RI man pleads guilty to manslaughter in fatal Attleboro crash

Kwolek Arraignment GN

Kwolek Arraignment GN

Jason A. Kwolek, 32, of Pawtucket listens during his arraignment in Attleboro District Court last September. (Staff photo by Mike George)

Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 1:17 pm

Updated: 2:43 pm, Tue Apr 1, 2014.

RI man pleads guilty to manslaughter in fatal Attleboro crash


The Sun Chronicle


FALL RIVER — A Rhode Island driver accused of driving drunk and causing the death of a 24-year-old North Attleboro woman, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case.

Judge Renee Dupuis accepted the guilty plea of Jason A. Kwolek, 34, of Pawtucket, in Fall River Superior Court during a change of plea hearing today.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014 1:17 pm.

Updated: 2:43 pm.

RI gov. candidate releases records on fatal crash

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 1:48 am

RI gov. candidate releases records on fatal crash


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Republican candidate for Rhode Island governor has released part of his 1995 application to practice law, which describes a fatal car crash he caused as a college student.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung released four pages of his application to the Rhode Island Bar on Monday in response to a request by The Providence Journal (http://bit.ly/1jDLCIY ) for records stemming from the accident. The bar application asked applicants about their criminal history.

Fung publicly revealed the accident two weeks ago.

Fung said he lost consciousness while driving and hit a man who was changing a tire on Interstate 95 in Cranston in 1989, when he was 18. He said drugs and alcohol weren’t involved and a grand jury declined to indict him. He had his arrest record sealed in the 1990s.


Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com

© 2014 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014 1:48 am.

RI gov. candidate releases records on fatal crash

— A Republican candidate for Rhode Island governor has released one of several documents requested by media organizations since he revealed he was responsible for a car crash that killed a man 25 years ago.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung released four pages of his application to the Rhode Island Bar on Monday to The Providence Journal (http://bit.ly/1jDLCIY ). On the application, he discloses the accident.

However, his campaign has yet to release other documents requested by The Associated Press, including his Massachusetts bar application.

Fung’s arrest record for the 1989 accident was sealed in the 1990s. He told the Journal he would not ask to have them unsealed.

Fung was never charged and says no drugs or alcohol was involved. He says he lost consciousness and hit a man changing a tire.

Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com

Four injured in Plainville crash

Rt 1 Plainville MVA

Rt 1 Plainville MVA

Four people, including a child, were taken to Rhode Island Hospital following a crash on Route 1 in Plainville Thursday afternoon.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 2:05 pm

Updated: 4:58 pm, Thu Oct 17, 2013.

Four injured in Plainville crash


The Sun Chronicle


PLAINVILLE — Three adults and one child were taken to hospitals after a crash in front of Auto Sound on Route 1 in Plainville at about 1:20 p.m.

One of the victims in the crash was identified by officials as Capt. Ronald Darling who was in a fire department vehicle. He was transported to Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro with what was described as non-life threatening injuries.

Two unidentified women and a child, believed to be between the ages of 3 and 5, were all taken to Rhode Island Hospital. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

Auto Sound is located at 109 Washington St., just north of George Street.

More about Plainville

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Thursday, October 17, 2013 2:05 pm.

Updated: 4:58 pm.

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AP IMPACT: Will NYC act to block future surges?

Associated Press

Think Sandy was just a 100-year storm that devastated New York City? Imagine one just as bad, or worse, every three years.

Prominent planners and builders say now is the time to think big to shield the city’s core: a 5-mile barrier blocking the entryway to New York Harbor, an archipelago of man-made islets guarding the tip of Manhattan, or something like CDM Smith engineer Larry Murphy’s 1,700-foot barrier – complete with locks for passing boats and a walkway for pedestrians – at the mouth of the Arthur Kill waterway between the borough of Staten Island and New Jersey.

Act now, before the next deluge, and they say it could even save money in the long run.

These strategies aren’t just pipe dreams. Not only do these technologies already exist, some of the concepts have been around for decades and have been deployed successfully in other countries and U.S. cities.

So if the science and engineering are sound, the long-term cost would actually be a savings, and the frequency and severity of more killer floods is inevitable, what’s the holdup?

Political will.

Like the argument in towns across America when citizens want a traffic signal installed at a dangerous intersection, Sandy’s 43 deaths and estimated $26 billion in damages citywide might not be enough to galvanize the public and the politicians into action.

“Unfortunately, they probably won’t do anything until something bad happens,” said CDM Smith’s Murphy. “And I don’t know if this will be considered bad enough.”

Sandy and her 14-foot surge not bad enough? By century’s end, researchers forecast up to four feet higher seas, producing storm flooding akin to Sandy’s as often as several times each decade. Even at current sea levels, Sandy’s floodwaters filled subways, other tunnels and streets in parts of Manhattan.

Without other measures, rebuilding will simply augment the future destruction. Yet that’s what political leaders are emphasizing. President Barack Obama himself has promised to stand with the city “until the rebuilding is complete.”

So it might take a worse superstorm or two to really get the problem fixed.

The focus on rebuilding irks people like Robert Trentlyon, a retired weekly newspaper publisher in lower Manhattan who is campaigning for sea barriers to protect the city: “The public is at the woe-is-me stage, rather than how-do-we-prevent-this-in-the-future stage.”

He belongs to a coterie of professionals and ordinary New Yorkers who want to take stronger action. Though pushing for a regional plan, they are especially intent on keeping Manhattan dry.

The 13-mile-long island serves as the country’s financial and entertainment nerve center. Within a 3-mile-long horseshoe-shaped flood zone around its southernmost quadrant are almost 500,000 residents and 300,000 jobs. Major storms swamp places like Wall Street and the site of the World Trade Center.

Proven technology already exists to blunt or virtually block wind-whipped seas from overtaking lower Manhattan and much of the rest of New York City, according to a series of Associated Press interviews with engineers, architects and scientists and a review of research on flooding issues in the New York metropolitan area and around the globe.

These strategies range from hard structures like mammoth barriers equipped with ship gates and embedded at entrances to the harbor, to softer and greener shoreline restraints like man-made marshes and barrier islands.

Additional landfill, the old standby once used to extend Manhattan into the harbor, could further lift vulnerable highways and other sites beyond the reach of the seas.

Even more simply, the rock and concrete seawalls and bulkheads that already ring lower Manhattan could be built up, but now perhaps with high-tech wave-absorbing or wave-reflecting materials.

Seizing the initiative from government, business and academic circles have fleshed out several dramatic concepts to hold back water before it tops the shoreline. Two of the most elaborate proposals are:

- A rock causeway, with 80-foot-high swinging ship gates, would sweep five miles across the entryway to inner New York Harbor from Sandy Hook, N.J., to Breezy Point, N.Y. To protect Manhattan, another shorter barrier is needed to the north, where the East River meets Long Island Sound, and another small blockage would go up near Sandy Hook. This New Jersey-side barrier and a network of levees on both ends of the causeway could help protect picturesque beach communities like Atlantic Highlands, in New Jersey to the west, and the Rockaways, in New York City to the east. This so-called outer barrier option was conceived for a professional symposium by the engineering firm CH2M HILL, which last year finished building a supersized 15-mile barrier guarding St. Petersburg, Russia, from Baltic Sea storms.

- An extensive green makeover of lower Manhattan would install an elaborate drainage system beneath the streets, build up the very tip by 6 feet, pile 30-foot earthen mounds along the eastern edge, and create perimeter wetlands and a phalanx of artificial barrier islets – all to absorb the brunt of a huge storm surge. Plantings along the streets would help soak up runoff that floods the city sewers during heavy rains. This concept was worked up by DLANDSTUDIO and Architecture Research Office, two city architectural firms, for a museum project.

What’s missing is not viable ideas or proposals, but determination. Massive projects protecting other cities from the periodic ravages of stormy seas usually happened after catastrophes on a scale eclipsing even Sandy.

It took the collapse of dikes, drowning deaths of more than 1,800 people, and evacuation of another 100,000 in 1953 for the Dutch to say “Never again!” They have since constructed the world’s sturdiest battery of dikes, dams and barriers. No disaster on that scale has happened since.

It took the breach of levees, a similar death toll, and flooding of 80 percent of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to marshal the momentum finally to build a two-mile barricade against the Gulf of Mexico.

A handful of seaside New England cities – Stamford, Conn.; Providence, R.I.; and New Bedford, Mass. – have built smaller barriers after their own disasters.

However, New York City, which mostly lies just several feet above sea level, has so far escaped the horrors visited elsewhere. Its leaders have been brushing off warnings of disaster for years.

Retired geologist Jim Mellet of New Fairfield, Conn., recalls hearing a story told to him by the late Bill A. O’Leary, a retired city engineer at the time: He and other engineers, concerned about battering floods, had approached power broker Robert Moses more than 80 years ago to ask him to consider constructing a gigantic barrier to hold back storm tides at the entrance to the city’s Upper Bay.

Moses supposedly squashed the idea like an annoying bug. “According to Bill, he stood there uninterested, with his arms folded on his chest, and when they finished the presentation, he just said, ‘No, it will destroy the view.’” Or perhaps he was already mulling other plans for the same site, where he would build the Verrazano Narrows Bridge years later.

Many city projects, like the Westway highway plan of the 1970s and 1980s, died partly because of the impact they would have on the cherished view of water from the congested cityscape. Imagine, then, the political viability of a project that might further block access to the harbor or the view of the Statue of Liberty from the tip of Manhattan.

“I can assure that many New Yorkers would have strong opinions about high seawalls,” said an email from a retired New York commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bud Griffis, who was involved in the permitting process for the failed Westway.

However, global warming and its rising sea levels now make it harder simply to shrug off measures to shield the city from storms. Sandy drove 14-foot higher-than-normal seas – breaking a nearly 200-year-old record – into car and subway tunnels, streets of trendy neighborhoods, commuter highways and an electrical substation that shorted out nearly all of lower Manhattan.

The late October storm left 43 dead in the city, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn estimated at least $26 billion in damages and economic losses. The regional cost has been estimated at $50 billion, making Sandy the second most destructive storm in U.S. history after Katrina.

Yet heavier storms are forecast. A 1995 study involving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers envisioned a worst-case storm scenario for New York: High winds rip windows and masonry from skyscrapers, forcing pedestrians to flee to subway tunnels to avoid the falling debris. The tunnels soon flood.

With its dense population and distinctive coastline, New York is especially vulnerable, with Manhattan at the center.

The famous island can be pounded by storm surges from three sides: from the west via the Arthur Kill, from the south through the Upper Bay, and from the Long Island Sound through the East River. Relatively shallow depth offshore allows storm waters to pile up; the north-south shoreline of New Jersey and the east-west orientation of Long Island further channel gushing seas right at Manhattan.

Some believe that Sandy was bad enough at least to advance more serious study of stronger protections. “I think the superstorm we had really put the fear of God into people, because no one really believed it would happen,” said urban planner Juliana Maantay at Lehman College-City University of New York.

But nearly all flood researchers interviewed by the AP voiced considerable skepticism about action in the foreseeable future. “In a half year’s time, there will be other problems again, I can tell you,” said Dutch urban planner Jeroen Aerts, who has studied storm protections around the world.

William Solecki, a Manhattan-based Hunter College planner who has been at the center of city and state task forces on climate change, guessed that little more will be done to prevent future flooding beyond “nibbling at the edges” of the threat.

In recent years, the city has been enforcing codes that require flood-zone builders to keep electrical and other critical systems above predicted high water from what was until recently thought to be a once-in-a-century storm. Sealing other key equipment against water has been encouraged. The city has tried to keep storm grates free of debris and has elevated subway entrances. The buzz word has been making things more “resilient.”

But this approach does little to stop swollen waters of a gigantic storm from pouring over lower Manhattan. “Resiliency means if you get knocked down, this is how you get back up again,” huffs activist Trentlyon. “They just were talking about what you do afterward.” He said Sandy’s flood water rose to 5 feet at street level in Chelsea, where he lives on the western side of lower Manhattan.

The city has at least toyed with the idea of barriers and even considered various locations in a 2008 study. “I have always considered that flood gates are something we should consider, but are not necessarily the immediate answer to rush toward,” said Rohit Aggarwala, a Stanford University teacher who is former director of the New York mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability.

Unswayed by Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his assistants have been blunter. Bloomberg said barriers might not be worthwhile “even if you spent a fortune.”

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said no specific measures – whether more wetlands, higher seawalls or harbor barriers – have been ruled out because “there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.” But he compared sea barriers to the Maginot Line, the fortified line of defenses that Germany quickly sidestepped to conquer France at the beginning of World War II.

“The city is not going to be totally stormproof, but I think it can be very adaptable,” he added. He said that new flood maps informed by Sandy are being drawn up, and he suspects they will extend the zones where new developments must install critical equipment above flood level.

Computer simulations indicate that hard barriers, which have worked elsewhere around the world, would do a good job of shielding New York neighborhoods behind them. But they’d actually make flooding worse just outside the barriers, where surging waters would pile up with nowhere to go.

The patriarch of this research is Malcolm Bowman, a native New Zealander who leads a passionate cadre of barrier researchers at Stony Brook University on the northern shore of Long Island. His warnings have mostly gone unheeded. “I feel like a biblical prophet crying in the wilderness: ‘The end is near!’” Bowman said.

Unbowed, he continues to preach against incremental measures. “If you get a storm and a big oak tree falls on your house, then whether you fix your gutter doesn’t matter,” he said.

In recent years, his logic has finally begun to resonate a bit more. Nicholas Kim, an oceanographer with engineering firm HDR HydroQual who studied with Bowman in the 1980s, said his mentor has been thinking about barriers since then: “Everybody said, ‘You’re crazy!’ But now it’s becoming clear that we need protection.”

Even massive structures don’t shield everyone, though. A 2009 four-barrier study co-authored by Kim found that in a simulated storm, barriers still failed to protect large swaths of Queens and sections of other outlying boroughs with a total of more than 100,000 people.

Researchers also have predicted at least a modest additional one-foot rise of stormy seas as water piles up outside the barriers. “If you’re the guy just outside the barrier, and you’re paying taxes and you’re not included, you’re not going to be very happy,” said oceanographer Larry Swanson at Stony Brook University.

How such barriers would affect water movement, silt and marine life also remains an open question requiring further study for each case.

The scale and costs of hard barrier schemes have further put off many critics. After flooding from Hurricane Irene last year, city representatives asked Aerts, the Dutch planner, to compare the cost and benefits of barriers to existing approaches. His initial analysis will not be finished until February, but his early cost estimate for barriers and associated dikes for New York City is $15 billion to $27 billion – comparable to that of the record-setting $24 billion Big Dig that reshaped Boston’s waterfront – not to block storms, but to unblock traffic and views of the waterfront.

Barrier defenders counter by pointing to the cost of storm damages. Stony Brook meteorologist Brian Colle said: “When you think of the cost of a Sandy, which is running in the billions, these barriers are basically going to pay for themselves in one or two storms.” Advocates say tolls on trains or cars riding atop a barrier could help finance the project.

While appealing for rebuilding, Council Speaker Quinn also has said that “the time for casual debate is over” and called for a bold mix of resiliency with grander protective structures. She has estimated the cost of her plan at $20 billion.

Other massive protection schemes, like the green makeover of lower Manhattan, also would probably run into the billions. And soft protections are meant only to defuse, not stop, rising waters. Sandy battered parts of Long Island behind barrier islands and wetlands.

Nor is it clear that Manhattan has enough space to fashion more extensive wetlands of the sort that help protect the Gulf Coast, however imperfectly. “New York is too far gone for wetlands,” said Griffis, the retired Army Corps commander for New York.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has announced he will spearhead efforts to request a corps study of whether barriers or other options would work better. However, it remains unclear if Congress would be willing to fund such a study, which would undoubtedly take several years and cost millions of dollars.

And even before a dime has been appropriated, the corps is lowering expectations. Says spokesman Chris Gardner: “You can’t protect everywhere completely at all times.”


Associated Press National Writer Adam Geller and AP researcher Julie Reed contributed to this report.


The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate(at)ap.org

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wind in their sales

November 23, 2012

LINCOLN – The holiday shopping season opened on a brisk note as shoppers swamped stores to scarf up Black Friday bargains at area retail stores.
Some 500 customers formed a line that snaked around the corner of Target at Lincoln Mall before the doors opened at 1 a.m. Friday.
The manager said the store brought in extra personnel to handle the crowds and distribute store “maps” to help customers find what they were looking for.
“We really lucked out,” said the manager, who identified herself only as Stephanie. “It’s been peaceful and there haven’t been any problems. People have actually been thanking us for how orderly it was.”
Hours after the onslaught began, a steady but slower stream of customers was still pushing loaded-up shopping carts out the door with heavily discounted flat-screen TVs, computer tablets and cookware.
“That was a great deal,” said Dawn Baker of Providence as she peeled back a shopping bag hiding a box of non-stick pots and pans. “I got that for $40. You usually can’t find a whole set like that for less than a hundred dollars.”
Gabriela Nunes of North Providence found herself unexpectedly wheeling a 32-inch LED flat-screen out the door. She wasn’t planning on buying a TV yesterday, Nunes said, but when she saw the price, she couldn’t say no.
“It’s a Christmas present for myself,” she said. “I figured I might as well splurge.”
At Sears, a few miles away from the mall at Woonsocket’s Walnut Hill Plaza, the store opened at 12:30 a.m. and workers reported an unusually heavy turnout.
Workers said 135 customers were outside waiting to get in when the doors opened. They quickly snatched up some of the store’s most heavily promoted bargains, including an assortment of flat-screen TVs in different sizes, some as low as $97.
“Most of it sold out in 10 minutes,” an assistant manager in electronics said.
In other states, Black Friday seeped into Thanksgiving as some of the big box stores, including Walmart and Target, opened well before midnight on the holiday, but Rhode Island’s “blue laws” kept that from happening. Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, opened as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day in states with fewer restrictions, triggering widespread protests from employees. Some consumers aren’t wild about the move, either, but others are all for it.
It remains to be seen whether the controversy hurts Black Friday sales. The National Retail Federation seems more concerned about the timing of Thanksgiving than when stores opened their doors. In a cyclical quirk of the calendar, Thanksgiving couldn’t have possibly fallen any earlier this year – earlier, perhaps, than some shoppers typically get in the spirit for holiday spending.
“Not since 2007 has Thanksgiving come this early, but the calendar creep won’t keep millions of eager holiday shoppers from visiting their favorite stores and websites over Black Friday weekend,” the NRF said.
According to a preliminary Black Friday shopping survey, up to 147 million people plan to shop through the Black Friday weekend, a slight decrease from the 152 million who planned to do so last year, according to the NRF.
“Though the Black Friday tradition is here to stay, there’s no question that it has changed in recent years,” said Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation. “It’s critical for retail companies to constantly evolve as consumers do, and right now shoppers want great deals, good value, and convenience – exactly what we’re seeing with this season’s late and early openings, price-matching, layaway, and mobile offerings.”
Black Friday is often viewed as an invention of the big box stores, but online merchants and small businesses have all signed on to distinct campaigns to hold onto their share of the consumer’s shopping dollar. Cyber Monday marks its seventh anniversary next week and is quickly becoming the biggest shopping day of the year for online merchants, according to Shop.org. Meanwhile, independent brick and mortar stores around the country have joined the “Small Business Saturday” campaign, which is celebrating its third anniversary today.
Members of the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce and the Blackstone Valley Independent Business Alliance have signed onto Small Business Saturday for the first time this year.
While Small Business Saturday may sound, well, small, it was actually launched by a giant of the personal credit industry, American Express. The company promotes supporting small businesses as the civic-minded thing to do.
“You could be helping local entrepreneurs offer more jobs, which in turn invigorate the economy,” said American Express. “As a consumer, you are a key part in helping small businesses thrive.”
If Black Friday has an ominous ring to it, it may be because the first time the phrase was coined it referred to the crash of the stock market in 1869. Black Friday is still about money – not losing it, however, but making it.
In the retail world, Black Friday is the official start of the holiday shopping season, a time of year when sales push merchants out of the red ink on their accounting ledgers and into the black zone of profits. It is often said that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, but it’s not always true. Sometimes it is, retailers say; other times it lags behind the last Saturday before Christmas.

5 Things to Know About Black Friday


    Friday: Partly sunny. Milder. Highs in mid/upper 50s.

    Saturday: Mainly cloudy with a few rain showers — it may end as a few wet snow showers in the Worcester hills. Highs in the upper 40s early then temps crash into the upper 30s by night.

    Sunday: Cold and windy. Clouds and sun. Maybe a flurry well NW? Upper 30s to near 40 for highs.

    2. BLACK FRIDAY HISTORY: The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. Ever since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season.


    • Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year.


    • Nearly 135 million people shop every year on Black Friday.
    • In 2010, 212 million shoppers spent $39 billion for an average spending amount of $365.34.
    • In 2008, Jtimytai Damour, a Long Island Walmart temporary employee, was trampled to death at Green Acres Shopping Center.


    • The National Retail Federation reports that 51.8 percent of U.S. consumers will be doing their holiday shopping online this year, up 5 percent from 2011.
    • According to a survey, 52.9 percent of smartphone owners and 64.1 percent of tablet owners will use their devices to do research and make purchases.
    •  Shop.org forecasts that online holiday spending alone this year will amount to a whopping $92 to $96 billion.

    About this column: A few facts, figures and other items to start off your day.

10 Things to Know for Friday – WLNE

By The Associated Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and stories that will be talked about Friday:


Americans’ growing comfort with online shopping puts more pressure on brick-and-mortar stores, which depend so heavily on the holiday season.


Egypt’s President Morsi emerges from his first major international crisis with enhanced prestige after mediating between sworn enemies Israel and Hamas.


They strengthen their hold on an oil-rich province, activists say, capturing a base seen as a bastion for Assad loyalists.


Big crash in extremely dense fog near Beaumont sends dozens to hospitals.


The flow to U.S. mailboxes has dipped big time because of a postage increase, the weak economy and online purchases.


Its formal name is “The United Mexican States” and President Felipe Calderon wants to make it simply “Mexico.”


Organizers say the American star cancels a Guyana concert after protests over his 2009 beating of Barbadian superstar Rihanna.


Scientists say it’s possible to resurrect the subspecies that disappeared when Lonesome George died in the Galapagos Islands by cross-breeding with 17 other tortoises that have similar genetic material.


The Texans win after a mistake by Detroit’s Jim Schwartz, who broke the rules by challenging a scoring play.


The undefeated Irish carry national championship dreams to Los Angeles for Saturday’s matchup against USC.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Unusual events on airplanes

Unusual events on airplanes


South African police arrested a 25-year-old man suspected of attempting to smuggle 220 diamonds out of the country in his digestive tract through Johannesburg’s main airport in November 2012. The Lebanese national bound for Dubai had swallowed $2.25 million worth of polished diamonds before he was stopped before a security checkpoint. Read the full story here. (Reuters)

A 49-year-old Oregon man became so fed up with airport screening that he stripped naked at Portland International Airport security checkpoint, police said. Some passengers covered their own eyes, as well as their children’s, during the April 2012 incident, while others “stepped out of the screening lanes to look, laugh and take photos.” Read the full story here. (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office/Handout)

An Australian pilot had to make an unplanned landing only 20 minutes after takeoff after a snake slithered out of the dashboard into the cockpit. Pilot Braden Blennerhassett spotted the snake about 20 minutes after takeoff from the Darwin Airport on an Air Frontier cargo flight in April 2012. Read the full story here. (Shutterstock)

A sleepy Air Canada pilot first mistook the planet Venus for an aircraft, and then sent his airliner diving toward the Atlantic to prevent an imaginary collision with another plane. Sixteen passengers and crew were hurt in the January 2011 incident, when the first officer rammed the control stick forward to avoid a U.S. plane he wrongly thought was heading straight toward him. Read the full story here. (AFP Photo)

A JetBlue flight bound for Las Vegas was diverted to Texas following what federal authorities described as erratic behaviour by the captain, who passengers said had to be restrained after he pounded on the locked cockpit door. JetBlue said in a statement the flight was diverted due to a “medical situation” involving the captain but made no mention of any commotion on board. Read the story here. (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

Authorities investigated how gun parts and bullets ended up stashed inside a four-year-old boy’s Mickey Mouse doll and stuffed animals he was carrying aboard a plane in Rhode Island. The father, whose name was not released, told authorities he didn’t know the weapons parts were in his son’s bag. They were allowed to fly after the items were confiscated. “It appears to be the result of a domestic dispute,” Airport Police Chief Leo Messier said in a statement. Read the story here. (TSA/Handout)

A Pennsylvania man was arrested at Philadelphia International Airport after checkpoint agents found flash powder and fireworks in his carry-on bag, authorities said. The passenger, Joseph Picklo, 28, of Dallas, Pennsylvania, was being screened for a United Airlines flight to San Francisco when a plastic bottle filled with flash powder was found in his carry-on bag, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said in a statement. Read the story here. (Reuters)

A New Jersey woman was taken into custody in Florida after flying into a “kicking and screaming” rage and attacking crew members who refused to serve her alcohol aboard a US Airways flight, authorities said. Peggy Albedhady-Sanchez, 50, of Union City, New Jersey, had to be restrained and placed in plastic hand ties after the disturbance on US Air flight 1697 shortly before it was due to land in Ft. Myers, Florida, on Tuesday evening, police said. Read the story here. (Reuters)

Never mind ants in your pants, what about snakes and tortoises? That’s what authorities at Miami’s international airport said they found inside the trousers of a passenger as he tried to board a flight for Brazil. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said the man had seven exotic snakes and three tortoises wrapped in nylon bags that had been stuffed into his pants. Read the story here. (Handout/Transportation Security Administration)

The in-flight entertainment on some planes run by Australian airline Qantas currently contains a somewhat unusual offering — a movie that purports to elucidate the mysteries of female sexual pleasure. The 50-minute French film “The Female Orgasm Explained,” which includes naked scenes, is carried on long-haul “Video on Demand” aircraft in the airline’s “The Edge” channel — complete with a warning that it is for mature audiences only. Read the story here. (Reuters)

A New York children’s author who used a curse word in exasperation during a plane delay at a U.S. airport was ejected from the aircraft for disruptive behavior. Robert Sayegh, 37, said Atlantic Southeast Airlines overreacted to his salty language when it summoned police aboard to escort him off the flight at Detroit Metro Airport. Read the story here. (Handout)

A U.S. college football player who allegedly refused a request to hoist his saggy pants when he boarded a flight was arrested after a dispute with the crew, authorities said in June 2010. When DeShon Marman, 20, refused to leave U.S. Airways Flight 488 from San Francisco to Phoenix on Wednesday, he was arrested for trespassing by police at the request of the plane’s captain. Read the story here. (Reuters/Joshua Lott)

A Cypriot monk caught at a Greek airport with the skeletal remains of a nun in his baggage on Jan. 16, 2011 told authorities he was taking the relics of a saint back to his monastery. The 56-year-old Cypriot was detained at Athens airport after security staff discovered a skull wrapped in cloth and skeletal remains in a sheet inside his baggage. Read the story here. (Shutterstock)

Thai customs found 451 turtles worth 1 million baht ($33,000 US) stashed in suitcases offloaded from a passenger flight from Bangladesh in June 2011. The alleged trafficker, a Bangladeshi national, did not collect the luggage and fled on arrival in Bangkok, customs officials said. Read the story here. (Reuters/Sukree Sukplang)

A new Thai airline is hiring transsexual ladyboys as flight attendants, aiming for a unique identity to set itself apart from competitors as it sets out for the skies. PC Air, a charter airline set to start operations on Asian routes in April, originally planned to only hire male and female flight attendants. But it changed its mind after receiving more than 100 job applications from transvestites and transsexuals. Four ladyboys were chosen, along with 19 female and seven male flight attendants. Read the story here. (Reuters/CHaiwat Subprasom)

Airport security agents got a surprise when a woman in a wheelchair approached a checkpoint in Oklahoma City, took off her trench coat and was wearing only a black lace bra and panties. Officials said they had no idea why the woman acted the way she did, or if she was attempting to protest airport security. Read the story here. (YouTube)

A British airport has introduced holograms of real-life customer service staff to help speed up security queues. The holograms will greet passengers at the entrance to the security search area and explain the restrictions on carrying liquids onto aircraft. Read the story here. (AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL)

A United Airlines flight from Chicago to Germany was diverted to Toronto’s Pearson Airport after the pilot spilled a coffee, Transport Canada reported. The coffee interfered with the plane’s navigation and communication system and sent out distress signals including code 7500 — unlawful interference, or a hijacking — and code 7600, which means the plane has lost communications. Read the story here. (REUTERS/Frank Polich)

This tale starts when a traveller declared on his U.S. Customs form after a Delta flight from Guyana that he was carrying food items. When inspectors asked for more specifics, the man said he had “cooked rabbit.” Subsequent inspection turned up a bag with three brick-shaped items wrapped in tape. Each brick contained a kilo of cocaine, the complaint said, but no rabbit. Read the story here. (REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)

JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater stormed off the job with some profanities directed at a passenger and a dramatic exit down an inflated emergency chute. He struck a chord with nearly everyone who has dreamed of quitting a job with a scene. Read the story here. (MySpace Photo)

British Airways had to apologize to passengers after an emergency message warning they were about to crash into the sea was played by mistake. About 275 passengers were on the London Heathrow to Hong Kong flight in August 2010 when the automated message went out. The plane was flying over the North Sea at the time. Cabin crew quickly realized the error and moved to reassure the terrified passengers. Read the story here. (REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)

Instead of the usual bored flight attendants robotically buckling seatbelts, passengers on a Cebu Pacific Airlines flight watched as women wearing bright orange shirts and stylish pants danced a safety demonstration to a Lady Gaga song. Critics call the demonstration “demeaning and undignified.” Read the story here. (YouTube)

A Transport Canada intelligence alert from November 2010 said a passenger thought to be an elderly white man who “appeared to have young looking hands” boarded a flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver, and later emerged from the washroom as an Asian man in his early 20s. After landing in Vancouver, the man claimed refugee status. Read the story here. (Canada Border Services/Handout)

Rapper Kanye West took over a Delta Airlines PA system on a November 2010 flight and performed part of his hit song “Gold Digger” for a surprised, but very receptive, audience of his fellow passengers. Watch the video here. (YouTube)

A pillow fight broke out on this August 2010 flight. The flight attendant was just as involved as the passengers! Watch the video here. (Jokeroo)

Cleaners found a newborn baby boy in a toilet garbage bag being unloaded from a jetliner that had just arrived in Manila from the Middle East in September 2010. Reports said the baby was found covered in blood and toilet paper when a security officer noticed something moving in a toilet garbage bag being unloaded from the plane. Read the story here. (REUTERS/Stringer)

It was a shock for everyone when one traveller’s bag ripped open on a luggage conveyor belt at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and 95 live boa constrictors spilled out into the airport. Read the story here. (Shutterstock)

Delta Airlines employees mixed up two children travelling alone and accidentally sent each to the other’s destination: one in Cleveland instead of Boston, and the other in Boston instead of Cleveland. According to an airline spokesperson, the mix-up occurred when both children had to catch connecting flights in Minneapolis. Read the story here. (Reuters File)

Resourceful drug dealers tried to smuggle 11 kg of heroin through Montreal’s Trudeau Airport by sewing the drugs into imported rugs. Canada Border Services agents discovered $4 million worth of heroin after they examined a shipment of rugs from Pakistan. The drugs had been hidden inside the hand-knotted woollen fibres of the rugs. Read the story here. (Shutterstock)

A British airplane en route to Poland was forced to make an emergency landing in Germany after a 56-year-old woman spilled a hot cup of tea on herself in September 2010. The British woman was treated for scalding at the airport and released. Read the story here. (Shutterstock)

Scandinavian airline SAS planned the world’s first same-sex wedding in the air. SAS, which is co-owned by the governments of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, hosted the wedding aboard an Airbus A340 between Stockholm and New York in December 2010. To find the couple, the airline launched a social media campaign called “Love is in the air”. Read the story here. (Reuters File)

Airport customs in Bangkok found a two-month-old tiger stashed in a bag, filled with stuffed tiger toys, which was checked-in for an international passenger flight in August 2010. The dazed and drugged cub was concealed in an oversized bag packed with the toys and bound for Iran when it was discovered by Thai authorities using an x-ray machine. A 31-year-old Thai woman was detained for questioning and was unable to explain why there was a real tiger in the bag. Read the story here. (Shutterstock)

Canada Boarder Services Agency detector dog Max helped find three Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoises in a traveller’s suitcase in Edmonton in May 2010. The luggage came on a flight from London, England’s Heathrow Airport to Edmonton. Read the story here. (Shutterstock)

Travel is rarely boring and these strange events that happened on airplanes and at airports prove just that.

1 dead, 9 injured in Arizona charter bus crash – WLNE

Associated Press

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) – A pickup truck going the wrong way on a rural Arizona interstate struck a charter bus head-on Tuesday, killing one person and injuring nine others, authorities said.

The pickup truck burst into flames, and the driver was declared dead at the scene on Interstate 10 in Casa Grande, about 50 miles south of Phoenix. Authorities couldn’t immediately say if he died on impact or in the ensuing fire.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials identified the driver as Francis Wilkens Gibson Jr., 78, of Casa Grande. They said the cause of the crash remained under investigation and “nothing has been ruled out at this point.”

DPS Capt. Brian Preston said investigators will be working to determine whether drugs or alcohol were a factor.

Nine of the 15 passengers on the bus were injured, but none of the injuries was considered life-threatening, DPS said. Two passengers were flown to Casa Grande Regional Medical Hospital, and the other seven were taken to the same facility by ground ambulance.

The bus driver was conscious and walking around when authorities arrived, Preston said.

“Generally when you have a vehicle going the wrong way on an interstate, you’d think it would be much worse than this,” he said.

The charter bus was owned by TBC Connexion and was travelling from Mexico to Phoenix, according to authorities. The names, ages and hometowns of the bus driver and passengers weren’t immediately released.

Calls to TBC Conexion’s offices in Phoenix and Tucson weren’t returned Tuesday evening.

DPS officials said that about two minutes before the 2:15 p.m. crash, they received two 911 calls about a driver on I-10 – the main route from Phoenix to Tucson – travelling east in the westbound lanes.

“We were responding when the accident occurred,” said DPS spokesman Bart Graves.

The fiery crash closed the westbound lanes of the freeway near Interstate 8 for hours, backing up traffic for miles until one lane was reopened Tuesday evening. The bus still sat on the side of the freeway, its front end crumpled from the impact, and several windows blown out.

Graves said an 18-wheeler jackknifed at the accident scene and hit the side of the bus, but the main damage was done by the pickup truck. The driver of the tractor-trailer wasn’t injured.

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