New England in brief

Romney attacked on Air Canada flight

February 16, 2010

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Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was attacked by a passenger on an Air Canada flight yesterday morning. The 2008 Republican presidential hopeful had been in Vancouver since Friday for the Winter Olympics and was leaving with his wife, Ann, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said. Romney, 62, reportedly asked the passenger sitting in front of his wife to raise his seat during takeoff after the passenger had reclined it. The man allegedly became violent and took a swing. The Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail first reported the story, saying that Romney was “physically threatened’’ by a passenger. “Governor Romney did not retaliate, but instead allowed the airline crew to respond to the incident,’’ Fehrnstrom said in a statement to The Boston Globe. Romney was not injured. The pilot returned to the gate, and his alleged attacker was removed from the plane by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The plane took off a short time later and later landed safely in Los Angeles.

Gas line blast damages car on Route 9
A gas line explosion damaged a motor vehicle on Route 9 in Newton yesterday afternoon. A National Grid work crew was investigating a gas leak when the workers hit a power line, igniting gas and causing a manhole cover nearby to pop off. Newton Fire and Police Departments, along with NStar crews, responded to the scene at about 2:16 p.m., said State Police Sergeant Matthew Murray. The explosion caused minor damage to a 2005 Ford Econoline van, operated by Donald Guertin, 54, Murray said. He said westbound travel lanes of Route 9 were closed for approximately an hour and a half. A National Grid spokesman, Chris Mostyn, said the company is investigating. “We’ll look into what happened,’’ he said. “These things don’t happen often.’’

Shorebird support plan deadly to crows
Federal scientists are planning to use deception and poison to protect endangered piping plovers from predatory crows on some Cape Cod beaches. The Cape Cod National Seashore will work with the US Department of Agriculture this spring to create fake plover nests on two beaches and fill them with hard-boiled chicken eggs that have been laced with poison. Seashore biologist Mary Hake told the Cape Cod Times that crows are the number one predator of plover eggs and similar tactics have been used in other areas of the country. She said eliminating crows would also allow the National Seashore to reduce its protection of plovers at some beaches. Seashore officials will hold public information meetings about the plan Feb. 25 in Eastham and March 3 in Provincetown. (AP)

Town worker charged with embezzlement
Rhode Island State Police say they have charged an employee in the Johnston town clerk’s office with embezzlement. Officers from the financial crimes unit arrested Nadine M. Parrillo, 42, Friday after Mayor Joseph Polisena filed a complaint. She also was charged with using a computer for fraudulent purposes. Investigators say a recent internal review indicated a high volume of voided cash transactions in the clerk’s office. They included fees for birth certificates, marriage licenses, and photocopies of town records. They say they found Parrillo has voided transactions and taken about $1,800 from the office since last fall. Parrillo was arraigned and released on $5,000 personal recognizance. (AP)

Hotel gas leak sickens 11, 1 seriously
A New Hampshire hotel worker has been hospitalized in serious condition after a carbon monoxide leak sickened her and 10 others. Scott Tranchemontagne, a spokesman for the Hilton Garden Inn in Portsmouth, said the gas has been traced to a vent that was leaking in the hotel’s basement boiler room yesterday morning. The spokesman said two workers were in a nearby laundry room and nine guests were in the pool area on the same level. All were taken to the hospital, and all but one had been treated and released by the afternoon. Tranchemontagne said the condition of the hospitalized hotel worker improved throughout the day. Her identity has not been released. (AP)