National Digest: April 19, 2014

April 19
MICHIGAN
GM waited years to do recall, papers say

General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repair claims, according to government documents released Saturday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government’s auto safety watchdog, didn’t seek a recall of the compact car from the 2004 through 2007 model years even though it opened an investigation more than two years ago and found 12 crashes and two injuries caused by the problem.

The documents, posted on the agency’s Web site, show yet another delay by GM in recalling unsafe vehicles and point to another example of government safety regulators reacting slowly to a safety problem despite being alerted by consumers and through warranty data submitted by the company.

— Associated Press

MASSACHUSETTS
Body by highway is missing 5-year-old

The body of a small boy apparently cast to the side of a highway has been confirmed as that of a missing 5-year-old, authorities said Saturday.

The body found Friday off Interstate 190 has been identified as that of Jeremiah Oliver, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said. No charges were immediately announced related to his death.

He was last seen by relatives in September but wasn’t reported missing until December. Authorities had said they had feared that the Fitchburg boy was dead.

“It appears to be a homicide,” the prosecutor said at a news conference Friday.

— Associated Press

NEW YORK
Carriage horse foes picket Liam Neeson

Animal welfare activists picketing actor Liam Neeson’s home Saturday said they don’t agree with him that the city’s carriage horses should keep working.

Neeson didn’t appear as about 50 demonstrators filled the sidewalk in front of his apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Police watched, and doormen photographed protesters hoisting signs with such slogans as “Liam Neeson: Stop Supporting Cruelty!” and “Worked to Death!” with an image of a dead horse in a park.

Holding the second sign was Peter Wood, an animal protection investigator for various organizations that say it’s cruel for the horses to be subjected to traffic, pollution and possible accidents.

“It’s 2014, not 1914. It’s time for a change,” said Wood, who lives in Manhattan.

— Associated Press

Couple married 70 years die hours apart: A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart. Helen Felumlee, of Nashport, Ohio, died at 92 on April 12. Her husband, 91-year-old Kenneth Felumlee, died the next morning. The couple’s eight children say the two had been inseparable since meeting as teenagers, once sharing the bottom of a bunk bed on a ferry rather than sleeping one night apart, the Zanesville Times Recorder reported. They remained deeply in love until the very end, even eating breakfast together while holding hands, said their daughter, Linda Cody. According to Cody, about 12 hours after Helen died, Kenneth looked at his children and said, “Mom’s dead.” He quickly began to fade and was surrounded by 24 of his closest family members and friends when he died the next morning.

Del Taco tabs run into thousands: What was supposed to be a cheap bite at Del Taco turned out to be small fortune for some Southern California customers. About 150 people who ate this week at the Mexican-style fast food chain in Santa Paula, northwest of Los Angeles, were mistakenly charged thousands of dollars for burritos, tacos and soft drinks. Del Taco spokesman Brian Devenny told the Ventura County Star that the glitch affected ATM and credit-card transactions at one restaurant. Devenny says all charges will be refunded. Customer Michael Cole says he was surprised when he was charged $4,050 for one CrunchTada Pizza and two beef tacos. Dino DeLao said his wife paid $10.20 for a meal and ended up being charged $10,200.

Hundreds paddle out for surf icon: Hundreds of surfers and rowers have honored Hobie Alter’s request by paddling out into the Pacific Ocean in his memory. Alter, who died in March at 80, revolutionized surfing by developing a foam surfboard that was lightweight and maneuverable. He was also credited with bringing masses to the water with his Hobie Cat sailboat. During the Hawaiian paddle-out ceremony, surfers splashed water toward the sky. The Orange County Harbor Patrol boat sprayed water, creating a rainbow. Alter was memorialized on Huntington Beach’s Surfing Walk of Fame in 1997 and enshrined in the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2011.

— From news services

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