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macon.com Midday Update: Scouts praised for response after tornado hits camp; study says puttering about on golf carts has its risks; High Court sides with Guantanamo detainees again

Boy Scouts who came to each others’ aid after a tornado that killed four of their comrades and injured 48 people were hailed as heroes today for helping to administer first aid and search for victims buried in their flattened campsite.

Iowa rescue workers cut through downed branches and dug through debris amid rain and lightning Wednesday night to reach the camp where the 93 boys, ages 13 to 18, had huddled for safety through the twister. They and 25 staff members were attending a weeklong leadership training camp.

Lloyd Roitstein, an executive with the Mid America Council of the Boy Scouts of America, reminded reporters at a news conference today that the Boy Scouts motto is ‘‘Be Prepared.’’

‘‘Last night, the agencies and the scouts were prepared,’’ he said. ‘‘They knew what to do, they knew where to go, and they prepared well.’’

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver praised the boys for ‘‘taking care of each other.’’

Tornadoes also raked Kansas on Wednesday, killing at least two people, destroying much of the small town of Chapman and causing extensive damage on the Kansas State University campus.

The tornado through the camp killed three 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old, Roitstein said. A tornado siren went off at the camp, but the scouts had already taken cover before the siren sounded. There was no time to remove them from the isolated retreat, he said.

The boys had been in two groups when the storm hit the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in the Loess Hills. One group managed to take shelter, while the other was out hiking.

Boy Scout officials identified the dead as Aaron Eilerts, 14, of Eagle Grove, Iowa and Josh Fennen, 13, Sam Thomsen, 13, and Ben Petrzilka, 14, all of Omaha.

At least 42 of the injured remained hospitalized this morning, with everything from cuts and bruises to major head trauma, said Eugene Meyer, Iowa’s public safety commissioner.

Associated Press

Study: Puttering about on golf carts has its risks

Beware: Puttering around on golf carts can be hazardous to your health.

Those little vehicles that lurch and buzz past fairways and greens — and increasingly down suburban streets — might be a cost-saving alternative to gas-guzzling SUVs and cars. But a pair of studies released this week suggests they do have their risks.

The research found that over a four-year period, nearly 50,000 people were hurt in accidents involving golf carts.

One of the studies, by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said about 1,000 Americans are hurt on golf carts every month. Males aged 10 to 19 and people over 80 had the highest injury rates.

A separate study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said annual injury rates for golf carts increased 130 percent over 16 years ending in 2006. The report said falling or jumping out of carts accounted for the largest number of injuries, 38 percent.

‘‘Part of it is there are more people using them. Part of it is they are using them in more places,’’ said Tracy J. Mehan of the injury research center.

About half of the injuries occurred on golf courses or in other sports venues, such as football stadiums. The rest were on streets or residential property.

Associated Press

High Court sides with Guantanamo detainees again

The Supreme Court ruled today that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

In its third rebuke of the Bush administration’s treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court’s liberal justices were in the majority.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, ‘‘The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.’’

Kennedy said federal judges could ultimately order some detainees to be released, but that such orders would depend on security concerns and other circumstances.

It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than 6 years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The ruling could resurrect many detainee lawsuits that federal judges put on hold pending the outcome of the high court case. The decision sent judges, law clerks and court administrators scrambling to read Kennedy’s 70-page opinion and figure out how to proceed. Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth said he would call a special meeting of federal judges to address how to handle the cases.

Associated Press

WHAT'S COMING UP ON MACON.COM

— The Macon City Council continues a callback session today on Mayor Robert Reichert's budget. We'll let you know how it goes.

— We'll let you know if there's a verdict today in a Bibb County rape case.

— There's a public hearing tonight on animal control issues in Macon. We'll let you know what happens.

VISIT US AGAIN SOON

We invite you to check out our Web site again tomorrow for the Midday Update. Monday through Friday, Online Editor Beth MacFadyen will bring you timely information about what Telegraph staffers are working on, plus news we think you need to know immediately. Send feedback to bmacfadyen@macon.com

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