Nation roundup for March 25


Winning $338M Powerball jackpot ticket sold in N.J.

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — When Teddy Jackson heard Sunday morning that the lone winning ticket for a $338.3 million Powerball drawing was sold in New Jersey, the Toms River resident combed through his 40 tickets and hoped for the best.

About 20 minutes later, after checking each ticket at least a couple times, Jackson realized he would have to go work on Monday.

“There were a few where I had one or two numbers, but that was it,” the 45-year-old electrician said Sunday. “Now, I have to watch someone else get my money, buy the powerboat I would have gotten …. it was fun to dream about those things for a few minutes while I checked everything.”

Details on where and when the winning ticket was purchased and other related information were not disclosed Sunday by New Jersey Lottery officials, who also would not say if anyone claiming to hold the ticket had contacted them as of Sunday afternoon.

They said information on the ticket would be released at a news conference on Monday morning at the lottery’s headquarters in Lawrenceville.

Lottery officials say it was the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history. The numbers drawn were 17, 29, 31, 52, 53 and Powerball 31. A lump sum payout would be $221 million.

Retailers in New Jersey said the growing jackpot had spurred a big boost in ticket sales in recent days, and many people were willing to stand in long lines to get their tickets. Staffers at some stores said Sunday that they didn’t know where the winning ticket had been sold.

“We are hoping that we sold it here because that would be a blessing for one of our customers in these tough times,” said a worker at a Camden area convenience store.

Lottery officials said 13 tickets worth $1 million apiece — matching the first five numbers but missing the Powerball — were sold in Arizona, Florida (2), Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina and Virginia.

Powerball said on its website that the grand prize jackpot has now been reset to an estimated $40 million or a lump sum cash amount estimated at $25 million for Wednesday’s next drawing.

No one had won the Powerball jackpot since early February, when Dave Honeywell in Virginia bought the winning ticket and elected a cash lump sum for his $217 million jackpot.

The largest Powerball jackpot ever came in at $587.5 million in November. The winning numbers were picked on two different tickets — one by a couple in Missouri and the other by an Arizona man — and the jackpot was split.

Nebraska still holds the record for the largest Powerball jackpot won on a single ticket — $365 million. That jackpot was won by eight workers at a Lincoln meatpacking plant in February 2006.

Powerball is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The chance of matching all five numbers and the Powerball number is about 1 in 175 million.

Powerball said on its website that the game is played every Wednesday and Saturday night when five white balls are drawn from a drum of 59 balls and one red ball is picked from a drum with 35 red balls. It added that winners of the Powerball jackpot can elect to be paid out over 29 years at a percentage set by the game’s rules — or in a lump sum cash payment.

Mom, 2 sons improving after Ala. airport sign fell

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A woman and two of her sons were improving Sunday after being seriously injured when a flight information billboard fell on them at an airport.

A third son was killed Friday when the electronic board, weighing at least 300 pounds, fell from a wall at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

The boys’ mother, Heather Bresette, had broken ankles and a crushed pelvis. She had surgeries over the weekend, but she was still in intensive care and unconscious, University Hospital spokeswoman Nicole Wyatt said.

“She does not know that her baby is dead,” the family’s priest, the Rev. Don Farnan, said.

The Bresettes, a family of seven, took a weeklong vacation to Destin, Fla., and were about to fly home to Overland Park, Kan., when the arrival-departure sign fell.

Luke Bresette, 10, was killed. His brother, 5-year-old Tyler, suffered a concussion. His 8-year-old brother, Sam, had a broken leg and nose. Tyler was let out of a children’s hospital Sunday.

Luke was the middle child of the five. The father, Ryan Bresette, and another son and daughter, were at the airport but not injured.

During their vacation, the family swam in the Gulf of Mexico and Luke went parasailing for the first time.

“His dad said he was thrilled. He was an adventurous kid. He loved sports,” said Farnan, a priest at St. Thomas More in Kansas City, Mo.

After the sign fell, it took six people to lift the large board and a dozen people to hold it up while first responders administered aid. Officials were investigating how the sign fell at the newly renovated airport and took down an identical billboard on Saturday.

The renovated concourse opened March 13. It was part of an ongoing $200 million upgrade of Birmingham’s airport. The construction began in June 2011 and is being overseen by Brasfield & Gorrie Global Services Group.

The Birmingham-based company said in a statement it was working with airport authorities to determine why the sign fell.

“This is a terrible tragedy that none of us fully understand, and we hope that the family who lost their loved one will find strength through prayer and the support of all of us,” the statement said.

At St. Thomas More, hundreds of worshippers showed up for a Saturday morning Mass that usually has about 75 people. Luke’s uncle Alex Bresette placed a Rockhurst High School jersey on the altar.

“He would have been in the Class of 2020,” he told the Kansas City Star.

Ryan Bresette said in a message on Facebook that words cannot describe the pain the family feels.

In a note to his son, he wrote, “I miss and love Luke so very much. I love you Luke!”

“Ryan is especially grateful for the amazing support of the people in Birmingham. They even started a fund for the family at a bank there,” Farnan said. “There are long, loving arms that stretch between Birmingham and Kansas City.”

Police: Pa. man kills son, wounds wife; kills self

PETERSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A central Pennsylvania father shot and killed his 2-year-old son and wounded his estranged wife during a custody exchange before killing himself, authorities said.

Police said Kenneth Ayers also shot at his mother during the altercation Saturday morning at her home in a rural area about 20 miles southwest of State College.

Huntingdon County District Attorney George Zanic said Ayers, 52, was subject to a protection from abuse order filed by his wife but was permitted visits with his son, Michael.

Saturday’s visit was to happen at his mother’s home in Barree Township. But once at the home, Ayers got into an altercation with his estranged wife, Hollie Jo, and shot her in the legs and arm with a .40 caliber handgun before intentionally shooting his son, police said.

Kenneth Ayers placed the child’s body in the back of his vehicle but the wounded woman retrieved the body before Ayers shot her again in the face, police said. He also fired at his mother but missed.

“Words can’t describe the scene … heartbreaking,” Zanic told The (Altoona) Mirror outside the home.

Kenneth Ayers’ body was found several hours later in his parked truck in a wooded area in Warriors Mark Township. Investigators said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Hollie Jo Ayers was transported to a hospital and expected to survive, according to police.

State police Cpl. Daniel Sneath said investigators are trying to determine what led to the shooting and why Ayers was carrying a gun despite the protection order.

Police will also seek an autopsy to determine whether Kenneth Ayers was under the influence drugs or alcohol.

Skydive site owner: Men didn’t deploy parachutes

MIAMI (AP) — Two Icelandic skydivers who died during weekend jumps at a popular southwest Florida camp did not deploy their main parachutes, the co-owner of the facility said Sunday.

Deputies found the bodies of the skydiving instructor and a student Saturday after the two didn’t return from a jump with a group, setting off an hours-long air and ground search around the Zephyrhills facility, about 30 miles northeast of Tampa. Pasco County sheriff’s authorities identified the victims as 41-year-old instructor Orvar Arnarson and 25-year-old student Andrimar Pordarson of Iceland. The men jumped separately, not in tandem.

The fact that the men didn’t deploy their main parachutes could mean that they lost altitude awareness and didn’t know where they were during the dive, which is unusual, said T.K. Hayes, co-owner of Skydive City.

Both men had backup automatic activation devices, which deploy if the main parachutes are not deployed in time.

“Those devices activated on both of them … but the reserves did not have time to deploy fully,” Hayes said. “They were out of the containers but not inflated in time before they impacted.”

Hayes was at the scene with officials Saturday, sorting through the men’s gear to determine whether all parts had been functioning properly.

“Like most accidents, most of the time it’s human error,” he said. “I doubt there’s an equipment problem here, to be honest.” But he stressed that authorities are still investigating.

The two men had successfully completed two other jumps Saturday morning with 20 other people. But when they didn’t return from their third jump, their disappearance tipped off a search, Pasco County sheriff’s spokeswoman Melanie Snow said.

The bodies were discovered by spotters from the air early Saturday evening in woods south of the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, Snow said.

The victims were part of a group of about 12 who travel from Iceland to Florida every year to jump, Hayes said.

Arnarson, the instructor, had been to the facility before, but Pordarson had not, Hayes said.

The area is a popular destination for skydivers. Skydive City is a 14-acre property that includes RV campgrounds, a tiki bar, cafe and regular shows by a reggae band, according to its website.

Hundreds of skydivers jump each day at the site this time of year. Hayes estimates that overall, the facility assists about 75,000 jumps a year. Accidents are rare, but they happen, he said.

Last year, Dr. T. Elaine McLaughlin died on a jump at Skydive City on New Year’s Day after her chute failed to open properly. She was a resident of the Tampa Bay area and practiced family medicine in St. Petersburg.

Last year across the U.S., 19 skydivers died out of 3.1 million jumps, according to the United States Parachute Association.

“As an industry, the safety record continues to improve as the decades go on as we improve training and equipment … but it’s not a fail-safe sport,” Hayes said.

Last month, near Seattle, dozens of volunteers spent four days searching through snowy weather and fog after a 29-year-old Florida man didn’t return from a skydiving jump above Washington’s Cascade foothills. Kurt Ruppert, of Lake City, was wearing a special wing suit with fabric under the arms to allow him to glide like a flying squirrel.

“With skydiving of course the consequences of small mistakes are going to be pretty grave,” Hayes said.

The Federal Aviation Administration does not regulate the United States Parachute Association. The group is a self-regulated, but the FAA may get involved in accident investigations to determine whether the pilot or the plane were to blame. Hayes said that was not the case in Saturday’s incident.

Meanwhile, Icelandic officials said Sunday that they were still contacting family and friends of the men who died.

“We will assist the families if they request our assistance. I’m not aware of them contacting us,” said Urdur Gunnarsdottir, press officer for the Foreign Ministry of Iceland.

 

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