- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2008

FLORIDA

Driver in fatal crash was on cell phone

CITRA | A tractor-trailer driver was on his cell phone when he slammed his truck into the back of a school bus in northern Florida, police said Wednesday.

A 13-year-old girl died, but officials are crediting heroic passers-by who pulled students off the burning bus with preventing even greater loss of life.

“This was a tragedy, but it’s also a miracle,” Marion County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yancey told the Ocala Star-Banner. “We’re lucky one person got out of there alive.”

There were 21 students on the bus when a truck driven by Reinaldo Gonzalez, 30, rear-ended it on Tuesday, police said. Both vehicles caught fire.

Mr. Gonzalez “said that he was using the phone just prior to the crash and he looked up and noticed that the bus had stopped,” said Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Pat Riordan. The phone “was certainly a distraction.”

Charges against Mr. Gonzalez are pending, Lt. Riordan said.

The dead girl was identified as middle school student Frances M. Schee.

Eight other students were injured - two critically. Mr. Gonzalez was taken to a hospital with head injuries.

MASSACHUSETTS

Lector removed after gay memoir

BOSTON | A Roman Catholic church in Boston has removed a man from lay leadership posts over a book that he wrote describing himself as “a happy porn-writing Sodomite.”

Scott Pomfret served eight years at Saint Anthony Shrine. The book, “Since My Last Confession,” mocks Cardinal Sean O’Malley and suggests some local clergy are sexually active.

Mr. Pomfret said he was amazed that the friars removed him from leadership because he interviewed many for the book.

MICHIGAN

Fugitive mom gets probation

DETROIT | A California woman who escaped from a Michigan prison 32 years ago and lived on the lam as a suburban mother was sentenced to probation Wednesday, five months after her capture.

Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner said Susan LeFevre had already served 14 months in prison on a drug conviction when she escaped.

LeFevre, 53, was arrested last spring, living under the name Marie Walsh in the posh Carmel Valley neighborhood of San Diego, where she is married with three children. She pleaded guilty to the escape Sept. 9.

LeFevre is back behind bars on her original 10-year sentence. She must serve at least 5 1/2 years before getting a chance at parole.

LeFevre was 19 when she was arrested on a heroin charge. She escaped prison in 1976.

NEW JERSEY

Dolphin dies in river, raises fear for others

ATLANTIC CITY | A young dolphin was found dead in the Navesink River on Wednesday morning, probably one of a group of wayward dolphins that made a wrong turn out of Sandy Hook Bay in June, officials said.

It was found by a marina worker in Fair Haven near where a group of 15 dolphins has been staying since early summer, drawing crowds of sightseers but worrying rescue groups that say the approaching winter puts them in grave danger.

The cause of death was not clear; tests were planned.

The plight of the dolphins has become a point of contention between rescue groups and national wildlife officials, who have been reluctant to approve a plan to coax or scare the dolphins out of the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers back out to sea.

PENNSYLVANIA

Soccer mom loses gun permit

LEBANON | Officials have revoked a woman’s concealed-weapons permit because other parents complained that she was carrying her loaded handgun at her daughter’s soccer games.

Meleanie Hain said she is fighting the revocation by the Lebanon County sheriff. She lost the permit and got a warning from local soccer officials after a game on Sept. 11.

Sheriff Michael DeLeo said openly carrying a weapon to a youth soccer match shows a lack of judgment.

Mrs. Hain tells the Lebanon Daily News she always has openly carried a firearm without any problems in the past.

Her lawyer, Robert Magee, said that although Pennsylvania requires a permit for a concealed firearm, it doesn’t require a license to carry one openly except in Philadelphia.

TEXAS

City allows residents back

GALVESTON | Thousands of people returned on Wednesday for the first time since their island city was blasted by Hurricane Ike nearly two weeks ago, choosing home over warnings that Galveston is “broken” and infested with germs and snakes.

Some returned to find homes in ruins.

Traffic was backed up for 10 miles on the one major highway leading into Galveston, but things appeared to go smoothly once the city of about 57,000 started letting people in about 6 a.m.

Police officers were stationed to direct traffic at major intersections where signal lights were ripped away by the hurricane’s 110-mph wind and 12-foot storm surge on Sept. 13.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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