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Nation in brief: Storm dumps snow, causes fatal wrecks

Sun., Jan. 21, 2007

A winter storm rolled across the Plains Saturday causing numerous accidents that killed at least eight people in three states.

Heavy snow hit western and central Kansas, limiting visibility and creating hazardous driving conditions.

A couple and their 20-month-old daughter died when their car went off U.S. 50 in western Kansas and collided with two other cars, authorities said. The couple’s 6-year-old daughter was critically injured, authorities said.

In Oklahoma, a 5-year-old boy died after being thrown from a sport utility vehicle that rolled over after it left a snow-covered highway.

Four people died in crashes on Nebraska highways.

In Kansas, a heavy snow warning was in effect until 6 a.m. today from areas around Wichita westward, the National Weather Service said. Up to 6 inches of snow were forecast for some sections by today, with more to follow.

Farther south, the storm spared much of Oklahoma, though snow fell in western and north-central regions. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported Saturday night that about 36,000 customers remained without power a week after a crippling ice storm.

McALLEN, Texas

Continental pilot dies aboard flight

The pilot of a Continental Airlines flight became ill after takeoff and was later pronounced dead after the plane made an emergency landing, a company spokeswoman said.

The 210 passengers on the flight, which departed from Houston, were never in danger and the co-pilot landed the plane safely, Continental spokeswoman Macky Osorio said.

The airline said only that the pilot suffered a “serious medical problem.” Continental believes the pilot died of natural causes, Osorio said. The pilot’s name was not released.

The flight, bound for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, took off from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport and was diverted to McAllen-Miller International Airport. The flight continued to Mexico with a new crew, Osorio said.


Gunman takes hostages, flees

A gunman shot a man and held several people hostage for about nine hours Saturday before forcing a woman and her four young children into a car and fleeing, police said.

Elkhart police issued an Amber Alert and said the children and their mother were in extreme danger.

Police were looking for Jerry D. White, 30, who they believe abducted 31-year-old Kimberly N. Walker and the children after the shooting in the northern Indiana city. The children range in age from 16 months to 9 years old, authorities said.

Police said a woman called about 11:30 a.m. Saturday to report that her boyfriend had been shot overnight. Officers were told that the shooter held several people hostage and wouldn’t let anyone call for help. The woman was able to call authorities shortly after Walker and her children were forced into a vehicle, police said.

The wounded man was in critical condition with life-threatening injuries, police said.


More dolphins found in creek die

The number of dolphins that have died since being trapped in a shallow creek off eastern Long Island has risen to 10, a rescue leader said Saturday.

About 20 of the “common dolphins” were first sighted about 11 days ago in the Northwest Harbor cove, north of East Hampton. Marine biologists feared for their safety. Eight dolphins swam to safety earlier in the week after being coaxed out of the cove, and three were spotted Friday. Officials don’t know how many are alive.

More than 80 people have been involved in the rescue effort. The 10th dolphin’s body was found Saturday morning, officials said.

Chuck Bowman, president of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, said that rescuers could not go out on boats Saturday because of strong winds.


Hotel guest falls 300 feet, survives

A man crashed through a double-paned window in a hotel on Saturday and plummeted 16 floors – but survived when he landed on a roof overhang.

Joshua S. Hanson, 29, of Blair, Wis., was taken to a hospital. Police and fire officials said he had multiple broken bones and internal injuries.

The man must have “an angel on his shoulder or something,” said police Lt. Dale Barsness. “He’s a lucky guy.”

According to a police report, Hanson and two friends returned from a night of drinking about 1:30 a.m Saturday. When the elevator reached the 17th floor, Hanson ran down a short hallway toward a floor-to-ceiling window, Barsness said.

He apparently lost his balance and crashed through the glass, then fell 300 feet, landing on the roof overhang one floor up from the street.

The window was double-paned and had a safety bar, said Tom Mason, general manager of the Hyatt.

Police said Hanson was conscious and communicating when he was taken off the overhang.

“This has never happened before,” said Mason, who added that hotel officials will investigate and take whatever steps to ensure the hotel’s safety.


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