Thursday, August 16, 2012

Morning Briefing: Health officials can't pinpoint chemical odor at Pittsburgh ... - The Tribune-Democrat

WEST MIFFLIN â€" Emergency crews and officials with the county health department say they can’t pinpoint the source or a chemical odor that sickened 15 people at two restaurants and other businesses near Pittsburgh.

Allegheny County Health Department officials says air samples were negative by the time they arrived Wednesday morning at the Century Square Mall in West Mifflin.

Eleven people were treated on site and four were taken to hospitals after workers at a McDonald’s first reported the odor about 7:30 a.m.

Eventually, others at a nearby Denny’s, an outpatient surgical center, and a bank branch reported difficulty breathing or irritation from the smell.

Nobody was seriously hurt and the problem dissipated by late morning.

West Mifflin is about five miles east of Pittsburgh.

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EMPORIUM â€" Police are continuing to search for a 58-year-old kidnapping suspect apparently motivated by anger that his house was being foreclosed by a bank in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Emporium police said they searched a pub for Thomas R. Smith, of Emporium, on Wednesday but didn’t find him. Police didn’t say what led them to search the pub, but officers say they planned to search other unspecified areas and even use a cadaver-sniffing dog.

Police allege Smith kidnapped a Citizens & Northern Bank employee by pretending he needed a ride because his car supposedly broke down on Aug. 8. Instead, police say, Smith ordered the woman to drive to the bank at gunpoint, but she refused and jumped from her moving vehicle, which crashed before Smith ran away.

The woman recovered and is being protected by police.

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FOUNTAIN HILL â€" A Pennsylvania state lawmaker faces assault and other charges after police say he punched and choked his wife, then drove away drunk.

Democratic state Rep. Joseph Brennan was arrested Wednesday following a 911 call about a man hitting a woman outside their home in Fountain Hill, Lehigh County.

Norma Jane Brennan told officers her husband had choked, punched and wrestled her to the ground. Joseph Brennan was pulled over a few blocks away, where police say a breath test found he had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit for drivers.

Brennan was arraigned and released on $7,500 bail. A message left with his office early Thursday wasn’t immediately returned.

Brennan said last year he was experiencing a “long and personal struggle with alcohol” following a DUI arrest.

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OCEAN CITY, Md. â€" A Pennsylvania man has died and his 2-year-old son has been injured after falling from a sea wall in Ocean City, Md.

Police say 49-year-old Stephen Richard Ostan of Marcus Hook, Pa., and his son were walking along a retaining wall at the Ocean City inlet on Tuesday afternoon when they fell over the edge together, striking rocks below.

Witnesses told police that a woman climbed down the sea wall and pulled the child off the rocks. The child was taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries and released.

Authorities say a private boat, along with the Ocean City beach patrol and fire department and a boat and crew from Surf Side Parasail helped rescue Ostan. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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