June 30, 2006 in Nation/World

Boy dies after ride at Disney World

The Spokesman-Review

A 12-year-old boy died after riding a roller coaster Thursday at the Disney MGM theme park, the latest in a string of tragedies that have stung Walt Disney World in recent years.

Michael Russell of Fort Campbell, Ky., had ridden the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with his parents and 7-year-old brother. When the minute-long ride was finished, Byron Russell noticed his son was limp, pulled him off the ride and performed CPR until paramedics arrived, Orange County sheriff’s spokeswoman Barbara Miller said.

The boy was pronounced dead after he was taken by ambulance to Celebration Hospital at about 11:30 a.m., Disney said in a statement. The cause of death was not immediately determined.

The park closed the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster but said a preliminary investigation showed the ride was operating normally.


Cellular phones endanger drivers

Talking on a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, new federally funded research says , and it doesn’t matter whether you use a hands-free model or hold the phone up to your ear during the conversation.

The peer-reviewed study by University of Utah researchers is being published today in the quarterly Human Factors, the journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. The researchers and a $25,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration funded the study; the FAA is interested in impaired attention in pilots.

The cell phone industry has issued guidelines for drivers, but maintains under certain conditions it is safe to talk and drive.

The researchers recruited 40 men and women ages 22 to 34 and tested them as they operated a driving simulator. The test was performed on four different days – once when they were unimpaired and undistracted. On subsequent tests, each drove once while talking on a hand-held cell phone; once while talking on a hands-free phone, and once after drinking vodka and orange juice until they reached a 0.08 blood alcohol level.


Court says foster ban was wrong

Arkansas cannot ban homosexuals from becoming foster parents because there is no link between their sexual orientation and a child’s well-being, the state’s high court ruled Thursday.

The court agreed with a lower court judge that the state’s child welfare board had improperly tried to regulate public morality. The ban also violated the separation of powers doctrine, the justices said.

The board instituted the ban in 1999, saying children should be in traditional two-parent homes because they would be more likely to thrive.

Four residents sued, claiming discrimination and privacy violations against homosexuals who otherwise qualified as foster parents.

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