Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Graduate goes overboard from ship

TAMPA | The Coast Guard was searching Gulf of Mexico waters Monday for an 18-year-old recent high school graduate from Louisiana who is thought to have gone overboard from a cruise ship.

Bruce O’Krepki went overboard from the Carnival Fantasy about 9:45 p.m. Sunday, about 150 miles southwest of Tampa, the Coast Guard said.

Mr. O’Krepki is from Hammond, La., where the Daily Star newspaper reported that he recently graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School. He was with about 35 classmates on the ship.

A search plane, helicopter and Coast Guard cutter were sent out to search.

The ship left New Orleans and was en route to Key West.


Swine flu death is nation’s 12th

CHICAGO | A Chicago-area resident has died of swine flu, the first death in Illinois and the 12th nationally, from the illness, health authorities said Monday.

Authorities in Mexico, where the swine flu outbreak was identified in April, announced three more deaths, raising its total to 83, and Canada reported its second death.

“With as many cases of H1N1 influenza that have been reported in Illinois, we have been concerned that there would be fatalities,” said Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. The state lists 896 confirmed cases.

Before the latest reports, the World Health Organization tallied at least 91 deaths around the globe from more than 12,500 swine flu cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 10 deaths and 6,700 cases in the U.S., most of them mild. But New York health officials reported another death over the weekend.

Dr. Arnold said that the victim in Chicago had other medical conditions, but authorities released no other information about the person.


Student who fired at teacher dies

THIBODAUX | A 15-year-old student who shot himself in the head after firing a shot over a teacher last week at a Louisiana middle school has died, a coroner’s investigator said.

Mark Goldman, the chief investigator for the Lafourche Parish Coroner’s office, said eighth-grader Justin Doucet died Saturday morning at Terrebonne General Medical Center in Houma.

Police said Justin entered Jessica Plaisance’s seventh-grade class and fired one shot over her head, missing her. He then walked into a nearby bathroom and shot himself with his father’s nickel-plated pistol.


Church fire forces parade cancellation

MIDDLEBOROUGH | An four-alarm fire damaged a 161-year-old Massachusetts church and forced the town of Middleborough to cancel its Memorial Day parade.

The morning parade was scheduled to march past the Central Congregational Church on Monday before a ceremony at the Veterans Memorial across the street. But firefighters were just getting the blaze under control at midmorning.

The blaze was called in about 6:30 a.m., and firefighters from 11 towns eventually responded.

Fire Chief Lance Benjamino said the fire began in a back kitchen, moved up a wall into the church’s soaring white steeple. Officials said the church’s interior was a total loss, but some religious items might be salvageable. Officials were investigating the cause.

The church’s pastor, the Rev. Bruce Smith, vows the church will rebuild.


Man dies after saving boy from pit

DETROIT | A 58-year-old man died after rescuing a 7-year-old boy who fell into a water-filled hole at a construction site.

Wayne State University police Sgt. Robert Barron said the boy was playing Sunday at a home under construction on Miracle Street when he fell into the foundation pit that was dug for the basement.

The Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News reported the man was Garrett Townsend of Detroit. WDIV-TV said he managed to rescue the child but wasn’t able to get himself out of the water.

Emergency responders pulled him out and rushed him to a hospital, where he died.


Blast shatters coffee shop windows

NEW YORK | An explosion early Monday morning on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, possibly caused by a small bomb made from fireworks, destroyed a sidewalk bench and shattered windows in a Starbucks coffee shop.

No one was injured in the blast, which happened about 3:30 a.m.

Investigators were looking into the similarities between the explosion and others that have taken place in the city over the past four years, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. The bomb went off at about the same time of day as an explosion at the British Consulate in May 2005, another at the Mexican Consulate in October 2007 and one at the Times Square military recruiting station in March 2008.


Student’s body found in Smokies

KNOXVILLE | Authorities said they recovered the body of a 20-year-old Penn State student thought to have drowned in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Park spokesman Bob Miller told WBIR-TV that the body of Nublan Zaki Norhadi was recovered Monday afternoon about 30 feet underwater in a pool beneath a waterfall. Officials are not sure whether he fell over the falls or was swimming below them.

The man, originally from Malaysia, was with a group of about 30 Penn State students who were visiting the park. He was reported missing Sunday evening.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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