The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 11, 2013

Evening News Brief | Officer pulls woman from car as train nears


Associated Press

POTTSTOWN —

It was a close call for two Pennsylvania women whose car got stuck on railroad tracks as a train approached.

Pottstown police say the women escaped injury after their car was hit by a Norfolk Southern freight train around 11 p.m. Thursday.

Police Capt. Richard Drumheller says Officer Gregory Fritz pulled the passenger to safety less than a minute before impact.

Police say Gabriella Radatti of Birdsboro ended up on the tracks after the passenger gave her bad directions. Radatti got out but the passenger was still inside as the train approached.

The train couldn't stop in time and pushed the empty car two blocks before it came to rest.

Norfolk Southern sent a crane to remove the car from the tracks and the scene was cleared Friday afternoon.

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Man pleads guilty to murder in son's death

NORRISTOWN — A suburban Philadelphia man has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in the June 2011 death of his three-month-old son.

Twenty-four-year-old Jameel East of Lansdale admitted in Montgomery County Court on Friday to striking the infant's head against a bathroom sink after the child vomited on him.

Judge William Furber Jr. deferred sentencing until court officials complete a background investigative report about East. He faces a possible maximum sentence of 21 to 42 years in prison on the charges.

East and his lawyer, Kathryn Taxis, declined to comment.

Assistant District Attorney Samantha Cauffman says she will seek "a significant" state prison sentence against East for the murder of his son, Enzo.

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Teen sentenced in fatal shootings at party

CHESTER — A Philadelphia-area teenager has been sentenced to 7 to 14 years for shootings at a birthday party that left two people dead.

Kanei Avery was sentenced Thursday in the April shooting at Minaret Temple No. 174 in Chester, a troubled city just outside Philadelphia. The Delaware County Daily Times reports Avery will serve his time at a state correctional facility for youths. Now 18, he was 16 at the time of the shooting.

A hundred or more teens attended the party before shooting broke out, killing 18-year-old Robel Laboy and 19-year-old David Johnson. Seven other teens were wounded.

In October, Avery entered an open guilty plea to two counts of voluntary manslaughter. Delaware County prosecutors decided not to pursue murder charges, citing problems with evidence and witness cooperation.

Avery has apologized.

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Federal inmate dies in prison fight

SCRANTON — A federal inmate in northeastern Pennsylvania has died after a fight with another prisoner.

Prison spokeswoman Kim Straesser says 29-year-old Ephraim Goitom was pronounced dead at a hospital Friday morning about an hour after the fight at the federal penitentiary in Canaan Township, Wayne County.

The Times-Tribune of Scranton reports that staff responded to the fight and separated the inmates. The other prisoner was treated for minor injuries. His name wasn't released.

The FBI is investigating.

Goitom was serving a 25-year prison sentence on drug and weapons charges. He pleaded guilty last year to shooting a police officer during a 2010 raid at his apartment in Stamford, Conn. The officer recovered.

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Coroner: Missing man died cutting down trees

DALLAS — A coroner says a northeastern Pennsylvania man who had been missing for several days apparently died while cutting down trees.

Sixty-four-year-old Dallas Township resident Ronald Noyalis had been missing since Tuesday. Luzerne County officials say they found his body Thursday and that he apparently died while cutting down trees.

Deputy Coroner Greg Shanko says Noyalis was trying to cut down a tree at a residence. He says someone checking on the house spotted Noyalis' dog in his car, began looking around the property and found the man's body.

It wasn't immediately clear exactly how he died. The coroner's office is investigating, but officials say no foul play is suspected.

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Man jailed on charge he forged eviction appeal

CANONSBURG — A western Pennsylvania man has been jailed on charges he forged a court document to keep a state constable from evicting him from his apartment last month.

The Observer-Reporter of Washington, Pa. says 38-year-old John Matthew Thomas was arrested Thursday after Canonsburg police determined he faked the yellow eviction appeal notice he used to convince a constable to let him stay in his apartment.

Thomas' landlord filed for eviction claiming Thomas was $2,700 behind on his rent, and the constable went to serve the notice on Dec. 15. That's when Thomas allegedly presented a copy of the forged document which, had it been legitimate, would have allowed him to legally remain in the residence until the appeal could be heard.

Washington County court clerks reviewed the document for police and determined it was bogus.

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President signs Sandy disaster decree for Pa.

HARRISBURG — The federal government has declared a major disaster in the state from last year's Superstorm Sandy, which left more than a million people without power and hundreds of roads closed due to debris and downed trees.

President Barack Obama signed the disaster declaration on Thursday. More disaster relief could be approved if ongoing damage assessments show it is needed, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.

The declaration makes aid available to reimburse the state and local governments for costs to remove debris and repair damage on publicly owned property and for emergency preparation and response costs. The state has counted about $22 million in damage from the storm to properties including roads, bridges and water treatment plants, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency said Friday.

Federal funding will be available for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities. It applies to affected areas in Bedford, Bucks, Cameron, Dauphin, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Potter, Somerset, Sullivan and Wyoming counties.

The storm caused record outages in Pennsylvania. At its peak, 1.2 million customers in the state were without power.