Boy, 2, is critical after fall into canal

PHOENIX - Authorities say a 2-year-old boy remains hospitalized in extremely critical condition after falling into a Phoenix canal.

A passer-by saw the child in the canal Thursday morning and called 911.

People in the area tried to help save the boy.

KTVK-TV said a Phoenix police officer jumped into the canal and pulled the unresponsive child out of the water.

CPR was administered on scene and the boy was taken to a hospital.

His name hasn't been released, but police say the toddler had wandered from his family's apartment where he was being watched by his teenage siblings.

Education Dept. plans look at 'Redneck Day'

PHOENIX - The U.S. Department of Education plans to investigate a controversial "Redneck Day" celebration two months ago at Queen Creek High School.

One student wore a Confederate flag during the May 1 event. Civil-rights activists say that created a racially hostile environment.

The Rev. Jarrett Maupin says the DOE will "determine the remedy, including moderating conversations between school administrators and civil-rights community leaders to shape new policy and racism prevention measures."

The DOE's Office for Civil Rights says "the display of the Confederate flag concerns rights protected by the First Amendment."

But it also says in a letter that the investigation's scope "will be limited to whether a racially hostile environment was created due to language and actions that were not protected by the First Amendment."

Soldier from Cornville killed in Afghanistan

PHOENIX - A 25-year-old Arizonan was among three U.S. Army soldiers killed Tuesday in Afghanistan in an attack that used an improvised explosive device.

The Defense Department on Thursday identified the Arizona soldier killed as 1st Lt. Jonam Russell of Cornville, near Sedona.

The department said Russell and two other 3rd Infantry Division soldiers died when enemy forces attacked their unit.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered that flags at state buildings be lowered to half-staff until sunset Thursday to honor Russell and again the day he is interred.

She said Russell's death was a sobering reminder of the daily perils that military personnel face while carrying out their duties.

Russell was a graduate of Arizona State University.

Copters spread seed,

mulch over fire site

PRESCOTT - Helicopters are spreading seed and mulch over nearly 250 acres scorched by the Doce wildfire near Prescott last month.

The initial operation began Thursday morning and will focus on severely burned areas with deep soils.

Prescott National Forest officials say the seeding effort is intended to reduce the risk to soils and forest resources in the area.

The Daily Courier says recreation areas and trails around the Alto Pit site and the Williamson Valley trailhead will be closed during this week's operation. Those areas will be used as staging areas for the bucket drops.

The human-cause Doce fire began June 18 and charred dense brush and timber in the Granite Mountain Wilderness about seven miles northwest of Prescott.

Man, 21, facing child-abuse charges

PHOENIX - A 21-year-old Phoenix man faces child-abuse charges after allegedly telling police he burned and shook the 8-month-old daughter of his girlfriend.

Court documents released Thursday indicate that Adrian Xavier Ponce told police he burned the child with a cigarette lighter Tuesday afternoon and then violently shook her early Wednesday morning when the child could not sleep "presumably from the pain of the inflicted wounds."

Ponce faces nine counts of child abuse. It's not immediately known if he has an attorney.

Police said Sabrina Santos-Vasquez was taken to a hospital after police were called and told the child wasn't breathing.

Emergency-room personnel found at least eight burns on the face, body and hands. Medical scans also indicated a brain injury.

Police said Ponce was not the child's birth father.

The Associated Press