- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2011


Shuttle launch off until end of week

CAPE CANAVERAL | Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final launch is off until at least the end of the week because technicians need to replace a switch box in the engine compartment, NASA said Sunday.

The six astronauts — led by commander Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — wasted no time heading back to Houston. Ms. Giffords also separately returned there to continue rehabilitation from her near-fatal shooting in January.

As late as Saturday, the astronauts and their families were still hoping for a launch attempt Monday. But NASA gave up on that once it became clear extensive repair work would be needed to fix a faulty heater system aboard Endeavour. The trouble prevented the shuttle from blasting off Friday; President Obama and his family were among those missing out.

“We all had our fingers crossed looking forward to a quick rescheduling of the launch,” said C.J. Karamargin, a Giffords spokesman.


Four killed in home by man police later shot

WEST UNION | An 8-year-old girl who authorities say apparently slept through the fatal shootings of four family members at a rural home awoke and alerted a neighbor that something horrible had happened overnight.

A short time later, nearly 100 miles away, one of the girl’s relatives was killed in a shootout with police, who didn’t know then that he was suspected in the quadruple homicide.

Randle Lee Roberts II died in the shootout in Columbus on Saturday about an hour after the girl went out the back door of her pale blue, one-floor modular house and ran to a neighbor’s home.

In the girl’s home, her 34-year-old mother, Kendra Stephens, and 11-year-old sister, Harley, were found in one bedroom. The door to a second bedroom was locked, so authorities broke through a window to find 46-year-old Sonja Stephens dead in bed. In the living room, upright in a chair, they found 68-year-old George Stephens, grandfather of Roberts’ wife. Authorities are trying to clarify how the others are related.


Three hurt in crash of reality-TV chopper

INDIANA | A helicopter carrying a reality-television crew crashed near a university, injuring three of the four people aboard.

The helicopter went down between apartment buildings near the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus shortly after 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Officials said no one on the ground was injured and no fatalities were reported.

IUP freshman Lauren Yates said she heard what sounded like an airplane “coming down real low.”

“It kept getting lower and lower and spun a few times,” Miss Yates told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper. “It landed on the roof and fell down and over on the cement.”

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said Sunday that one of the three passengers, all Canadian citizens, walked away, but the other two and the pilot were injured. The injured people were in serious or critical condition.


Insurer settles lawsuit over pledge-death case

LOGAN | A Georgia insurance company that paid a wrongful-death claim on behalf of a former Utah State University fraternity has settled its lawsuit against four of the fraternity’s members.

The Herald Journal of Logan reported Sunday that attorneys for RSUI Inc. told a 1st District Court judge the company had resolved a dispute with the four men of Sigma Nu fraternity, related to a pledge’s death.

Court records show attorneys met with the judge April 20 — one day before a planned hearing. The settlement terms were not disclosed in court records.

RSUI, the fraternity’s insurer, sought $50,000 each from Sigma Nu pledge Chad Burton and chapter officers Cody Littlewood, Colton Hansen and Mitchell Alm as compensation for a settlement payment to the parents of Michael Starks.

Starks died Nov. 21, 2008, from alcohol poisoning after a fraternity event.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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