Election Section

News of the Weird

Wednesday September 18, 2002

Couple marries in a coal mine 

ASHLAND, Pa. — Some couples search the world over for the perfect wedding spot. 

A. John Dalton found it 400 feet below the earth’s surface. 

Dalton and his new wife, Sarah A. Yurkunas, were married Saturday in the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine, an anthracite mine that closed in 1931 and is now a tourist destination. 

A brief power outage nearly derailed the nuptials. But once power was restored, the wedding party and guests boarded the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train for the trip inside Broad Mountain. 

“I am the daughter and granddaughter of coal miners,” said Yurkunas, who grew up in Summit Hill, amid the region’s anthracite mines. 

But it was Dalton who suggested the venue, 1,800 feet into and 400 feet below the mountain’s peak. 

“You always hear of so much tragedy with mines, we thought, ’Why not connect them with something good?”’ he said. 

Ashland Mayor Rosemarie P. Noon, who officiated, said the site had at least one advantage. 

“For the rest of your lives,” she told the couple, “there is no place to go but up.” 


You never know... 

POCONO PINES, Pa. — One person’s reject can be someone else’s fortune. 

Just ask newly rich deli clerk Paula Buckley. 

The 21-year-old clerk at Pen Mart bought a $10 Power Play ticket because it was rejected by a customer — and then hit the $400,000 jackpot. 

Powerball tickets can’t be reissued the way other lottery tickets can, said Sally Danyluk, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Lottery Commission. 

Buckley, whose mother is the store’s manager, learned she had won Monday morning. 

“I ran the ticket through the machine and it said, ’Do Not Pay’ because it was a $400,000 winner, and we cannot pay those out at the store,” she said. 

The numbers were chosen by the machine at random. 

“The first thing Paula said was she was going to pay off her mother’s car. Her mom was hysterical, crying,” said Georgene Pechette, who works part-time at the store. 


Stay in the house 

FORREST CITY, Ark. — He’s no Harry Houdini, but he did manage to escape from a locked jail and return without anyone noticing — once. 

Upon Joseph Smith’s second attempt to escape the lockup and return undetected, he wasn’t so lucky. Smith, 33, was caught just hours after the escape and returned to jail. 

Tyrone Hall, 24, who also escaped with Smith, managed to elude capture by slipping back into the same window the two had pried open to freedom. He learned the trick from Smith. 

St. Francis County Sheriff Dave Parkman said Smith admitted to having used the same window Sept. 1 to escape, spent the night on the loose and returned unnoticed. It was Hall’s first reappearing act, the sheriff said. 

Smith had been held on a bench warrant and on a charge of driving on a suspended drivers license. Hall was held on two counts of breaking and entering, commercial burglary and theft. The two are now charged with second-degree escape. 

Both are now housed in a maximum security cell.