Transportation officials look into highway collapse

n OROVILLE, Calif. - Crews worked Wednesday to reopen a highway blocked since construction materials for an overpass collapsed, dumping tons of debris on a passing truck.

A worker who fell 50 feet to the ground with the tumbling debris was upgraded Wednesday to fair condition. The driver of the truck that was partially crushed escaped with minor injuries.

Highway 149 remained closed through the work site where an estimated 70 tons of steel fell, as crews worked to stabilize the remaining structure.

Tropical Storm Erick forms in open Pacific

n MIAMI - Tropical Storm Erick formed in the open Pacific early Wednesday, but is miles from land and not expected to become a threat, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm was centered about 1215 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja, Calif., and more than 2,000 miles from the Hawaiian islands, hurricane specialist Richard Pasch said.

Soldiers in prison for killing Iraqi family testify in comrade's court-martial

n FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - A soldier in prison for conspiring to rape an Iraqi girl and kill her and her family testified Wednesday that statements he previously made implicating a comrade in the attack were false.

Spc. James Barker, serving an 80-year prison term through a plea agreement that removed the death penalty as a possibility, took the stand in the court-martial of Pfc. Jesse Spielman.

Prosecutors do not say Spielman took part in the rape or murders, but that he served as a lookout. He can be convicted of murder and rape under military law if they can prove he went to the house knowing what the others intended to do.

NASA races to fix cabin leak aboard shuttle

n CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - With a launch countdown looming, NASA scrambled to fix a cabin leak aboard space shuttle Endeavour on Wednesday.

The leak was traced overnight to one of two pressure-relief valves in Endeavour's crew cabin, located behind the toilet but separate from the bathroom plumbing, said NASA spokesman George Diller.

Rumsfeld denies Tillman cover-up

n WASHINGTON - Ex-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other former Pentagon brass denied a cover-up and rejected personal blame Wednesday in the public deceptions that followed Army Ranger Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death in Afghanistan in 2004.

None of the witnesses said they could or should have done anything differently to prevent the mistakes that kept the truth from Tillman's family and the public.