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story.lead_photo.caption First responders used ropes to reach this charter bus after it crashed into a ravine Tuesday near Loxley, Ala.

Bus falls into I-10 ravine; driver dies

LOXLEY, Ala. -- A bus carrying high school band members home to Texas from Disney World ran off a highway and plunged into a deep ravine early Tuesday in Alabama, killing the driver and injuring dozens, authorities said.

First responders used ropes to rappel down the 50-foot ravine in the middle of Interstate 10 and then had to cut some of the victims from the wreckage, said Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Mack.

The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known, but survivors from Channelview High School in metro Houston described being asleep one moment and tumbling through the air the next.

The school district said 40 students and six adults were on board.

One person died, driver Harry Caligone, while 37 people, mostly teenagers, were hurt, three seriously, authorities and the bus company said. Interstate 10 didn't reopen in both directions for about 10 hours after the accident occurred between Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla.

The injured were treated at hospitals or other facilities in Pensacola and southwest Alabama, medical officials said.

The sheriff said it wasn't immediately clear what caused the bus to enter the grassy median, which ends abruptly at a steep embankment where the interstate passes over Cowpen Creek. First Class Tours Inc., the bus operator, identified Caligone as a longtime driver with the company.

Ex-health secretary repays flight costs

WASHINGTON -- Former Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price repaid the government nearly $60,000 for his costs flying on private charters for official business, House Democrats revealed Tuesday.

Price was forced to resign last fall after President Donald Trump publicly expressed his displeasure over his travel on charter jets instead of commercial flights. The Treasury Department confirmed to House investigators that Price sent three checks totaling about $59,400 for travel expenses, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.,Cummings said.

As he fought to keep his job, Price apologized for the costly trips and promised to repay taxpayers. But White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also flew on some of those same trips, and Democrats want to know how much that cost.

In a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Cummings accused the White House of stonewalling document requests for travel information on Conway and other administration officials.

Oklahoma Rx-pot bill fails Senate vote

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A measure that would have legalized and regulated medical marijuana in Oklahoma failed to pass in the state Senate after concerns over anticipating a vote by residents.

Oklahoma voters will go to the polls June 26 to determine if a state question to legalize medical marijuana should pass.

Democratic state Senate Minority Leader John Sparks called it bad policy to pre-empt the public's vote on a state question. He said it could create confusion if both the bill and the state question passed.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Ervin Yen, has put his measure on a procedural motion to reconsider the vote.

Ex-aide to N.Y. governor guilty of fraud

NEW YORK -- Jurors convicted a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on federal bribery and fraud charges Tuesday in a trial that prosecutors said exposed the state capital's culture of backroom deal-making.

Joseph Percoco, who was once likened to a brother by the Democratic governor, faces up to 20 years in prison for his conviction on conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and soliciting bribes. Jurors who deliberated off and on for three weeks acquitted Percoco of extortion and one of the bribery charges he had faced.

The jury also convicted one of the businessmen charged with paying the bribes, Steven Aiello, an executive at a Syracuse-area development company, Cor Development. A second executive with the company, Joseph Gerardi, was acquitted.

The jury deadlocked and a mistrial was declared in the case of a fourth defendant, energy company executive Peter Galbraith Kelly. The U.S. attorney's office didn't immediately say whether it would seek a retrial.

Prosecutors said Percoco and his family accepted more than $300,000 in bribes, including a $90,000-a-year job for Percoco's wife, to clear hurdles with the state to build power plants.

Photo by AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma, File
Tom Price
Joseph Percoco (right), a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, faces reporters’ questions Tuesday outside federal court in New York.

A Section on 03/14/2018

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