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POSTED February 4, 2013 6:53 p.m.

Farmworker receives $1m for mangled arm

FRESNO (AP) — A Central California farmworker whose arm was mangled in a watermelon harvesting machine is getting a $1 million settlement.

A watermelon was stuck in the machine in September 2009 when 57-year-old Robert Ramirez Lopez tried to dislodge it and his left arm was crushed.

Lopez was working for farm labor contractor VMJ Professional Services at a facility owned by Double D Farms northeast of Coalinga.

The Fresno Bee says the case went before a mediator and it was settled two weeks before the start of trial. Three companies are contributing to the settlement.

Man struck by train in thick fog

TULARE  (AP) — The California Highway Patrol says a man was struck and killed by a train in Tulare County after returning to retrieve his lunch and other items from the car he had abandoned on the tracks.

CHP Officer Scott Harris said the man and his brother were on their way to work around 6 a.m. Monday when they became disoriented in thick fog and made a wrong turn onto the tracks about 15 miles south of Tulare.

Harris said the man drove about 100 feet down the tracks when his car got stuck. The men tried to dislodge the car, but abandoned it after they heard the coming train.

The man was struck when he returned to get the items. He has not been identified.

4 snowmobilers fined in Lake Tahoe wilderness

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (AP) — Four snowmobilers are facing hundreds of dollars of fines for riding in a federally protected wilderness south of Lake Tahoe.

Three riders were cited Jan. 21 and one on Jan. 22 in the Mokelumne Wilderness of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

The wilderness is in Alpine County west of Markleeville, where Forest Service officials say there are lots of other opportunities to snowmobile legally.

Dan Morris of the Carson Ranger District says the four violators were observed entering the wilderness directly next to the closure signs near Hope Valley. He says the fines run from a minimum of $425 to a maximum of $5,000.

Helicopter executives indicted from crash

REDDING  (AP) — A federal indictment accuses two men of falsifying the weight and takeoff power of a helicopter that crashed in Northern California more than four years ago, killing nine people.

The 25-page indictment released Monday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland names the former vice president and the maintenance chief of Carson Helicopters Inc., based in Grants Pass.

Steven Metheny of Central Point and Levi Phillips of Grants Pass are charged with conspiracy, fraud and endangering the safety of an aircraft. The Justice Department says the pair submitted false information to win more than $20 million in contracts for seven helicopters, including the one that crashed.

The crash killed nine men, including seven contract firefighters with Grayback Forestry of Merlin, Ore.


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