Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fuel-laden barge nearly runs aground

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KETCHIKAN - A barge carrying about 800,000 gallons of fuel nearly ran aground on the south end of an island near Ketchikan, the Coast Guard said.

The near accident occurred Monday when a tug pulling the barge lost power near the south end of Pennock Island, and the barge floated very close to the island.

It appeared that no fuel spilled, said Mark Dilenge, chief of the U.S. Coast Guard Station Ketchikan. The tug regained power within a half hour and was able to regain control of the barge.

Lt. j.g. Brierley Ostrander of the Coast Guard in Juneau said the service has ordered a survey to determine whether the barge was damaged.

The tug, the Pacific Patriot, is operated by Sea Coast Transportation out of Seattle. Dave Godel, regulatory director with Sea Coast, said he believed the barge never hit ground, although a dive survey Monday did show some indentation in the hull.

The tug soon regained power, he said, and circled back to get the barge. There were no spills and nobody was hurt, he said.

"We will do a full investigation on this," Godel said.

He said the barge typically runs an Inside Passage schedule, making deliveries to Southeast towns. It was coming from Annette Island and was headed for Petersburg when the incident occurred.

Airport environmental impact statement meeting scheduled

JUNEAU - The Federal Aviation Administration will hold a public information meeting at 5 p.m. on May 14 for review of the final environmental impact statement and evaluation on proposed developments at the Juneau International Airport.

The meeting will include a presentation and open house. The presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. and focus on key changes between the draft and the final impact statements, as well as the FAA's preferred alternatives for the airport.

Prior to and following the presentation, the FAA project manager and members of the consultant team who prepared the statement will be available to answer questions about it.

The environmental impact statement examines alternatives and impacts associated with the need for improved safety and operational efficiency at the airport, and projected future increases in aviation demand.

Projects under consideration include the runway safety area, a snow removal equipment and maintenance facility, an approach lighting system for Runway 26, development of apron areas for aircraft and helicopter parking and aviation-related businesses, and implementation of wildlife hazard management actions.

The public may submit written comments during the meeting. Comments also may be submitted online at by following the link to the Public Comment Form or via regular mail. Written comments via regular mail should be sent to SWCA Environmental Consultants ATTN: Juneau Airport EIS 257 East 200 South, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT, 84111. Comments must be received no later than June 11.

Mother begins trial for murder of sons

ANCHORAGE - A murder trial has begun for an Anchorage woman accused of killing her three teenage sons over 11 hours one school day in 2004.

Cynthia Lord, 45, told police in a videotaped confession aired in court Monday that she shot her oldest son in the back of the head as he played video games.

As her judge-only trial began Monday, defense attorney Fred Dewey said Lord was tortured by delusions, unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality.

"She thought her children were being turned into clones or robots," he said.

During her confession, Lord told police she loved her family and planned for months to shoot her sons. She said she tried to drug them to sleep by mixing her medication into their drinks and said she drank beer to give her courage for the killings.

Assistant district attorney Sharon Marshall said she intends to ask Superior Court Judge Philip Volland to find Lord guilty of three counts of first-degree murder. Dewey said Lord is not guilty by reason of insanity.

Lord admitted shooting Christopher, 19; Michael, 18; and Joseph, 16, on March 16, 2004.

Under Alaska's insanity law, not knowing the difference between right and wrong isn't enough. A killer essentially has to believe the victim isn't a human being. Drawing the line between very mentally ill and legally insane, however, is still a judicial judgment call.

Dewey said Lord once shot at an imaginary spy in her apartment. She meets the criteria for legal insanity, he said.

"If Cynthia Lord is not the definition of not guilty by reason of insanity in this state, there is no definition of insanity in this state," he said.

Man found guilty in tourist's death

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man was found guilty of manslaughter in the traffic death of a Maryland tourist.

Byron Frank Geisinger also was convicted Monday of drunken driving, assault and failure to render aid in connection with the Sept. 9 death of physicist Yong-Ki Kim of Germantown, Md.

Geisinger, 46, was accused of slamming his pickup truck into the back of the Kim family's rented sedan. Kim, 74, was sightseeing along Chena Hot Springs Road with his wife and son when the accident occurred.

"We miss him very much, as does the international scientific community," Kim's family said in a statement released Monday. "Unfortunately, what happened to our family could have happened to anyone. We sincerely hope that the people of Fairbanks will take steps to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else's family."

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