Thursday, May 6, 1993

Aiken Standard

Location: Aiken, South Carolina

Page: 10

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Text Content of Page 10 of Aiken Standard on Thursday, May 6, 1993

Aiken Standard (Newspaper) - May 6, 1993, Aiken, South Carolina Truck Driver Acquitted By The Associated Press EDINBURG, Texas - A jury cleared a truck driver who blamed faulty brakes for a collision that sent a school bus into a watery gravel pit, where 21 students drowned. “I’m not the killer,” 29-year* old Ruben Perez said, fighting back tears as he left the courtroom Wednesday night. Prosecutors had argued that Perez wasn’t paying attention when his Coca-Cola truck ran a stop sign in 1989 and knocked the bus over a 40-foot ledge. Perez was first charged with 21 counts of involuntary manslaughter, each carrying IO years in prison. Rut during the trial District Judge Fidencio ML Guerra Jr. reduced the charges to 21 counts of criminally negligent homicide, punishable by one year each. Perez’s lawyers argued that he was being made a scapegoat and that the blame rests with the truck’s owner and the manufacturer of the Mission School District bus, which they contended had poorly designed emergency exits. ‘ Better brakes and there’d be no dead children. Better bus, there’d be no dead children,” defense attorney Joseph Connors said. Valley Coca-Cola Bottling Co., which owned the truck, has paid $133 million in settlements to the families of the dead children and the 60 who survived. Blue Bird Body Co., which made the bus, has paid $23 million, Connors said. Neither has admitted liability. Man Drives His Car Into Canal After Getting Conned HIALEAH, Fla. (AP) - A distraught man drove his car into a canal and drowned after learning con men had cheated him out of his $7,000 life savings with a phony lottery ticket Ceferino Cruz, 81, died after fighting off a passerby who tried to pull him from his sinking car Tuesday, police said Authorities said Cruz agreed to give $7,000 to two men who claimed they had a winning lottery ticket but couldn’t cash it because they were illegal aliens. Cruz withdrew the money and handed it over; they gave him the ticket. After discovering the ticket was worthless, Cruz left a note to his family in Spanish. It read: “If you want me, 1 11 be in the 44th Place Canal near the monuments.” Police released a bank surveil lance camera photo Wednesday of one of the men suspected of conning Cruz and warned that the lottery ticket scam was especially j common in Hispanic neighborhoods, with many victims elderly immigrants. "We’ve had three this week so far,” Detective Omar Caraballo said Pregnant Women Face AIDS Test By The Associated Press WASHINGTON - Pregnant women infected with HIV will be enrolled in a trial to test the safety of experimental AIDS vaccines and to see if newborns can be protected from the fatal disease. Health and Human Services Sec-retary Donna E. Shalala announced plans for the vaccine trials on Wednesday. She said the vaccines will be tested for their therapeutic value for the pregnant women and to find out if any anti-HIV action is passed on the babies the women are carrying. Two vaccine trials will be conducted at eight different university research hospitals. About 75 percent of babies bom to women infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, never develop the disease. It’s unknown why some babies get HIV and others do not. It’s believed HIV is transmitted to the infants late in pregnancy or during the birth process. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it is hoped that the experimental vaccine will trigger antibodies that help the mothers fight their disease and that antibodies are also transferred into the babies. A similar procedure has been found to work for tetanus immunization. When pregnant women are immunized against tetanus, newborns are also protected from the disease by antibodies produced in their mothers. Both of the HIV vaccine trials will enroll women between the ages of 16 and 40 who are HlV-in-fected, but who have not progressed in the disease to the point of having AIDS. In one trial, 24 women will be enrolled. Sixteen will receive an experimental vaccine and eight will get a placebo, or a phony vaccine. In a smaller trial, nine women will receive another vaccine and three will receive placebo. The test is organized so that neither the women nor their doctors will know who is receiving the vaccine and who is getting the placebo. 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