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The Journal News from White Plains, New York • Page 18

The Journal Newsi
White Plains, New York
Issue Date:
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GlTweclnesday, July 30, 1997 JN psii Gannett Newspapers sdI iipSosion at trestaorant unsolvei f. ess ,.,) if -A r- l' it 1 V' I' fit, lt f. The blast began in the kitchen of Keltie's Bum Steer, said Brewster Fire Chief Thomas Palmer, and it caused the building to collapse "like a domino effect." Sterman and Ferrusi were trapped when the ceiling collapsed, he said. Palmer said that in his 18 years in the Fire Department, he had never seen "anything of this magnitude." Investigators are determining whether propane or methane gas could have been the cause of the explosion, Palmer said. The restaurant was fueled by a tank of propane gas, he said.

There was no indication of problems with the propane system, Palmer said, noting that the restaurant's propane tanks were checked for maintenance on Thursday by National Propane of Brewster. The restaurant was on the site of a former swimming pool, which was filled in decades ago. Fire investigators are trying to determine whether a leaking septic system could have contributed to a possible buildup of methane gas. "But no cause has been determined," said Sblendorio, the state police investigator. "Right now, we're leaving every door open." Keltie's Bum Steer was inspected by the Putnam County Health Department last month, and no violations were found.

Tom Stevens, one of the restaurant's owners, declined to comment yesterday about the incident. at Danbury Hospital and released Monday night. The restaurant adjoined the 30-room Fox Ridge Motor Inn on Route 121 in Southeast. The explosion, which occurred at 3:20 p.m. Monday, could be heard for miles around.

The complex is off Route 6 and is near Interstate 84. Yesterday, two backhoes began to clear debris from the 15-foot pile of wood beams and concrete blocks where the restaurant once stood. Yellow police tape kept onlookers and reporters at the edge of the large parking lot. "This is another tragedy to hit Brewster," resident Kevin Chev-erko said, referring to the line-of-duty death last month of Brewster volunteer firefighter Michael Neuner. "We lost a firefighter, and now this." Under the large Fox Ridge and Keltie's Bum Steer sign, a makeshift shrine was set up yesterday in memory of those killed.

One of those to stop by with flowers was Debbie Wood, a Keltie's waitress who said that Monday was her day off. Wood, bearing a bouquet of red roses, said she was "totally shocked." "I didn't know Ronika very well. It was only her third day here," Wood said. "Robert was the dining room manager, and he waited on customers, too. He was a very good manager." "This was a Brewster landmark," Gloria Bucci, a Brewster resident, said sadly.

"Almost everyone in town ate there at one time or another." Investigators work at Putnam site ras mourners gather 'By Nancy Coveney laff Writer Fire investigators were still trying to determine yesterday Jvhat caused the explosion that destroyed Keltie's Bum Steer, killed two restaurant employees aid injured five others. rubble-strewn remains of the restaurant were declared jiructurally unsafe by the Brewster Fire Department yesterday, and firefighters had to shore up the ceiling before they could begin searching for clues, state police Investigator Angelo Sblendorio said, Killed in the Monday after-khoon explosion were the restaurant's manager, Robert A. Ster-man, 41, and a waitress, Ronika Ferrusi, 24, both of Patterson. Vi A dishwasher, Segundo Moro-cho, 35, of Carmel, suffered fractures on his legs, a fractured pelvis and burns on his head, I neck and arms. His condition was upgraded yesterday from critical serious at Danbury (Conn.) Hospital.

Three employees Gary J. Martin, 35, of Carmel and Remi-, gio Bernal, 46, and Donald Hensley, 20, both of Danbury treated for cuts and scrapes at Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel and released Monday night. Another restaurant worker, Peter Lipiatus, 41, of Danbury, was treated for cuts and scrapes Staff photos Jesse Mobley Brewster Fire Department personnel yesterday examine the damaged exterior of Keltie's Bum Steer, where an explosion Monday ki I led two restaurant employees and injured five others. Natalie Hensley, mother of 20-year-old Donald Hensley, one of the injured workers, said her son was "more mentally shaken up than anything." "He's bruised and hurting. He's trying to clear his head," Hensley said.

"This is a lot for a 20-year-old to try to absorb." Hensley said her son, a freshman at Naugatuck Community College in Waterbury, has worked as a cook at Keltie's Bum After Monday's blast, county Health Inspector Anne Mahoney condemned the restaurant and motel. "We're just waiting for the OK to level the building," Ellen Do-herty, a spokeswoman for the property owner, John Gillen, said yesterday. For the blast survivors, yesterday was a day to reflect on what happened and to mourn their colleagues. Steer for the past two months as a summer job. "He couldn't believe he ended up with all this debris around him," she said.

"He was very, very fortunate. After seeing that building, I don't know how anyone survived." Staff writers C.J. Miller, Andrew McMains and Kathy Moore contributed information for this report. Woman says she is considering Cosby's paternity test challenge the Associated Press The woman who claims to be Bill Cosby's out-of-wedlock daughter is weighing an offer by the actor to settle the issue with a paternity test, her lawyer said yesterday. "We're considering it," the attorney for Autumn Jackson, Robert Baum, said one day after the actor's lawyer announced Cosby had drawn blood for DNA analysis.

"We're concerned about the conditions," Baum said. "We're also concerned about Autumn's emotional state." Jackson, 22, was convicted last week of trying to extort $40 million from Cosby by threatening to go public with her story. She spent yesterday being interviewed in Manhattan by federal authorities preparing a pre-sentence report. Baum indicated even if Jackson agreed to take the test, it would not be until after she is sentenced on Oct. 22.

She faces up to 12 years in prison. He also disputed comments yesterday by Wanda Akin the attorney for Jackson's mother that the mother, Shawn Up-shaw, and daughter would not "respond to some grand-standing move" by the Cosby camp. "No decision has been made" in regard to Jackson, Baum said, adding that he expected to resume negotiations with Cosby's attorney, Jack Schmitt, today. Cosby's attorney, Jack Schmitt, announced Monday on CNBC's "Rivera Live" that Cosby was drawing blood at that very moment to answer lingering questions about whether Jackson, 22, is his daughter. Cosby admitted having a Las Vegas tryst with Upshaw in the mid-1970s, then paying Upshaw to keep quiet about the affair.

But he has denied being Jackson's father. The actor thinks the test will show that the real father is a Southern California truck driver, Jerald Jackson, Schmitt said. Jackson's name appears on Jack mother. A laboratory identifies the unique features of the father's genes, then checks to see if they are present in the child. Experts say a match establishes a 99.9 percent probability of paternity.

Results usually are available in one to two weeks. A judge ruled that actual paternity was irrelevant to the extortion case. But Baum was allowed to argue that Jackson was raised to believe that Cosby is her father and that she had a legal right to his money. son's birth certificate. "He felt it was time to settle this once and for all," Schmitt told The Associated Press.

"It's time to end the nonsense." Cosby's representatives refused to discuss in detail how the test would be conducted. "His main concern is accuracy," Cosby spokesman David Brokaw said. A paternity test involves analyzing blood samples or skin cells extracted by swab from inside the mouth from the father, child and, if available, the Coming August 3 A monthly publication of Gannett Suburban Newspapers I 5 0 -j'ftiimiro, What can be done about slow play? 15 7r7Tn7n I I LiLi UJ, LdIHJ Please send a free copy of Suburban Coif each month Mad fax Suburban Coif Subscriptions Gannett Suburban Newspapers One Gannett Drive, White Plains, NY 1 0604 Don't get up. For home delivery call 1-888-GANNETT PGA Championship hole-by-hole inside look at Winged Foot golf club through the eyes of those who know it best-its members. Hp of the the ball a long way is fun, but most strokes are gained or lost around the greens.

How many wedges should you carry, and how can you put them to best use? Tournament July was a busy month in the area. Suburban Golf looks back at the Gannett WGA Open, the New York State Open and the JAL Big Apple Classic, among others. Watch for Golf, coming Sunday, August 3 in select home delivery editions of your hometown Gannett newspaper. Sutt Bp. City, It you an abtady on ounmffinq (fit ot mem Utbutbm Coif in your Cannttt nrmpaott, then no nerd to lend In another coupon.

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