Archive for Wednesday, October 20, 2004


October 20, 2004



2 killed in plane crash near MLK birthplace

A small plane clipped an auto-body shop and crashed and burned in a parking lot Tuesday near the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., killing both people aboard.

No one on the ground was hurt.

The twin-engine Beechcraft had taken off from the nearby DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and was headed to Venice, Fla., in a rainstorm when it went into a nosedive.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Eric Alleyne said the plane sent out a distress signal, but he did not know what caused it to spin out of control.

The crash happened in the city's historic Sweet Auburn neighborhood, where King grew up and later preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The church is a few blocks from the crash site. King's birthplace is about 40 yards away.


Bulletproof vest maker files for bankruptcy

Second Chance Body Armor Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after being hit with lawsuits in at least 10 states accusing it of selling defective bulletproof vests to police officers.

One lawsuit blames the Central Lake company -- the nation's largest manufacturer of soft, concealable body armor for law enforcement -- in the shooting death of a California police officer. Another, brought by the state of Utah, led to a $210,000 settlement.

The bankruptcy petition, filed Sunday, puts the lawsuits on hold while Second Chance tries to work its way out of financial trouble.

The company announced in September 2003 that it had concerns about Zylon, the synthetic fiber used in the vests. Since then, lawsuits have been filed, federal and state investigations begun, and finger-pointing has ensued between Second Chance and Zylon's producer, Toyobo Co. of Japan.

Lawsuits have also been filed in Arizona, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia, Illinois, Connecticut, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

Washington, D.C.

Audubon Society sees declines in birds

Almost 30 percent of bird populations in North America are facing a "significant decline," The National Audubon Society said in its first "The State of the Birds" report Tuesday.

The group studied data from 1966 to 2003 for 654 bird species that live in grasslands, shrublands, forests, waterways and urban settings.

Most dire was the finding that 70 percent of the species in grasslands -- such as the Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Short-eared owl and Greater Prairie-Chicken -- are doing poorly.

The group said the losses could be seen as ecological indicators of problems that people also are or will soon be facing. Because of that, the group called for more protections for natural habitats and increased conservation efforts by private landowners and homeowners.


Storms continue path of destruction

Strong storms continuing to surge across the South dumped more than 5 inches of rain in Tennessee on Tuesday, causing flash floods and at least one death.

A day after tornados destroyed homes in Arkansas and Alabama and left three dead in Missouri, heavy rain caused a Tennessee driver's vehicle to hydroplane, jump the guardrail and overturn. Police said the woman died instantly.

Rain also swamped a water treatment plant in Waynesboro, Tenn. Officials said residents were not affected, but water from other sources was being delivered to hospitals and nursing homes.

At Tennessee State University in downtown Nashville, rain caused a 30-foot section of portico over the main entrance of a building to collapse. No classes were in session because of fall break, and no one was injured.

New York CIty

Carbon monoxide kills Albanian singer, family

An Albanian pop singer who came to the United States in search of stardom was found dead of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning Tuesday along with her mother and 7-year-old daughter.

The vents on a boiler in Anita Bitri Prapaniku's basement had been stuffed with plastic bags apparently intended to keep concrete out during recent construction on the home, said Ilyse Fink, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings.

Prapaniku was a singer-songwriter who was well-known in her native country. She was working on recording two CDs -- one in Albanian and one in English -- at a Brooklyn studio.

The family died less than two weeks before a new city law goes into effect requiring most homes to have carbon monoxide detectors installed within 15 feet of sleeping areas.

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