X Games skier dies in Squaw Valley fall
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A professional free skier who competed in the Winter X Games died Wednesday after he fell and hit his head on a rock outcropping while taking a run down a steep chute at California's Squaw Valley.
C.R. Johnson, 26, was skiing with a group of friends when he fell while trying to negotiate a "very, very tight, rocky area," said Jim Rogers, a member of the Lake Tahoe-area resort's ski patrol.
He fell face-first, then spun around and struck the back of his head on rocks. Johnson was wearing a helmet, but Rogers said the helmet took a serious blow.
Ski patrol members were called shortly before 2 p.m. but were unable to revive him. Placer County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Ausnow said Johnson died on the slopes.
Rogers said Johnson was skiing recreationally with friends and not as part of a competition when he lost his balance on the steep slope in a part of the resort known as the Light Towers area.
Top Marine softens his stance on gays
WASHINGTON (MCT) — The commandant of the Marine Corps, who previously had publicly opposed lifting the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, on Wednesday softened his position by endorsing a Pentagon study of the issue.
In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Marine Gen. James T. Conway cautioned, however, that the study should focus only on how a change in military policy on gays and lesbians would affect the military's ability "to fight the nation's wars."
"That's what our armed forces are intended to do," Conway said. "That's what they have been built to do under the current construct and I would argue that we've done a pretty good job bringing that to pass. So my concern would be if somehow that central purpose and focus were to become secondary to the discussion."
Ex-officer is guilty in Katrina probe
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In Hurricane Katrina's chaotic aftermath, police shot six people — killing two — as they crossed a bridge in search of food. For years the case was a shocking symbol of the confusion and violence that swept through the flooded city. On Wednesday it became a mark of shame for the police department.
As victims' relatives watched from the courtroom gallery, a retired lieutenant who supervised the department's probe of the shootings pleaded guilty to orchestrating a cover-up to conceal that police gunned down unarmed civilians.
Michael Lohman, a 21-year veteran of the force, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Prosecutors said Lohman and other unidentified officers conspired to fabricate witness statements, falsify reports of the incident and plant a gun in an attempt to make it appear the killings were justified.
San Diego officials seek missing family
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A middle-class family of four vanishes, leaving their dogs unattended and rotting food in their San Diego County home.
Their abandoned car is later found near the Mexico border.
It might sound like a TV mystery, but the reality has relatives of the McStay family pleading for help and law enforcement searching both sides of the border for clues.
On Wednesday, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department released photographs of Joseph McStay, 40; his wife Summer, 43; and their sons Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3.
The family has not been seen or heard from since Feb. 4. Their white, 1996 Isuzu Trooper was found four days later in a strip mall in San Ysidro, about 70 miles from their home in Fallbrook, sheriff's Lt. Dennis Brugos said.