Monday, December 21, 1998
Sheriff, county sued over deputy's firingBy PEGGY McCRACKEN
Reeves County Sheriff Arnulfo Gomez declined to comment this morning on a "whistle blower" lawsuit filed by a former employee.
Alfred Saldana, a former sheriff's deputy stationed in Balmorhea, filed the suit Friday in 143rd District Court, claiming Gomez fired him Sept. 28. Reeves County is also named defendant.
"No legitimate reason was given for this discharge," the suit alleges.
Saldana said he presumed the termination was because he had made a report to District Attorney Randy Reynolds about unlawful use of county jail inmates for labor purposes.
That incident involved a sheriff's deputy, a jailer and a guard at the Reeves County Detention Center who had a jail inmate paint a pickup owned by one of them. All three were suspended without pay following an investigation by the Texas Rangers.
Saldana said he gave a statement to Reynolds at Gomez's request after "the plaintiff had indicated to the sheriff that he had some knowledge of the allegations," the suit claims.
He seeks damages for lost wages and other losses, and to be reinstated.
County Attorney Walter Holcombe said he will not be representing the county in the matter, and County Judge Jimmy G. Galindo did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.
Louisiana trio face fines, restitution costs for poachingBy PEGGY McCRACKEN
Three Louisiana college had their Christmas vacation dampened last week by a fine for poaching mule deer.
Melvin Aaron, 28, Edward D. Schertler, 23, and Thomas E. Gibbens, 24, were arrested by Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens Jim Allen of Pecos and Robert French of Monahans on Dec. 14, a day after the 16-day mule deer season ended.
Justice of the Peace J.T. Marsh fined each $300 for hunting/possessing mule deer without a valid non-resident general hunting license and possession of untagged mule deer bucks.
A non-resident hunting license costs $250, French said. Each had a small-game license, which costs $35.
"They claimed to be hunting coyotes, but they didn't have any," French said.
French and Allen came across the deer camp southwest of Toyah Monday morning while checking for compliance with hunting laws. Noticing two antlers and a partial carcass, they set up surveillance and waited for the hunters to return.
"They showed up and started hunting again late that afternoon and started spotlighting after dark, then returned to camp and were removing meat from an ice chest in the camp and putting it into another ice chest when we made contact with them and began our investigation," French said.
Allen said he believes the deer were killed during the night of Dec. 13 or the morning of Dec. 14, noting that the season ended 30 minutes after sunset on Dec. 13.
"Those two sets of entrails where they had gutted the deer were fresh," Allen said.
French and Allen seized the deer and antlers for evidence. Restitution is based on the number of points, size and configuration of the antlers, French said. He estimated restitution for one 10-point buck at $4,000.
The Texas Attorney General's office will measure and evaluate the antlers, assess the amount of restitution and collect, he said. While the restitution remains unpaid, the trio will not be able to purchase a hunting license, Allen said.
"There are thousands of legal hunters, but there are always a few poachers," Allen said. "They hurt everyone, because wildlife belongs to everyone."
Poachers will continue to take deer illegally throughout the winter, Allen said, and game wardens will be on their trails.
Citizens are asked to report any game violations they see through " Operation Game Thief," a program similar to Crime Stoppers.
"They can get a cash reward up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of a poacher," French said. "They can call a local game warden or the toll-free state number at 800-792-GAME."
Man's condition critical after hit-and-run incidentBy PEGGY McCRACKEN
Jesus Olivas Ortiz, 57, remained in critical condition this morning at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa following an apparent hit-and-run accident early Sunday.
Pecos Police Investigator Freddy Contreras said that a passing motorist found Ortiz lying in the northbound lane of U.S. Highway 285 just north of the railroad tracks about 2 a.m. Sunday.
"The witness said when he crossed the tracks, he saw a body lying in the street. He stopped and stood in front of the body to stop traffic," Contreras said. "We feel it had just happened."
Ortiz was suffering from a head injury. He was taken to Reeves County Hospital by Pecos Ambulance Service, then transferred to Odessa.
Police located a black sports car that was reported near the scene, but it was not the suspect vehicle, Contreras said.
"We are continuing to look for a specific colored car or pickup," he said.
Contreras said that anyone who has information about the accident should call the police department.
Brookshire says heater caused south side fireBy PEGGY McCRACKEN
Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire has ruled that a fire at 2406 Country Club Drive last Wednesday night was an accident caused by a gas heater being too close to a bed.
Firemen had reported that a small child had stuck a piece of paper into the heater, then caught the bed on fire.
Brookshire said he has not talked to the firemen, but said, "I couldn't find any indication that a child had put paper into it."
He said he talked to the occupant of the house, Luz Jasso. "She doesn't know where he got the information," Brookshire said.
Mrs. Jasso telephoned the Enterprise to say that her child did not cause the fire.
Brookshire said that a neighbor who lives south of the residence noticed the fire and knocked out a bedroom window.
"She said all the fire was on the foot of the bed at the time," Brookshire said.
The heater was located about two feet from the foot of the bed, he said.
Mom undergoes surgery after delivering octupletsBy MARK BABINECK
Associated Press Writer
HOUSTON — Doctors knew the baby girl born to Nkem Chukwu two weeks ago would soon have plenty of company. Even they couldn't guess just how much, though.
Mrs. Chukwu delivered her daughter's remaining five sisters and two brothers Sunday, all members of the first known surviving set of octuplets. They ranged from 11 ounces to nearly two pounds, and all were on ventilators and listed in critical condition after birth.
There was no sure way to tell how many babies Mrs. Chukwu was carrying until she naturally gave birth to one on Dec. 8. Dr. Brian Kirshon had thought there were six or seven total until a post-delivery examination brought the startling news.
"It wasn't until after that baby was born that we knew we had eight," said Kirshon, an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk cases at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital.
The babies were born from 13 to 15 weeks prematurely. Even so, doctors said Mrs. Chukwu required nine weeks of drug therapy to forestall labor. Those drugs usually are administered for only three days to week, Kirshon said.
As a result, Mrs. Chukwu required surgery this morning to stop internal bleeding that were a side effect of the drugs, he said. He called the bleeding a "generalized ooze" from her abdominal wall.
"It was something not anticipated," Kirshon said. He said her condition was "stabilizing."
"Mom is a remarkable woman," Kirshon said. "She would go to any lengths to prolong this pregnancy."
Mom could go home as soon as a week, doctors said.
Mrs. Chukwu, a Nigerian native who now resides in Houston with her husband Iyke, had been taking fertility drugs. She conceived triplets last year but lost them midway through her pregnancy earlier this year.
Mrs. Chukwu had been taking three drugs to postpone labor, although Kirshon said giving birth to the early baby probably bought the other seven valuable time to mature. However, the littlest of the seven Sunday deliveries might not have survived much longer in the womb, he said.
The survival rate for babies born so young is 85 percent, doctors said.
"We're very hopeful all of the babies will survive, but they're critically ill newborns and we can't say for sure everything will be OK," said Dr. Patti Savrick, a pediatrician at Texas Children's Hospital, the adjacent facility where the babies were whisked one by one by a team of about 30 doctors and nurses during the 45-minute Caesarian section.
She said the eldest infant has been removed from a ventilator but is getting supplemental oxygen. The others remain on ventilators. All are sedated, she said today.
Dr. Leonard Weisman, chief neonatal specialist at Texas Children's Hospital, said he'll watch for lung and heart problems over the next few days. After that, metabolic problems and infections are a danger, he added.
Doctors said the babies will likely remain hospitalized for two or three months.
Mrs. Chukwu remained in stable condition Sunday night and could be discharged from the hospital by week's end. Her husband was not present for the deliveries and could not be reached for comment.
However, Kirshon said the father has visited the children and is excited by them.
"He's very excited about the pregnancy," he said.
The couple have no other children.
Asked if the couple was prepared for so many infants simultaneously, Kirshon said: "I think she has a realistic view on the difficulty and magnitude of what she has undertaken. She has good support from her mother and others."
Mrs. Chukwu was referred to Kirshon, who delivered five surviving sextuplets to another Houston-area woman last month, three months into her pregnancy. Doctors discussed with her the possibility of aborting one or more fetus to help the others' chances, but she declined, Kirshon said.
Mrs. Chukwu entered the hospital in early October and has been confined to bed for six weeks, Kirshon said.
To keep pressure off her lower body for the past 2« weeks, her bed was at an extreme incline with her head toward the floor, he said.
"I think she is remarkable in that she was able to tolerate extreme conditions, to lie upside down in that degree of discomfort and that degree of immobility," Kirshon said.
Mrs. Chukwu also was fed intravenously late in her pregnancy "to allow extra room for the babies to grow," Kirshon said.
The hospital had honored the couple's request for privacy. Word about the octuplets didn't emerge until tips were called in to local news outlets after the births.
Mrs. Chukwu's impending entry into the history books wasn't a topic of conversation leading up to Sunday's births, Kirshon said.
"I think she was so focused on having the babies survive, that didn't even come up," Kirshon said.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest multiple birth was nine babies in Sydney, Australia, in 1971. All the children died.
Three other octuplet births have been recorded in the past 13 years, but in each of the births, some of the babies died.
Rosario Clavijo, 31, of Huelva, Spain, became pregnant with the aid of fertility drugs and gave birth Dec. 5, 1996, to six healthy babies — four boys and two girls. Two children died.
In August 1996, a 32-year-old British woman, Mandy Allwood, conceived eight fetuses and rejected medical advice to abort some of them. All died, and she was criticized after she sold her story to a tabloid newspaper with a payment based on how many live births she produced.
On Nov. 19, 1997, Bobbi McCaughey of Carlisle, Iowa, gave birth to septuplets, the second set of septuplets to be born alive. All seven survived. She had also taken fertility drugs.
Mrs. McCaughey and her husband, Kenny were celebrating Christmas with their church family when they heard the news of the Chukwu octopulets.
"We wish them the Lord's blessing and a merry Christmas," the couple said through their Nashville, Tenn.,-based agent, Wes Yoder.
Juan JaquezJuan P. Jaquez, 66, died Sunday, Dec. 20, 1998, at Odessa Medical Center.
A rosary will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 22, at Harkey Funeral Home Chapel in Monahans.
Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 23, at St. John's Catholic Church in Monahans.
He was born March 27, 1932, in Ruidosa, Tx., was a retired truck driver and a Catholic.
Survivors include one brother, Richard Jaquez of Pyote; one uncle, Edwardo Perez of San Antonio; three nephews and four nieces.
Harkey Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
WEATHERHigh Sunday 64, overnight low 36. Tonight, cloudy with occasional flurries or light freezing drizzle towards daybreak. Lows in the mid to upper teens. East to northeast winds 5-15 mph. Tuesday, cloudy with occasional flurries or light freezing drizzle. Highs in the upper 20s. East to southeast winds 5-15 mph. Christmas day forecast, cloudy and continued cold with a slight chance of a wintry mix of light snow or freezing rain. Lows in the 20s. Highs in the 30s.
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.