Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Kentucky Digest

Teen-ager rescued after night in cave

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — A teen-ager trapped overnight in an isolated cave was rescued early Monday and suffered only minor injuries.

        Tyler Branstetter, 15, of Glasgow, fell 35 feet from from a ledge shortly before midnight Sunday and was unable to climb out because of his injuries, Cave City Fire Chief Kenneth Moulder said. He was pulled from the cave about 10:15 a.m., Chief Moulder said.

        Tyler suffered bumps and bruises and received five stitches on his head. He was released Monday from University of Louisville Hospital.

        Tyler, who was camping with a friend when he decided to explore the cave, said as he was crossing a large pit, he gripped a stalactite to steady himself. The stalactite crumbled, dropping him through a 25-foot chasm into a large room of the cave.

        “I was just really worried how they were going to get me out because I knew it was going to hurt,” he said. “If I had a rope, I could have climbed out myself.”

        The boy was alert and talked to his parents before being taken to the hospital, Chief Moulder said.

        Rescuers placed a flexible board under the boy and used a harness system to pull him from the cave, the fire chief said.

        Another boy who accompanied Tyler into the cave notified authorities about 12:30 a.m., Chief Moulder said.

        The other boy was not injured, he said.

        The cave is part of a chain of caves in south-central Kentucky on property owned by the operator of Crystal Onyx Cave but is not connected to that cave, owner Ed Hay said.

McConnell rejects UK law-school honor

        LOUISVILLE — U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has rejected a University of Kentucky proposal to create a visiting law professorship in his name.

        Mr. McConnell is a 1967 graduate of the UK College of Law.

        The proposal called for him to raise $2 million in private contributions for the Mitch McConnell Endowed Chair of Constitutional and Public Law, with the money being matched by the state under the “Bucks for Brains” program.

        Allan Vestal, the law school's dean, said Mr. McConnell did not give a reason for rejecting the idea.

        Robert Steurer, Mr. McConnell's press secretary, said in a statement that Mr. McConnell was honored by the offer and turned it down “because it was not feasible at that time. He looks forward to continuing to support and work with UK in the future.”

        UK has used the fund-raising clout of a sitting senator in the past. In 1990, the university created the Wendell H. Ford Professorship of Law in honor of Mr. Ford, a Democrat and former Kentucky governor who served in the Senate from 1974 to 1998. Mr. Ford helped UK raise an initial $180,000 endowment by attending fund-raising events but didn't directly solicit donations. The Ford endowment, now about $325,000, supplements the salaries of UK professors.

        This spring, Mr. McConnell backed away from plans by UK's College of Agriculture to create a McConnell Center for Advanced Agricultural Technologies. Mr. McConnell said he was trying to protect UK from a “media-generated controversy.”

        Mr. McConnell, a Republican, founded and raised $4 million for the McConnell Center for Political Leadership at the University of Louisville.

        His role in raising money from undisclosed contributors for that center raised concern from some faculty and outside experts on higher education about the independence of the nonpartisan center, which provides scholarships to top Kentucky students and brings prominent speakers to campus. Others have praised Mr. McConnell for helping U of L raise money and recruit speakers.

Machete victim's body sent back to U.S.

               GUATEMALA CITY — The body of a 38-year-old Kentucky woman who was fatally attacked with a machete in Guatemala has been sent back to the United States, officials said Monday.

        Suzanne Hendricks, of Lexington, was hacked to death after midnight Friday by assailants at the hotel she managed on the shore of Peten Itza Lake, 300 miles north of the capital, Guatemala City. Her body left the northern state of Peten bound for the United States on Saturday.

        Officials have no suspects in her death.

Rights violated in murder case

       & LEXINGTON — The case of a Mexican immigrant accused of murder illustrates how often international laws are ignored by state and local law enforcement agencies.

        Carlos Cortez, 42, was arrested in 1999 and charged with bludgeoning and stabbing Lonnie Gross, 57, during a robbery in January 1998.

        Mr. Cortez is Mexican, and when foreign citizens are arrested in the United States, international law demands they be told promptly that they have the right to contact their consulates for legal and other assistance.

        However, Mr. Cortez was not promptly informed of that right. Lexington police officials admit they were unaware of the laws set by the Vienna Convention in 1963. The United States ratified the convention in 1969.

        The Lexington department isn't alone. The state Department of Criminal Justice Training was also unaware of the law, even though the U.S. State Department has been sending thousands of cities information about requirements of the accord since 1985.

        Mexico has repeatedly objected to its citizens' Vienna Convention rights being violated.

        Mr. Cortez was scheduled to go on trial in March, but it was indefinitely delayed after the sanity of the main witness against him was questioned.

Man dies when van hits Amish buggy

        HOPKINSVILLE — A van smashed into the back of an Amish buggy early Monday, killing one person and injuring two others, police said.

        Both people aboard the buggy were thrown from it, and one was killed, police said. The victim was male but wasn't identified. A female aboard the buggy was hospitalized, but the extent of her injuries wasn't immediately known.

        The van was driven by Harold Brant, 55, of Clarksville, Tenn., police said. The vehicle was southbound on U.S. 41-A about a mile north of Interstate 24 when it rear-ended the southbound buggy at about 1:50 a.m. CDT, police said.

        Mr. Brant, who was alone in the vehicle, was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. The two horses pulling the buggy were killed.

        It was not immediately known what caused the crash, or whether the buggy had reflector lights.


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Local Digest
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Black colleges to make case for aid
- Kentucky Digest