News briefs: Lightning fatally strikes NJ family twice

Posted July 15, 2011, at 8:43 p.m.

HAMMONTON, N.J. — A freakish coincidence has left a New Jersey town grieving and shaken, as lightning took the life of a man who lost his father the same way 48 years ago.

Services were held Thursday for Stephen Rooney, 54, of Hammonton, N.J., who died last Friday from injuries suffered July 3 at a party hosted by relatives living next door.

When Rooney was 5, his father, George, was struck by lightning and killed while fishing in a boat near Fortescue, N.J., said Scott Digerolamo, Rooney’s cousin.

Digerolamo, 38, also was hospitalized after a thunderbolt suddenly scorched a tree.

Most of the partygoers were inside the house, because of lightning in the area and a little rain, but a handful of men stayed outside to smoke cigars.

Stephen Rooney had often said that lightning couldn’t strike the family twice, and that day said something like, “Don’t worry, you’re safe out here with me,” Digerolamo said.

Suddenly, “it was like a bomb went off … this huge explosion,” with “a bright fireball that came away from the tree,” he said.

Calif. man faces trial in fatal pit bull mauling

MARTINEZ, Calif. — A judge has ordered a California man to stand trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal mauling of his 2-year-old stepgrandson by pit bulls.

Contra Costa County Judge Clare Maier on Thursday decided to increase the charges against 53-year-old Steven Hayashi of Concord from felony child abuse and owning a mischievous animal that caused death, to involuntary manslaughter. She issued the ruling at the conclusion of Hayashi’s preliminary hearing.

Maier rejected prosecutors’ request that Hayashi be charged with second-degree murder in Jacob Bisbee’s July 2010 death.

Authorities say Hayashi was not at home when Bisbee was attacked by at least three pit bulls in Hayashi’s garage. The boy had been left unsupervised.

Hayashi’s attorney has argued that Jacob’s father is to blame because he didn’t arrange for child care.

US: Somalia food crisis one of biggest in decades

NAIROBI, Kenya — East Africa’s worsening famine is one of the largest humanitarian crises in decades, a U.S. State Department official said Friday, pledging “significant” aid despite the debt ceiling impasse being debated in Washington.

The U.S. already has pledged $5 million to help Somali refugees on top of a previously budgeted $63 million. Reuben E. Brigety, who is responsible for State Department assistance to refugees and conflict victims in Africa, said Washington is now studying how much more it will give.

Tens of thousands of Somali refugees are flooding camps in Ethiopia and Kenya in search of food after several seasons without rain decimated livestock and killed crops in Somalia.

Little help can reach those in the worst-hit area because an al-Qaida-linked militant group had banned aid work, though it recently said it would lift that ban.

WSJ publisher quits in phone-hacking scandal

LONDON — Rupert Murdoch accepted the resignation of The Wall Street Journal’s publisher and the chief of his British operations on Friday as the once-defiant media mogul struggled to control an escalating phone hacking scandal with a public statement of contrition and a personal apology to the family of a murdered schoolgirl.

The controversy claimed its first victim in the United States as Les Hinton, chief executive of the Murdoch-owned Dow Jones & co. and publisher of the Wall Street Journal, announced he was resigning with immediate effect.

The scandal has knocked billions off the value of Murdoch’s News Corp., scuttled his ambitions to take control of lucrative British Sky Broadcasting, withered his political power in Britain — and is threatening to destabilize his globe-spanning business.

Murdoch’s British lieutenant, Rebekah Brooks, stepped down earlier Friday.

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business

Similar Articles

More in Nation