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Briefs: Lebanon Man Charged in Fatal September Accident; Beloved Gift Shop Turtle Celebrates 50th Birthday

  • /// To go with BC-US-ODD--Turtle Birthday Party on national wire. Permission form being sent separately. Diane the Turtle, wearing a party hat, celebrates her 50th birthday on Dec. 1, 2018, with her owner, Jim Tonner, at a gift shop Tonner runs with his brother in Bristol, New Hampshire. Brad Tonner photograph

Published: 12/4/2018 12:08:41 AM
Modified: 12/4/2018 9:13:05 AM
Police: Drive in Fatal I-91 Crash Was Under Influence of Marijuana

Norwich — Police say a 34-year-old Lebanon man was driving under the influence of marijuana when he caused a single-vehicle crash in September on Interstate 91 in Norwich that killed one of his passengers.

Keith Cushman, who suffered minor cuts and scrapes in the Sept. 3 crash, has been cited into court on two grossly careless and negligent operation charges, one with death resulting and the other with serious bodily injury resulting, according to a news release.

Theodore Haley, 37, of Hartford, was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.

Michelle Hayward, 37, also of Hartford, suffered a laceration to her head and a possible neck injury, the release said.

Police responded to Interstate 91 southbound in Norwich around 4:30 p.m. that day for a report of a GMC Sierra pickup truck that had traveled into the median and struck ledges. Haley was ejected from the truck and pinned underneath it.

Cushman was taken to the hospital after the crash. Toxicology results showed he had cannabis in his system at the time of the crash, the release states.

Vermont State Police Trooper Jeremy Lyon said on Monday that a drug recognition expert evaluated Cushman after the crash. When asked about the results of that examination, Lyon referred to the police affidavit, which hadn’t been filed in court.

Cushman is scheduled to answer to the charges on Feb. 19 in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction.

Beloved Gift Shop Turtle Celebrates 50th Birthday

Bristol, n.h. — A turtle given to a bedridden little boy in New Hampshire back in 1968 celebrated her 50th birthday with party hats, a sheet cake with the right number of candles and many well-wishers.

Diane the Turtle was given to Jim Tonner when he was 12 and being treated for hip arthritis at his home in Braintree, Masss. Years later, Jim, and his twin brother, Brad Tonner, opened a gift shop in Bristol, N.H., which became Diane’s home. Her tank is surrounded by photos of store visitors.

On Saturday, the store was crowded with visitors singing Happy Birthday to Diane, who wore a tiny party hat.

“Another animal might put their head back in their shell,” Jim Tonner said Monday. “Her head went straight out. It’s one of the funniest things you’ve ever seen.”

The brothers have written and illustrated books about Diane and set up a turtle webcam in their shop.

Tonner said when he was a child, turtles like Diane were popular pets, but many didn’t live that long. That’s why she’s so unusual, he said.

Today, the 4-pound turtle is thriving. Her favorite foods are strawberries and romaine lettuce. But don’t worry about the ban on that salad green; Tonner grows his own romaine.

“That’s why she’s 50 years old,” Tonner said with a laugh.

Invasive Longhorned Tick Found For 1st Time in New England

Providence, r.i. — An invasive tick species native to Asia that’s been spreading across the eastern United States has been found for the first time in New England.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said on Monday the longhorned tick was spotted in Connecticut this fall, marking the first finding of the pest in New England.

The tick is known for transmitting disease to livestock and wild animals. The department is asking livestock producers and wildlife rehabilitators to check animals for the tick. It hasn’t been linked to human diseases in the United States, but it’s been known to spread a potentially deadly virus to humans in Asia.

The first longhorned tick in the United States was found last year in New Jersey. Since then the ticks have been spotted in several states.

— Staff and wire reports

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