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Archive for Thursday, August 22, 2002

Briefly

August 22, 2002

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Miami

Pepper spray prompts evacuation at airport

A Miami International Airport concourse was evacuated for three hours Wednesday after a pepper spray can discharged, causing 43 people to suffer respiratory distress.

The can disguised as a cigarette lighter was found near the second-floor security checkpoint in Concourse B, which serves international flights, fire department spokesman Jeff Hackman said.

Officials were certain pepper spray was the irritant, airport spokeswoman Alicia Diaz said. Security regulations allow passengers to carry pepper spray only if the canister has a way of preventing accidental discharge.

Paramedics treated 43 people for breathing problems and other symptoms, including scratchy throat, watery eyes, coughing and sneezing.

Washington, D.C.

Helicopter fleet grounded again

Age has caught up with one of the military's most storied helicopters.

A crack found in a rotor component of the Vietnam-era CH-46 Sea Knight has led the Navy and Marine Corps to temporarily ground the entire fleet, including 45 on duty overseas, officials said Wednesday.

Ward Carroll, a spokesman for Naval Air Systems Command, said inspection of all 291 Sea Knights in the fleet should be completed in days. The grounding is a precautionary move following the discovery of a crack in a part of the rotor assembly on a Sea Knight at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

By itself, the problem is not a major setback for Navy and Marine Corps aviation. But it is the latest in a series of mechanical troubles for the Sea Knight, and is symptomatic of the aging problems affecting many military aircraft reducing their combat readiness and increasing the risk to crews' lives. These problems also make it more expensive to keep the aircraft in service.

Salt Lake City

Charges filed in attack on 11-year-old girl

A man accused of dragging an 11-year-old girl from her bedroom and pummeling her with a hammer was charged Wednesday with kidnapping, attempted rape and attempted murder.

The girl remained hospitalized in critical condition. Doctors said every bone in the middle of her face was broken.

"This is probably one of the most egregious, violent felonies against a child," said Salt Lake County Dist. Atty. David Yocom. "It's pretty amazing she's survived."

Authorities said Javier Sickler, 28, dragged the girl from her bedroom Monday and attempted to rape her in the yard. He then allegedly beat her with a hammer.

Sickler was in jail on a $1.5 million bail and was to be arraigned today.

Illinois

Mother warned not to breast-feed son, 8

Prosecutors are again trying to force a woman to stop breast-feeding her 8-year-old son, a practice that once landed the boy in foster care.

During a brief hearing Tuesday, Judge Ann Einhorn warned Lynn Stuckey, 34, against continuing the practice and set future court dates to consider the prosecutor's petition claiming neglect.

Stuckey lets her son nurse once every 10 days or so, a practice she calls natural, child-led weaning, though she's unsure whether she still produces milk.

The state took custody of the boy in July 2000 after a baby sitter called a child-abuse hot line, and he remained in foster care for several months.

The single mother appeared on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" last month to discuss her situation, the first time she was identified publicly. The program included a tape of the boy while suckling.

"I think people need to see me and my child and realize that this is a perfectly normal practice," Stuckey said.

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