Fan dies after fall from upper deck at Braves game

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The man fell during the seventh inning of Saturday's game into a lower-level stand.

A fan plunged to his death from an upper deck at Turner Field during a game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees.

Gregory K. Murrey, 60, of Alpharetta, Georgia died after falling during the seventh inning of Saturday’s game into a lower-level stand, according to Mary Beth Hauptle, an investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner.

The fall immediately followed the introduction of Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez as a pinch hitter. The game wasn’t delayed while medical personnel treated the man for about 10 minutes, applying CPR before putting him on a backboard.

Murrey was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital a short time later.

RELATED: Yankees react to fan who fell at Turner Field

Investigators have not determined what caused Murrey to fall, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and an autopsy will be conducted to determine whether alcohol was a factor.

This is the second fan to die from a fall at Turner Field in two years; a third person died in 2008, the Journal-Constitution reported.

In 2013, an Atlanta Braves fan fell from the upper deck during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies, and later died.

‘Awakenings’ author, neurologist Oliver Sacks dies at 82

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Sacks announced in February 2015 that he was terminally ill with a rare eye cancer that had spread to his liver.

Dr. Oliver Sacks, whose books like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” probed distant ranges of human experience by compassionately portraying people with severe and sometimes bizarre neurological conditions, has died. He was 82.

Sacks died Sunday at his home in New York City, his assistant, Kate Edgar, said.

Sacks announced in February that he was terminally ill with a rare eye cancer that had spread to his liver.

As a practicing neurologist, Sacks looked at some of his patients with a writer’s eye and found publishing gold.

In his best-selling 1985 book, he described a man who really did mistake his wife’s face for his hat while visiting Sacks’ office, because his brain had difficulty interpreting what he saw. Another story in the book featured autistic twins who had trouble with ordinary math but who could perform other amazing calculations.

Discover magazine ranked it among the 25 greatest science books of all time in 2006, declaring, “Legions of neuroscientists now probing the mysteries of the human brain cite this book as their greatest inspiration.”

Sacks’ 1973 book, “Awakenings,” about hospital patients who’d spent decades in a kind of frozen state until Sacks tried a new treatment, led to a 1990 movie in which Sacks was portrayed by Robin Williams. It was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Still another book, “An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales,” published in 1995, described cases like a painter who lost color vision in a car accident but found new creative power in black-and-white.

It also told of a 50-year-old man who suddenly regained sight after nearly a lifetime of blindness. The experience was a disaster; the man’s brain could not make sense of the visual world. It perceived the human face as a shifting mass of meaningless colors and textures.

After a full and rich life as a blind person, he became “a very disabled and miserable partially sighted man,” Sacks recalled later. “When he went blind again, he was rather glad of it.”

MORE: Column: Oliver Sacks, RIP: 1933-2015

Despite the drama and unusual stories, his books were not literary freak shows.

“Oliver Sacks humanizes illness … he writes of body and mind, and from every one of his case studies there radiates a feeling of respect for the patient and for the illness,” Roald Hoffmann, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, said in 2001. “What others consider unmitigated tragedy or dysfunction, Sacks sees, and makes us see, as a human being coping with dignity with a biological problem.”

When Sacks received the prestigious Lewis Thomas Prize for science writing in 2002, the citation declared, “Sacks presses us to follow him into uncharted regions of human experience — and compels us to realize, once there, that we are confronting only ourselves.”

In a 1998 interview with The Associated Press, Sacks said he tries to make “visits to other people, to other interiors, seeing the world through their eyes.”

His 2007 book, “Musicophilia,” looked at the relationship between music and the brain, including its healing effect on people suffering from such diseases as Tourette’s syndrome, Parkinson’s, autism and Alzheimer’s.

“Even with advanced dementia, when powers of memory and language are lost, people will respond to music,” he told the AP in 2008.

Oliver Wolf Sacks was born in 1933 in London, son of husband-and-wife physicians. Both were skilled at recounting medical stories, and Sack’s own writing impulse “seems to have come directly from them,” he said in his 2015 memoir, “On the Move.”

In childhood he was drawn to chemistry (his 2001 memoir is called, “Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood”) and biology. Around age 11, fascinated by how ferns slowly unfurl, he set up a camera to take pictures every hour or so of a fern and then assembled a flip book to compress the process into a few seconds.

“I became a doctor a little belatedly and a little reluctantly,” he told one interviewer. “In a sense, I was a naturalist first and I only came to individuals relatively late.”

After earning a medical degree at Oxford, Sacks moved to the United States in 1960 and completed a medical internship in San Francisco and a neurology residency at the University of California, Los Angeles. He moved to New York in 1965 and began decades of neurology practice. At a Bronx hospital he met the profoundly disabled patients he described in “Awakenings.”

Among his other books were “The Island of the Colorblind” (1997) about a society where congenital colorblindness was common, “Seeing Voices” (1989) about the world of deaf culture, and “Hallucinations” (2012), in which Sacks discussed his own hallucinations as well as those of some patients.

In the AP interview, Sacks was asked what he’d learned from peering into lives much different from the norm.

“People will make a life in their own terms, whether they are deaf or colorblind or autistic or whatever,” he replied. “And their world will be quite as rich and interesting and full as our world.”

Sacks reflected on his own life in 2015 when he wrote in the New York Times that he was terminally ill. “I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions,” he wrote.

In the time he had remaining, he said, he would no longer pay attention to matters like politics and global warming because they “are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people. … I feel the future is in good hands.”

“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. … Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

Moravian College abandons Boyd Theatre plan

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Without a lead donor to contribute as much as $15 million toward the project, Moravian College announced Tuesday that officials are abandoning plans to purchase and renovate the vacant Boyd Theatre.

Moravian has withdrawn its purchase agreement for the Boyd property in the first block of West Broad Street in Bethlehem. The college and its development partner, J.G. Petrucci, had extended its original agreement until Sept. 1.

The college estimated it would cost $22 million to $30 million to purchase and renovate the building, depending on deferred maintenance and extensive water damage, according to a statement from President Bryon Grigsby.

Moravian was willing to contribute to the project, but was unwilling to fund the entire renovation because of other planned projects, he said. The school recently announced plans to build a health science building on its campus in a block bordered by  Main, Durham, Orchard and West Laurel streets.

Working in conjunction with St. Luke’s University Health Network, Moravian also plans to renovate the former Bethlehem Racquetball Club into a sports medicine center.

The college looked to secure a “lead donor” for the Boyd project to donate between $12 million and $15 million along with money from other private donors and government funding, Grigsby said. Officials had hoped to expand Moravian’s theater program and bring live theater downtown.

“As was made clear at the outset of this project, we needed support from donors and civic leaders to make this project happen,” Grigsby said in a prepared statement. “We wish owner Joyce Heydt and potential new developers all the best in the restoration of the Boyd Theatre property,”

While we are disappointed we couldn’t make the Boyd part of Moravian College, we remain committed to bringing live theater to downtown Bethlehem and believe it would be a valuable economic driver for the city and a significant addition to the our curriculum,” he said.

Allentown teachers claim pension issue ongoing, district disputes

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The district says it is current on pension reports to the state fund.

Allentown teachers report that recent retirees are being told the state pension fund still does not have their retirement information but the district says it is up to date.

Earlier this month, Allentown School District teachers told the school board that the district was not keeping up with its pension fund contributions.

But the district and a Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System spokeswoman explained the district was only behind on submitting reports detailing employee contributions, not the payments themselves.

RELATED: Pension payment plans don’t add up, Allentown teachers complain

Thursday night Allentown teacher’s union President Debbie Tretter told the school board that she is continuing to hear from some 2015 retirees that the state does not have their termination data.

“They deserve the retirement money they have earned over the years,” Tretter said.

District CFO Jack Clark said all the reports on recent retirees are up to date.

“They’ve been working a lot of overtime on it,” Clark said of the payroll staff.

If any retirees are encountering issues the payroll staff can assist them, he said.

“PSERS continues to reassure us there won’t be a delay with the start of payments in October,” he said.

PSERS spokeswoman Evelyn Williams explained earlier this month that the pension fund had Allentown’s payments but the reporting lag just meant it wasn’t being reflected in individual accounts.

Pension payments are determined by a formula outlined in state law.

PSERS typically tells retirees they can expect their first check four to six weeks after July 20, Williams said. A late report won’t jeopardize benefits from being issued, a member just might receive an estimated benefit that will be reconciled down the line, she said.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo. Find on Facebook.

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Man resuced after falling down embakment

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Crews rushed to Northampton County this evening for a steep terrain rescue.

Officials said a man riding a tractor fell down an embankment along a bike path in the Freemansburg Park area near Third and Main Street.

Crews rescued the man and he was taken to the hospital.

No word on how badly he was hurt.

Kutztown student-athletes raise money for cancer charities

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Kutztown University’s student-athletes competed to raised money to fight cancer Saturday afternoon.

The student-athletes teamed up with a national organization for the inaugural Childhood Cancer Olympic Games. The event was held Saturday at Andre Reed Stadium.

The event raised money for Angel 34 and the Lehigh Valley Specialty Care Facility. The student athletes represented several children fighting cancer by competing in various events.

Athletes from the university’s field hockey, women’s soccer, cheerleading, football, cross country, track & field, women’s basketball, volleyball and baseball participated in the event.

Charity hopes to create home for veterans in Phillipsburg

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Fundraising has been slow, and town officials are not aware of any plans.

Tom Frodella estimates he needs $500,000 to create a shelter for homeless veterans in Phillipsburg.

In about a month, his online fundraiser has gained less than $500.

“I think we’re going to get this money. I really do. I have no doubts that we’re going to have the funds to do what we need to do,” Frodella said. “I’m a believer.”

Emmaus for Veterans seeks to refurbish Phillipsburg buildingEmmaus for Veterans, a charity based in Riverdale, N.J., is trying to raise funds to buy and convert this building at 518 South Main Street in Phillipsburg into a shelter for homeless veterans. (Steve Novak | For

His Riverdale, N.J.-based charity, Emmaus for Veterans, wants to turn a former convent at 518 S. Main St. into a shelter for homeless veterans and a place to train them in workforce skills.

Phillipsburg officials said they are unaware of the plans.

“We have to know what the ideas are before we can say whether or not it’s a great idea,” Mayor Harry Wyant Jr. said. “They’ve got the cart before the horse. They’re looking for money before they’ve got any approvals.”

The building’s seller, Easton resident Mark Reda, said there have been some preliminary discussions with town zoning officials. Frodella said he plans to have a presentation for the town sometime in the next month.

Emmaus for Veterans has never attempted anything like this before. Most of the projects have been small, like bringing dinners or living supplies to veterans in hospitals.

In videos posted over the last few months on Facebook and GoFundMe, Frodella describes plans to house 25 veterans, have a small restaurant operating on the first floor, and computer rooms and classrooms elsewhere in the building.

To donate please go to

Posted by Emmaus for Veterans on Tuesday, August 4, 2015

“When you have a passion to do something, that helps you heal. … Also, when you’re helping someone else, that helps you forget your own problems,” he says in the video.

Wyant said the group must go before the land use board to get approvals for their ideas.

“We have to do so much more than our government is doing for our veterans,” he said. “But you’ve got to come in.”

Some residents in the 500 block said they would not mind a shelter for veterans, as long as it is safe for the neighborhood. Reda said the veterans who will be housed will have completed a two-year program with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to clear them of any issues like post-traumatic stress disorder.

“They served their country,” said resident Ted Vegh. “If they need a little help to get back on their feet, I’m OK with it.”

About the charity

Emmaus for Veterans, named for a Biblical town, was started in 2012. Frodella, the CEO, described himself as a deacon and an Army veteran with a background in drug and alcohol counseling.

It is registered as a public charity with the IRS.

The charity’s website is

Steve Novak may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @type2supernovak. Find on Facebook.

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Barbers donate back-to-school haircuts

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A group of barbers gave back to the Reading community Saturday by offering children free hair cuts for the new school year.

The free hair-cutting event was held at Samayas Multi-Service in the 1100 block of Chestnut street. Big crowds came and for a raffle to win school supplies.

Old-style quinceanera in Bethlehem accents heritage (PHOTOS)

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The traditional Latina 15th birthday celebration is symbolic of a girl's passage from childhood into womanhood.

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The Cordero family wanted their daughter’s birthday to be special.

And special it was.

The Northampton-area family held a traditional quinceanera — a 15th birthday party in the Latina culture that celebrates a girl’s coming of age from childhood to adulthood.

The party Saturday night enlivened the Bethlehem Masonic Temple Lodge 283, the Wyandotte Street landmark that is pulling up stakes and sold.

About 150 guests and a salsa band honored Analiese Cordero, who is starting 10th grade at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts.

A pastor officiated a ceremony at the start of the quinceanera that included a crowning, a Bible presentation and a pair of new shoes.

RELATED: Bethlehem’s historic Masonic Temple is sold

“The crowning is basically saying that she’s a princess of God,” said Analiese’s mother, Bernardette Datis-Cordero. “She receives a Bible to help her walk her path. And her father changing her shoes is symbolic of changing from a little girl to a young lady.”

Analiese’s three younger siblings brought the new shoes into the hall.

After the religious ceremony, Alejandro Cordero took his daughter’s hand for the traditional father-daughter dance. They danced to Mark Harris’ “Find Your Wings.”

“It’s a beautiful song about her dad seeing her become this beautiful person and him cherishing her and cheering her as she goes on in life,” Datis-Cordero said.

The event held special meaning for Alejandro Cordero. He grew up on South Side Bethlehem. The family spent months planning the quinceanera and has tried to instill in their children the history and heritage of their culture, the Corderos said.

“It’s rare that people do it any more,” Datis-Cordero said of the formalities of the quinceanera. 

Analiese wore a gown and her 10-member court of friends — none are of Latino heritage — spent weeks practicing the dances and traditions they experienced Saturday night. Analiese and her court danced a waltz and a traditional bachata early in the evening.

“We’re a very united family that really cherishes the Hispanic traditions,” Datis-Cordero said. “This is a piece that our kids didn’t want to miss out on. They cherish having the community and family and friends get together like this. We want to teach our kids that it’s about giving back and striving to be best you can.”

The Corderos have been married nearly 20 years. They considered saving the money and organizing a less formal affair but decided the effort and expense to uphold a piece of their past was worth it.

“To give them this is so meaningful and special,” she said. “To us, it’s a day we can show our children how much we appreciate them and honor them and just be thankful for having them. It’s a day for us to know how much we love them.”

Jim Deegan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jim_deegan. Find lehighvalleylive on Facebook.

Family hopeful new Lehigh Valley VisionWalk can help end blindness

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A Warren County family has taken part in the Philadelphia VisionWalk since 2011, but wanted to start one closer to home.

When Mark and Susan DeVoe’s son was diagnosed five years ago with a retina condition called choroideremia, the Washington Borough couple feared he would eventually become permanently blind.

While the 10-year-old’s eyesight has significantly worsened in recent years, the DeVoes are far more hopeful, with what they say are five promising research projects into reversing macular degeneration.

“The breakthroughs right now in retinal research are unbelievable,” Susan DeVoe said. “You don’t have to live this way anymore.”

The big challenge, however, is having enough money to fund the research, she said. That’s why the DeVoes were instrumental in bringing a new fundraiser to the area. The Lehigh Valley VisionWalk is taking place Sept. 26 at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

All of the walk proceeds will go to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which has raised more than $37 million through VisionWalks since 2006, foundation Events Director Katie Van Benschoten. The foundation’s main focus is researching cures for retinal degenerative diseases, and between 75 to 80 percent of all of its money goes to research, Van Benschoten said.

“There’s no registration fee to participate in the walk – everyone is welcome,” she said. “We do our fundraising through donations.”

The DeVoes hope the Lehigh Valley VisionWalk will raise $50,000. Participants can run a 5k course or walk a shorter course, they said.

The DeVoes have taken part in the Philadelphia VisionWalk since 2011, but after meeting many other Warren County and Lehigh Valley families affected by retinal degenerative diseases, they wanted to start a closer walk. The DeVoes also hope the families involved in the Lehigh Valley VisionWalk will coordinate future events and support groups.

“The hard part we find is a lot of the families we found that are affected by rental diseases are very private,” Mark DeVoe said. “Our goal is to let them know they don’t have to do it by themselves, they don’t have to be alone.”

RELATED: Easton holiday concert raises thousands of dollars to fight genetic eye disease

The DeVoes also organize an annual holiday concert at Easton’s State Theatre to benefit their Angels for Mark Foundation, which is dedicated to choroideremia research. The Lehigh Valley VisionWalk will benefit research into all retinal degenerative diseases, Mark DeVoe said.

Interested walk participants can sign up at

Lynn Olanoff can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @LynnOlanoff. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

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