July 29, 2011
Police Car

Police Car     Photo: Rick Hall/Flickr

OnTheSnow Editor Jumps to His Death

Following alleged assault, Leo fled police

Roger A. Leo, executive editor of OnTheSnow.com, one of the most-visited snow-sports sites on the web, died earlier this week after he jumped from a bridge near his home in Massachusetts. According to state police, Leo, 64, was involved in an assault late Sunday night at an acquaintance's house in Princeton, Massachusetts. A 911 call indicated that Leo and the caller's husband were fighting in the driveway. As police arrived, Leo fled, leading state troopers from the town of Princeton to the Quinapoxet Bridge in West Bolyston, where he stopped his car, ran approximately 130 feet onto the bridge, and, ignoring calls to stop, jumped headfirst 47 feet to the rocky shore below. Leo came to OnTheSnow following a 35-year career as a journalist with the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, which included a stint embedded with the 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad, Iraq. "We cannot begin to presume what led to the tragic apparent suicide of our long-time OnTheSnow.com colleague," said OnTheSnow editor-in-chief Craig Altschul. "We are as shocked and saddened by what happened as are those who knew him. The Roger Leo we worked with every day was a superb reporter, ultra conscious of deadlines and good journalism practices, and a very pleasant member of our team. Our prayers are with his family."

Read more at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette


Polar Bear

Polar Bear     Photo: flickrfavorites/Flickr

Polar Bear Scientist Suspended

Author of 2006 report put on leave

The biologist responsible for a 2006 report that galvanized environmental concern for polar bears has been suspended from his position at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement amid rumors of scientific misconduct. In 2006, Charles Monnett co-authored a report with Jeffery Gleason that documented four dead polar bears near the Arctic Circle and speculated that climate change might increase polar bear mortality. He was suspended July 18. The service, until recently known as the Minerals Management Service, says an investigation in Monnett's work is ongoing and has not released information about the nature of the suspension. In the transcript of an interview conducted with Monnett, the agency's inspector general asked specific questions about a calculation Monnett made concerning polar bear mortality. In that interview, excerpted in yesterday's New York Times, Monnett is quoted saying that his bosses at the service "don’t want any impediment to, you know, what they view as their mission, which is to, you know, drill wells up there." In 2008, the then-Minerals Management Service was involved in a widespread scandal involving bribes, sexual favors, and drug and alchol abuse.

Read more at The New York Times


Travis Pastrana

Travis Pastrana     Photo: Philip Nelson/Flickr

Pastrana Crashes Out of X-Games

Motocross trick breaks star's foot

Travis Pastrana’s X-Games came to a quick end on Thursday when the Motocross and rally racing star crashed his dirt bike, breaking his right ankle and foot. Pastrana had attempted a 720-degree spin with a flip—a trick he calls the “toilet paper roll”—as part of the Moto X Best Trick event, his first competition of the games. He tried it twice, but crashed both times and broke his right foot and ankle on the second attempt. He will require surgery and will likely withdraw from the games. Pastrana was scheduled to compete in the Moto X Freestyle and the Rally Car RallyCross events, as well as drive in his first-ever NASCAR race on Saturday—all part of a packed summer schedule he called “Pastranathon.” Jackson Strong, a 19-year-old Australian, won the Best Trick with a front flip. Strong's flip is the first to be landed in competition on a motocross motorcycle.

Read more at the LA Times


    Photo: CedarBendDrive/Flickr

Pilot Survives 17 Hours After Crash

Fishing boat finds man after 15-mile swim

A New York pilot who crashed his private plane into Lake Huron, 14 miles off the coast of Michigan, tread water for 17 hours before a fishing boat rescued him Wednesday morning. Michael Trapp, 42, was flying to visit family in Wisconsin on Tuesday afternoon when the engine in his 1966 Cessna 150 plane failed. The 50-mile-per-hour impact blew out the plane's windshield and left Trapp no time to take a life jacket or rescue beacon before the plane sank. As afternoon turned into evening, Trapp could see fishing boats but was unable to reach them. By nightfall, he realized that his best chance for survival meant swimming. He ultimately swam some 15 miles, within sight of shore, before a strong current pushed him back into the lake. The effort left Trapp near exhaustion, but around 10:30 Wednesday morning, after more than 17 hours in the water, he caught the attention of a fishing boat by waving a sock in the air. After his rescue, Trapp was transported to Saginaw Hospital, where he remains in good condition. “If this would have been May or November, [his survival] would have been more unlikely," Coast Guard Officer Kyle Niemi told reporters. “The water temperature was on his side.”

Read more at MSNBC


Road through avalanche

Road through avalanche     Photo: Hamed Saber/Flickr

Storm Traps Hundreds on NZ Mountain

Road closure forces skiers into lodge

Strong winds and heavy snow on Tuesday stranded more than 250 skiers and snowboarders overnight at a ski lodge in Cantebury, New Zealand. Operators at Mount Lyford closed the mountain's parking lot late Tuesday afternoon as snow threatened to avalanche across the resort's access road. That left some 250 people, including dozens of kids, with no choice but to spend the night in a lodge at the base of the mountain. Resort staff provided what food was available and a few mattresses, but turned off a generator that was heating the building in an effort to ration power. "I don't think—by the wildest stretch of the imagination—you could say it was a comfortable night," skier Di Smit said in an interview with the New Zealand Herald. A grooming machine brought food to the lodge Wednesday morning, and the access road reopened at 2 P.M. Wednesday afternoon.

Read more at the New Zealand Herald