Across the Southeast

Hundreds honor late civil rights lawyer


RICHMOND, VA.- More than 1,200 people gathered at the Executive Mansion on Saturday to pay homage to Oliver Hill, the civil rights lawyer at the forefront of the court battle that outlawed America's segregated public schools.

Dignitaries, citizens and Mr. Hill's family members filed into the governor's home to view Mr. Hill's body, which lay in repose in a sun-splashed room adorned with bright orange flowers. Mr. Hill died Sunday at age 100.

"I really think this was kind of a validation of all that he'd done in his life," said Mr. Hill's son, Oliver Hill Jr., as he stood among a crowd of mourners. "It just lets us know how many people he touched, both black and white - and he really was instrumental in transforming the commonwealth."

An inscription on the inner lid of his casket read, "May the work I've done speak for me."

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Mr. Hill always saw the good in people and never became bitter despite the discrimination he saw.

"This is a changed commonwealth because of Mr. Hill," Mr. Kaine said.

In 1954, Mr. Hill was part of a series of lawsuits against racially segregated public schools that became the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, which changed America's society by setting the foundation for integrated education.

Man dies in 50-foot drop from waterfall

ERWIN, TENN. - A Georgia man vacationing in eastern Tennessee died after falling 50 feet off a waterfall, authorities said.

Jason Calcagni, 31, of Conyers, Ga., slipped at upper Spivey Falls in Unicoi County on Friday afternoon, said Sheriff Kent Harris.

His girlfriend, Heather Brannon, also of Conyers, was about to take his picture as he stood at the top of the falls when he fell, Sheriff Harris said.

"It looks like it probably broke his neck (and he had a) severe head injury," he said.

Sheriff Harris said the couple was renting a nearby house with two other friends and the owners of the house warn visitors not to climb the falls.

Church calls off gay veteran's memorial

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - A megachurch canceled a memorial service for a Navy veteran 24 hours before it was to start because the deceased was gay.

Officials at the nondenominational High Point Church knew Cecil Howard Sinclair was gay when they offered to play host to his service, said his sister, Kathleen Wright. But after his obituary listed his life partner as one of his survivors, she said, it was called off.

"It's a slap in the face. It's like, 'Oh, we're sorry he died, but he's gay so we can't help you,'" she said Friday.

The church's pastor, the Rev. Gary Simons, said no one knew Mr. Sinclair, who was not a church member, was gay until the day before the Thursday service, when staff members putting together his video tribute saw pictures of men "engaging in clear affection, kissing and embracing."

Police say boot camp workers dragged girl

BANQUETE, TEXAS - Authorities charged the director of a Christian boot camp and an employee with dragging a 15-year-old girl behind a van after she fell behind the group during a morning run.

Charles Eugene Flowers and Stephanie Bassitt of San Antonio-based Love Demonstrated Ministries, a 32-day boot camp for at-risk teens, are accused of tying the girl to the van with a rope June 12 and dragging her, according to an arrest affidavit filed Wednesday.

Mr. Flowers, the camp's director, ordered Ms. Bassitt to run alongside the girl after she fell behind, according to the affidavit. When the girl stopped running, Ms. Bassitt yelled at her and pinned her to the ground while Mr. Flowers tied the rope to her, according to the affidavit.

The girl was treated for scrapes and bruises on her stomach, legs and arms.

Mr. Flowers and Ms. Bassitt remained jailed Saturday on $100,000 bond each on aggravated assault charges.