Bystanders react as emergency personnel work the scene where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)
MIDLAND, Texas (AP) -- Federal investigators say the warning signals at a railroad crossing in West Texas were activated before a parade float crossed the tracks in an accident that killed military veterans.
National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind made that announcement at a news conference Saturday. He said the signals had been activated seven seconds before the float crossed the tracks.
Four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were killed Thursday when a freight train slammed into the parade float in Midland. Sixteen people were injured.
Rosekind said the NTSB reconstructed the accident using video cameras from the train and a sheriff's vehicle.
He said the train started sounding its horn nine seconds before it hit the float. The train engineer also used the emergency brake five second before the crash.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Authorities say that divers hired by the owner of an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico that caught fire on Friday have recovered a body near the site.
Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said the unidentified person was found Saturday evening by divers hired by Houston-based Black Elk Energy who were inspecting the platform. Vega said the Coast Guard was turning over the remains to local authorities.
The news came shortly after the Coast Guard suspended a 32-hour-long search for two workers missing after the fire erupted. The search covered a 1,400-square-foot area. Vega said the Guard could resume the search if there is credible evidence that one of the workers survived.
Four other workers who were severely burned remained at Baton Rouge General Medical Center on Saturday night.
6 police injured as helicopters collide in LA area
ALTADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Authorities say six Pasadena officers have minor injuries after two police helicopters collided over a helipad Saturday in the Los Angeles area.
Police Lt. Phlunte Riddle says a chopper that was landing came into contact with one that was taking off.
The collision caused the rotor blade of one of the helicopters to fall off and its tail to break.
The injured were taken to hospitals for further evaluation after the 4 p.m. collision in Altadena.
Riddle says they included a pilot and an observer in each of the Bell OH-58A helicopters and two officers on the ground.
FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer says his agency and the NTSB will investigate.
UMaine: Plane crash victims were frat brothers
OWLS HEAD, Maine (AP) -- The University of Maine has identified the three victims of a fiery plane crash as two current students and one alumnus.
The school and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity said Saturday that the victims were 22-year-old David Cheney, of Beverly, Mass.; 24-year-old Marcelo Rugini, an exchange student from Brazil; and 24-year-old William "B.J." Hannigan III, of South Portland.
All three were members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Cheney was the fraternity's president.
The plane was taking off at the Knox County Regional Airport on Friday night when it struck a pickup truck. A deputy sheriff says the truck was authorized to be on airport grounds. The plane continued to climb but then spiraled downward into thick woods and burst into flames.
The university says DNA tests to confirm the identities aren't expected until Wednesday.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Police say a southwest Missouri man who confessed to plotting to shoot up a screening of `Twilight' and a Walmart store had been detained after threatening a store clerk three years ago.
Bolivar Police Chief Steve Hamilton said Saturday that in 2009, 20-year-old Blaec Lammers followed a worker around a Walmart and threatened her. He wasn't charged but was committed for 96 hours.
In Missouri, hospitals, law enforcement and citizens can request a person be held against their will for up to 96 hours if he or she appears to be a threat to themselves or others.
Lammers was charged Friday with first-degree assault, making a terroristic threat and armed criminal action. His mother turned him in. He is jailed in Polk County.
Hamilton says Lammers doesn't have an attorney.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Authorities say a New York City boutique owner was shot to death in the head with the same gun that killed two other shopkeepers in the same borough over the summer.
The Daily News reports (http://nydn.us/ULUD1F ) that the shop owner was behind the counter of She She in the Flatbush section when he was shot Friday night. The News says the gunman dragged his body toward the back of the store and covered it with clothing.
Police have identified the victim as 78-year-old Rahmatollah Vahidipour (rah-mah-TOH'-lah vah-HEE'-dee-pour) of Great Neck.
Leon Nwabueze (nwah-boo-EH'-zeh) owns the Nanso clothing shop across the street from the victim's store. He says Vahidipour was quiet and worked hard and closed his store each Saturday to observe the Jewish Sabbath.
No one has been arrested in the three shootings.
NJ official: Doc's home had bomb-making chemicals
RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (AP) -- Prosecutors say large amounts of chemicals commonly used for making bombs and explosive devices have been found at the home of an unemployed northern New Jersey doctor.
Sixty-year-old Roberto Rivera, of Ridgewood, faces several charges, including possession of a destructive device and recklessly creating a risk of widespread injury. His bail was set at $1 million cash. It wasn't known Saturday if he had retained a lawyer.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli says investigators also found several assault rifles and other weapons when they searched Rivera's home Friday night. Ridgewood police had initially responded to the home after receiving a report that potentially hazardous materials might be at the residence.
Prosecutors say Rivera is unemployed but has a license to practice medicine in New York.
SC man arrested in deaths of 2 found in barrels
ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina authorities say they've arrested a man accused of killing two people more than a month ago and stuffing their bodies in barrels before dumping them into a lake.
Anderson County Sheriff's spokesman Chad McBride says John Michael Young was arrested early Saturday. A jail spokesman says Young was likely to make a first appearance before a judge later Saturday. He did not know if Young had an attorney.
Deputies charged Young with two counts of murder after collecting a chainsaw and machetes from his home near Lake Hartwell.
Authorities say Young killed 52-year-old Tony McGinnis in September and 37-year-old Andrea Mitchell in October by beating them in the head in woods near his home. Investigators haven't given a motive but say the slayings weren't random.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The gentle whir of passing barges is as much a part of life in St. Louis as the Gateway Arch and the Cardinals. It's a constant backdrop to a community intricately intertwined with the Mississippi River.
But next month, those barges packing such necessities as coal, farm products and petroleum could instead be parked along the river's banks.
The drought that has gripped the Midwest has left the Mighty Mississippi critically low. It'll get lower if the Army Corps of Engineers presses ahead with plans to reduce the flow from a Missouri River dam.
Mississippi River interests fear the reduction will force a halt to barge traffic at St. Louis, perhaps within weeks.
They warn the economic fallout could force layoffs, raise fuel costs and pinch the nation's food supply.
Another US military serviceman arrested on Okinawa
TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese police have arrested a U.S. Marine on suspicion of trespassing on the southern island of Okinawa amid anger over military crimes and demands for stricter regulations for U.S. troops.
Police say 1st Lt. Tomas Chanquet of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma allegedly sneaked into a room through an unlocked door and slept until spotted by a resident who called police.
An alleged rape by two Navy sailors last month enraged Okinawans and reignited deep-rooted anti-base sentiment on the island, home to more than half the 52,000 U.S. troops in Japan.
The case led to a curfew on all troops in Japan, but two weeks later a U.S. airman allegedly assaulted a teenager. Sunday's incident also raises questions over the effectiveness of the curfew and other disciplinary steps.
Obama travels to Southeast Asia
(AP) -- President Barack Obama is due to arrive Sunday in Bangkok where he'll tour a monastery and then meet with the king and the prime minister of Thailand.
On Monday, Obama will travel to Myanmar where he'll meet with that country's president as well as activist Aung San Suu Kyi (ahng sahn soo chee) and deliver a speech encouraging Myanmar's ongoing democratic transition.
Afterward, Obama heads to Cambodia to attend the East Asia Summit. Obama is hoping to show that America is firmly committed to the region and will serve as a counter balance to growing Chinese power and influence.
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) -- The White House says it believes Israel "has the right to defend itself" against attack and that the Israelis will make their own decisions about their "military tactics and operations."
A top aide to President Barack Obama tells reporters traveling with the president to Asia on Air Force One that the U.S. and Israel both want an end to the rocket fire that's coming from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes says Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree that "de-escalation is preferred," provided that Hamas stops firing into Israel.
Obama has spoken with the leaders of Egypt and Turkey, too.
Rhodes says they "have the ability to play a constructive role in engaging Hamas" and encouraging a de-escalation of the attacks.
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