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State briefs: Gas explosion victim dies of injuries

Explosion North Carolina

FILE - In a Thursday, April 11, 2019 file photo, firefighters walk through the parking lot of the collapsed building, in Durham, N.C., the day after an explosion and building fire caused by a gas leak killed one person and injured more than two dozen. An energy company employee who was critically injured in the explosion has died. UNC Medical Center spokesman Tom Hughes confirmed Thursday, April 25, 2019 that 51-year-old Jay Rambeaut of Creedmoor died. Hughes didn’t say when Rambeaut died, citing hospital policy. (Julia Wall/The News & Observer via AP, File)


The Associated Press

Friday, April 26, 2019

DURHAM — An energy company employee who was critically injured in a natural gas explosion in Durham has died.

UNC Medical Center spokesman Tom Hughes confirmed Thursday that 51-year-old Jay Rambeaut of Creedmoor died. Hughes didn’t say when Rambeaut died, citing hospital policy.

Rambeaut, who worked for PSNC Energy, was among the first on the scene in Durham when a gas leak was reported a half-hour before the explosion on April 10. Firefighters were working to get people out of nearby buildings when the explosion occurred.

Rambeaut’s family said as a result of the explosion, he had 150 holes in his chest from debris as well as a skull fracture and debris in his brain.

A coffee shop owner died and 25 others were injured, including nine firefighters.

Man settles claims he harassed renters

CHARLOTTE — A North Carolina man accused of sexually harassing 17 female renters or home buyers is settling a lawsuit with the government by paying the women $550,000 and exiting the real estate business.

The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday it resolved its lawsuit with Robert Hatfield of Wilkesboro accusing him of violating federal fair housing and credit laws.

The agreement Hatfield signed earlier this month specifies that he denies groping tenants and offering to cut or erase down payments or unpaid rent in exchange for sexual favors.

The settlement permanently bars Hatfield from the rental, sale, or financing of residential properties. He’s required to give up his ownership in all rental properties.

The Justice Department said the lawsuit is one of nine nationwide since 2017 that attacked sexual harassment in housing.

Board ponders parole for two murderers

RALEIGH — Two North Carolina killers serving life sentences for murdering family or acquaintances could be out on the streets in coming years.

The state parole commission said Thursday it is studying whether to grant parole to 49-year-old Arthur Vause and 58-year-old Dwight Dobson. Both were convicted of first-degree murder.

Vause stabbed his stepmother to death in 1988 after she allowed him and his girlfriend to stay in her Greensboro apartment. Vause left the body in the home, stole his stepmother’s car and $300 and tried to flee to Canada before giving up in Ohio.

Dobson was selling alcoholic drinks inside a Winston-Salem house in 1992 when he demanded a share of the money being wagered in a card game. Dobson shot and killed a bigger man who challenged his demands.

Racism protest leads to broken window

CHAPEL HILL — Some students at the University of North Carolina broke a window while trying to deliver a list of demands to the school’s interim chancellor.

Campus police said the Chapel Hill protesters found their destination closed Wednesday, so some of them pounded on the building, shattering at least one window. No one was injured or charged.

The protesters have been demonstrating for months about the Confederate Silent Sam monument and its removal. They say police unfairly target them at events where they clash with supporters of the statue.

Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz named members this week to a new commission on campus policing. He said an outside consultant will review previous clashes.

Fort Bragg suffers widespread power outage

FORT BRAGG — Fort Bragg Army base in North Carolina is suffering a widespread power outage.

News outlets report the base first mentioned the blackout late Wednesday and said no one knew when the power would return. A statement released early Thursday said the base is still open though many facilities are closed.

The outage also affected restaurants and commissaries on the base, which hosts about 52,000 soldiers.

The on-base Womack Army Medical Center said it’s operating under reduced capacity and certain appointments at all on-base clinics will need to be rescheduled.

The base says visitors should call 911 to report suspicious activity and service members should contact their chain of command to learn when to report for duty.

Poet laureate receives national award of $75,000

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s poet laureate is one of 13 in the country to receive the first Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow awards.

The North Carolina Arts Council says in a news release that Jaki Shelton Green will receive $75,000 in recognition of her literary merit and to support her youth poet program.

Green plans to launch “Literary ChangeMakers” to support youth poets engaged artistically in civic and community activism, social justice and youth leadership.

The 65-year-old Green is North Carolina’s first black state poet laureate. She said last year that she wants to bring poetry to marginalized communities.

Awards of $50,000 to $100,000 each were given to poets in Maryland, California, Washington state, South Carolina, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Pennsylvania and Arizona.