Thursday, July 17, 2008

Investigation ongoing into officer’s crash

GREECE — State police say there could be more developments as early as next week into what happened the night an off-duty Greece police officer crashed into a car parked on the shoulder of  Interstate 390. But the troopers aren’t saying right now what their investigation might show.

Sgt. Nicholas Joseph, who has been with the force six years, struck a parked car on the road at around 2:15 a.m. Saturday, June 7 while driving his brother’s car.

When emergency crews arrived, they reported no driver at the scene. Joseph reportedly suffered a head injury, and a woman in the parked car delivered her baby prematurely after the accident, 10NBC (WHEC-Channel 10) has reported.

Troopers said last month that they were trying to determine Joseph’s whereabouts between the time of the accident and when he went to the hospital.

That’s still being looked at, according to Lt. Daniel Hennessy. “As of yet, we haven’t figured out how he got home,” he said.

Man rescued from Lake Ontario

OSWEGO — The Coast Guard rescued a man Tuesday night after he spent roughly 9 ½ hours treading water.

Dick Slettenhar, 58, from the Netherlands, was sailing with his wife Ellen Kupers, 57, Tuesday afternoon on Lake Ontario when he decided to fix the flapping front sail on his 50-foot catamaran. According to Oswego station chief Ursela Walther, Slettenhar slipped, grabbed a hold of a line, which slipped out of his hands and he entered the 70-degree water.

He was wearing a self-inflating life jacket, which kept Slettenhar afloat, and also sported a windbreaker with a bright yellow hood, which allowed rescue crews to find him.

“That gear is what saved his life,” said Commander Tim Wendt, who was in charge of the rescue mission.

Slettenhar entered the water around 2 p.m. Slettenhar’s wife either did not know how to work the equipment to send out a distress call or the equipment malfunctioned. Kupers finally connected with 911 via cell phone around 3 p.m. when she was approximately 12 miles away from Oswego. The coast guard began the search roughly a half an hour later.

Around 7:35 p.m., one of the coast guard boats reached Kupers and the catamaran and brought her to shore, while the other boat kept searching for her missing husband. At approximately 11:05 p.m., the Coast Guard’s helicopter from Detroit, Mich. spotted Slettenhar treading water nearly 15 miles away from shore. Walther said officers in the helicopter were using night vision goggles which helped them locate Slettenhar.

Wendt said the Dutch man was cold and mildly hypothermic when he was finally pulled from the water. He was transported to Oswego Hospital and listed in stable condition Wednesday afternoon.

‘Pepper’ sounds the alert, saves master

SOUTH CORNING — Herb Wilson was asleep on his couch Tuesday morning when his breathing  became labored. He could hardly speak and struggled to move.

Twenty-five feet away, in a bedroom with the door shut, Wilson’s wife, Joan, was sleeping with the couple’s Shih Tzu, “Pepper.”

Joan Wilson is hard of hearing and wasn’t able to hear her husband’s cries for help. Pepper, on the other hand, heard just fine.

“She was hollering ... she knew something wasn’t right,” Joan Wilson said of the dog.

The barking dog woke Joan Wilson, who discovered her distressed husband at about 4:30 a.m. Pepper has distinct barks, she said, and the one she heard Tuesday morning was one she took quite seriously.

“He would have died,” she said. “It was awful. (Pepper’s) a hero.”

Joan Wilson called 911, and rescue crews hurried to the couple’s Brown Hollow Road mobile home and took her husband to Corning Hospital, where he was in the intensive-care unit Wednesday.

Joan Wilson said her husband had fluid on his lungs, likely caused by heart failure.
He was alert and talking Wednesday. He was expected to be moved to a regular room sometime during the day.

Herb Wilson is grateful Pepper was there, his wife said. He also considers Pepper a hero.

Students overcome limits

PITTSFORD — Dick Polen’s left leg was amputated below the knee in November 2005, because of an infected bone that started with a diabetic ulcer. He later received a prosthetic leg, and some therapy, but eventually wanted to continue in more activity-geared therapy. So 18 months ago, Polen began going to the Rehabilitation and Wellness Clinic at Nazareth College.

The 77-year-old found a special stationary bicycle that allows him to tip to either side, simulating a real bike ride, though the bike won’t actually lean all the way over.

The bike isn’t something you can find at your local sporting goods store, in a catalog or even on an infomercial. It was custom designed by Dr. J.J. Mowder-Tinney, the director of clinical education of Nazareth’s physical-therapy program and built by Rochester Institute of Technology students, in a partnership between the two schools.

“The collaboration is allowing us to get things we couldn’t get anywhere else,” said Mowder-Tinney. “We’re creating them. We’re only limited by what I can think of.”

The RIT senior engineering students are involved through the Capstone Design Class.
“All of the seniors in design take this two-quarter project class,” said Beth DeBartolo, a mechanical engineering professor at RIT. “They learn how to go from start to finish, talking to a customer and finding out what they need and ending with a prototype.”

The projects also required mechanical engineering and industrial engineering majors to work together.

The Nazareth physical therapy students will get to use the new equipment in the fall to help their patients, who have neurological deficits and physical impairments.

Wanted: Someone to run the schools

GATES — With the news of Superintendent Richard Stein’s retirement settling in, the nine members on the Gates Chili Board of Education now will be involved in a formal search for a new superintendent for the first time, according to board President Mary Frances Johnson.

“I think we’re all excited about it. and we know it’s going to be very time-consuming,” she said.

According to Mark Ball, communications group manager for Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES, districts who already work with BOCES are not charged an additional fee for the superintendent search, although they are charged for any advertising or printing costs incurred during the process.

Stein came to the Gates Chili school district in 1999 as associate superintendent of instruction. He was appointed superintendent in February 2003 to replace longtime Superintendent William Dadey. Stein announced his decision to retire at the July 8 board meeting. His career in education spans 37 years.