State Briefs 7/8/08

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Chrysler worker dies of ‘cardiac event’

BELVIDERE – A 31-year-old Janesville man suffered a “cardiac event” Monday night during the second shift at Chrysler’s Belvidere assembly plant and was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m. Tuesday at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.

Work was halted at the plant after Craig Woychik collapsed near the end of the second shift, but production was up and running for today’s first shift.

Company and United Auto Workers officials said the death was not work related. The plant hasn’t had a work-related death since 1986.

The plant was scheduled to be shut down this week and next for retooling for the 2009 models. But sales of the fuel-efficient vehicles made there — the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot — have been going so well lately the company cut the down time to just one week, starting July 14.

UAW Local 1268 President Brandon Campbell said the union is taking up a collection for Woychik’s family. Woychik was working at Chrysler as a summer temporary hire, added to the payroll to fill in as full-time workers take their vacations.

Chrysler spokeswoman Mary Beth Halprin e-mailed a statement verifying a worker died Tuesday morning “due to apparent natural causes,” but Halprin said the company would not give any other details in the incident or comment on safety issues out of respect for the family’s privacy.

Rockford Register Star

Gunman being evaluated after shooting at police officers

SPRINGFIELD – A Springfield man was taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation Monday after he fired several shots in the direction of two police officers.

The incident happened about 12:30 p.m. No one was injured.

Two Springfield officers were sent to the man’s house to talk to him after he made several non-emergency calls to 911 dispatchers. The officers determined he had some mental issues but decided he did not need to be involuntarily committed.

As the officers walked away, the man darted inside his house and walked back outside with a pistol that he started firing. The officers at first thought he was firing at them but later realized he was shooting at the ground in the direction of their squad cars.

Police said he fired several rounds from the .45-caliber pistol before they were able to run to him with their guns drawn and order him to the ground. He complied and was taken into custody.

State Journal-Register

Five hurt in car crash

TAYLORVILLE – Five people were hospitalized in Taylorville after a 23-year-old driver reportedly ran a red light, striking another motorist before knocking over the traffic light and careening into a house.

Witnesses told police that Patricia Smith, 35, of Taylorville was driving west on Park Street when she approached the intersection with Cherokee Street about 5:40 a.m. Saturday. Smith had a green light and drove through the intersection when a vehicle driven by Douglas Crowder of Taylorville allegedly went through the intersection southbound on Cherokee.

Police believe Crowder was speeding at the time and that alcohol contributed to the crash.

After Crowder struck Smith’s car, the report said, his vehicle hit the traffic signal light and a residence. No one inside the home was injured.

Smith and her passenger and Crowder and his two passengers all were taken to Taylorville Memorial Hospital, then transferred to the trauma center at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.

Crowder and his two passengers were both discharged Monday. Smith and her passenger, 36-year-old Linda Smith of Mount Auburn, were both listed in fair condition.

State Journal-Register

Lightning strike starts fire at apartment near BU

PEORIA - No one was injured early Monday when lightning hit an off-campus Bradley University apartment building, triggering a roof fire and setting an apartment ablaze.

Firefighters were called to St. James Apartments about 4:10 a.m. after receiving numerous calls that a bolt of lightning had struck the building.

Flames were visible from the third-story roof when firefighters arrived, reports said.

A crew located the blaze in the ceiling of a third-floor apartment. That resident was not home.

Firefighters used the aerial ladder to open up the roof and remove the ceiling from the apartment's bathroom. They determined that when lightning struck the building, it hit a roof vent, starting a fire that burned a vent hose hooked to the ceiling fan.

Besides the apartment, the building's attic sustained some structure damage, reports said. Total damage is estimated at $15,000.

Journal Star, Peoria

All Peoria appointments filled for electric bill help

PEORIA - The Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity group is no longer making appointments for residents to apply for financial help with their summer electric bills. All 1,400 available appointments were filled Monday, the first day of the two-week program.

"We're booked up," said Tisha Burnside, energy services coordinator for PCCEO.

About half of the 860 available applications from the Tazwood Community Services were taken Monday for qualified residents in Woodford and Tazewell counties.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance summer program is similar to the

more familiar winter program that helps with heating costs, only with stricter eligibility requirements. A household may qualify for the assistance if it has electric service in a house member's name and has someone living in the house who is either 60 or older, younger than 2, a recipient of Social Security disability benefits or has a documented

medical condition that can be relieved by air conditioning.

Journal Star, Peoria

State Representative’s father expected to testify about tax scam

PEORIA - Testimony got under way Tuesday in the case of three eastern Illinois residents accused of setting up bogus tax shelters resulting in millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.

One of those taken in by the alleged scam was apparently Dr. Richard Schock, the father of congressional candidate and state Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria. The elder Schock has not been accused of any wrongdoing and appears to be a witness for the government. He is expected to testify about how he was recruited into the program.

The trial in Peoria's federal court for Charleston residents Kenton Tylman, 61, Debra J. Hills, 51, and Brent Winters, 53, of Clark County is expected to last between four and seven weeks. Each stands accused of conspiring to set up the bogus scheme.  They also all face one individual count of filing a false tax return to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Federal prosecutors indicted the trio in 2006 and accuse them of causing several people to put untaxed money into a "trust," which would allow the money to be used for personal use and allow the person to avoid paying taxes.

Often the trusts involved "off-shore" bank accounts which allowed the participant to move the money around and ultimately back to their own use, the prosecutor said.

Journal Star, Peoria