- - Friday, June 19, 2009

ARKANSAS

Cowboy rescues boy in well

DODDRIDGE — It was a cowboy to the rescue when a 7-year-old boy fell into an abandoned water well in southwest Arkansas.

Reed Nations pulled Jonathan Easter out of the well with a lariat Tuesday morning before rescuers summoned by his grandmother could arrive.

Jonathan was helping his aunt clear brush around an old house near Doddridge. He fell 20 to 30 feet down the well, which has sand walls. Mr. Nations came from a nearby ranch and used a rope lariat to pull Jonathan to safety.

Jonathan escaped with only a cut on his arm, Miller County sheriff’s deputy Alan Keller said.

GEORGIA

Worker safety lax in swine flu cases

ATLANTA — The first study of U.S. health care workers who contracted swine flu found that many didn’t do enough to protect themselves against the virus.

Researchers focused on 13 nurses and other health care workers who were likely infected at work in the early days of the U.S. outbreak. They found that only half always wore gloves, and even fewer routinely wore other protection around patients who might have the virus.

In late April — just as U.S. cases were first mounting — the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said health care workers should wear gloves, gowns, eye protection and respirator masks when dealing with patients suspected of having swine flu. The CDC also advised sick workers to stay home.

To date, about 80 health care workers have been confirmed to have swine flu. The study examined the 26 cases of infected workers with detailed information as of mid-May.

The study is being published this week in a CDC publication called Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The 80 cases of health care workers are out of the nearly 18,000 confirmed and probable U.S. cases reported as of last Friday. Those numbers suggest health care workers are underrepresented in the case counts, CDC officials said.

About 1,600 people have been hospitalized and at least 44 died, according to CDC numbers.

MISSISSIPPI

Slaying site OK’d for historic marker

PHILADELPHIA — A historical marker can be placed on a state highway near where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964, state officials said.

The marker request was made by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi.

On June 21, 1964, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were ambushed and later shot on a rural road. The slayings shocked the nation, helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were dramatized in the 1988 movie “Mississippi Burning.”

In 1967, seven men were convicted of conspiring to violate the civil rights of the three. In 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was convicted on three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to three 20-year consecutive terms.

CALIFORNIA

Station shooting trial set for October

OAKLAND — A former transit officer accused of murdering an unarmed man at an Oakland train station was ordered to stand trial in October, and his lawyer is asking to move the emotionally charged case to another city.

Johannes Mehserle pleaded not guilty Thursday to killing Oscar Grant, 22. Mr. Mehserle is accused of shooting Mr. Grant, a black man, on New Year’s Day after he was pulled off a train in connection with a fight.

Mr. Mehserle’s lawyer, Michael Rains, said Mr. Mehserle meant to use his Taser, not his pistol.

The case has fueled tension between Oakland’s black community and law enforcement. Mr. Mehserle is white. A change of venue hearing is scheduled for September.

UTAH

Competence hearing sought

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal prosecutors are seeking a competency hearing for the man charged in the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart in Utah following two independent evaluations of whether he is fit to stand trial.

The request was made Thursday in U.S. District Court in the case of Brian David Mitchell. He was indicted in March 2008 on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor.

Mr. Mitchell was evaluated by forensic psychologist Michael Wellner in April and at a federal facility in Springfield, Mo.

Mr. Wellner’s report was released to the judge and attorneys this week, but not made public.

Mr. Mitchell’s public defenders say he’s incompetent.

Miss Smart was 14 when she was taken from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002. She was found in March 2003.

OHIO

Mayor stops a teen fight

TOLEDO — Online video shows an Ohio mayor biking through a city park stepped into a fight to break it up, yelling at the teens and calling one a “fatso.”

A video posted on YouTube shows Toledo Mayor Carleton “Carty” Finkbeiner, 70, wading into the midst of about 20 young people.

He is heard yelling, “Come here, fatso” and “Tubby, get your butt out of here.”

The mayor’s spokeswoman said Mr. Finkbeiner was alone in late May, saw the highly charged situation and took action to stop it.

It’s not the first time Mr. Finkbeiner stepped in to keep the peace.

He once chased down a motorist who had driven through a red light and gave the driver a citizen’s complaint.

From wire dispatches and staff reports