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Officers' remains found at trade center site



Published: Mon, February 11, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Officers' remains foundat trade center site

NEW YORK -- The remains of five Port Authority police officers, including a chief and the female head of the agency's training academy, were recovered at the World Trade Center site, a spokesman said Sunday.

Chief James Romito, Capt. Kathy Mazza, Lt. Robert Cirri and Officers James Parham and Stephen Huczko were among the 37 Port Authority police officers killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The bodies were discovered together Saturday at the base of 1 World Trade Center, according to Port Authority spokesman Greg Trevor.

All five had rushed from the Port Authority police headquarters and training academy in Jersey City, N.J., to help in the evacuation of the trade center, he said.

"They were some of the finest people that I've ever worked with anywhere," Trevor said. "All five were highly regarded police officers. They helped countless people escape."

The remains of 16 of the Port Authority police officers killed on Sept. 11 have now been found, Trevor said.

The city's official count of those killed at the World Trade Center stood at 2,843 as of Friday. The number includes 712 people whose remains have been identified by the medical examiner.

Mysterious illness killsN.J. convention-goer

CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- Health officials scrambled to identify a mysterious illness that killed one woman and sickened seven other convention-goers with a viral, flulike illness.

Joanne Hemstreet, 45, of Kingston, Mass., died early Sunday at Kennedy Memorial Hospitals-Cherry Hill, hours after checking herself into the hospital with a fever, headache, vomiting and shortness of breath.

Hemstreet had been attending a national sales convention at the Cherry Hill Hilton with about 500 other employees of Cendant Mortgage. About 80 people who might have had contact with Hemstreet went to the hospital emergency room for evaluation.

Officials said Hemstreet's initial flulike illness worsened to pneumococcal pneumonia, which is not generally contagious. In her weakened condition she also got a secondary infection called purpura fulminans, an overwhelming bacterial infection with about a 70 percent mortality rate.

Despite antibiotic treatment and other measures, within four to five hours, she developed a rash, her blood pressure plunged and she went into shock. She died at 3:14 a.m. Sunday.

10-foot pet python kills owner by asphyxiation

DENVER -- A 10-foot-long Burmese python killed its owner Sunday by coiling so tightly around him that the man could not breathe, authorities said.

"He was handling the snake and showing it to someone when the snake wrapped around his chest," said Rory Chetelat, spokesman for the Aurora Fire Department.

Firefighters said the owner was a big man in his 40s, Chetelat said. His name was not immediately released.

The snake weighed 75 to 80 pounds.

Six firefighters and police officers were needed to remove the snake and free the man.

"Two police officers tried to place their batons between the snake and the man's neck so he could breathe," police spokeswoman Kathleen Walsh said.

The man died of asphyxiation, said Bev Petry, spokeswoman for the Medical Center of Aurora in suburban Denver.

Firefighters later herded the snake into its cage and turned it over to animal control. Walsh said an Aurora ordinance bans owning pet snakes longer than 6 feet.

2 detained in protest

BEIJING -- An American and a Canadian were detained today while protesting China's effort to blame the banned Falun Gong sect for a fiery group suicide attempt last year.

The two men unfurled a banner on Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing and shouted the group's name. Within seconds, police rushed over, tore down the banner and pushed the two men into a nearby van as scores of curious Chinese tourists watched.

The men identified themselves as Levi Browde, 29, a software expert from New York, and Jason Loftus, 22, an engineering student from Barrie, Ontario, Canada.

Their protest came on the eve of the Chinese New Year -- the day in the lunar calendar that five people set themselves on fire on the square last year.

Chinese authorities blamed Falun Gong for that Jan. 23, 2001, suicide attempt and made it the center of a massive propaganda campaign to discredit the spiritual group.

Falun Gong activists abroad deny the people involved were followers and suggest Chinese officials staged the event.

Associated Press




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