Woman, 87, dies in hospital after officer uses stun gun

Phyllis Owens apparently didn’t know day from night when she died at 87, an hour after sheriff’s deputies closed in on her as she reached for a handgun, an officer said Friday.

An officer hiding in the shrubbery around her rural home jolted the frail woman with a stun gun Thursday afternoon, and she collapsed. She died soon after in the hospital. The autopsy report said her heart disease was the cause of death.

Two Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies had gone to her wooded housing development near Boring after a man using a backhoe to replace her water line reported she had threatened him with a handgun, Detective Jim Strovink said. It was about 2:30 p.m.

“She came out waving the gun and had him up against the backhoe,” Strovink said. “She yelled at him, ‘What are you doing here at this time of night?’“

The worker called for help, and deputies arrived to find the woman on her porch. Approaching her, they talked her into putting down the weapon, police said, but she quickly picked it up again.

Owens had a history of heart disease.


Crane design becomes focus during manslaughter trial

A construction crane that collapsed and killed seven people in 2008 didn’t have a customary anchor to the ground, the engineer who designed it told a court Friday.

But “the design was sound and safe,” Peter Stroh testified at crane rigger William Rapetti’s manslaughter trial.

Rapetti wasn’t involved in designing the crane’s base. But his attorney has made it a focal point in the trial, suggesting the design set up the towering rig for a fall.

Prosecutors say Rapetti did a poor job of securing a nearly 6-ton piece of steel on the crane, and the piece fell and destabilized the nearly 200-foot-tall rig.

It toppled onto a midtown Manhattan block, killing six construction workers and a tourist, injuring two dozen others and leaving a swath of destruction.

Defense attorney Arthur Aidala says Rapetti followed normal industry practices and that the crane was compromised by other factors.


Polar bear habitat plan could affect oil projects

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell says an independent economic analysis shows the federal government has dramatically underestimated the potential effect of designating critical habitat for polar bears.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed 187,166 square miles as critical habitat for polar bears. Nearly 95 percent is sea ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Parnell said the areas account for almost half of Alaska’s oil production.

Fish and Wildlife estimated the economic impact at $669,000 over 29 years. But Parnell said an independent review estimates the costs could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The report concludes the designation would delay oil and gas exploration projects and reduce production.