Originally created 12/30/04

Odds and Ends



KETCHIKAN, Alaska - The term "airborne" took on a new meaning when a woman gave birth high above Southeast Alaska on a floatplane that was evacuating her after her labor began earlier then expected.

The baby girl was delivered safely to Jenifer Chinuhuk aboard a Pacific Airways floatplane Sunday. Isabelle Chinuhuk weighed in at 5 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 19 1/4 inches long.

"She's perfect," Chinuhuk, of Metlakatla, said Monday at Ketchikan General Hospital.

Jenifer and husband Jamie Chinuhuk had not expected the birth of Isabelle until mid-January, but when Jenifer's labor began on Sunday, a medical evacuation was arranged and she was brought to the Metlakatla dock by ambulance.

Two doctors were on the flight, but Jamie Chinuhuk had to stay behind because there was not enough room on the plane.

The child was born as the plane descended into Ketchikan.

"I heard the baby cry as I was starting to land," pilot Randy Sullivan said. "The doctor yelled, 'It's a girl!'"

Jamie Chinuhuk arrived later that afternoon, after pacing the dock waiting for the next Ketchikan-bound flight.

During his flight, he heard that Jenifer had given birth, but he didn't know the child was a girl until he walked into the hospital room and his wife said, "You missed her."

The new mother said the trip was the nicest flight she ever had and thanked Sullivan.

The pilot took his own daughter to visit the newborn at the hospital on Sunday evening.

"I've done medevacs before, but usually it's someone who has broken their arm out in the bush," Sullivan said. "(Sunday) was pretty incredible. I certainly wasn't expecting her to give birth on the aircraft."

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Welcome and thank you for using Des Moines International Airport! Please have your boarding pass and ID ready as you approach the... bus?

A combination of two canceled flights and holiday travel snags forced United Airlines to bus passengers about 330 miles to Chicago to catch connecting flights.

Passengers said they were told the next United flight from Des Moines to Chicago with any extra room would be Thursday or Friday, so United chartered two buses Monday and another Tuesday to send passengers on their way.

"It was chaos, to tell you the truth," Des Moines resident Patrick Sriedel, 19, said on his cellular telephone aboard the Chicago-bound bus Tuesday.

A United spokesman attributed the travel problems to snowstorms that socked the Northeast over the weekend and left the airline short-staffed across the country.

"It's kind of a last measure when we've exhausted all other options," said United spokesman Jeff Green. "Our No. 1 priority is to get people to their destination."

A total of 224 passengers had reservations for the two canceled flights, but United's Green didn't know how many ended up on the buses.

Many tried to keep their spirits high on the five-hour-plus road trip to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

"You might as well laugh. What else are you going to do?" said Jean Carroccio, 48, who hoped to reach her home in Washington, D.C., before the new year.

To make matters worse, she said, the bus driver got lost as they left the Des Moines airport, and riders were taken on a brief tour of West Des Moines before heading east.

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - New York, eat your heart out.

So goes the message from this heartland town known as the Little Apple, where a New Year's event modeled after the one in Times Square is planned.

Organizers of the second annual Little Apple New Year's Eve Celebration and Ball Drop expect attendance to balloon this year.

Their "eat your heart out" slogan goes along with a marketing strategy focused on locals accustomed to celebrating the holiday wherever Kansas State University is playing in a bowl game. For the first time in 11 years, the Wildcats football team is absent from the New Year's Day bowl lineup.

Kate Watson, an organizer of the Little Apple celebration, said there has been a 70 percent increase in traffic this year at the event's Web site. She's hoping last year's crowd of 4,800 revelers will grow to 8,000.

A five-foot-diameter aluminum ball will be lowered at the New Year's Eve celebration from a 20-foot-tall marquee at a Manhattan bookstore.

It's reminiscent of the ball drop in the Big Apple, a Times Square tradition for nearly a century. But the crowd is expected to be just a tiny fraction of that in Times Square, where an estimated 750,000 people gathered last New Year's Eve.

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CLEVELAND - The packages were labeled as toys for good girls and boys and the business was called Santa's Helpers. But authorities say the packages were nothing more than a naughty ruse to cover a large-scale drug smuggling operation.

The bogus business tried to smuggle $7.8 million worth of cocaine from Los Angeles to nearby Willoughby, authorities said. Drug agents seized about 175 pounds of cocaine Monday in the largest seizure in Cleveland this year.

Four 55-gallon steel drums used as shipping containers raised suspicions. Billing information said the barrels contained toys, novelties and games.

Federal prosecutors charged Edward Boynton, 35, of Inglewood, Calif., with intent to possess cocaine. Boynton appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. His attorney, Mary Jo Tipping, had no comment.

Authorities say police learned Friday of suspicious packages at the Roadway Express offices. Officers brought in a police dog, which picked up the scent of drugs. Officers confiscated the drums and called the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Authorities say Boynton drove a rented truck to the business on Monday. He wore a coat and a T-shirt with the logo "Santa's Helpers" and had paperwork and tracking information for the shipment.

Boynton told authorities that he had flown from Los Angeles to Cleveland to meet the shipment.

Willoughby police stopped him as he left.

Boynton was being held without bond pending additional hearings.