SUNDAY, JAN. 16, 2011

In brief: Snow enthusiasts dangle for hours

Chesterland, Ohio – A chairlift stalled Saturday at a northeast Ohio ski resort, leaving more than 80 people stuck for several hours until emergency crews used ropes and a pulley to lower them to safety, authorities said. No injuries were reported.

The ski lift at Alpine Valley in Munson Township malfunctioned at about 2:30 p.m., leaving the skiers and snowboarders dangling at least 30 feet from the ground, said Chief Scott Hildenbrand of the Hambden Fire Department, one of the agencies that responded.

Crews threw blankets and hand warmers to the skiers so they could stay warm until they were rescued, which Hildenbrand said took about three hours. Medics checked the skiers after they were on the ground; none needed to go to the hospital, Hildenbrand said.

“If this is the worst that happens, I’ll take this,” said Rich Gent, a skier who was among the 85 or so people stranded on the lift. “We weren’t stuck in an avalanche or anything crazy like that.”

A manager for Alpine Valley, an 125-acre resort east of Cleveland, said Saturday night that resort officials were still trying to pinpoint the cause of the malfunction.

Murder charge in officer’s killing

Lakewood, N.J. – Police signed murder charges Saturday against a 19-year-old man they accuse of fatally shooting a New Jersey police officer who had driven up beside him and started to question him.

A massive manhunt was under way for Jahmell W. Crockam, who is charged with killing Lakewood Patrolman Christopher Matlosz on Friday. Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said Crockam is known by the street name “Sav” – short for “Savage.”

A Superior Court judge set bail for Crockam at $5 million cash once he is arrested.

Authorities said the 27-year-old Matlosz drove up to Crockam as Crockam was walking and began speaking with him in a nonconfrontational manner when the suspect suddenly stepped back, pulled out a handgun and shot the officer three times.

Ford warned the public that Crockam is considered armed and dangerous.

A reward for the suspect’s capture is now up to $133,000.

Widow’s lawsuit over fees gets OK

Philadelphia – An elderly New Jersey widow billed $5,800 after missing the final payment on her 30-year mortgage can pursue her lawsuit against the debt collectors, a U.S. appeals court ruled.

Lawyers for Dorothy Rhue Allen called the fees charged by two banks and a law firm “unfair or unconscionable” and said they violate state and federal consumer- protection laws.

Allen, now 85, had borrowed $40,000 to buy the Deptford, N.J., home in 1976. She failed to make the final $432 payment in 2006 because she was in the hospital, her lawyer said.

“She’s just a wonderful little old lady that got sick,” lawyer Lewis Adler told the Associated Press on Friday.

Lenders are under scrutiny in New Jersey and across the country for the way they handled foreclosures during the recent real-estate bust.

In Allen’s case, LaSalle Bank and Cenlar Federal Savings Bank, both of Trenton, N.J., filed court foreclosure papers in 2007. Adler’s firm asked how much it would take to resolve the problem. The banks, along with a law firm, outlined $5,797 in charges, including nearly $2,400 in legal fees.

According to Allen’s lawsuit, those charges are far higher than allowed under federal and state laws, including the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act.


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