Shuttle Launch Postponed

Because of Oxygen Leak

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- With just two hours remaining in the countdown last night, NASA called off the launch of space shuttle Endeavour because of an oxygen leak.

The seven astronauts had begun boarding the spaceship when mission managers delayed the flight. Shuttle officials said the flight to the international space station would be delayed at least a week.

A small leak had cropped up in the system that provides breathing oxygen for the crew during launch and landing, and engineers feared it could worsen.

Commander James Wetherbee had just strapped in.

"I'd like to welcome you aboard, Wex, but tonight's not our night," test director Steve Altemus said.

Endeavour is to carry up a three-man crew to replace the space station occupants. They have been on board since June.

* MILLVILLE, Pa. -- A truck rear-ended an Amish family's horse-drawn buggy yesterday, killing the mother and two children and injuring the father and another child, Pennsylvania state police said. Sadie Hertzler, 27, and Mary Hertzler, 5, were dead at the scene, state police said. Malinda Hertzler, 3, died at Geisinger Medical Center. The Hertzlers were riding on Route 42 in Greenwood Township in north-central Pennsylvania when the buggy was struck and plunged over an embankment, police said. The truck driver, Todd Trivelpiece, 28, was not injured. Police said an investigation was continuing and no charges had been filed.

* PHOENIX -- The head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix acknowledged that about 50 priests, former priests and church employees have been accused of criminal sexual misconduct with minors in the diocese over the past 30 years. Bishop Thomas O'Brien said the diocese has paid close to $2 million to settle 12 to 15 lawsuits involving sexual abuse or sexual harassment since he became bishop in 1982, The Arizona Republic reported yesterday. The bishop said "a large number" of priests and employees faced accusations that investigators found were untrue or meritless.

* LEXINGTON, N.C. -- A recently separated couple and two children were found dead in their home Saturday, and police suspect a murder-suicide. A relative went to the house about noon after family members said they hadn't been able to reach the victims for several days, Lexington Police Lt. Keith Owen said. The victims were identified as Donald Mark Tetter, 40; Elizabeth Tetter, 42; their daughter, Kristen Nicole Tetter, 8; and Manuel Alejandro Ojeda Gonzalez, 12, Elizabeth Tetter's son from an earlier marriage.

* DENVER -- Severe weather in drought-stricken western states was welcomed by skiers and farmers after a wave of storms dumped much-needed precipitation. Some areas in California and Colorado got more than four feet of snow last week, and more was falling yesterday. Other areas that had seen little rain for months reported up to six inches.

-- From News Services