News in Brief

Ky. reports 2 pediatric flu deaths

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky health officials are reporting the state’s first pediatric flu deaths.

Acting Department for Public Health Commissioner Jeffrey D. Howard said in a statement on Friday that two of the state’s 36 flu deaths so far have been children. The agency did not release further information about the juveniles. It said the average age for adults who have died from the flu is 75.

Howard said the deaths are a reminder of how dangerous the flu can be for younger and older populations. He recommended people take precautions to avoid getting the virus. If people do get sick, health officials recommend seeking medical advice and limiting contact with others.

Officials say the flu continues to be widespread in Kentucky.

1st trial date set in state lawsuit over opioid epidemic

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The first trial date has been set for a lawsuit by a state against pharmaceutical companies over the opioid epidemic.

Oklahoma is one of at least 13 states that have filed lawsuits against drugmakers, alleging fraudulent marketing of drugs that fueled the opioid epidemic.

State Attorney General Mike Hunter says a judge has granted his request for a May 28, 2019, trial date for the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, Allergan, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals and several of their subsidiaries.

The companies deny wrongdoing.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office says other states that are suing are Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington state.

Lawsuits by Native American tribes and dozens of local governments are also pending.

State lawmakers cancel Friday session as storm approaches

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers canceled their session for Friday due to weather forecasts that the state could be hit by a mix of snow and ice.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for parts of the state for Friday, and warned of potential accumulations of ice and several inches of snow.

The decision by state Senate and House leaders to skip Friday’s session allowed lawmakers to get home before the winter storm arrives. The decision was announced in each chamber on Thursday as lawmakers wrapped up their business for the day.

Former Kentucky coal executive joins Tenn. Valley Authority

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A former executive at a Kentucky coal company has joined the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors after a presidential appointment.

Kenneth Allen, of White Plains, in western Kentucky, spent five decades in the coal industry, most recently as chief operating officer at Armstrong Coal Company.

Allen was confirmed to the nine-member board by the U.S. Senate in December. He says in a release from TVA that he spent his entire career in the coal industry, but he supports TVA’s efforts to diversify its energy sources. About a quarter of TVA’s electricity production comes from coal.

Allen was one of four newly confirmed appointees to the board of directors along with James “Skip” Thompson of Decatur, Ala.; Jeff W. Smith of Knoxville, Tenn., and A.D. Frazier of Mineral Bluff, Ga.

Rape charges for man who hid in 13-year-old girl’s basement

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — A Maryland man has been charged with having sex with a 13-year-old girl who kept him hidden in her basement.

The News-Enterprise reports 20-year-old Domenico Antonio Bucci was arrested Wednesday. He faces up to 10 years if convicted on each of six counts of rape and sodomy.

An arrest warrant says the girl “snuck” Bucci into the family basement, where he hid for five days before the girl’s mother contacted police.

Police say Bucci met the girl online, and had sex with her multiple times despite knowing her age. He’s being held on $100,000 bond pending a Feb. 2 hearing.

Reward offered for stolen guns

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says there’s a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for stealing guns from a western Kentucky retailer.

A statement from the ATF says the guns were stolen Tuesday from Whittaker Guns in Owensboro. The statement says at least four people were involved in the theft of an unknown number of firearms.

Daviess County Sheriff’s Maj. Bill Thompson told the Messenger-Inquirer that between 40 and 50 firearms were taken.

Anyone with information about the theft can contact the ATF or the Owensboro area Crime Stoppers.

3 dead, including 2 children, in southern Ill. crash

METROPOLIS, Ill. (AP) — Authorities say three people are dead, including two young children, following a multi-vehicle crash in southern Illinois.

State police say 23-year-old Rachel E. Killian of Marion was on northbound U.S. highway 45 in Massac County on Thursday when she went off the right side of the road. Police say she overcorrected, swerving into oncoming traffic and colliding head-on with a car. An SUV hit that car.

Police say Killian and a 1-year-old in her car were pronounced dead at the scene. The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale reports a 3-year-old in Killian’s car later died. Other passengers in Killian’s car were taken to a hospital in Paducah, Kentucky. The driver of the other car had serious injuries.

All lanes of U.S. 45 were closed for more than three hours afterward.