Archive for Friday, June 20, 2003


June 20, 2003



Second lightning strike kills mountain climber

A college student survived a lightning strike while mountain climbing but was killed in a second strike about an hour later as he and his girlfriend waited out the storm, authorities said.

The body of Ryan Sayers, 20, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was recovered Tuesday, the day after he was killed on Steeple Peak in the Wind River mountain range in central Wyoming.

He and Katrin Birmann, 24, of Munich, Germany, were climbing a cliff on the 12,000-foot peak Monday afternoon when lightning first hit them 1,500 feet from the summit.

Removing their equipment, the couple decided to sit out the storm. But about an hour later they were hit by another lightning strike, and Sayers fell about 300 feet into a ravine.


Alligator in river kills 12-year-old boy

A 12-year-old boy swimming in the Dead River was dragged under and killed by an alligator minutes after two friends spotted the reptile in the water and screamed at him to get out.

The alligator -- estimated at 8 to 11 feet -- surfaced at least once with the boy, Bryan Jeffrey Griffin, in its jaws, but quickly disappeared Wednesday under the dark water, witnesses said.

On Thursday, sheriff's deputies trapped and killed seven 8- to 11-foot alligators in their search for the one that killed the boy.

The alligators will be examined in the laboratory for human tissue, bite patterns and fibers stuck in teeth to determine which one killed the boy.

Florida has had 12 other fatal alligator attacks since the state began keeping track in 1948.


Killer with dozing lawyer enters guilty plea

A convicted killer who won a new trial because his lawyer slept through parts of his case pleaded guilty to murder Thursday in a deal that spared him from a possible death sentence.

Calvin Burdine, 50, received consecutive life sentences for the 1983 stabbing of his lover and roommate, W.T. "Dub" Wise.

In 1984, Burdine was found guilty and sentenced to die. But a federal judge threw out the conviction because of evidence that Burdine's lawyer, Joe Cannon, slept for up to 10 minutes at a time during crucial testimony.

Prosecutors agreed to the deal because of "the guarantee that he would die in prison," Dist. Atty. Chuck Rosenthal said.

Washington, D.C.

Reading scores up among fourth-graders

Fourth-graders are showing they are better readers, the government said in a report Thursday.

At the same time, eighth-graders showed no improvement from four years ago, according to the 2002 National Assessment of Educational Progress, considered the country's report card.

Overall, less than one-third of fourth-graders and eighth-graders showed they could understand and analyze challenging material. That skill level, defined as proficient, is the focal point of the test.

In Kansas, 34 percent of fourth-graders were proficient, compared with 30 percent nationally. The state's eighth-graders were at 38 percent, compared with 31 percent nationally.

Washington, D.C.

Air Force Academy inquiry released

Attention among Air Force Academy leaders to the issue of sexual assault has dwindled in the past six years, but there is no "systemic acceptance" of assaults, an Air Force investigation found.

In a report Thursday, an investigative panel identified a number of problems, including an authority structure that makes freshman cadets vulnerable to attacks, a sexual assault policy with an overly broad definition of what constitutes an attack, and alcohol use among the cadets.

The working group was formed in February by Air Force Secretary James G. Roche after female cadets alleged that leaders were dismissive of their complaints of sexual assaults and in some cases punished the victims for rules infractions.

The group, headed by Air Force general counsel Mary Walker, reviewed 142 reported assaults since 1993.

Washington, D.C.

FDA warns against children's Paxil use

No one under age 18 should be prescribed the drug Paxil for major depression because the adult anti-depressant may increase a child's risk of suicide, the government said Thursday.

Children and teenagers already taking Paxil should not suddenly stop the pills, the FDA stressed. Some doctors may think the drug is helping enough to keep a particular patient on the drug, which the FDA warning doesn't forbid. Those who do stop taking Paxil need medical supervision to avoid rebound side effects, the agency warned.

The FDA has never approved use of Paxil in children or teens. But some doctors prescribe the adult drug for children anyway.

The FDA asked makers of adult antidepressants to submit research showing how their drugs affect children. Three studies of Paxil found it didn't seem to help pediatric depression -- but FDA scientists spotted some concerns and ordered another analysis.

That reanalysis found the risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts was greater among Paxil users.

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