficking in stolen motorcycles.
From wire dispatches and staff reports