Page 1

‘GOOD HANDS TEAM’ KEYS BERGEN CATHOLIC WIN OVER ST. JOSEPH. S-1 $1.50 SUNDAY October 16, 2011

TODAY

69°/51°

TOMORROW

7 2 °/4 9 °

Breezy with increasing clouds Sunshine and some clouds

T H E

T R U S T E D

U.S. bishop charged in priest porn case

S O U R C E

N.J. led way in 2001 battle with anthrax

A grand jury has indicted Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo. on misdemeanor charges of failure to report child abuse. The charges make Finn — leader of the 134,000-member diocese — the first U.S. bishop criminally charged with sheltering an abusive clergyman. Authorities say Finn and his diocese waited five months to tell police about hundreds of images of child pornography discovered on a priest’s computer. — Complete story A-6

Occupy Wall Street hits Times Square The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators marched north through Manhattan from Washington Square Park and into Times Square, where they held a rally for several hours before dispersing. Over the course of the day, more than 70 people were arrested. Earlier, demonstrators paraded to a Chase bank branch banging drums, blowing horns and carrying signs decrying corporate greed. Marchers throughout the country emulated them in protests that ranged from about 50 people in Jackson, Miss., to at least a thousand each in such larger cities as Denver and Pittsburgh. — Complete story on A-3

L O C A L

This letter containing anthrax spores was sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in Washington in October 2001.

Lessons here changed U.S. disaster planning

Police stun guns carry $2,000 price Two high-tech stun gun models, fashioned and tested to meet the state attorney general’s criteria for use by New Jersey police officers, have been unveiled. The guns will be some of the most expensive on the market — roughly $2,000 apiece — prompting some law enforcement officials to wonder whether cashstrapped departments will be able to afford them. “I made it a priority to provide police officers in New Jersey, for the first time, with the realistic option of using stun guns as an alternative to deadly force,” state Attorney General Paula Dow said. — Complete story on A-4

U.S. won’t seek to keep troops in Iraq

A hazmat team in October 2001 checked for anthrax spores at the West Trenton post office in Ewing.

Jobless see edge in joining together Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a support group started this year in North Jersey, helps members gain the tools to land a job at a time when the national unemployment rate is stubbornly stuck at 9.1 percent. Members share tips on successful techniques, offer leads and sometimes listen to experts on such topics as using social networking to find a job. Neighbors Helping Neighbors also offers members a trove of job-hunting advice on its website and an Internet home on which to post their résumés. — Complete story on L-1

www.northjersey.com

By LINDY WASHBURN STAFF WRITER

The first letters were mailed Sept. 18, 2001, a week after the towers fell. Postmarked “Trenton, N.J.” they are believed to have been dropped in a blue mailbox on Nassau Street in Princeton. After making their way to the Trenton Postal Distribution Center in Hamilton, the envelopes were slapped and squeezed through the sorting machines and blasted with air hoses. No one noticed the tiny bit of powder that escaped. One or more of the small yet deadly anthrax spores landed on the arm of a maintenance worker. A few more stuck to another piece of mail in the highspeed river moving through the ma-

chines. Then the letters were carried on toward their targets. Seventeen days later, on Oct. 5, 2001, a photo editor in Florida was dead of inhalational anthrax and a traumatized American public faced a new terror: biological attack. Anthrax would kill five and sicken 17 others, including six in New Jersey. New Jersey was ground zero for those attacks. In the weeks that followed, state officials would learn on the run to manage a public health crisis like none the United States had ever seen. New Jersey health officials would pioneer the mass use of antibiotics. They would become responsible for shutting down a major postal facility and decontaminating a huge indus-

By JULIET FLETCHER STATE HOUSE BUREAU

Close to 850,000 current and retired state workers can start choosing new health care plans Monday — a normally routine process that this year forms part of the largest overhaul of public-employee health care in the state. As workers consider a new range of 15 plans, the overall reform may reduce the cost of proving health insurance for towns and state employers but also leave workers with complex calculations to work out their changing payments. Governor Christie’s health benefits policy aims to save money by shifting union members over the long term to high-deductible plans. The most extreme of those plans — being offered to current state workers and also to retirees — will cover health care only after a patient has incurred and paid $4,000 in out-of-pocket costs. The state’s actuaries predict only 2 percent of current workers will shift plans this year. That reluctance spells potential problems for Christie: His administration is banking on pushing workers to downgrade from See BENEFITS Page A-8

trial building with complex machinery. Their experience would prove the federal government’s early assurances about anthrax were wrong in key and deadly ways. A decade later, the lessons learned here have helped shape how the nation responds to disasters, how information about risk is conveyed to the public and how we prepare for potential future bioterrorism attacks. The crisis led to an investment of billions of dollars in biodefense research in New Jersey and elsewhere. At the same time, though, spending cuts have shrunk the number of public health workers ready to help in the next crisis. Today “we might respond with a See ANTHRAX Page A-10

Focus shifting to lasting effects on crews By KAREN ROUSE STAFF WRITER

Train engineer William Smith screamed like crazy for the young woman to move as she walked along the railroad tracks with her back to his approaching locomotive. And for a split second, he envisioned himself swooping down in superhero fashion and snatching her from the rails.

TRAIN ENGINEER WILLIAM SMITH, WHO WAS A CONDUCTOR WHEN HIS LOCOMOTIVE STRUCK AND KILLED A WOMAN

INSIDE Please recycle

At least 25% recycled newsprint. 100% recyclable. 0% deforestation.

Call for home delivery: (888) 4 RECORD (888) 473-2673

©2011 NORTH JERSEY MEDIA GROUP INC.

Public workers and retirees must enroll for their plans between Monday and Nov. 11. In July, workers seeking single coverage will start paying between 2.25 and 17.5 percent of their premiums. By 2014, contributions rise to between 3 and 35 percent. Governor Christie’s administration hopes to save a projected $10 million in 2012 through reforms. Future savings will depend on how many workers make the shift to less expensive health plans in subsequent years. Full details and worksheets of the 2012 plans and contributions are available through the website for the New Jersey division of pension and benefits, at www.nj.gov/treasury/pensions

Fatal train collisions tough on engineers

Hitting someone with a train is like “driving your car on Route 80 and having someone run out of the bushes and you hit them. It is the most soul-wrenching thing in the world.”

K

ä Watch local news videos at northjersey.com/video.

State workers can choose plans

What’s next ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOS

The U.S. has decided to fully pull its troops out of Iraq by January, which will effectively end more than eight years of involvement in the Iraq war. The decision ends months of handwringing by U.S. officials over whether to stick to a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline that was set in 2008 or negotiate a new security agreement. In recent months, Washington has been discussing with Iraqi leaders the possibility of several thousand American troops remaining to continue training Iraqi security forces. But a senior Obama administration official in Washington confirmed Saturday that all American troops will leave Iraq except for about 160 activeduty soldiers attached to the U.S. Embassy. — Complete story on A-6

Savings unclear in health revamp

IN

Advice ...............................F-10 Better Living........................F-1 Bridge ...............................F-11 Business .............................B-1 Crosswords ...............F-11, J-6

In reality, he braced for the inevitable collision. It arrived with a loud “clonging,” the sound of the locomotive striking her 150-pound body — a sound the 39-year-old still finds hard to shake, five years later. “Every time I hear that ‘clong’ that girl is in front of my train and I’m screaming,” said Smith, who was a conductor at the time of the See ENGINEER Page A-8

u Editorials.............................O-2 Horoscope ........................F-11 Local News .........................L-1 MarketPlace .......................C-1 Movies.................................F-9

Walk to Remember 15TH ANNUAL

Remembering babies lost through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.

Obituaries............................L-4 Shortcuts ............................C-2 People.................................A-2 Travel...................................T-1 Public notices.....................O-4 Weather ..............................A-2 Sports .................................S-1 Real Estate..........................R-1

October 23 • 2 to 4 PM For more information or to RSVP, call

201-833-3058


FROM PAGE ONE

A-8 THE RECORD

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2011

AROUND THE WORLD

Fast facts

4 Afghan militants killed in failed strike KABUL — Militants made a failed attempt to blast their way into an American base in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, striking before dawn with rocket-propelled grenades and a car bomb. All four attackers were killed, as were two truck drivers parked nearby, a provincial police chief said. Two Afghan security guards were wounded.

Medvedev rallies Russian supporters MOSCOW — President Dmitry Medvedev urged supporters to stick with him despite his decision to step aside in the March election and allow Vladimir Putin to return to the No. 1 spot and insisted Saturday that Russia MEDVEDEV would eventually develop its own brand of democracy. “If I understand well, everyone who is gathered here wants to see our country change, wants our society and our state to be modernized, so in other words, you are my supporters,” Medvedev said in a televised meeting with bloggers and other supporters.

Cuban dissidents mourn for a leader HAVANA — Cuba’s tiny dissident community gathered on Saturday to mourn the loss of one of its most prominent leaders, Ladies in White founder and leader Laura Pollan, who died on Friday night. Family memPOLLAN bers, government opponents and diplomats gathered at the 63year-old Pollan’s house, welcomed by her widower, formerly imprisoned dissident Hector Maseda. The U.S. Interests Section in Cuba brought a floral wreath.

Libyan forces hunt Gadhafi loyalists TRIPOLI, Libya — Libyan fighters fanned out in Tripoli neighborhoods Saturday to search for armed supporters of fugitive leader Moammar Gadhafi a day after a major gunbattle rocked the capital for the first time in two months. Revealing serious divisions within the revolutionary ranks, Saturday’s sweep of the Abu Salim neighborhood was being conducted mainly by a breakaway militia that refuses to answer to the main Tripoli military council.

Kenya to pursue militants in Somalia NAIROBI, Kenya — Top security chiefs said Saturday that Kenyan forces will pursue militants into Somalia, a response to a spate of attacks in which four Europeans have been kidnapped and one killed since September. “For the first time, our country is threatened with the most serious level of terrorism,” said George Saitoti, the minister of internal secuirity.

Haiti approves new government PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti is operating under a fully staffed government almost a year after national elections were held. The Chamber of Deputies approved a 17-member Cabinet and the policy agenda of Prime Minister Garry Conille on Saturday morning.

Volcano prompts Spain to close port MADRID — Spanish authorities say activity by an underwater volcano has led them to close access to a port on El Hierro island. Ships have been ordered away from waters around La Restinga and aircraft have been banned from flying over the island’s southern tip. The port’s 600 residents were evacuated Tuesday after volcanic activity began. — From news service reports

KEVIN R. WEXLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Emergency workers and onlookers at the scene of a fatal train collision in Garfield earlier this month. Michael Cabaj, 13, was struck and killed by an NJ Transit train at the Outwater Lane crossing on Oct. 3. Witnesses said the boy tried to push a scooter across the tracks as the train was coming.

Engineer: Collisions cause trauma From Page A-1 By the numbers collision and is now a Susquehanna Railway engineer. “She probaä NJ Transit police issued 811 trespassing citations to people bebly has friends and family who tween Jan. 1, 2010, and Oct. 6, 2011. don’t think about her as much as ä In 2010, there were 28 fatal trespassing incidents on NJ Transit I do.” train tracks. So far this year there have been 19, including 16-yearRoughly 500 people die naold Alan Mendez and 17-year-old Nicholas Sabina, both of whom tionwide every year while treswere killed in an Oct. 2 collision in Wayne; and 13-year-old passing on railroad tracks, acMichael Cabaj, who was killed at a crossing in Garfield. cording to the Federal Railroad ä The Newark-based agency has 365 engineers and 1,100 conAdministration. Nine have lost ductors and assistant conductors in its rail system. Engineers their lives on NJ Transit train drive the train, while conductors are responsible for its operation tracks this year in Bergen and and inspecting the damage in a collision. That includes checking Passaic counties, including three for survivors when a trespasser is struck. teen boys killed in Wayne and ä Training for an engineer is about 22 months long. Garfield this month. Those fatal train collisions often ä NJ Transit has 314 at-grade crossings throughout its system. trigger a public outcry for stronger ä Statistics show rail trespassers tend to be white males, average enforcement at grade crossings age 38. Two-thirds are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. and rail safety education in Roughly, 20 percent of fatal collisions are believed to be suicides. schools. But less public are the ä Between 2007 and 2010, there were five trespasser deaths in emotions train engineers are left to Bergen County. One involved CSX Railroad and four were NJ grapple with after witnessing the Transit. There were nine in Passaic County, all involving NJ Transit grisly last moments of a person trains, during the same period. crushed by a train they had no ä Report malfunctioning railroad gate crossings by calling 800power to stop. 242-0236. “It’s a traumatic experience for Sources: NJ Transit and the Federal Railroad Administration engineers and it does take them a long time, if they ever do recover,” Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said. somebody at some point.” others have had multiple colli“A good many of them do not get One man McLean interviewed sions. back to work.” had never discussed a fatal colliNJ Transit has a “critical incision before, he said. Others were dent” policy that includes in-house Psychological effects angry because they are often sub- counseling for the engineer and Many live with guilt, post-trau- ject to lawsuits filed by the victims’ crew members “to help them work matic stress disorder, anger and families. through the incident they experifear for years after an incident, said He said railroads are improving enced,” she said. “Many of our Nick McLean, a rail enthusiast in their support for engineers and train crew members take advanwho interviewed train crews conductors, though some felt they tage of that.” around the country for a 2008 re- had to “just suck it up” and get Bassett Hackett said the train port: “The Psychological and back to work. McLean found engineer operates the train, but it Physiological Implications of group counseling sessions in is the job of the conductor who is Trains Striking Motorists and which engineers were able to dis- in charge of the train to go outside Pedestrians,” he wrote while a stu- cuss incidents with older engine- and investigate when a trespasser dent at the University of North men where there is a “significant is struck. “Sometimes the conducCarolina. camaraderie.” tor will bring with them the assisThe most prominent feeling is Rob Kulat, spokesman for the tant conductor,” she said. “As you helplessness, McLean said. Unlike FRA, which enforces federal rail- can imagine, conductors and assismotorists, locomotive engineers road safety regulations, said there tant conductors have unfortunatecan’t swerve or stop quickly even is no federal requirement for how ly seen some very disturbing after applying the brake, he said. railroads or their crews should things.” “The big concern is for the en- navigate the after-effects of a fatal Daniel O’Connell, a former NJ gineer just having to relive this collision, but most offer some form Transit locomotive engineer who thing, waking up at night, having of post-traumatic stress counsel- is now a lobbyist for the United images of the people they’ve run ing. Transportation Union, which repover,” he said. “The people were It’s common practice after a col- resents rail workers, said railroads trespassing, but it’s still a human lision for a railroad to send in a re- have become sensitive about the life.” lief crew to take over the train, rail need to offer counseling to train Some engineers shrug it off as experts say. crews. “one of those things where you Some conductors or engineers learn to live with it,” he said. ‘Critical incident’ policy “think they’re OK after a collision, “Within the railroad community, Penny Bassett Hackett, spokes- then they start to have flashbacks it’s a known fact that if you’re go- woman for NJ Transit, said some or difficulty sleeping or they realing to make a career out of being a engineers have never had a fatal ize, ‘I’m not the same person I was trainman, you’re going to run over collision with a trespasser, while before the accident. It gives them a

chance to discuss it,” he said. Others want to go back to work right away because they are hoping life will just go back to normal. “I know people who have hit people and they’ve made eye contact” with the person just before the train killed them, he said. “That can be a little tough.” If someone commits suicide, he said, the engineer “is the one who is there,” he said. O’Connell, who has also operated trains for Conrail and Penn Central railroads, said in his 30year-career, he never had a fatal. But years ago he had a close call. “I was running a train to Trenton and I was leaving New Brunswick Station,” he said last week. “I was doing about 45 or 50 [mph] on the Northeast Corridor and I looked up and no more than 200 feet in front of me there’s a man standing in between the rails with his arm outstretched.” O’Connell said he applied the emergency brake, looked away and “waited to hear myself hit the guy.” Nothing happened. The train stopped and O’Connell looked out to see the man wobbling in a field near the track, apparently drunk. Kulat said most railroad fatalities are due to trespassing, such as using the track as a shortcut. Dangerous but common activities include people driving all-terrain vehicles on tracks, or walking on tracks while listening to music or talking on a cellphone. “They get distracted and they don’t see the trains coming,” he said.

Education efforts

Operation Lifesaver partners with railroads and agencies around the nation to educate the public about railroad safety. They offer these tips: ä Trains cannot stop quickly. When an engineer applies the brakes on a 100-car freight train traveling at 55 miles per hour, the train will still travel about one mile before coming to a full stop. That’s approximately 18 football fields. ä Modern trains are quieter. That’s good for the neighbors, but dangerous for a trespasser walking the track, especially if she is listening to music or on a cellphone. ä Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose. They are often closer than they appear. Stand back and wait for it to pass. ä Never drive around lowered gates. It’s illegal and deadly. If it appears the safety gates or red lights are malfunctioning, contact police or the railroad immediately. ä If your vehicle stalls on a track while a train is coming, get everyone out and away from the tracks; there will likely be flying debris when the train strikes your car. ä At crossings with multiple tracks, let the train pass, then look out for a second train coming from the other direction before crossing. Never cross if the gates are down or the lights are flashing. ä Stay off the train tracks; it’s trespassing — and it’s dangerous. By the time the train engineer sees you, it’s too late for him to stop. ä Train tracks are private property and trains always have the right of way — even over ambulances, fire engines, cars and pedestrians. ä Watch videos and read rail fatality statistics for New Jersey at http://oli.org

a police car drive around lowered train gates as his train approached Union Avenue — and other North Jersey communities. Paterson is the scariest because kids throw rocks at the train or people walk dangerously close to the tracks, he said. Smith knew from childhood he wanted to be an engineer. His grandfather and great-uncle worked on the Susquehanna and the Erie railroads and he managed to collect a few stories from his grandfather’s experience about the “dangers” of the railroad. “It was always about somebody somewhere ignoring a crossing,” he said. One story involved a jeep running a crossing and his grandfather being left to hose off the remains, he said. It was a ‘this is what really happens on the railroad kind of story,’ not one of those, ‘I love going to sleep to the sound of the train’ stories,” he said. Smith remembers clearly that night about five years ago when the young woman climbed under the safety gates and walked onto the track as his train approached. He remembers the engineer screaming after applying the safety brakes and rounding a bend near Madison Avenue in Paterson. Smith said he was so shaken that the engineer told him to stay put while he went back to check the body. The feeling, Smith said, is like “driving your car on Route 80 and having someone run out of the bushes and you hit them.” “It is the most soul-wrenching thing in the world.”

Kulat said the most effective deterrent has been education. Most railroads, including NJ Transit, work with Operation Lifesaver Inc., a national organization that provides education on rail safety. Bassett Hackett said NJ Transit has a rail safety program for schools. Following the Wayne and Garfield train deaths, state Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson last week announced a joint task force he has created that includes an education component aimed at youth. Smith, the engineer, said he sees a general lack of respect for trains and the railroad property in Hackensack — where last week he saw E-mail: rouse@northjersey.com

Benefits: Several health plans to choose from From Page A-1 comprehensive — or what he calls “Cadillac” — coverage to those high-deductible plans, to save towns and state employers money. But the unions are ready to actively caution against that push. The state’s unfunded liability, defined as future costs expected in the health system, is $66.8 billion. With so few workers shifting to cheaper plans, the state expects to save only $10 million in this first year. Union leaders warned their members late last week not to rush to quickly pick a new health care plan, saying a worker’s upfront cost saving could easily be outpaced by medical bills for a health emergency or procedure. Patrick Nowlan, who repre-

sents the Rutgers Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said his union members would have to grasp the plan changes quickly. “I’d say, take time. If you pick a new plan with smaller premiums, your co-pays could be going up and obviously in some cases your deductible is very high as well,” he said. “Savings of any kind are not guaranteed.” Nowland, who sits on the state review commission, says he expects to hear appeals from workers who at some point argue their plans don’t cover everything they want. “They could be appealing in larger numbers than ever this year,” he noted. “Which is why we’re asking people to really think through, before making a change.”

“If you pick a new plan with smaller premiums, your copays could be going up and obviously in some cases your deductible is very high as well. Savings of any kind are not guaranteed.” PATRICK NOWLAN,

WHO REPRESENTS THE RUTGERS CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS

and 10.5 percent. But three providers — Horizon, Aetna and Cigna — will each offer two high-deductible plans, one of which will include employer funding of a Health Savings Account, according to details released late last week by the state. Nowlan said many nuances in the plans were still being ironed out — among them, whether any of the new plans could be considered managed care plans. Part-time lecturers at state colleges are allowed to buy into managed care plans at full cost plus an extra 10 percent charge. “Those details still aren’t clear,” Nowlan said. “Luckily, enrollment lasts four weeks.”

“I’d also caution them — you saying they would essentially be know what you have right now,” “self-insured.” he went on. “I wouldn’t recommend the high-deductible plans to anyone,” Unions react said Hetty Rosenstein, area direcSome state union heads went tor for the Communications further, saying they are going to Workers of America. recommend their members not Total costs for existing health E-mail: take the high-deductible options, plans have increased by between 9 fletcher@northjersey.com


Fatal train collisions trouble engineers  

The Record

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you