In the Nation

Firefighters battled the May 1 blaze that killed four family members in Carmel, N.Y.
Firefighters battled the May 1 blaze that killed four family members in Carmel, N.Y. (FRANK BECERRA JR. / Journal News)
Posted: June 08, 2012

Fatal fire linked to cigarette debris

CARMEL, N.Y. - The flick of a young man's cigarette ash on the front porch of his suburban home probably led to the accidental fire that killed his parents and two teenage sisters and left him in misery as the only survivor, police said Thursday.

Carmel Police Chief Michael Johnson said a monthlong investigation found the likely cause was a cigarette butt or ash that Thomas Sullivan Jr., 20, dropped into the mulch bed at the foot of the porch on the evening of April 30.

After igniting in the mulch, the fire smoldered for a few hours, then spread to a plastic trellis and the wooden porch before racing through the home 60 miles north of New York City, Johnson said.

The blaze killed Thomas Sullivan Sr., a Larchmont police captain; his wife, Donna; and their daughters Meaghan, 18, and Mairead, 13. The coroner said they died from breathing smoke and carbon monoxide. Johnson said the father's "heroic actions" had saved his son. - AP

Six in family die in Fla. air crash

LAKE WALES, Fla. - A Kansas businessman, his wife, and their four children were killed Thursday when their small plane crashed into a swampy area of central Florida, authorities said.

The single-turboprop plane broke apart and went down in the Tiger Creek Preserve, just south of Lake Wales, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said. Ronald Bramlage, 45, was piloting the plane headed from the Bahamas to Junction City, Kan.

The 2006 Pilatus PC-12/47 was flying around 26,000 feet when it began experiencing trouble, officials said. Bramlage was a prominent businessman in Junction City and owned Roadside Ventures L.L.C., to which the plane was registered. Also killed were his wife, Rebecca, 43, and their four children, whose ages were not released.

- AP

Bond hearing set for Zimmerman

ORLANDO, Fla. - A new bond hearing is set on June 29 for George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood-watch volunteer charged in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager. Zimmerman returned to jail Sunday because his $150,000 bond was revoked after prosecutors claimed he and his wife, Shellie, deceived the court during an April bond hearing.

At the hearing, Shellie Zimmerman testified that the couple had limited funds for bail because she was a full-time student and her husband wasn't working. Prosecutors say Zimmerman actually had raised $135,000 in donations from a website he created.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin during a confrontation in a Sanford, Fla., gated community where Zimmerman lived. - AP

Elsewhere:

Officials in Texas are testing a new 41-mile segment of highway to see whether it would be safe to post the state's first 85-m.p.h. speed limit, setting it on a path to have the nation's highest posted speed limit. The Texas Department of Transportation is considering the plan for state Highway 130 between Austin and Seguin, spokesman Mark Cross said Thursday.

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