Firefighter dies while searching for victims

Published September 10, 2006

UNION CITY, N.J. - A firefighter died Saturday after he was overcome while searching a burning apartment building for people erroneously reported to be trapped.

Fire struck the three-story apartment building and a neighboring commercial building just before 6 a.m., said Chief Brion McEldowney of North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue.

Resident Nestor Mendoza, 18, who lived with eight family members in two second-floor apartments, said he was awakened by a fire alarm and he and the building superintendent opened the door to a vacant third-floor apartment, where they encountered dense smoke. He said he awakened his relatives and another family, and they all escaped.

However, North Bergen firefighter Vincent Neglia, 45, heard erroneous reports that people were trapped and rushed to the second floor, where he was overcome, McEldowney said.

Other firefighters found Neglia, and the 23-year veteran was pronounced dead at a hospital, he said.

The fire was under investigation, but McEldowney said it did not appear to be suspicious.

N.Y. woman wins $1-million in lottery game - again

NEW YORK - A woman who won $1-million from a state lottery game four years ago has done the near impossible - she's hit the jackpot again.

Valerie Wilson, who works at a Long Island deli, said she won another $1-million on a lottery scratchoff game last month.

"The first time I couldn't believe it," Wilson said. "This time I said, 'God's on my side.'"

Wilson, 56, beat some long odds to pull off her double victory.

In 2002, her winning ticket in the Cool Million scratchoff game, which has since been discontinued, was a shot of 1 in 5.2-million, according to the New York State Lottery. Last month, she beat odds of 1 in 705,600 when she got the $1-million prize in the New York lottery's Jubilee scratchoff game.

Overall, her chances of winning both games were 1 in 3.6-trillion.

A lottery spokeswoman verified Wilson was a Cool Million winner in 2002, but declined to confirm her latest win until a planned news conference. There have been only two previous repeat million-dollar-plus winners in the lottery's history, according to the state.

The prize will be paid out in $50,000 installments over 20 years. Wilson said she used her first winnings to help buy homes for her three children.

"This one is going to be for me," she said. "I'm going to live a little bit."

Ala. prison escapee found hiding in apartment closet

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An escaped prisoner accused in the videotaped kidnapping of a lawyer was captured Saturday after authorities acting on a tip swarmed an apartment where he was discovered hiding in a closet.

Dedrick Griham, 35, was found in Birmingham, about 90 miles north of the state prison where he escaped Thursday night. He had stuffed his bunk with clothes to make it appear he was under the covers and cut through a chain-link fence.

Authorities later charged Ovetta Morgan, of Birmingham, with aiding his escape, the FBI said. Officials also questioned four people who were in the apartment with Griham when he was arrested, authorities said.

An attorney for Griham, Eric Guster, said Morgan was Griham's girlfriend.

Griham, who has a long criminal record and was out on parole by mistake at the time of the abduction, is accused of rape, sodomy and robbery in the May 31 kidnapping, which was captured by a parking lot surveillance camera as the lawyer got out of her car.

Former teacher leaves $1.3-million to district

DAVISON, Mich. - A woman who spent 29 years as a teacher and counselor at the city high school has left $1.3-million to the school district.

Edna Diehl left the money when she died at age 88 in July. The Davison Educational Foundation will hold the money in trust with the interest to be used to fund scholarships.

The district expects the interest will generate about $60,000 a year, paying for two years' worth of college for five students every year, said Kevin Leffler, a school board member and foundation president.

Diehl and her husband, Ben, who died in 1997, had no children, said former colleague Pat McGlashen.