Saturday April 27, 2013

Trooper’s family wins settlement

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The family of a Vermont State Police trooper killed while trying to stop a fleeing suspect a decade ago has received a $4.5 million settlement from the state and its insurance carrier.

Washington Superior Court Judge Robert Bent this week approved a settlement for the widow and three children of Sgt. Michael Johnson.

Johnson was killed June 15, 2003 after he was hit by a fleeing car driven by Eric Daley of Lebanon, N.H., who had swerved to avoid spike strips placed across the interstate by Johnson. Daley fled on foot and was later captured in the woods.

Daley, now 33, is serving a 26-to-33-year prison sentence for gross negligent operation of a vehicle.

The settlement with the Johnsons’ lawyer was reached between the private insurance carrier representing Vermont and the state attorney general’s office in recent days.

"They made the ultimate sacrifice a family can make -- their father was killed in the line of duty," said John Campbell, the attorney for the Johnson family, who also serves as Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore.

The state’s part in the negotiation has been minimal, Assistant Vermont Attorney General Keith Aten told the Valley News.

"It closes the matter and the kids get a great settlement," he said.

Norwich U gets $25 million gift

NORTHFIELD (AP) -- Vermont’s Norwich University says it has received a $25 million gift, the school’s largest ever, ahead of its bicentennial fund-raising campaign.


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The private military college announced the gift on Friday.

The gift is from the Tawani Foundation, an organization with a mission of enhancing the awareness and understanding of the importance of the citizen soldier.

Foundation President J.N. Pritzker says it gives him "great joy" to support Norwich’s upcoming fundraising campaign to ensure Norwich has the facilities and resources to meet every challenge.

Norwich President Richard Schneider says the gift will transform the university and have an impact on future generations of students and faculty.

Norwich will publicly launch its bicentennial campaign in October 2014, when it will also announce the campaign’s overall fundraising goal.

Two fires caused by hot ashes

LYNDONVILLE (AP) -- Vermont fire investigators say Lyndonville fire that destroyed a farmhouse and a nearby garage started because a pail of hot fireplace ashes was left too close to the house.

The Jewell Hill Road house and adjacent garage with an upstairs apartment were destroyed by the Wednesday afternoon fire.

Police say homeowner Bryan Smith suffered minor burns trying to extinguish the fire.

The buildings are considered a total loss. Damage was estimated at almost $270,000.

Lyndonville Fire Chief Greg Hopkins tells the Caledonian Record windy conditions and lack of water made fighting the fire difficult. Sparks helped ignite a grass fire a quarter-mile away.

House nears aid-in-dying vote

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The Vermont House is closing in on passing a bill that would allow physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives.

A version approved Friday by the House Judiciary Committee moves closer to the legislation as it was originally introduced in the Senate than what eventually passed there.

The action sets up a likely battle in a conference committee in the waning weeks of the 2013 session.

The version that passed the Senate would relieve physicians and patients’ family members of civil or criminal liability in the event of a patient taking a lethal dose of medication.

The House version restores more safeguards, including by saying that immunity would not apply if there was misconduct by caregivers.

Alburgh fire damages mobile home

ALBURGH (AP) -- The Vermont State Police say no one was hurt when a fire damaged a mobile home in Alburgh.

A family of five who was inside the home and started to smell smoke on Friday afternoon was able to get out safely. 

Police say the male tenant and a neighbor were able to put out most of the fire before the fire department arrived.

Damages are estimated to be under $500.

Police say the fire was accidental, starting within some debris kept against the exterior of the mobile home.

River search fails to find missing canoeist’s body

BARNET (AP) -- Vermont State Police another day of searching the Passumpsic River has failed to find the body of a 22-year-old man presumed to have drowned after a canoe overturned.

Police are searching for the body of Zachary Florio of Passumpsic.

Police were called to the river in Barnet at 2 p.m. Wednesday for the report of a canoe with three adults in it that had overturned.

Police say 33-year-old Michael Dalton, of Sutton, and 29-year-old Jessica Florio, of Barnet, were with Florio, but they managed to swim to shore.

Police say the search has been scaled back for the weekend.