BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) The Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport has sold a massive bronze statue for $300,000 to finance a major upgrade to its science education program for schoolchildren.
Board Chairman Joe D'Avanzo said the 15-foot sculpture, ``Torch Bearers,'' was sold to an unidentified Houston, Texas, buyer on Friday. The statue was to sell for at least $325,000 but was sold in a settlement because the purchase price fell short.
The museum is raising money to outfit and program a small satellite attached to a NASA rocket beaming back data on space dust. The material will be analyzed by students in high-school and younger at the museum's Challenger Learning Center.
D'Avanzo said that because the museum can expand its science education officials are not ``totally disappointed'' the statue did not sell at a higher price.
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Job security remains a top issue for the Pratt Whitney machinists union as it heads into the final days of contract negotiations with management.
The union says on its website it's not close to recommending a contract to members. A vote is scheduled for Sunday.
The machinists said the subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. intends to cut 190 jobs. About 3,000 workers are covered by the contract.
A spokesman said Pratt Whitney will not comment on bargaining.
Pratt Whitney's military program is vulnerable to Pentagon cuts, but engine orders are expected to pick up with an increase in joint strike fighter production.
Manufacturing jobs have been an issue for years as companies squeeze out productivity from fewer workers and use cost-cutting to boost profit.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) The families of a woman and three children who drowned when a van rolled into a Bridgeport pond in 2007 have settled a lawsuit against the dealership that sold the van.
The van was parked at Beardsley Park on July 4, 2007, when it began rolling down a hill. Thirty-nine-year-old Michelle McIntosh ran after the van but couldn't stop it and drowned with the children inside. An investigation determined one of the children had shifted the transmission into drive.
An attorney for McIntosh's family, William Bloss, tells the Connecticut Post that all sides agreed to keep terms of the settlement with the Loman Auto Group of Woodbridge, N.J., confidential.
Bloss said McIntosh's 1999 Plymouth Grand Voyager was sold without a device to prevent the transmission from being shifted into drive without the brake being depressed.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A Florida flight attendant has been acquitted in Connecticut of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy more than 100 times.
Connecticut Superior Court Judge George Thim on Thursday found Rafael Padilla-Cruz of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., not guilty of first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. There was no jury.
The Connecticut Post reports that Thim said he could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Padilla-Cruz sexually abused the youngster.
Padilla-Cruz's lawyer said he was vilified because he is gay.
The boy, who is now 16, testified that Padilla-Cruz, a family acquaintance, raped him almost daily between 2007 and 2008 while he was living with the boy's family.
Trial testimony says the boy was expelled from school in 2008 for drug abuse and violent behavior. He underwent mental health therapy.
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) A Hartford Superior Court judge has ordered a new election in New Britain to correct an Election Day ballot mix-up.
The New Britain Herald reports that 17 ballots used in Ward 5 in voting on Nov. 5 presented the names of candidates for alderman in Ward 2.
Democratic Aldermen Carlo Carlozzi Jr. and Roy Centeno, the top vote-getters who won the election, could appeal to the state Supreme Court. Their lawyer, Thomas McDonough, said a decision has not been made.
Carlozzi was outraged at the ruling, saying turnout next month will be tiny and the election decided by few voters.
Centeno said he's disappointed and that a re-vote will cost taxpayers $15,000.
The new election is set for Jan. 7.
TORRINGTON, Conn. (AP) A federal judge has sentenced to five years in prison a Torrington man convicted of bank fraud and described by federal prosecutors as a ``recidivist of the worst order.''
The Republican-American reports that Steven Finkler also was sentenced for violating the conditions of his supervised release from a previous federal conviction.
The 49-year-old Finkler was out of prison for a few weeks in July 2012 following a seven-year sentence when prosecutors say he deposited a bogus $10,000 check and withdrew $9,828 before the bank realized the check was counterfeit.
Authorities say he deposited forged checks and forged a check from the federal prison where he was being held.
Prosecutors say Finkler defrauded his mother with credit card charges totaling nearly $413,000.
The U.S. attorney said he should be jailed for as long as possible.
WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Authorities say a Connecticut college student arrested carrying two handguns on campus also had an assault rifle in his car, and police found 2,700 rounds of ammunition and newspaper clippings of the Colorado theater shooting at his home.
Twenty-two-year-old William Dong was arraigned Wednesday. A state judge ordered a mental health evaluation. Dong is detained on $500,000 bail on charges including illegal possession of an assault weapon.
No shots were fired in Tuesday's scare on the University of New Haven campus in West Haven. Police aren't sure why Dong brought guns to campus but say he had permits for the handguns.
Police say that in Dong's padlocked bedroom at his Fairfield home, they found the ammunition and newspaper stories about the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting that killed 12 people and wounded 70 last year.
DARIEN, Conn. (AP) Darien police are re-examining a 35-year-old homicide, relying on advances in DNA testing.
Greg Sjolander, a Montreal hairdresser and parolee, was found dead behind an abandoned building in December 1978. The last confirmed sighting of Sjolander was in November 1978 when he was seen in Stamford.
The News-Times reports that police say the case was last examined in the early 1980s. Police say evidence from the Sjolander homicide was processed by the FBI forensic lab in 1979. Some evidence is being sent to the FBI Lab in Quantico, Va., for re-analysis.
Evidence also is being sent to the Connecticut State Forensic Lab for DNA testing.
Darien investigators believe Sjolander's death is connected with another unsolved 1978 killing of Darien native Ronald Poole. He was found fatally shot in Dutchess County, N.Y.
HOLYOKE, Mass. (AP) New England's electric grid operator says consumers can expect to have enough electricity to run their heating systems this winter.
But ISO-New England said Wednesday that the region's increased reliance on natural gas is making the region vulnerable to delivery problems during periods of extreme cold.
ISO says most natural gas-fired generators do not hold long-term fuel-delivery contracts but instead rely on local gas companies that may not have gas available when demand is high. The ISO then dispatches oil- and coal-fired power plants, which are more costly and run infrequently.
For this winter, ISO has secured nearly 2 million megawatt-hours of energy from oil-fired generators, oil- and natural gas-fired generators and energy-saving agreements with companies to reduce power if asked. ISO calls it an insurance policy for New England.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A lockdown was lifted at the University of New Haven hours after a report of a man near campus with what appeared to be a rifle.
The school and police said earlier Tuesday a person was taken into custody and weapons recovered. No one was injured. West Haven police say 22-year old William Dong of Fairfield has been charged with illegal possession of an assault weapon, transporting an assault weapon, illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle and breach of peace.
West Haven Police say guns, ammunition and clippings of stories about mass murders were recovered from the man's Fairfield home.
After the report came in just before 1 p.m., the university urged students and staff to stay inside, and several police officers responded to the West Haven school.
The university lifted the lockdown around 5:30 p.m. after police searched the main campus. Restrictions on the north and south campuses had been lifted earlier after searches there. Evening classes were canceled.
The report of an armed man marked the third scare at a Connecticut university in the last several weeks.
YONKERS, N.Y. (AP) The head of the Federal Railroad Administration is blasting Metro North railroad following a derailment that killed four people and injured more than 60.
Joseph Szabo says in a letter that his administration and the U.S. Transportation Department ``have serious concerns'' following by Sunday's Bronx train accident and three others that occurred in New York and Connecticut from May through July.
Szabo notes that a federal team has been working closely with Metro-North Railroad and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. But he says ``immediate corrective action is imperative.''
The MTA says the safety of its customers ``has always been, and will always continue to be'' its top priority.
It says a panel is conducting a comprehensive probe of the ``safety culture'' throughout the MTA and it looks forward to further work with federal officials.
An engineer whose speeding commuter train ran off the rails along a curve, killing four people, experienced a hypnotic-like ``daze'' and nodded at the controls before suddenly realizing something was wrong and hitting the brakes, a lawyer said.
Attorney Jeffrey Chartier accompanied engineer William Rockefeller to his interview with National Transportation Safety Board investigators Tuesday and described the account Rockefeller gave. Chartier said the engineer experienced a nod or ``a daze,'' almost like road fatigue or the phenomenon sometimes called highway hypnosis. He couldn't say how long it lasted.
What Rockefeller remembers is ``operating the train, coming to a section where the track was still clear then, all of a sudden, feeling something was wrong and hitting the brakes,'' Chartier said. ``... He felt something was not right, and he hit the brakes.''
He called Rockefeller ``a guy with a stellar record who, I believe, did nothing wrong.''
``You've got a good guy and an accident,'' he said. ``... A terrible accident is what it is.''
Rockefeller ``basically nodded,'' said Anthony Bottalico, leader of the rail employees union, relating what he said the engineer told him.
``He had the equivalent of what we all have when we drive a car,'' Bottalico said. ``That is, you sometimes have a momentary nod or whatever that might be.''
NTSB member Earl Weener said it was too soon to say whether the accident was caused by human error. But he said investigators have found no problems with the train's brakes or rail signals.
Alcohol tests on the train's crew members were negative, and investigators were awaiting the results of drug tests, the NTSB said.
Federal investigators wouldn't comment on Rockefeller's level of alertness around the time of the Sunday morning wreck in the Bronx. They said late Tuesday they had removed Bottalico's union, the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, as a participant in the investigation over a breach of confidentiality after he publicly discussed information related to it.
Two law enforcement officials said the engineer told police at the scene that his mind was wandering before he realized the train was in trouble and by then it was too late to do anything about it. One of the officials said Rockefeller described himself as being ``in a daze'' before the wreck.
The officials, who were briefed on the engineer's comments, weren't authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Questions about Rockefeller's role mounted rapidly after investigators disclosed on Monday that the Metro-North Railroad commuter train jumped the tracks after going into a curve at 82 mph, or nearly three times the 30 mph speed limit.
Rockefeller, 46, has worked for the railroad for 15 years and has been an engineer for 10, Weener said. He lives in Germantown, 40 miles south of Albany.
On the day of the crash, Rockefeller was on the second day of a five-day work week, reporting at 5:04 a.m. after a typical nine-hour shift the day before, Weener said.
``There's every indication that he would have had time to get full restorative sleep,'' he said.
Weener didn't address specifically what the engineer was doing in the hours before his shift started but said part of the investigation will be creating a 72-hour timeline of his activities.
Chartier said Rockefeller had gotten ``a proper amount of sleep,'' having gone to bed at 8:30 the previous night to wake up at 3:30 a.m. for his shift. He said Rockefeller, before going to bed, had been spending time at home.
Rockefeller had begun running that route on Nov. 17, two weeks before the wreck. Bottalico said Rockefeller was familiar with the route and qualified to run it.
He said Rockefeller had switched just weeks earlier from the night shift to the day shift, ``so he did have a change in his hours and his circadian rhythms with regard to sleep.''
The New York Police Department is conducting its own investigation, with help from the Bronx district attorney's office, in the event the derailment becomes a criminal case.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the engineer could be faulted for the train's speed if nothing else.
``Certainly, we want to make sure that that operator is disciplined in an appropriate way,'' he said. ``There's such a gross deviation from the norm.''
A former supervisor, Michael McLendon, who retired from the railroad about a year ago, called Rockefeller ``a stellar employee.''
McLendon said he was stunned when he heard about the crash, shortly after opening his mail to find a Christmas card from Rockefeller and his wife.
``I said, `Well, I can't imagine Billy making a mistake,''' McLendon said. ``Not intentionally, by any stretch of the imagination.''
University of Dayton professor Steven Harrod, who studies transportation, said trains typically don't have a speed or cruise control but a power control, and once it's set a train can pick up speed on its own because of the terrain.
``Thus, if the engineer loses attention, the train can gain speed without intervention,'' Harrod said.
In case of an engineer becoming incapacitated, the train's front car was equipped with a dead man's pedal, which must be depressed or the train will automatically slow down.
Trains also can have alarms, sometimes called alerters, which sound if the operators' controls haven't been moved within a certain timeframe. If an engineer doesn't respond, often by pressing a button, brakes automatically operate. But the train that derailed didn't have such a system, a Metro-North spokeswoman said.
Congress has ordered commuter and freight railroads to install technology called positive train control, which uses electronics to monitor trains' positions and speed and stop derailments and other problems, by the end of 2015.
Crews are rebuilding the damaged track where Rockefeller's train crashed. Officials expect 98 percent of service to be restored to the affected line Wednesday, Cuomo said.
MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) Manchester is reviewing a massive, $100 million plan to upgrade and reconfigure the town's school system to renovate buildings and account for racial balance and building design requirements for the handicapped.
The Journal-Inquirer reports that the plan calls for closing two elementary schools and consolidating.
Voters would have to approve $90 million to $100 million in bonds to finance the project. The state is expected to reimburse about $60 million.
A consultant identified three elementary schools that could be closed.
About 1,000 Manchester students have left town schools in favor of charter schools or private education, costing taxpayers about $2 million a year.
A man was seen at a supermarket across from the University of New Haven campus with a rifle prompting a lockdown. University officials say there is one suspect in custody. The lockdown has been lifted. A "shelter in place" order was made as a methodical search took place of buildings on campus.
Fairfield police say two handguns and ammunition have been recovered from a University of New Haven student who was taken into custody today near the West Haven campus. Police say the student had legal permits for the handguns.
Classes for the rest of Tuesday have been cancelled.
This follows the hoax phone call to Yale University last month of a person coming to that campus with a gun, and the post-Halloween scare at Central Connecticut State University where a student wearing a ninja costume sparked fears of a gunman or a man with a sword.
GROTON, Conn. (AP) The U.S. Geological Survey says it recorded a small earthquake in southeast Connecticut last Friday, explaining loud booms reported by several residents.
The 2.1-magnitude earthquake was recorded Friday morning and centered about 2 miles east of Conning Towers-Nautilus Park in Groton.
The noises produced by the earthquakes prompted numerous calls to police and fire departments, which searched the area looking for signs of an explosion.
Justin Starr, a research assistant at the Weston Observatory at Boston College, tells The Day of New London that the quakes were small and close to the surface. The release of seismic energy causes the earth's surface to act like a speaker and emit a sound like an explosion.
Starr said similar quakes jostled Massachusetts and New Hampshire in October and are not uncommon.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) New Haven police say the three-day delay in releasing information about the death of a Yale professor while in detention was an oversight.
Police announced last Wednesday that Samuel See had been found unresponsive in his cell at the detention facility the previous Sunday.
Assistant Chief Archie Generoso tells the New Haven Register the delay was not sinister, but an oversight.
He said the announcement would likely have been made on Nov. 25, the day after See's death. But police and other authorities were preoccupied that day with an anonymous report of a gunman that prompted a lockdown at Yale University.
The 34-year-old See was an assistant professor of English and American studies and was on leave.
He had been charged with violating a protective order, threatening and interfering with police.
UNDATED (AP) The number of Metro-North train accidents has improved during the past decade, but this year will have the first annual increase since 2010 to 2011.
According to a Federal Railroad Administration database, the number of train accidents peaked at 40 in 2005 but fell to 15 in 2010 and six in 2012.
Train accident injuries, however, are far higher this year than any in the past 10. Through August, 123 people were injured in Metro-North train accidents. Before this year, the highest number was seven in 2007.
Metro-North derailments peaked at seven in 2006, but dropped to five in 2011. There were three last year and three through August of this year.
On Sunday, a Metro-North train derailed in New York City, killing four people and injuring more than 60.
Senator Richard Blumenthal has called on federal officials to conduct an expedited investigation of the fatal derailment of a Metro-North passenger train.
The Connecticut Democrat said Sunday he contacted Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, and urged an expedited probe into the derailment in the Bronx that killed 4 and injured more than 60.
A spokesman for the agency did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Blumenthal is a member of the subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security.
He said Metro-North must confront questions about adequacy of equipment, tracks and maintenance and repair practices.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) The state is investigating allegations that Bridgeport Town Clerk Alma Maya waived a campaign fine for a City Council candidate and falsified documents to hide the waiver.
The Connecticut Post reports that a complaint with the state Elections Enforcement Commission says Town Clerk Alma Maya refused to charge fellow Democrat Richard DeJesus a $100 fine for filing his financial report a day late in September.
DeJesus was a petition candidate in the Sept. 10 primary. He won the race and November's general election and was sworn into office on Sunday.
Two assistant town clerks complained to the city's Office of Labor Relations, which called in the city attorney who passed the case on to state officials.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut State Police say most motor vehicle violations over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend were down from last year.
State Police said Monday that troopers arrested 1,134 motorists for alleged speeding, 43 who were accused of driving under the influence and investigated 562 accidents, which included one fatality.
Last year, State Police made 1,611 arrests for speeding and 62 for driving under the influence. Two deaths were reported among 412 accidents.
State Police say they'll continue traffic enforcement until the end of the holiday season.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Fire Department of New York says there are "multiple injuries" in a Metro-North passenger train derailment, but the extent of the injuries is unclear. Police say there are four fatalities. The train on the Hudson line was coming from Poughkeepsie. The MTA had identified the four people who died by early Sunday evening: Jim Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring, N.Y.; James Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, N.Y.; Donna Smith, 54, of Newburgh, N.Y., and Ahn Kisook, 35, of Queens, N.Y.
63 people were injured, 11 in critical condition. Fire officials say three of the four fatalities were people thrown from the train when it derailed.
The FDNY says the train derailment in the Bronx was reported at 7:20 a.m. Sunday near the Spuyten Duyvil station. Photos taken of the accident scene show eight cars derailed. NBC is citing a senior Metro North official in saying two train cars on their sides need to be uprighted before the full extent of casualties are known.
The fire department says 130 firefighters are on the scene.
Amtrak service is suspended between NYC and Albany. Service on Metro North's Hudson line is suspended indefinitely.
Edwin Valero was in an apartment building above the accident scene when the train derailed. He says none of the cars went into the water where the Harlem River meets the Hudson, but at least one ended up a few feet from the edge.
(Picture courtesy of Naomi Fink)
He says he didn't realize the train had turned on its side until he saw a firefighter walking on the window.
This is the third recent incident involving Metro North trains. Two happened in May in Connecticut. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating this latest derailment.
Metro-North track foreman Robert Luden, a 52-year-old East Haven resident, died after he was hit by a train at the site of the future West Haven Metro-North train station in May in Connecticut. The accident came less than two weeks after a train derailed near the Fairfield-Bridgeport border, injuring more than 70 people and disrupting service for days.
STONINGTON, Conn. (AP) Authorities are trying to determine the source of several loud booms heard in Stonington.
Stonington Police Capt. Jerry Desmond told The Day of New London that the department received multiple phone calls Friday morning from people living in the Old Mystic section of town. The callers said they heard three loud booms or explosions that also shook their houses.
Desmond said police and fire officials are searching the area, including construction sites and power lines, but have not yet determined a cause for the noises.
Desmond said the police department did not receive any reports of damage or power outages.
Nancy Peta of Old Mystic told The Day about how the booms, approximately 15 minutes apart, felt like an earthquake and sounded like an exploding propane tank or plane crash.