Originally created 01/26/03

Across the southeast



Paratrooper dies during training jump

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -An Army paratrooper was killed Saturday in a jump from a helicopter during a training exercise, officials said.

The soldier was participating in a scheduled training jump from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter over a drop zone about 10 miles west of Fort Bragg, said Maj. Gary Tallman, a base spokesman.

With little wind and a clear sky, weather didn't appear to have been a factor, Maj. Tallman said.

The soldier's name and unit were being withheld until his family could be notified, the major said.

The Army started an investigation that will include interviews with witnesses and a review of training and jump procedures, he said.

Mobile-home fire kills Tennessee family of 5

NEWPORT, Tenn. -A fire believed to have started in a wood-burning stove spread through a mobile home early Saturday, killing a couple and three young children trapped inside.

Firefighters said the blaze, reported by a neighbor at about 7 a.m., apparently started after a wire screen on the stove was left open.

"We figure they got up sometime early this morning and put more wood on the fire and didn't close the screen, and it either popped an ember out on the floor or a log fell off," battalion Chief Bobby Knight said.

Jessica McGaha and daughters Hannah McGaha, 1, and Cheyenne Morgan, 5, were found in bedrooms, Chief Knight said. Danny McGaha and son Daniel, 2, were found near a window, indicating that they may have tried to escape the blaze, Chief Knight said.

Newport is about 50 miles east of Knoxville in eastern Tennessee.

Rescued whale spends chilly nights at resort

ISLAMORADA, Fla. -A rescued whale is spending the coldest weather so far this season in a heated swimming pool at a luxury resort in the Florida Keys.

The 12-foot, 1,200-pound pygmy sperm whale, nicknamed Kokomo, was rescued from a sandbar stranding last week and first taken to protected waters behind a U.S. Coast Guard station.

Concerned about the cold, caretakers from the Marine Mammal Conservancy later moved him to The Islander Resort, which turned its heated saltwater pool over to the whale's care.

"Obviously, we have a most unusual guest," Robin Schlaudecker, the resort's general manager, said Friday. "We're trying to make him and his helpers as comfortable as possible."