News briefs

Navy helicopter’s rotor struck flight deck after landing

SAN DIEGO — A Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopter experienced “side-to-side” vibrations when it landed on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln last week, causing its main rotor to strike the flight deck and the helicopter to crash over the side of the ship, according to a Navy safety report.

Five sailors on board the helicopter were killed. One helicopter crew member was rescued from the water. Five additional sailors on board the ship were injured in the crash; two were brought ashore for treatment.

The crash remains under investigation and the Navy has released few details. One line on the 28th page of the Naval Safety Center’s mishap summary for September, first reported by Navy Times, says that when the Seahawk landed on aircraft carrier’s flight deck it began vibrating. That side-to-side movement caused the helicopter’s main rotor to strike the flight deck, which in turn led to the helicopter going over the side of the ship.

Lt. Samuel Boyle, a spokesperson for the Navy’s 3rd Fleet in San Diego, said Tuesday that the Safety Center report is accurate.

The remains of the crew and the helicopter have not yet been found.

Boyle declined to comment on the depth of the ocean where the crash occurred or whether recovery submarines were being deployed in the search. The crash occurred about 60 nautical miles from San Diego.

The sailors killed in the crash were: Lt. Bradley Foster, 29, from Oakhurst, California; Lt. Paul Fridley, 28, from Annadale, Virginia; Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class James Buriak, 31, from Salem, Virginia; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Maryland; and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey Tucker, 21, from St. Louis.

—The San Diego Union-Tribune

Robert E. Lee statue taken down in Virginia

A crowd cheered early Wednesday as a towering statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee was taken down in Virginia.

The bronze, 21-foot sculpture depicting the general atop a horse was removed from its pedestal in Richmond by a crew that used a crane to guide the structure to the ground, a video shared by Gov. Ralph Northam’s office shows.

Spectators chanted “hey, hey hey, goodbye” as the statue was lowered, making it the latest Confederate monument to be taken down in the United States recently.

Northam was in attendance Wednesday, as was Attorney General Mark Herring, according to local news station WRIC.

“With the removal of this grandiose monument to a past that no longer represents who we are as a Commonwealth, we can turn the page to a new chapter,” Herring said Wednesday.

The removal of the statue was approved last week by Virginia’s supreme court after Northam had expressed plans to take it down last year.

“Virginia’s largest monument to the Confederate insurrection will come down this week,” Northam said. “This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a commonwealth.”

The Lee statue in Richmond was frequently defaced, with graffiti visible on the pedestal when the structure was removed Wednesday.

—New York Daily News

Study finds no increase in miscarriage risk with virus vaccines

MINNEAPOLIS — A research study based on data from Bloomington, Minnesota-based HealthPartners and medical centers across the country finds that pregnant women who received COVID-19 vaccines did not experience an increased risk of miscarriage.

Doctors hope the results will prove reassuring to pregnant women who, as a group in the U.S., have been relatively slow to get vaccinated.

Researchers analyzed data from about 105,000 patients early in their pregnancies between Dec. 15, 2020, and June 28, 2021. They found that women who suffered miscarriages did not have greater odds of having received a COVID-19 vaccine compared with women with ongoing pregnancies.

The new study, which is being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at patients who received two-dose mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer.

"Our data adds to a growing body of research that should give pregnant people confidence to get vaccinated against COVID-19, if they haven't already," Dr. Elyse Kharbanda, senior investigator at HealthPartners Institute and lead author on the study, said. "It's especially important for pregnant people to protect themselves against the virus because COVID-19 infections may impact them more severely and lead to birth complications."

The report draws on data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a safety monitoring project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that includes HealthPartners and eight other large medical groups in the U.S. HealthPartners Institute has received $2 million from the federal government to monitor the safety of new COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women and their babies.

In June, HealthPartners was part of a national study that found pregnant women were getting vaccinated against the coronavirus at a lower rate than their nonpregnant peers. It also found the uptake was particularly low among those 18 to 24 as well as Black and Hispanic women.

—Star Tribune

Officer disciplined for watching 7-hour Zoom hearing on duty

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A veteran police officer was disciplined after spending most of a shift watching a colleague’s divorce court hearing on Zoom, the Boca Raton Police Department said.

Officer Robert Cohen told internal affairs investigators he didn’t think it would interfere with his work. But investigators say he violated multiple department and city policies.

Cohen, who has been with the Boca Raton Police Department since 2008, received counseling as discipline, a department spokesman said.

The incident happened April 19, when Cohen spent seven hours on his personal iPad and phone listening to a remote Zoom court hearing involving another Boca Police employee’s divorce hearing.

Cohen is in the marine unit. That day, he said he had followed up on a sunken-boat investigation and attended meetings in preparation for the Boca bash.

“He felt like it didn’t hinder him in doing his duties,” the investigators’ report said. “He felt it was no different than monitoring a city council meeting or collective bargaining agreement meeting.”

But the investigation found that Cohen violated policies including a prohibition on conducting private business.

—South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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