The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

October 11, 2012

Midday Briefing | Funeral to be held for couple allegedly slain by grandson

FRANKLIN — Visitation and a funeral Mass have been set for a northwestern Pennsylvania couple who were allegedly slain by their 13-year-old grandson.

Funeral home visitation for 69-year-old George Fross and 67-year-old Dorothy Fross is scheduled Thursday at a funeral home in Franklin, not far from the Sandycreek Township home where they were shot on Sunday. Their funeral will be Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick Church, also in Franklin.

Their grandson, Zachary Proper, of Oil City, has been charged as an adult with shooting the couple after claiming they spoke ill of his mother.

The boy remained in the Venango County Jail, also in Franklin, on Thursday.

A defense attorney has not returned requests for comment.

The boy's attorney still has the right to ask a judge to consider moving the case to juvenile court.

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NTSB to provide update on chopper crash probe

TOBYHANNA — A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board says investigators will be providing an update on their investigation of a helicopter crash that killed two people and injured a third in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The chopper crashed in a wooded area in Coolbaugh Township as it approached an airport in bad weather Tuesday night. NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss says investigators are on the scene and plan to provide an update on the investigation at the crash site at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Authorities have identified the victims as 52-year-old William Ellsworth, of Califon N.J., and 51-year-old Tighe Sullivan, of Darien, Conn. A third man, Stephen Barral, of Bernardsville, N.J., was seriously hurt.

Officials say the men were on their way back from a golf outing in New York and hit bad weather.

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Marcellus driller settles with land owners

DARLINGTON — A natural gas drilling company has settled federal lawsuits by western Pennsylvania landowners who contested the company's drilling leases and were, in turn, countersued by the company for permission to cut down trees sometimes inhabited by a protected bat species so the wells could be drilled.

A spokeswoman for Chesapeake Appalachia LLC declined to comment on the settlements filed Wednesday in federal court Pittsburgh. Attorneys for the landowners in Beaver County couldn't immediately be reached for comment and settlement terms weren't disclosed.

The landowners claimed they were tricked into signing unfair leases later purchased by Chesapeake. Chesapeake countersued to get permission to clear trees from the land earlier this year before Indiana bats began living in them. Trees can be cut from Nov. 1 to March 31 because the bats hibernate in caves during those months.

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