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TRUCK-VAN COLLISION INJURES PRISON WORK CREW, DRIVERS

A tractor-trailer rig struck the rear of a van carrying a prison work crew Thursday, seriously injuring two of the inmates, according to the state Highway Patrol.

All 10 inmates in the van, the van's driver and the driver of the truck were injured in the crash.

The two most seriously injured were taken to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville, said Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Everett Clendenin. One was in serious condition, and the other in critical condition, he said. The others had minor injuries.

State Correction Department spokesman Keith Poston said the community work crew van was from Tyrrell Prison Work Farm in Columbia, a minimum-security facility with inmates either serving short sentences for minor crimes or within five years of release.

The crew performs tasks for municipal and county governments in the region, said state Correction Department spokesman Keith Acree.

The van was on U.S. 64 in eastern North Carolina when the crash happened about 10:30 a.m. The roads were slick from rain in the area earlier in the morning.

Woman pleads no contest
in death of infant girl

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) -- A woman who ran a day-care center in her home pleaded no contest to charges she gave a 3-month-old girl a lethal dose of cold medicine to make her sleep.

Paula Burcham, who accepted a plea deal Wednesday, was indicted last year on manslaughter and aggravated child abuse charges that could have brought a total of 45 years in prison upon conviction.

Under the plea deal, the aggravated child abuse charge was dropped and Burcham, 53, faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison at her sentencing Aug. 15. The deal also stipulates Burcham not baby sit for unrelated children under age 6.

Grace Fields died Dec. 18, 2001, from intoxication by diphenhydramine, an ingredient in many over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, the medical examiner found.

"We continue to maintain it's a tragic accident," said David Carmichael, Burcham's attorney.

The baby's mother, Tracy Fields, 32, a registered nurse, said she hopes for the maximum prison time.

Man killed in saving woman
from falling 5-ton boulder

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A hiker was crushed by a falling 5-ton boulder after he pushed a friend out of the rock's path, authorities said.

Seth Buhr, 22, was hiking with three friends in Big Cottonwood Canyon, about 15 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, when the boulder fell as the group was taking a break beside a waterfall Wednesday, Salt Lake County sheriff's spokeswoman Peggy Faulkner said.

A woman who saw the boulder yelled for everyone to get out of the way, and Buhr pushed her into a pool before the boulder crashed down on him, Faulkner said.

"She'd have been killed. He saved her life," Faulkner said. "Just a freaky accident. Nobody was above the rock.

"It's scary stuff, nature."

Catholic bishops will snub
talk show host appearances

BOSTON (AP) -- Two Catholic bishops said they will skip commencements at colleges that plan to honor television talk show host Chris Matthews, saying he supports abortion rights.

Worcester Bishop Daniel P. Reilly said he decided not to attend today's ceremony at the College of the Holy Cross "with a heavy heart."

But he said in a statement Wednesday that he couldn't support the school's plan to give an honorary degree to "a Catholic person who publicly espouses the view that, in some cases, people have a right to terminate a life in the womb."

James Timlin, the bishop of Scranton, Pa., said Thursday he wouldn't attend Sunday's ceremonies at the University of Scranton.

Timlin said Matthews "espoused a viewpoint on abortion, which Catholics believe to be contrary to the moral law."

Matthews hosts the MSNBC talk show "Hardball."

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