The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 13, 2001 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

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Salina, Kansas
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Friday, April 13, 2001
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Page 1
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SkyPome the FRIDAY APRIL 13, 2001 SALINA, KANSAS Salina Journal Serving Kansas since 1871 50 cents Back on U.S. soil In Hawaii, crew being debriefed by investigators By JUSTIN PRITCHARD The Associated Press PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — The 24 crew members of the U.S. spy plane touched down in Hawaii at dawn Thursday on the second leg of their journey home from China and got a flag-waving welcome from a cheering crowd and a brass band playing "God Bless America." "We're definitely glad to be back," said Lt. Shane Osborn, the mission commander The weary crew members, who arrived aboard a military transport after a stop in Guam, face two days of debriefings with Pentagon investigators in Hawaii before being reunited with their fam- Hies over • Crew disputes the Easter China's account weekend /PageAS ,7^"^ ^^f* their dam• Saying Tm aged spy sorry'difficult Pl^ne ' be- for Chinese/ Paae AS ^^^^^ has refused to release the aircraft since its collision with a Chinese fighter jet April 1. In Washington, President Bush held the crew blameless and told the nation they "did their duty with honor and with great professionalism." "I know I speak for all Americans when I say welcome home to our flight crew," he said, adding that U.S. officials are eager to learn "exactly how the accident happened." The crew awoke Thursday to their 11th day of captivity on the Chinese island of Hainan. Sixteen hours later, after crossing the International Dateline and stopping in Guam, a U.S. territory, their transport touched down at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. It was still Thursday. Onlookers cheered as the uniformed crew members stepped down from the mammoth, windowless C-17 to salute and shake hands with a line of admirals, generals and Hawaii's U.S. senators and representatives. "We're all healthy and ready to go home," said Os- Photos by The Associated Press Crew members of the American spy plane stand on the Hickam Air Force Base tarmac as Adm. Thomas Fargo (at lectern in white) commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, welcomes them during his speech Thursday in IHonolulu. born, who held a folded American flag presented by the crew of the military transport, the Spirit of Bob Hope. Hundreds of well-wishers, some clutching small American flags, others with welcome-home banners, crowded near the crew. Several of the crew members' families had arrived in Hawaii Wednesday "It's a great morning hel-e in Hawaii and a great day for America,". Adm. Thomas Fargo, Pacific Fleet commander, told the crew and crowd. "May your reunion with family and loved ones be a joyous one indeed." He read a letter from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who said: "You put your lives at risk so the citizens of a grateful nation can live their lives in peace and freedom." The crew received flower leis before boarding two buses for the Pearl Harbor Naval Base, where they will answer questions from investigators about the collision. See SPY PLANE, Page A5 5' »: "MM ij: Si • '''' SI Lt. j.g. Jeffery Vignery, Goodland, is the first to board Continental Airlines Flight 881 Thursday for the first leg of his trip bacl( to the United States after being detained by Chinese authorities for 11 days. Crew nnember's dad spoke with son Wednesday night By The Salina Journal GOODLAND — If you see Jeff Vignery and ask him to describe his feelings when he walked onto a Continental commercial jet that carried him and the rest of the 24- member Navy crew away from China late Wednesday, he might have an answer. But late Wednesday night, just after landing safely in Guam and before leaving for Hawaii, a description eluded the 27-year-old Goodland native and Navy pilot still overcome with emotion. Ron Vignery, Jeff's father, Wednesday night spoke to his son for the first time since he and 23 others made an emergency landing on Hainan island after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet manned by a pilot now presumed dead. The Navy crew was held in China for 11 days against its v/ill, sparking an international incident between the United States and China. "He said, 'Dad, I can't put it into words how I felt when I walked up to that plane, and then when we walked in there and everybody was cheering us,' " Ron Vignery said. See VIGNERY, Page A5 • ELECTRIC RATES UtiUty rate session slated Input from public requested at hearing Tuesday evening By AMY SULLIVAN Tlw Salina Journal Complaints from residents about their electric bills probably wouldn't convince the Kansas Corporation Commission to deny Western Resources the $151 million rate increase it seeks. But public input still is important, said Rosemary Foreman, a spokeswoman for the commission, which will rule on the rate request. Topeka-based Western Re: sources is seeking to hike the rates of its two utilities — Topeka-based KPL, which serves customers in Salina and other northern Kansas towns, and Wichita-based KGE. If granted in full, the request would hike rates for KPL customers by an average of $9.25 a month. For residents wh6 might have something to say about that, the commission has scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Bicentennial Center. It's one of four hearings planned across the state. Foreman said although public input is valuable to the commission, "The decision will not be based solely on public opinion. We have a responsibility to balance the interests of everyone involved." The commission, she said, doesn't want to set electric rates so high customers would have trouble paying their bills. See RATES, Page A2 WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday WHERE: Bicentennial Center, 800 IViidway FORIUIAT: Question-and- answer period with Western Resources, Kansas Corporation Commission staff and the Citizens Utility Ratepayer. Board followed by statements from the public. T SALINA FATALITY MCVEIGH EXECUTION 4-year-old killed By KARA RHODES The Salina Journal A 4-year-old boy was kiUed Thursday when he fell out of .the back seat of a car his mother was driving and the car ran over him. The accident happened at 12:15 p.m. in the 1400 block of West Crawford. Questions, including whether the child was buckled in as required by state law, were not answered by police Thursday Salina Police Deputy Chief Barry Plunkett . said because the accident was under investigation and relatives still were being notified, details would not be released until today Plunkett said the car, a Lincoln Continental, was turning west onto Crawford from Duvall Street when the left rear door opened. There were at least three other children in the WEATHER High: 69 Low: 41 Mostly sunny. South wind 10 to 15 mph. Mostly clear tonight. car at the time, Plunkett said. Across the street in the parking lot of a Subway restaurant, David Siemsen watched as the Lincoln was loaded onto a wrecker about 2 p.m. Siemsen's two children, 4- year-old Christian and 2-year- old Joshua, played with Legos in the back seat of his vehicle. Joshua was in a car seat; Christian was unbelted but would buckle up when it was time to go, Siemsen said. "I always belt them. It's the law," he said, nodding his head toward the accident scene, "Something like this makes me glad I always do that." Inside, Subway employee Bill Perez and manager Marcus Di- dens were shaken by the news the boy had died. They made the initial call to 911 when a panicked woman, a witness to the accident, came in yelling for them to call for an ambulance. 1 1 CRAWFORD m of detail CRAWFORD As the car turtis right onto Crawford, a 4-year-old boy falls from the back seat and is run over by the car and killed.' % victim Didens, the father of a 3-year- old boy, said he understood how the accident could have happened. "I know how they're thriving at that age," he said. "My kid's RICHAE MORROW / The Salina Journal old enough to undo his child seat. I've had to stop the car (and scold him). "I feel for that lady It's something she's going to have to live with for the rest of her life." Telecast OK'd by government 250 family members, victims said they want to watch IVlcVeigh die By The Associated Press OKLAHOMA CITY — Timothy McVeigh's execution for the Oklahoma City bombing will be shown on closed-circuit television to the more than 200 survivors and victims' relatives who want to watch him draw his last breath. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced his decision Thursday, saying it may help the group "close this chapter on their lives." "It just pleases me to no end," said Dan McKinney, whose wife, Linda, died in the bombing. "I'm very thankful. I don't know what we would have done if we didn't get to see it." The U.S. government has not carried out an execution since 1963. McVeigh's lethal injection May 16 at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., will also mark the first time it has broadcast an execution. The broadcast will be shown at a still-undetermined site in Oklahoma City Ashcroft said the FBI and other agencies will make sure the broadcast is not recorded or pirated. He described the broadcast as "state-of-the-art videoconferencing." See MCVEIGH, Page A2 Tight gasoline supplies and volatile prices at the pmnp are expected during the peak sununer driving season, according to a new study. PAGE A4 A teen-ager calmly helps to end a 10-hour standoff between police and a man accused of abducting her last week from a Nebraska mall. INSIDE Classified / C5 Comics / B4 Crossword / B4 Deaths / B3 Encore! / D1 Great Plains / B1 Money / A7 Sports / C1 Weather / A9 Viewpoints / A11 ':a

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