Pennsylvania Archives:

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA (BNO NEWS) — One person was killed and nine others were injured late Sunday when they were struck by lightning outside a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) event in eastern Pennsylvania, officials said on Monday.

The lightning strikes were part of a storm that hit the area late Sunday afternoon when a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event was taking place at the Pocono International Raceway, which is located in the unincorporated community of Long Pond in Monroe County. The race had already been shortened due to the rain.

The first incident occurred at approximately 5:01 p.m. local time when a lightning strike struck property inside the Grandstand Parking area near Gate 5A. A Pocono Raceway Grandstand Fire unit which witnessed the strike immediately responded and provided first aid to the injured spectators.

“Within a matter of 3 minutes, medical personnel and additional emergency services reported on the scene and took control of treatment to individuals,” said Pocono Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky. “EMT responders were approached by additional individuals who reported symptoms related to the lightning strike.”

Igdalsky said nine people were struck by the lightning strike, including 41-year-old spectator Brian Zimmerman of Moosic, Pennsylvania. Zimmerman, who was leaning on his car when he was struck, was pronounced dead at around 7 p.m. local time by Dr. Peter Favini in the emergency room of Pocono Medical Center.

At approximately 6:35 p.m. local time, a second lightning strike struck in the vicinity of Gate 3, injuring one person. “The individual was immediately transported to Pocono Raceway’s Infield Medical Center where [the person was] initially treated for minor injuries before being transported to Pocono Medical Center in Stroudsburg for further evaluation,” Igdalsky said.

The condition of a person who was critically injured in the first lightning strike was upgraded to stable on Monday, although it was not immediately clear when he or she might be released. Several other victims had already been released by Monday morning, and the other victims were expected to be released later in the day.

“On behalf of the entire staff here at Pocono Raceway, we are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic events,” Igdalsky added. “As mentioned, our fans are like family to us and we express our deepest condolences to the individuals and families involved, especially Mr. Zimmerman’s.”

Landon Cassill, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver who participated in the event on Sunday afternoon, expressed his shock in a message on the social networking website Twitter. “My heart breaks for the fans that got struck by lightening today. I’m at a loss of words right now,” he said following the incident.

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BELLEFONTE, PENNSYLVANIA (BNO NEWS) — The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) handed down ‘unprecedented’ penalties against Penn State Monday after allegations of a cover-up by top officials of a child sex scandal.

The penalties, considered to be the harshest ever handed down to a university by the NCAA, came after an investigation showed that several top officials at Penn State were involved in the covering up of sexual acts between former coach Jerry Sandusky and a number of young boys.

The school will be forced to pay a $60 million fine equivalent to the approximate average of one year’s gross revenues from the Penn State football program, to be paid over a five-year period beginning in 2012 into a fund for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse.

The NCAA also imposed a four-year ban on participation in postseason play in the sport of football, beginning with the 2012-2013 season and expiring at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season. During the four-year period, the school will not be eligible to participate in any postseason competition, including a conference championship, any bowl game, or any postseason playoff competition.

In addition, the school will be stripped of all football wins they achieved between 1998 and 2011, the alleged time former coach Joe Paterno knew about the allegations against Sandusky by a number of minors. Due to having these wins removed, Paterno is no longer considered to be the coach with the most victories in NCAA football history, and this record is now held by former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. The school also lost scholarships and was placed on probation for five years.

In response to the penalties, Penn State President Rodney Erickson released a statement, saying, in part, that the school accepts the penalties. “Penn State accepts the penalties and corrective actions announced today by the NCAA. With today’s announcement and the action it requires of us, the University takes a significant step forward,” he said.

Erickson adds: “The NCAA ruling holds the University accountable for the failure of those in power to protect children and insists that all areas of the University community are held to the same high standards of honesty and integrity.”

A report released earlier this month by a special investigative council showed that several high ranking officials, including former coach Joe Paterno, who passed away in January, failed to report the child sexual abuse allegations, even after knowing them to be true. The report claimed Paterno and other senior officials had ‘total disregard’ for the victims of the sexual abuse that took place.

Last month, Sandusky, who worked as a coach at Penn State from 1969 until his retirement in 2009, was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse. The abuse occurred over several years with a number of young boys both at his home and at various Penn State facilities and events. The boys were part of his ‘second mile’ non-profit charity to help at-risk children since 1977.

Sandusky faces up to 442 years in prison for his crimes.

On Sunday, a statue of Joe Paterno on the campus of Penn State was taken down following the most recent allegations. Although a number of people were against the statue’s removal, the school made the decision after several weeks of discussion.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The remains of a U.S. service member who went missing in a plane crash on the south-central coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War in 1969 have been identified, the U.S. Department of Defense announced on Monday. His remains have been returned to his family.

U.S. Army Captain Charles R. Barnes and four other service members departed an airfield in Qui Nhon on March 16, 1969, en-route for Da Nang and Phu Bai. When their aircraft, a Beechcraft King Air U-21A Ute, approached Da Nang, they encountered low clouds and poor visibility before contact was lost.

After the aircraft failed to land as scheduled, a search-and-rescue operation was launched but eventually called off due to hazardous weather conditions. The cause of the crash was never determined. Barnes, who was from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the four other men were listed as missing in action.

More than two decades later, in 1993, a joint U.S.-Vietnamese team conducted investigations in the provinces of Thua Thien-Hue and Quảng Nam-Đà Nẵng. “They interviewed a local Vietnamese citizen who supplied remains and an identification tag bearing Barnes’ name, which he claimed to have recovered from an aircraft crash site,” the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement on Monday.

In 1999, a second joint U.S.-Vietnamese team interviewed additional local citizens about the crash and they were led to the crash site. A year later, a joint U.S.-Vietnamese team excavated the site and recovered human remains and material evidence.

Using circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools such as mitochondrial DNA — which matched that of Barnes’ sister — scientists from America’s Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory were able to identify the remains of Barnes.

Barnes will be buried on Wednesday at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with full military honors.

Since late 1973, the remains of more than 930 Americans killed in the Vietnam War have been accounted-for and returned to their families. With the accounting of Bernes, 1,671 Americans remain missing from the conflict, which ended in April 1975 and left more than 315,000 people killed.

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PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (BNO NEWS) — A gunman opened fire at a psychiatric hospital in Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon, killing one person and wounding several others before he was shot dead by a campus police officer, local authorities said.

The unidentified shooter was carrying two semiautomatic handguns when he opened fire on the first floor of the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in Pittsburgh, the second-largest city in Pennsylvania. The shooting began at around 1:40 p.m. local time.

Police said the gunman killed one person and wounded six others before he was shot dead by a campus police officer in a hallway at the hospital. A seventh victim suffered an injury not related to gunfire, although other details were not immediately released.

Five of the injured remained hospitalized on late Thursday while two others had already been released. Of those still hospitalized, who were identified as three males and two females between the ages of 35 and 64, two underwent surgery. The hospital said a 64-year-old woman and a 49-year-old man remain in a serious condition.

“I expect all of these patients to survive and do well,” said Donald Yealy, chair of emergency medicine at UPMC. “As the busiest trauma center in the region, we prepare for this kind of multi-casualty situation.” The hospital said the care of patients was not compromised because of the shooting, and many staff members volunteered to work extra shifts.

Authorities did not immediately identify the gunman, although early reports about a second gunman were found to be false. “This was a tragic day, a sad day, a senseless day in many ways,” Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said during a press conference on Thursday night.

Ravenstahl praised the response of police officers, saying their quick response saved lives. “There’s no doubt about it,” Ravenstahl said. “We can’t predict what would have happened if they hadn’t acted so quickly, but there’s no doubt their quick response saved lives.”

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MOLOKAI, HAWAII (BNO NEWS) — Five people were killed on early Thursday afternoon when a tour helicopter crashed on the island of Molokai in the Hawaiian archipelago, federal officials said on Friday. There were no survivors.

The accident happened at around 12.30 p.m. local time when a Eurocopter crashed on the east end of Molokai near Kilohana Elementary School. “The helicopter was engulfed in flames after crashing,” said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The helicopter was conducting an air tour flight for Blue Hawaiian out of Maui, the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands, when the accident happened. “There were five people on board and all were killed,” Gregor said. Officials identified the passengers as a newlywed couple from Pennsylvania and two people from Ontario, Canada.

Fire officials said the accident happened during rain and strong winds, which may have contributed to the accident. “The school health aid, whose office is in the back side of the campus, actually saw the helicopter run into the ridgeline behind the school,” Richard Stevens, Kilohana Elementary principal, told KHNL-TV.

Blue Hawaiian President Patti Chevalier said the company is “heart-broken” by the tragic events. “We’re devastated and we’re going to do everything we can to cooperate with the authorities,” Chevalier said.

Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the cause of the accident. “It typically takes [the] NTSB months to come up with a probable cause for accidents,” Gregor said.

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SHANKSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA (BNO NEWS) — Thousands of people on Saturday gathered in western Pennsylvania to remember the 40 people who died when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed there on Sept. 11, 2001.

Among those who gathered in Stonycreek Township, near Shanksville, were U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Republican House speaker John Boehner also attended the ceremony.

Saturday’s event was one of two this weekend to dedicate the Flight 93 National Memorial, of which the first phase was recently completed. Sunday’s ceremony will mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people in three locations.

“With the distance of a decade, 9/11 can feel like part of a different era,” Bush, who was Commander-in-Chief during the attacks, said. “But for the families of the men and women stolen, some of whom have joined us today, that day will never feel like history. The memory of that morning is fresh, and so is the pain. America shares your grief. We pray for your comfort. And we honor your loved ones.”

Flight 93, carrying 37 passengers (including the four hijackers) and seven crew members, was hijacked moments after two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. A fourth plane was also hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

With the hijackers in control of Flight 93, the passengers planned a revolt after learning about the planes which had been flown into the WTC. After a 6-minute fight, the Boeing 757-200 violently crashed into a reclaimed coal strip mine in Stonycreek Township, killing everyone on board.

With only 20 minutes from the nation’s capital, the actions of the passengers are believed to have saved the lives of many more as it prevented the hijackers from crashing the aircraft into a third target. It is believed the White House was the primary target, and the U.S. Capitol the alternative.

“When the passengers and crew realized the plane had been hijacked, they reported the news calmly,” Bush said. “When they learned that terrorists had crashed other planes into targets on the ground, they accepted greater responsibilities. In the back of the cabin, the passengers gathered to devise a strategy. At the moment America’s democracy was under attack, our citizens defied their captors by holding a vote. The choice they made would cost them their lives. And they knew it.”

Bush said the passengers of United 93 launched the first counteroffensive in the so-called War on Terror, and credited the passengers for saving many innocent people. “Americans are alive today because the passengers and crew of Flight 93 chose to act, and this Nation will be forever grateful,” the former president said.

Bush said the 40 passengers and crew members left a legacy of bravery and selflessness which inspires America. “For generations, people will study the story of Flight 93,” he said. “They will learn that individual choices make a difference, that love and sacrifice can triumph over evil and hate, and that what happened above this Pennsylvania field ranks among the most courageous acts in American history.”

The Flight 93 National Memorial, a decade later, is still under construction even though phase one has now been completed and dedicated. But $10 million is still required to complete the memorial, and Clinton and Boehner announced they will mount a bipartisan effort to raise the needed money.

Bush said the memorial will ensure that the United States will always remember those who died on Flight 93, but said the country has a duty beyond memory and honoring. “We have a duty to live our lives in a way that upholds the ideals for which the men and women gave their lives – to build a living memorial to their courage and sacrifice,” he said.

Biden, meanwhile, said he has recalled the incident time and again over the last 10 years. “I never fail to be astonished, literally astonished by the courage they demonstrated,” he told the audience.

“I say to you, even as we struggle with this tragedy, even as we grapple with the profound loss and devastating grief, we can look up at the heavens and think of these heroes and know, know with certitude that there is not a single, solitary tragedy that America cannot overcome,” Biden added. “There is not a single moment of hardship that cannot be transformed into one of national strength. The seeds of doubt, planted by those who wish to harm us, will instead grow into flowering meadows like this one where we stand in today, for they cannot defeat the American spirit.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — Federal regulators on Thursday closed the Public Savings Bank in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, raising the total number of bank failures in the United States so far this year to 65.

The bank was closed by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking after its regular closing time on Thursday, an unusual move as banks are normally shut down on Fridays to avoid customer disruption. It was not immediately clear why the bank was closed on a Thursday instead.

After the closing, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) said it immediately entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with the Capital Bank in Rockville, Maryland, to assume all of the deposits of Public Savings Bank.

Most customers should see no or little service disruptions despite the closure of the institution as the Public Savings Bank’s sole branch will reopen on Friday as a branch of Capital Bank, and all depositors of Public Savings Bank will automatically become depositors of Capital Bank.

All of the services of the failed bank, including checks, ATM and debit cards, will remain active. “Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed,” the FDIC said in a statement. “Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.”

As of June 30, Public Savings Bank had approximately $46.8 million in total assets and $45.8 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Capital Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

The FDIC estimated that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $11 million, but said it was the least costly resolution for the DIF compared to other alternatives.

The failure bring the total number of U.S. bank failures so far this year to 65. It is the first FDIC-insured institution to be closed in the state since the Earthstar Bank in Southampton was closed on December 10, 2010.

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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA (BNO NEWS) – A man from Philadelphia in Pennsylvania was shot dead after his ex-girlfriend posted a murder-for-hire offer on the social networking website Facebook, local authorities said on Tuesday.

Corey White, 22, of Philadelphia, received a fatal gunshot wound to the chest on Monday evening on Hadfield street near his Southwest Philadelphia home, local police told the the Philadelphia Inquirer.

White’s ex-girlfriend, London Eley, 19, of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania and mother of White’s child, had previously posted a murder-for-hire announcement on the social networking website Facebook in June.

After an argument with White, Eley posted: “I will pay somebody a stack to kill my baby father.” Stack is slang for $1,000 and, in response to the posting, several users questioned the request and asked whether she was sure she wanted White dead or just injured.

Eley reportedly responded, “DEAD! HATE HIM!”

Police said Timothy Bynum, 18, of Darby, Pennsylvania, responded with, “say no more, what he look like. where he be at. need that stack 1st ima mop that bull.”

According to Philadelphia Police Captain James Clark, White received the fatal gunshot at around 8 p.m. local time on Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The assailant was riding a brown vehicle, stopped near White, and got into an argument with him before fatally shooting him and driving off. White was later pronounced dead at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.

The brown vehicle was reportedly stolen earlier that day and was later found after being set on fire.

However, after being tipped off, police had already arrested both Eley and Bynum on June 12, well before White was murdered. They have been in custody ever since, including the day White was shot and killed. White had also previously testified against the pair in an initial hearing two weeks ago.

“Obviously this is something we’re going to look at really strongly, as far as a possible reason why Mr. White was killed,” Captain Clark told the media outlet. “However, there are a couple of other theories out there.”

Bynum and Eley allegedly conspired to kill White during Facebook exchanges two months ago, but Municipal Judge Patrick Dugan on Monday agreed to lower Eley’s and Bynum’s bail from $50,000 to $35,000 and $75,000 to $50,000, respectively.

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PHILADELPHIA (BNO NEWS) — Around 50 teenagers have been arrested for violating Philadelphia’s new curfew which took effect on Friday night, authorities said on Saturday.

Authorities imposed the weekend curfew to combat a rash of teen violence by roving mobs. Police spokesman Ray Evers told CNN that there were no signs of trouble late Friday, adding that the curfew did make a difference.

Evers said that police had taken 22 juveniles between the ages of 14 and 17 into custody an hour after the curfew took effect. But in all, some 50 minors were arrested and were not allowed to leave the police precinct until they were picked up by a parent or guardian.

Police patrolled the two areas under curfew, including downtown areas popular with locals and tourists during the Friday night curfew. The 50 teens are among the first charged with violating the newly enforced 9 p.m. weekend curfew, which forbids anyone under 18 from being out on the street in certain designated areas. Throughout the rest of the city, the curfew will remain 10 p.m. for those under the age of 13 and midnight for minors between ages 13 and 18, according to CNN.

Mayor Michael Nutter announced the earlier curfew after a recent epidemic of flash mob violence. “Minors who are caught breaking curfew will be sent home, brought home or transported to a police station where their parents will be contacted,” the city said in a news release.

Minors face fines of up to $300 for a first offense. Parents may be fined up to $500 for successive violations and could also subject to imprisonment for up to 90 days for repeat curfew violation offenses.

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WEST GOSHEN, PENNSYLVANIA (BNO NEWS) — Former reality TV star from MTV’s ‘Jackass’ Ryan Dunn was intoxicated and speeding when he fatally crashed his vehicle in Pennsylvania last Monday, officials said Wednesday.

Dunn died at around 3:30 p.m. local time alongside ‘Jackass Number Two’ production assistant Zachary Hartwell, after his Porsche 911 GT3 hit a tree in West Goshen Township, Pennsylvania when he lost control of the vehicle and came off the road.

According to West Goshen Police Chief Michael Carroll, Dunn’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was .196 at the time of the accident, which is more than twice the .08 legal amount established by the state of Pennsylvania, the Daily Local reported. In addition, investigations determined that he was driving his vehicle between 132 and 140 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone.

Dunn, who was 34 at the time of his death, was originally of Medina, Ohio and later moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania. He is probably most remembered for being part of the original daredevil crew in MTV’s ‘Jackass,’ but he also participated in other TV shows including ‘Viva La Bam,’ and hosted ‘Homewrecker’ and ‘Proving Ground.’

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