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Posted: Nov 16, 2012 10:26 AM

Updated: Nov 16, 2012 10:27 AM



Police: 4 vets killed after train hit parade float

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) Officials say four veterans were killed after a train slammed into a parade float stuck on a railroad crossing in West Texas.

Midland city spokesman Ryan Stout says 37-year-old Sgt. Maj. Gary Stouffer and 47-year-old Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Boivin were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident Thursday afternoon.

Stout says 34-year-old Army Sgt. Joshua Michael and 43- year-old Army Sgt. Maj. William Lubbers were pronounced dead later at Midland Memorial Hospital.

Stout says police on Friday confirmed the identities of those who died. Sixteen others were hurt in the crash. Four are in stable condition and one is critical. Ten others were treated and released from the hospital.


4 dead, 16 hurt in West Texas train-parade float

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) Officials say six people remain hospitalized in West Texas after a freight train hit a float in a veterans' parade, killing 4 people and injuring 16.

Midland Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Marcy Madrid says four people are in stable condition and one is critical Friday. Madrid says a sixth patient was transferred Thursday to University Medical Center in Lubbock. Madrid had no details on that woman's condition.

Hospital authorities initially said 17 people required treatment following the Thursday afternoon accident in Midland. Madrid on Friday corrected the figure to 16, saying a person seeking treatment at the hospital who was not in the parade float wreck wrongly was included in the accident total.

Investigators are working to determine the cause of the deadly accident.


West Texas rail crossing had 10 previous accidents

Federal records show there were 10 previous collisions at the same West Texas railroad crossing where a train slammed into a parade float carrying wounded veterans and their families.

Records reviewed by The Associated Press from the Federal Railroad Administration show that five cars and five trucks have been struck by trains or rail equipment at the Garfield railroad crossing in Midland since 1979. Six drivers were injured in the accidents but there were no fatalities.

The trains involved in the previous collisions were moving slowly at the time of the accidents between 15 miles per hour and 25 miles per hour.

Four veterans were killed and 16 other people were injured Thursday when a train struck a tractor-trailer truck towing the float that was stopped on the crossing.


Hostess to close, cites nationwide worker strike

IRVING, Texas (AP) Hostess Brands says it is going out of business, closing plants that make Twinkies and Wonder Bread and laying off all of its 18,500 workers.

The Irving, Texas, company says a nationwide worker strike crippled its ability to make and deliver its products at several locations.

Hostess had warned employees that it would file a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to unwind its business and sell assets if plant operations didn't return to normal levels by Thursday evening.

The privately held company filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade.


Friends: Convicted day care owner was good person

HOUSTON (AP) Friends of a Texas woman convicted of murder after a fire at her home day care killed four children say she is a good person who loves kids and that she would never intentionally do them harm.

Attorneys for Jessica Tata (TAH'-tah) began presenting witnesses on Friday in the punishment phase of her trial. She could be sentenced to up to life in prison for the death of 16-month-old Elias Castillo.

Prosecution witnesses have described Tata as an irresponsible day care owner. But several of her friends on Friday described her as compassionate and dedicated to kids.

Prosecutors rested Thursday. They said the February 2011 fire started after Tata left children alone with a pan of oil on a hot stove while she went shopping. Three other children were injured.


Texas shopkeeper get 4 years for ammo smuggling

EL PASO, Texas (AP) A West Texas pawnshop manager has been sentenced to four years in prison and must forfeit more than a million rounds in an ammunition smuggling case.

A federal judge in El Paso on Thursday also ordered 61-year-old Bryan Nelson Schonberg to surrender about $86,000 in seized cash and pay a $5,000 fine.

Prosecutors say the investigation involved ammo being smuggled to Mexico.

Schonberg pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle ammunition and high capacity magazines as well as conspiring to launder money. The conspiracy involved the sale of the bullets and magazines to undercover agents.

Five other employees of the Geneva Loan and Jewelry Co. in El Paso have been sentenced ranging from probation to 2 years in prison.


Texas office manager guilty in nearly $1M fraud

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) An office manager for a West Texas company has pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $1 million over 16 years.

Prosecutors in Midland say 51-year-old Dora Thea Arreguy pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. The Midland woman faces up to 32 years in prison and remains free pending sentencing.

Investigators say Arreguy worked at an Odessa business and each month wrote unauthorized payroll checks to herself. She had the authority to co-sign the checks and forged the required second signature.

Authorities say Arreguy also altered time sheets and manipulated the tax records of at least 135 workers in the more than $920,000 scam. Arreguy overstated how much the workers earned and she kept the extra money.

The name of the business wasn't immediately released.


2 cruise lines commit to Houston-area service

HOUSTON (AP) Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises will set sail from the Houston area.

The Port of Houston Authority has announced the planned service from the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Pasadena. The complex was completed in 2011 but has yet to offer cruises.

Princess Cruises will begin offering service next November. Norwegian has agreed to Port of Houston cruise service in 2014 and will offer western Caribbean trips.

Officials expect the agreements announced Thursday will mean more than 220 jobs.


October jobless rate in Texas slips to 6.6 percent

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) The Texas unemployment rate slipped to 6.6 percent in October for the second straight month of declines.

The Texas Workforce Commission on Friday announced the jobless figure for last month, compared to 6.8 percent unemployment in September.

Chairman Andres Alcantar says the Texas economy continues to show strength compared to the national private sector. The Texas unemployment rate remains more than a full percentage point below the national jobless figure of 7.9 percent.

The Austin-based TWC says employers across Texas added 36,600 total nonfarm jobs last month for a total of 277,400 jobs added over the year.

The Midland area had the lowest October unemployment rate in Texas at 3.3 percent.

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