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Nation & World, July 3

Arizona

Investigators to probe firefighters’ deaths

Investigators from across the United States poured into the mountain town of Yarnell, Ariz., yesterday to figure out why 19 elite firefighters perished in an out-of-control wildfire and whether human error played a role in the tragedy.

The months-long investigation into the nation’s biggest loss of firefighters since 9/11 will look at whether the Hotshot crew paid attention to the forecast, created an escape route and took other precautions developed after a similar disaster in Colorado nearly two decades ago.

The team of about 10 investigators from various agencies also will look at whether the crew should have been pulled out before the fire exploded.

Overdose deaths rise in middle-aged women

Overdose deaths in the United States are rising fastest among middle-aged women, and their drug of choice is usually prescription painkillers, the government reported yesterday.

“Mothers, wives, sisters and daughters are dying at rates that we have never seen before,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which compiled the data.

The problem is one of the few health issues the CDC is working on that are clearly getting worse, he added.

For many decades, the majority of overdose deaths were men killed by heroin or cocaine. But by 2010, 40 percent were women – most of them middle-aged women who took prescription painkillers.

Florida

Prosecutor questions detective’s statement

A prosecutor in George Zimmerman’s murder trial yesterday tried to pick apart the statements of a Sanford, Fla., police detective who was a prosecution witness but gave testimony that seemed to benefit the defense.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked the judge to strike from the record a statement Detective Chris Serino made Monday in which he said he found credible Zimmerman’s account of how he got into a fight with Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the 17-year-old’s fatal shooting last year, arguing he acted in self-defense.

De la Rionda argued the statement was improper because one witness isn’t allowed to give an opinion on the credibility of another. Defense attorney Mark O’Mara argued it was proper because it was Serino’s job to decide whether Zimmerman was telling the truth.

Judge Debra Nelson told jurors to disregard the statement.

The Associated Press

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