Kansas Native and NASA Astronaut Nick Hague Safe After Failed Launch, Emergency Landing
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) — Two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia were safe after an emergency landing today (THUR) in the steppes of Kazakhstan following the failure of a Russian booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Nick Hague, from Hoxie, Kansas, and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled Thursday from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket. Roscosmos and NASA said the three-stage Soyuz booster suffered an emergency shutdown of its second stage. The capsule jettisoned from the booster and went into a ballistic descent, landing at a sharper than normal angle. The two astronauts landed safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan after their Soyuz rocket failed two minutes after launch.
Russian controllers told the space station astronauts that NASA's Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin endured 6.7 times the force of gravity during their steeper than usual entry. It was Hague's first rocket launch. There was no immediate word on whether the space station crew might need to extend its own six-month mission. Two spacewalks planned for later this month were off indefinitely. Hague was supposed to be one of the spacewalkers.
NASA says the astronauts have been flown to the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan en route to Moscow. NASA posted pictures of NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin undergoing a medical check-up at Dzhezkazgan's airport. One of the pictures showed Hague smiling and another had him sitting next to Russia's space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin. U.S. and Russian space officials said the astronauts are in good condition after the aborted launch.
Kansas Rivers and Creeks Overflow Banks After Heavy Rain
SEDGWICK, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer has issued a state of disaster declaration because of rains that soaked much Kansas this week. As of Wednesday, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management says it has not yet received requests for assistance from any counties, but the emergency declaration will speed the state's response if local governments need help with response and recovery operations. Many roads are closed as rivers and creeks overflow their banks across the state. The Arkansas River in Wichita is closed to all recreational activities for a week after the rains brought more than 11 times the average amount of water to the river for this time of year. The Wichita Eagle reported the Arkansas River was causing minor flooding at noon on Wednesday as it went above flood stage.
2 Charged in Robberies that Led to Eastern Kansas Manhunt
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Two men have been charged in a string of suburban Kansas City robberies that led to one of the suspects exchanging gunfire with an officer. The Kansas City Star reports that 23-year-old Pedro Antonio Torres and 18-year-old Mario Jimenez were charged Wednesday with five counts of aggravated robbery. Jimenez also was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. Torres had an additional felony theft charge. Their attorneys didn't immediately return phone messages. Olathe, Kansas, police say officers stopped a vehicle after four convenience stores were held up early Monday. Police say Torres was arrested after a short chase. But Jimenez is accused of firing at an officer before he was arrested hours later after a manhunt that caused some schools to be locked down. No one was hurt.
2nd Death from West Nile Recorded in Jackson County, Missouri
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Jackson County officials say a second person in the county has died from the West Nile virus. The department announced the death Tuesday but provided no details. The first death in the county from the virus was reported September 19. The virus is most commonly spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Jackson County Health Department Health Director Bridgette Shaffer says mosquitoes will remain active until the first hard frost. Shaffer says people should use insect repellent, wear long sleeve shirts and pants and stay indoors between dusk and dawn. Areas of standing water also should be drained, if possible.
2 Men Sentenced for Fatal Shooting at Lawrence Motel
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two friends who were convicted of a fatal shooting at a Lawrence motel will serve different sentences. Twenty-year-old Tyrone Carvin was sentenced Wednesday to more than 23 years in prison, while 23-year-old Ramone Singleton was given about 10 years. Both men, from Kansas City, Kansas, were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and other charges in the September 2017 shooting of 23-year-old Cameron Hooks, of Lenexa, and the wounding of two other men. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Carvin received the longer sentence because he had several prior felony convictions and was on probation when Hooks was killed at a Motel 6. Singleton had no prior criminal history before the shooting. Nineteen-year-old Shawn Smith, of Kansas City, Missouri, is facing a second trial in the case after his first trial ended in a mistrial.
Topeka Police Search for Man Who Shot at Officers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a man who was shot by officers apparently was the same man involved in another shootout with officers hours earlier. The man underwent surgery Thursday and was in fair and stable condition. Earlier Thursday, a man who was being pursued by police shot at the officers, who returned fire. No one was wounded. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports police spokeswoman Gretchen Koenen said police believe the man who was shot in the second incident was the same person who had fired at officers earlier in the day. His identity hasn't been released. The man approached police during the search after the first confrontation. As officers tried to arrest him, he ran. Police say during the chase, the man pointed a handgun at officers, and three officers fired at him, hitting him several times.
Man Arrested in Hit-and-Run That Killed 2 Students
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Overland Park police have arrested a suspect in a hit-and-run collision that killed two students. The Kansas City Star reports the 45-year-old Olathe man was arrested Thursday and booked into the Johnson County jail on suspicion of failing to stop after an accident resulting in death. Police say the crash on Saturday killed 18-year-old Matthew Bloskey, of Overland Park, and 20-year-old Samuel Siebuhr, of Kansas City, Kansas. Overland Park police say a van belonging to the suspect may have hit Siebuhr's car as both vehicles were driving east. Siebuhr apparently lost control, clipped another vehicle, then crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by Bloskey. Both drivers died at the scene. Siebuhr was studying Kansas City Kansas Community College. Bloskey was a senior at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri.
Former Leavenworth Inmate Sentenced in Attack on Guard
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Leavenworth inmate has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for attacking a Leavenworth prison guard with a pair of scissors. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said 27-year-old Richard James Jr. was also ordered Wednesday to pay $18,692 in restitution. James, who is in federal custody, pleaded guilty to assaulting a federal officer. He admitted that he sharpened a pair of grooming scissors and stabbed Joseph Brian Wilson, a unit manager for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Other corrections officers pulled James off Wilson to stop the attack. Prosecutors say James told investigators he wanted a "change of scenery" and attacked Wilson so he would be moved to another prison.
Kansas Woman Sentenced for Defrauding Bank Customer
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Coffeyville woman was sentenced to 60 days in federal prison for stealing $150,000 from a customer at a bank where she worked. Federal prosecutors say 61-year-old Phyllis Lanning was sentenced Wednesday for mail fraud. She also was ordered to pay full restitution. Prosecutors say Lanning admitted that while she worked for Condon National Bank in Coffeyville she created and mailed falsified documents to conceal her theft of $150,000 from a customer's account. Lanning sent the customer's monthly statements to an address in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, that she controlled. She then mailed false statements to the customer. The theft was discovered after the victim died and family members took control of the account. Lanning will serve three years of supervised release after she serves her sentence.
Vice President Mike Pence Plans Visit to Kansas to Campaign for Kobach, Watkins
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence is planning to visit Kansas next week for events to help Republicans Kris Kobach and Steve Watkins in their campaigns for governor and Congress. Kobach's campaign says Pence will come October 18 to Wichita for an event to show his support for Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state. Kobach's campaign said the details still are being worked out. Watkins' campaign announced Wednesday that Pence will have a private October 19 fundraiser in Topeka for his campaign in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas. Details still are being settled, but tickets will start at $250. Pence's events will come less than two weeks after President Donald Trump had a rally in Topeka aimed at helping Kobach and Watkins in a state Trump carried easily in 2016.
(This story has been corrected to show that the dates of the events are October 18 and 19, not September 18 and 19.)
GOP Official Resigns over Social Media Post About Sharice Davids
SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A local GOP official has resigned his party post in Kansas after fellow Republicans condemned his social media attack saying a Native American congressional candidate will be "sent back packing to the reservation." The Kansas City Star reports that Michael Kalny of suburban Kansas City resigned Wednesday as a Republican precinct committee member. In his Facebook message, Kalny called Democratic candidate Sharice Davids a "radical socialist kick boxing lesbian Indian." He sent the message Monday to the president of a local Democratic women's group. Davids is an LGBT lawyer and member of the Wisconsin-based Ho-Chunk Nation running against Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder. She also has fought mixed martial arts bouts. Yoder's spokesman and the Kansas GOP's executive director repudiated Kalny's remarks. Kalny did not return a telephone message seeking comment.
Dole Endorses GOP's Watkins in Kansas Congressional Race
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former presidential candidate and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, of Kansas, has endorsed Republican Steve Watkins in his race for an eastern Kansas congressional seat. Dole announced his support for the Army veteran and political novice in a tweet Wednesday. Watkins and Democrat Paul Davis are seeking to replace retiring Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. Democrats hope to flip the seat even though President Donald Trump carried the district in 2016. Watkins has faced questions because he's lived most of his adult life outside Kansas and did not vote in the state until a Topeka municipal election last year. But Dole tweeted that he believes Watkins will work hard and "protect our Kansas values." The 95-year-old Dole was the 1996 GOP presidential nominee and served more than 35 years in Congress.
Longtime City Clerk Charged with Embezzlement
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A retired city clerk has been charged with embezzling more than $36,500 from the Kansas town where she worked for nearly 40 years. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister announced an indictment Thursday that accused 69-year-old Carole Sue Coker of stealing the money from Caney. She is charged with mail fraud and bank fraud. Coker, who now lives in Oronogo, Missouri, allegedly kept some cash paid to the city and didn't record all the checks written to the city to cover the thefts. She then made it appear as if the books balanced. Coker could face up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud and up to 30 years for bank fraud. She could also be fined up to $1.25 million. Caney is about 120 miles southeast of Wichita.
School Warns of Students Crawling Under Stalled Trains
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials for a Wichita school are raising concerns that trains are stalled for so long on nearby tracks that students are crawling under boxcars and across the couplings to get home. The Wichita Eagle reports that Hamilton Middle School principal Justin Kasel says trains traveling just north of the school sometimes are stopped for up to an hour, tying up traffic. More than two-thirds of Hamilton's 600 students don't qualify for a bus, so they either walk or get rides. A school employee posted a video to Facebook after witnessing students taking dangerous risks Tuesday when a train stalled. The video was later taken down but prompted the school to issue a warning. A Kansas law barring railroads from blocking a crossing for more than 10 minutes is being challenged.
Man Accused of Using Children's Identities in Tax Fraud
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal prosecutors allege a 52-year-old Kansas City man used his children's identities in a nearly $2.6 million tax fraud scheme. Michael Kheop was indicted by a grand jury on three charges of making false claims, two counts of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. The indictment was made public Wednesday after Kheop was arrested. The indictment alleges Kheop filed false claims for income tax returns in his own and his children's names from 2014 through 2018. Prosecutors say Kheop created a fictitious business called Al-Aleem Engineering in February 2013. He then allegedly created W-2 forms containing false income and withholding under his and his children's names. Online court records do not show an attorney for Kheop.
Wichita Man Sentenced for Gun Theft from Sheriff's Vehicle
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to four years and nine months in federal prison for stealing guns from an undercover Sedgwick County Sheriff's vehicle. The U.S. attorney's office says 38-year-old Travis Keller pleaded guilty to one count of possessing stolen firearms. Keller admitted in his plea that he and co-defendant Justin Winger took guns from the unmarked car. The guns included a 9-mm handgun, a 12-gauge shotgun and a 5.56-caliber rifle.
Another co-defendant, Arthur Mannie is scheduled to go on trial in January. Sentencing for Winger is scheduled for November 19.
Lawrence Commission Favors Reducing Marijuana Penalties
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence city commissioners say they favor reducing the city's penalties for marijuana possession. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the issue was discussed Tuesday at a work session in response to a request from a Lawrence resident this summer. Lawrence's penalties for marijuana possession were adopted in 2006 and more severe than the state requires. First-time offenders in Lawrence pay a minimum fine of $200, and must also pay for and undergo a drug evaluation. Both city ordinance and state law set a maximum fine of $1000 and/or imprisonment up to 180 days. State law doesn't require a minimum fine for first-time offenders or a mandatory drug evaluation. The commission took no action Tuesday but commissioners say they support reducing the minimum fine, perhaps to $50, and changing the mandatory drug evaluation.
Tex Winter, Innovative Basketball Coach, Dead at 96
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Tex Winter, the innovative "Triangle Offense" pioneer who assisted Phil Jackson on NBA championship teams with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, has died. He was 96. Winter's family said he died Wednesday in Manhattan, where he began his coaching career at Kansas State in 1947 and led the Wildcats to two Final Fours and eight Big Seven/Eight titles as head coach from 1954-68. "I learned so much from Coach Winter. He was a pioneer and a true student of the game," Michael Jordan said in a statement emailed to the Chicago Tribune. "His triangle offense was a huge part of our six championships with the Bulls. He was a tireless worker. Tex was always focused on details and preparation and a great teacher. I was lucky to play for him. My condolences to his family."
Former Lakers star Kobe Bryant called Winter a basketball genius "in every sense of the word." "My mentor. I sat with Tex & watched every minute of every game during our 1st season together. He taught me how to study every detail," Bryant posted on Twitter.
Winter published "The Triple-Post Offense" in 1962 and teamed with Jackson to use the system to great success with Jordan and Bryant. Winter assisted Jackson on championship teams with the Bulls in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998, and the Lakers in 2000, 2001, 2002. He was a consultant with Los Angeles' 2009 title team, and the Lakers also won in 2010. "Tex Winter was a basketball legend and perhaps the finest fundamental teacher in the history of our game," said Bulls President John Paxson, a former player under Winter. "He was an innovator who had high standards for how basketball should be played and approached every day. "Those of us who were lucky enough to play for him will always respect his devotion to the game of basketball. His contributions to the Bulls organization will always be remembered."
Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, Winter spent more than six decades in coaching. "On behalf of the entire Lakers organization, I'd like to express our sadness at the passing of Tex Winter," Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. "Tex helped lead the team to four NBA championships and was a mentor to many of our coaches and players. In addition to his numerous contributions to the game of basketball, Tex was a wonderful man and he will be dearly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Winter family."
"Today is a sad day for not only Kansas State University but also the entire basketball world with the passing of Coach Winter," K-State athletic director Gene Taylor said in a statement. "He transformed the game of basketball at all levels and will always remain an integral piece of our rich basketball tradition here at K-State. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Winter family during this time. He will certainly be missed."
Born Morice Fredrick Winter in 1922 near Wellington, Texas, he grew up in Huntington Park, California, and starred at Oregon State and Southern California in basketball and as a pole vaulter. He entered coaching at Kansas State in 1947 under Jack Gardner.
Kansas Fires Offensive Coordinator Doug Meacham with 6 Games Left
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas football team has fired offensive coordinator Doug Meacham with six games left in the season. Wednesday's dismissal ends the short tenure of what coach David Beaty hailed as a game-changing hire just last year. Meacham had spent the previous three seasons as the co-offensive coordinator at Big 12 rival TCU when Beaty lured him to the Jayhawks. Meacham was expected to install a variation of the Air Raid offense that would put up the kind of points not seen in Lawrence in a decade. Instead, the Jayhawks managed just 18.7 points per game last season. That has ticked up to 27.7 this year, but the Jayhawks are averaging just 19 points during three conference losses. Beaty said he would handle the play-calling with help from the rest of his staff when Kansas (2-4), which is off this week, returns to the field against Texas Tech on October 20.