- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ILLINOIS

Stalled train closes major route

CHICAGO — Up to 100 passengers were evacuated from a subway tunnel yesterday after a single train stalled and officials shut down all service on a major route between downtown and O’Hare International Airport.

Four people were taken to hospitals but none of their injuries was considered life-threatening, Chicago Transit Authority President Ron Huberman said.

An eight-car train stalled shortly after 8 a.m. inside a tunnel near the station at Clark and Lake streets in Chicago’s Loop and some passengers jumped off, Mr. Huberman said. CTA employees attempted to get those passengers back onto the train, but some refused. The authority then shut down power to the whole Blue Line to make sure no one touched the electrified third rail.

CTA officials said the first train was stalled by an electrical problem. Power was restored just before noon to the Blue Line.

OHIO

Father accused in killings found dead in jail

LEBANON — A man accused of stabbing his wife to death and killing his four children in a house fire hanged himself in his jail cell early yesterday, officials said.

Michel Veillette, 34, had pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of aggravated murder and two counts of aggravated arson and was awaiting trial.

A corrections officer found Mr. Veillette lying on the floor with a sheet around his neck tied to a towel rack, Sheriff Tom Ariss said. An autopsy showed no injuries other than those consistent with hanging, he said.

Prosecutors said Mr. Veillette stabbed his wife, Nadya Ferrari-Veillette, 33, after they had a fight on Jan. 11. He then set fire to the couple’s home in Mason, prosecutors said. The children — ages 8, 4 and 2-year-old twins — died of smoke inhalation.

Mr. Veillette told the Cincinnati Enquirer in late January that he killed his wife after she attacked him with a knife and a frying pan. He said she set the fire.

CALIFORNIA

Taser linked to cat’s death

SANTA ANA — The scandal-plagued Orange County Sheriff’s Department is investigating whether jail staffers used a Taser stun gun on a cat that was found dead on facility grounds.

The investigation comes after a scathing criminal grand jury report last week that found deputies at Theo Lacy Jail sent personal text messages and watched TV while inmates beat a fellow inmate to death.

Sheriff’s spokesman John McDonald said a tipster told the department Monday that jail personnel used a Taser on the cat. The animal was later found dead on the jail grounds, between two fences.

It had been dead several weeks and a necropsy is pending. Mr. McDonald declined to say who reported the allegations.

COLORADO

Governor signs Sunday liquor law

DENVER — Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. signed a law allowing liquor stores to stay open on Sundays starting in July.

The measure reverses a blue law dating back to the repeal of Prohibition. Colorado becomes the 35th state to permit Sunday alcohol sales at retail stores and the 13th to pass such a law since 2002, according to a liquor trade group.

CONNECTICUT

Robbery suspect held without bail

HARTFORD — A Puerto Rican nationalist charged in a multimillion-dollar 1983 robbery should be held without bail until his trial, a federal magistrate ruled yesterday.

Authorities say Avelino Gonzalez-Claudio, 65, arrested earlier this year in Puerto Rico, was one of more than a dozen suspected members of the group Los Macheteros who carried out the $7 million heist at the Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford.

The robbery was one of the largest in American history.

Mr. Gonzalez pleaded not guilty in February to 15 federal charges including robbery and conspiracy. He was arrested without incident earlier that month in the Puerto Rican town where he had been living under an assumed name.

In his ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Smith agreed with federal prosecutors that there was no way to ensure that Mr. Gonzalez would not flee if he were released on bail. He rejected the government’s other argument against bail, that Mr. Gonzalez is a danger to society.

FLORIDA

911 call tells beating aftermath

BARTOW — A newly released 911 call recounts the aftermath of the videotaped beating of a central Florida teen. The 16-year-old victim tells the 911 operator: “I got jumped.”

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office released the recording of the call yesterday.

The girl called from a friend’s house in Lakeland after the March 30 beating. The friend’s mother got on the phone and told the operator: “She’s got blood in her mouth, a big old knot on her left eye, and we think she’s got a tooth broke.”

Eight teens have been charged as adults in the beating.

Part of the video was released by the sheriff’s office and has been seen widely on national TV and the Internet. Authorities believe the girl was attacked and taped so the video could be posted on YouTube.

GEORGIA

Refinery blast victims improving

AUGUSTA — The six workers who remain hospitalized after suffering burns in a February sugar-refinery explosion are showing marked improvement, doctors and family members said yesterday.

“Some are a little bit ahead, one is a little behind, but overall they’re hanging in there and doing quite well,” said Dr. Fred Mullins, medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital.

Two workers have recovered enough to move into the hospital’s rehab unit, while four remain in the burn unit at the burn center. Three workers still in critical condition likely won’t be upgraded for several weeks but are slowly improving, Dr. Mullins said.

Justin Purnell is learning to use his hands again, fitting clothespins on a metal rod with the help of an occupational therapist, two months after the Feb. 7 explosion at the Imperial Sugar Co. plant in Port Wentworth. His friend and refinery co-worker Paul Seckinger is still in critical condition with burns over 80 percent of his body, but is alert.

Nine refinery workers have returned home since being treated for burns suffered in the explosion, which erupted after sugar dust in the air ignited like gunpowder. A total of 13 workers died, including five that were treated at the burn center.

HAWAII

Army to destroy chemical weapons

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The Army says it is ready to begin destroying a stockpile of old chemical weapons found during cleanup of a training range on the island of Oahu.

The Army calls it the largest concentration of unexploded chemical weapons ever found in the United States.

Most of the artillery shells and other weapons contain the choking agent phosgene, and one holds an agent that causes a reaction like tear gas.

The Army says the weapons were produced beginning in World War I and were stockpiled at the Schofield Barracks military base through World War II.

Army officials say a system called a Transportable Detonation Chamber will contain the weapons while they are destroyed one at a time with explosives. Heat and a series of filters will neutralize their poisonous contents.

MICHIGAN

Sheriff’s department covers towing bill

JACKSON — A Navy medic is being reimbursed for a $60 towing bill he received while he was helping perform CPR on a heart attack victim.

Jackson County Undersheriff Tom Finco said the department was paying back Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Tim Moore as “a goodwill gesture.”

Corpsman Moore, 24, who had just returned from Iraq, was driving on Interstate 94 on April 2 when he saw an ambulance parked on the side. He pulled over and comforted a woman whose fiance had suffered a heart attack inside the ambulance.

When the rescuers learned of Corpsman Moore’s medical training, they asked if he would help administer CPR. He left his truck on the exit ramp and got in. The man died at Foote Hospital in Jackson.

In the meantime, Corpsman Moore’s truck — parked partly over the white line marking the side of the road — was deemed a travel hazard and towed.

Corpsman Moore, now stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said people have been sending checks to his parents after word spread about the towing bill, but he plans to donate that money to veterans’ charities.

NEW YORK

NYPD settles suit claiming abuse

NEW YORK — Police have agreed to rein in mounted patrols and adopt other new policies protecting the rights of demonstrators in order to settle a lawsuit brought by antiwar protesters, the New York Civil Liberties Union said yesterday.

The outcome “is a long-overdue recognition by the police department that changes needed to be made in the policing of large demonstrations,” said Christopher Dunn, NYCLU associate legal director.

The New York Police Department called the settlement insignificant, claiming that most of the measures already were in place. “These are things we’ve been doing all along,” said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

The suit accused police of needlessly disrupting a large antiwar demonstration near the United Nations on Feb. 15, 2003, a month before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Three plaintiffs claimed that officers closed access points, trapped protesters inside barricade pens and charged into crowds on horseback, knocking people down.

The NYCLU said the settlement requires police to publicize detailed information on street closures and access points both prior to and during major demonstrations; to make sure that when using barricade pens, protesters are allowed to come and go as they please; and to give demonstrators ample warning and a chance to leave before using horses to disperse crowds.

RHODE ISLAND

Psychiatric hospital begins expansion

EAST PROVIDENCE — The nation’s oldest psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents has launched a $31 million, 44,000-square-foot expansion.

The 77-year-old Bradley Hospital broke ground on a two-story building next to the existing hospital, which is overcrowded. Officials say the 60-bed expansion will give staff better ways to monitor or separate violent children.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Three charged in shooting

CONWAY — Three people have been charged in the fatal shooting of a man near a South Carolina college campus.

Authorities say 23-year-old Donell Lamont Dewon James was charged yesterday with murder, kidnapping, burglary and armed robbery.

A sheriff’s spokesman said Mr. James is accused of breaking into a home just blocks from the Coastal Carolina University campus and shooting 37-year-old Allen D. Smith.

Horry County sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Carr says two other teenagers face lesser charges in the case.

The charges come a day after Mr. Smith died of multiple gunshot wounds. Classes were canceled for a second day at the school as authorities investigated.

WASHINGTON

Nose-blowing boy fills 213 balloons

BLAINE — A 13-year-old boy hopes to win a balloon-blowing record by a nose.

Blowing through one nostril at a time, Andrew Dahl inflated 213 balloons within an hour Friday — a feat that has been submitted for review by Guinness World Records.

His father, Doug Dahl, measured the balloons to make sure each was at least 20 centimeters, the minimum diameter, and his mother, Wendy Dahl, kept the tally.

At one point he asked, “Does this count as practicing my trumpet?” His mother replied, “Only if you can play that with your nose.”

Andrew’s first attempt — 184 balloons in February — was rejected because his father tied the balloons. This time he tied them off himself.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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