- The Washington Times - Monday, February 15, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Woman sues Toyota over husband’s death

LOS ANGELES | A Nebraska widow has sued Toyota in federal court in Los Angeles seeking compensation for the death of her husband on grounds he was killed when their Prius suddenly accelerated and crashed.

Jacquelyn Donoghue of Holdrege, Neb., filed the complaint Friday. The automaker’s North American headquarters is located in Torrance, an L.A. suburb.

Mrs. Donoghue, a 67-year-old nurse, claims her 2006 Toyota Prius went out of control in December and slammed into another vehicle. Her husband, John Donoghue, was killed and she was injured.

Her attorney says the car was not equipped with a brake-to-idle override safety feature that allows drivers to override the electronic throttle, which played a direct role in the death. Toyota did not return a call for comment.

GEORGIA

Swine flu sickened 57 million in U.S.

ATLANTA | Swine flu cases are down, but health officials said Friday the disease’s cumulative impact has grown to 57 million U.S. illnesses, 257,000 hospitalizations and 11,690 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the new estimates Friday. They represent cases from the time swine flu was first identified in April through mid-January — the first nine months of the pandemic.

The numbers represent increases of about 4 percent from the CDC’s last estimates, which covered the first eight months. New swine flu cases peaked in October but declined since, and have not been widespread in any state for more than a month.

ILLINOIS

Cicero fire kills seven

CHICAGO | An early morning fire that ripped through a suburban Chicago apartment building Sunday left seven people dead, including a newborn baby, a 3-year-old and four teenagers.

The death toll rose from four to seven Sunday as investigators searched through the charred remains of the three-story building in Cicero for victims and residents waited anxiously to hear word of their loved ones. The blaze started around 6:30 a.m. and was extinguished in about an hour, town spokesman Ray Hanania said.

It was unclear how many people had lived in the building, making it difficult to account for residents.

“There may have been four or five families [living] in there,” Mr. Hanania said. “We have no idea, it could range from 23 to 40 people” who lived in the building, he said. The structure had two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Authorities did not immediately release the victims’ identities.

MASSACHUSETTS

Case involving first-grader settled

BROCKTON | The family of a Massachusetts boy suspended after school officials accused him of sexually harassing a girl in his first-grade class has settled a lawsuit against the city of Brockton for $180,000.

Under terms of the agreement, the now 10-year-old boy will get $160,000 and his parents will get $20,000, according to the Enterprise of Brockton.

His mother, Berthena Dorinvil, refused to comment on the settlement but said her son is “doing great.” Their lawyer says the family is satisfied.

Mayor Linda Balzotti says she hopes the city can learn from the case.

The then 6-year-old boy was suspended in 2006 after putting two fingers inside the waistband of the girl’s pants. The family called it horseplay after the girl touched the boy first.

MICHIGAN

Four children die in house fire

FLINT | A fire that apparently started after a man fell asleep while cooking swept through an apartment building, killing the man’s young child and three others he was baby-sitting, authorities said.

The fire started at about 11 p.m. Saturday in a kitchen in one of the building’s six town houses, said Rod Slaughter, executive director of the Flint Housing Commission. Neighbors spotted flames and smoke, and banged on the doors of the unit to wake the 28-year-old father, who escaped through a first-floor window, Fire Battalion Chief Andy Graves said.

They unsuccessfully tried to coax one of the children to jump from a second-floor window.

“They were able to reach one child, but they couldn’t get her to jump,” Chief Graves said Sunday.

The children were between the ages of 1 and 4 years old.

OHIO

Motel to become religious retreat

CANFIELD | A group of monks wants to turn an Ohio motel once used by a prostitution ring into a religious retreat.

Monks from the Syro-Russian Orthodox Catholic Church have opened the Monastery Inn, offering low-cost housing and outreach services in what had been the Canfield Colonial Motel. The monks’ leader, Bishop Timothy, said the group eventually hopes to turn the inn and surrounding acreage into a religious retreat.

Police said the motel and a sister property were used for a prostitution ring. The former owner pleaded guilty last month to promoting prostitution and will be sentenced early next month.

PENNSYLVANIA

Murtha remembered as man of people

JOHNSTOWN | Hundreds of mourners braved light snow and bitter cold Sunday before slowly filing past the casket of late congressman John P. Murtha at a funeral home less than a mile from where he lived.

The mourners ranged from Gov. Edward G. Rendell to average citizens, especially veterans, who revered Mr. Murtha, a powerful Democrat who headed the House appropriations defense subcommittee.

Mr. Rendell said Murtha’s death Feb. 8 at age 77 after complications from gallbladder surgery cost him a plainspoken friend and cost Pennsylvania “the best ally we ever had” in Washington and “our go-to guy.”

Mr. Murtha’s influence on Pennsylvania, and especially his ability to bring defense spending and jobs to the state after the steel industry meltdown of the 1970s and early ‘80s, was felt well beyond his 12th District, composed of parts of nine western counties, Mr. Rendell said.

Joyce Murtha, touted as a possible replacement for her husband, greeted mourners who had lined up outside the simple white-frame funeral home. His adult children and three grandchildren also greeted mourners.

“When you met him on the streets of Johnstown he would not talk at you, he would talk to you,” said Michael Holub, a retired Army sergeant major from Johnstown, Mr. Murtha’s hometown.

WASHINGTON

Plane skirted Olympic airspace

SEATTLE | An airplane that may have been stolen by an elusive teen in Washington dubbed the “barefoot burglar” skirted but didn’t violate a restricted flight zone set up for the Vancouver Olympics, federal authorities said Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the Cirrus SR22 got its attention because it was using the wrong transponder code.

The plane was stolen late Wednesday and found Thursday at Orcas Island airport, where it was examined by state crime lab officials.

Investigators also learned that someone broke into a grocery store in the area and drew cartoonish chalk-outline feet all over the floor.

San Juan County Sheriff Bill Cumming said the stolen plane and break-in match the tactics of 18-year-old Colton Harris-Moore, a suspect in numerous burglaries in the state.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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