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Quinns could be home by Tuesday

It looks like the earliest that Ken Quinn and his family will be returning to Lakewood Ranch will be Tuesday.

The second mate of the Maersk Alabama is in the midst of conducting a series of national interviews for — among others — “20/20,” “Dateline” and the “Colbert Report” on how the crew of the U.S. flagged cargo ship fought off a hijacking attempt by Somali pirates last week.

Contacted Friday at a hotel in New York City, where he is staying with his wife Zoya and children, Jason, 3, and Justin, two months, Quinn said he was enjoying his return and the round of interviews.

“We’re having a blast. We are getting ready to go to Central Park,” Quinn said.

All of the Maersk Alabama crew, with the exception of Captain Richard Phillips, arrived in the United States on Thursday.

Phillips was to return to his home in Vermont on Friday. Phillips had surrendered himself to the pirates in exchange for the lives of his crew and release of his ship.

After negotiations with the pirates failed to win the release of Phillips, Navy SEAL marksmen shot three of them to death. The elite SEAL team opened fire after seeing a pirate holding an AK-47 assault rifle on Phillips. He was aboard the USS Bainbridge when it was diverted to fend off a hijacking effort by pirates on another ship. Phillips return to the U.S. was delayed a day.

Although the arrival date and time for the Quinns to Lakewood Ranch has not been firmed up, local residents are preparing a welcome home on Main Street, possibly including a marching band and cheerleaders.

“Everyone seems to be pretty excited to be involved,” said Rachel Gray, events coordinator for Lakewood Ranch.

James A. Jones Jr., editor, can be contacted at 708-7916.