Review Category : National News

See Parachute Save Crashing Small Plane in Arkansas

iStock/Thinkstock(FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.) — Dramatic video captures the moment that passengers and the pilot of a small plane that had engine trouble were saved by a parachute that deployed from the aircraft.

The plane, carrying two passengers, was headed from Bentonville, Ark. to Waco, Texas, Tuesday when the pilot said there was a loss of oil pressure, according to Fayetteville Police Sgt. Craig Stout.

After that, pilot Bill Simon, 56, released the plane’s emergency chute.

Video shows the plane falling slowly to the ground and then landing on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, across from Fayetteville High School.

After the plane crashed, Stout said that a car, driven by Shakemia Harris, 30, struck the aircraft, resulting in minor injuries. The three people on the plane also suffered minor injuries, police said.

Harris told ABC News she was driving with her baby daughter in the back seat when she heard a big crash.

Harris immediately hit the brakes and exited her car to find her daughter and another 4-year-old child she had been driving crying.

Harris suffered minor bumps and bruises. Her 1-year-old daughter and the other child were unharmed.

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NTSB Says Part of Fuel Line Disconnected in Florida Jet Blaze

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — The National Transportation Safety Board said that a piece of the main fuel line for the Dynamic Airways flight that burst into flames was disconnected, one of several new findings released on Tuesday.

The plane, a Boeing 767 bound for Caracas, Venezuela, caught fire while taxiing for departure at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane was evacuated, leaving one person seriously hurt and 21 with minor injuries, the NTSB said.

One of the pilots on the plane behind it reported that fuel was leaking from the aircraft before the fire started.

On Tuesday, the NTSB said it found that a piece of the main fuel supply line was disconnected.

Dynamic Airways is inspecting the rest of its fleet to “to ensure proper installation of the fuel line coupling assemblies,” according to the NTSB.

There was no indication of any failure in the engine itself, the NTSB said.

The NTSB also revealed on Tuesday that the plane spent over two years in storage, until this September, when it was leased by Dynamic Airways.

NTSB investigators interviewed the flight crew and cabin crew members, the agency said, and investigators expect to complete the onsite investigation Tuesday.

Dynamic Airways declined comment.

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Man Accused of Attacking Uber Driver Could Face Year in Jail

Costa Mesa Police(LOS ANGELES) — A former Taco Bell executive accused of attacking his Uber driver while intoxicated could face up to a year in jail if he’s convicted of charges against him, including assault and battery, officials said.

Benjamin Golden, 32, requested an Uber ride from a bar in Newport Beach, California, on Friday night, but while in the car, he was “unable to clearly give directions,” the Costa Mesa police said.

In video obtained by ABC News affiliate KABC-TV in Los Angeles, Golden is seen having trouble staying up-right in the back seat. The driver told KABC-TV that the passenger started to become aggressive.

The driver stopped in a parking lot in Costa Mesa, California, police said, and told the passenger to get out. And that’s when Golden reached in front of him and hit the driver several times in the head, the video shows, and then yanked the victim’s head back and forth.

The driver used pepper spray to defend himself, police said. Golden was arrested on assault and disorderly conduct/being drunk in public charges.

Golden, of Newport Beach, was charged on Tuesday with assault on a public transportation property, battery on a public transit employee with injury, assault and battery, the Orange County District Attorney’s office said.

If Golden is convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $10,000 fine, according to the DA’s office.

Golden is currently out of custody, the DA’s office said, adding that prosecutors will request he be held on $20,000 bail at his arraignment set for Nov. 17. It was unclear if Golden has an attorney. ABC News could not reach Golden for comment.

Golden was fired from his job at Taco Bell in the wake of the incident, the company said in a statement.

“Given the behavior of the individual, it is clear he can no longer work for us,” the statement said. “We have also offered and encouraged him to seek professional help.”

An Uber spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News on Monday that the company was glad the driver “is doing OK.”

“We will provide any information to the investigating authorities as needed,” the statement added. “The rider involved in this incident has been permanently banned from the platform.”

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Trans Girl Should Be Allowed to Use Girls’ Locker Room, Feds Say

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of Education has announced that a suburban Chicago school district is violating the rights of a transgender student by refusing her access to the girls’ locker room despite the fact that she identifies as a girl, according to a 14-page letter to the district.

The letter’s findings conclude a nearly two-year investigation made by the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) after the trans student, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Illinois, filed a federal complaint against Township School District 211 in Palatine, Illinois, in December 2013.

The school district had been denying the trans girl’s request to have unrestricted access to the girls’ locker room, forcing her to change and shower in a separate facility that made her feel “stigmatized” and “not like a ‘normal person,'” she said, according to a statement made by the ACLU of Illinois.

Though the district recognized the student as female in its computer systems and allowed her to have unlimited access to the girls’ restrooms, it said granting her the “option to change her clothes in the girls’ locker room would expose female students as young as fifteen years of age to a biologically male body,” according to the DOE’s letter.

The OCR found that such reasoning was discrimination “on the basis of sex,” which violated Title IX, a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Title IX is the same law that mandates parity between male and female athletic programs.

The DOE’s letter to the school added that to date, “efforts to resolve this complaint voluntarily with the District have not been successful.”

The DOE also threatened to take “enforcement action” against the school district if compliance or an agreement wasn’t reached within 30 days of the letter dated Nov. 2, 2015, putting the district at risk of losing millions in federal funding.

District Superintendent Daniel Cates said that the district is standing by its original decision. In a guest column for local newspaper The Daily Herald, he acknowledged that the “potential loss of federal funds is significant, but we believe the loss of appropriateness, reason and privacy for teenagers is also significant.”

The school district did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for additional comment.

Advocates said the issue is one of equal rights.

The DOE’s findings in its recent letter is putting “schools nationwide on notice that they must protect the rights of trans students and ensure that those students can access school programs and facilities without discrimination,” according to Michael Silverman, executive director of the Trans Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) and professor of law at Fordham University.

“Additionally, the DOE’s threat of enforcement action is telling schools nationwide that failure to protect trans students from discrimination can and will result in legal action,” Silverman told ABC News.

The trans student in the center of the case has not been publicly identified and is declining to speak with the media, according a statement from the ACLU of Illinois.

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One of Several Passengers Kicked Off Spirit Airlines Flight Claims Racial Discrimination

Tyler Grosso(LOS ANGELES) — Several travelers were kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight preparing to leave Los Angeles for Dallas on Monday, and at least one of the passengers claims it was due to racial discrimination.

The incident began shortly after 7 p.m., when Spirit Airlines called Los Angeles Airport Police to assist with an unruly passenger, LAX Police spokesman Robert Pedregon told ABC News.

LAX police arrived at the plane and found a man, traveling with a woman, who refused to deplane, police said.

Passenger Alexandra Wright said via-Skype that, “It started by a guy having a seating issue with someone.”

“A man was sitting in the wrong seat. And he and the woman were supposed to switch seats but they decided they wanted to sit together, the flight attendant overheard the conversation and he came over, and kind of was making nasty remarks, making them switch,” Wright said.

“[The flight attendant] was just really nasty towards him and was like, ‘No, you guys need to switch,'” Wright said. “[The male passenger] politely got up and switched seats, and the flight attendant continued to make really mean, nasty remarks towards the passenger … and the guy was like ‘No, I’m not leaving, I don’t have a reason to get off this flight. I didn’t do anything wrong.'”

Witness Tyler Grosso told ABC News the flight attendant yelled at a man, saying he threatened him.

“The man never threatened the flight attendant,” Grosso said. “Multiple people were standing up for him saying he never said anything.”

According to police, Spirit Airlines told the authorities that the airline was refusing to let the couple continue on to Dallas.

Police spoke to the man, and eventually the man and woman both walked off the plane to the ticket counter where they were re-booked on another flight, police said. Both were African American, witnesses said.

“And that’s when people started talking about it on the aircraft because he was kicking him off for no reason,” Wright said. “The first guy got kicked off, another woman got kicked off after him and then all of us got kicked off.”

After the first two travelers were removed, five other passengers on board the plane started to cause a disturbance, according to police, and they were also asked by Spirit to deplane. All five of those passengers were also African American, witnesses said.

According to Grosso, in the second incident, a different flight attendant yelled at a black passenger for talking, and then yelled at another black passenger who asked for the attendant’s attention. The attendant then called for more police, Grosso said.

The attendants told the police “they were ‘threatened’ by these African American passengers who were doing simply nothing but sitting in their seats.” Grosso said.

“None of the passengers were aggressive or threatening,” Grosso said. “Something that stuck in my head was one gentleman on the verge of tears saying he was only getting off the plane because the cop needed a reason to shoot him. Racism is not okay.”

Spirit Airlines did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment, but in a statement to CBS News, Spirit said, “Four passengers became unruly and were causing trouble with other passengers. Flight crew asked them to stop. When they did, not law enforcement was called and they were removed from the flight.”

Wright said she was one of the five passengers removed in the second group.

“It wasn’t even that rowdy,” Wright explained. “People were just more disturbed with what they were seeing.”

“It was a discrimination thing, because there was so much conversation going on the flight about what was going on, and the black people happened to get singled out and kicked off,” Wright said.

Those five additional passengers who got off the plane were also re-booked, police said.

No arrests were made, police said, adding that the police classified this as a “business dispute.”

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Watch MIT’s Self-Flying Drone Zip Around Obstacles

MIT CSAIL/YouTube(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) — This drone doesn’t need help from a remote pilot to find its way around.

The self-flying drone is able to swiftly navigate obstacles while flying through the sky at 30 miles per hour in a new video released by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab.

The autonomous drone is so smart it’s able to avoid crashing into people or things, according to Andrew Barry, a doctoral candidate at MIT. Barry developed a stereo-vision algorithm that allows the drone’s software to build a map of the surrounding area in real time, focusing on areas 10 meters away from the drone. The map allows the drone to fly safely through the area without running into anything or needing a human operator.

“You don’t have to know about anything that’s closer or further than that,” Barry told MIT. “As you fly, you push that 10-meter horizon forward, and, as long as your first 10 meters are clear, you can build a full map of the world around you.”

The open-source software operates at 120 frames per second and is able to extract depth information at a speed of 8.3 milliseconds per frame, according to MIT. The drone used in the video has a 34-inch wingspan with cameras on each wing and processors that researchers say are “no fancier than the ones you’d find on a cellphone.”

The technology allows the drone to fly without being weighed down by heavy sensors, Barry said.

“Everyone is building drones these days, but nobody knows how to get them to stop running into things,” Barry said. “Sensors like lidar [a type of radar that uses light] are too heavy to put on small aircraft, and creating maps of the environment in advance isn’t practical. If we want drones that can fly quickly and navigate in the real world, we need better, faster algorithms.”

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TSA Leadership Testifies About ‘Significant Changes’ to Improve Airport Security

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The House Oversight Committee is giving a closer look at the Transportation Security Administration’s airport security issues.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth admitted earlier this year that there were persistent failures in the system. At the time, he worried the agency, weakened by a culture that “resisted oversight and was unwilling to accept the need for change in the face of serious threats,” simply did not have the ability to keep the American flying public safe.

Speaking before the Oversight panel Tuesday, Roth told the committee a very different story. Following the release of the last report, he now says he’s noticed improvements in the TSA’s actions.

“Within 24 hours of the report, the Secretary summoned senior TSA leadership” and told them to come up with “an immediate plan of action … these efforts have already resulted in significant changes to TSA leadership, operations, training and policy,” Roth testified Tuesday. “TSA has put together a plan to improve checkpoint quality in three areas, technology personnel and procedures.”

In the past, airlines looking for new ways to increase revenue on baggage has complicated TSA security efforts, according to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger.

“There’s a lot more baggage coming through the checkpoint now than there used to be, and that baggage is much more packed with gear than it used to be,” Neffenger told the Oversight panel Tuesday. “This is a challenge for anybody to screen it.”

Neffenger, however, assured the panel he’s working on making improvements to increase airline passenger security.

“I want to assure you that TSA is an intelligence-driven counter terrorism organization, and I know that we are up to the challenges we face,” he said. “We’re on the front lines of a critical counter terrorism fight. Our workforce is willing and able to do the job.”

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Former Prosecutor Jeanine Pirro Offers Insider’s Look Into Kathleen Durst’s Disappearance

Photo by James Nielsen/ Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Robert Durst was the millionaire scion to a prominent New York real estate family, but some who got close to him had a curious way of disappearing or turning up dead.

His first wife, Kathleen Durst, vanished in 1982. His best friend, Susan Berman, was found shot dead in her Los Angeles home in 2000. And Durst admitted to killing and dismembering Morris Black, a neighbor he lived next to in Galveston, Texas, in 2001.

Kathleen Durst, married to Robert Durst, was a fourth-year medical student when she went missing. She was officially declared dead 19 years later in 2001, though her body has never been found.

But former prosecutor Jeanine Pirro, who is credited with re-opening her cold case, has harsh words for Robert Durst who she believes should be held responsible for her disappearance.

“He should be shot in the back of the head and his body should be dismembered, like he did to everyone else,” Pirro told ABC News’ Nightline.

Kathleen’s case and the other cases were detailed most recently in the hit HBO documentary series, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, for which Durst sat down for an extensive interview with filmmaker Andrew Jarekci.

The documentary helped inspire Pirro to write her book, He Killed Them All: Robert Durst and My Quest for Justice, released this week. In the book, Pirro gives a detailed insider’s account of the Durst saga.

For more than 15 years, Pirro, a former Westchester County, New York, district attorney, has been obsessively trying to connect Durst to his wife’s disappearance, returning again and again to the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. It is where Pirro thinks Robert Durst buried Kathleen’s body.

“Every time I come out here, I think she’s here. Her spirit is here,” Pirro said. “There was a vibrant, beautiful woman who is about to go out in an area — a field of medicine that … she was so proud of. He took it from her. He just ripped it from her. She’s here and she’s waiting for someone to find her.”

In 2000, Pirro’s team searched the lake near Durst’s country home in Westchester, but found nothing. In The Jinx, Durst was asked about the search and said the divers were “obviously looking for body parts, looking for something that can be used as evidence.”

That statement, Pirro said, was a revelation.

“As opposed to saying ‘my wife, my wife’s body, Kathy’s body,’ he says ‘body parts,’” Pirro said. “I jumped up and said, ‘Oh my God, he chopped her up as well,’ because in his mind he knew whether it was in the lake or wherever that his wife’s body had been cut up at that point.”

Shortly after her disappearance, a list was found in Robert Durst’s trash with the words “town dump, bridge, boat, shovel.” Pirro claims that when analyzed it’s a virtual roadmap to the South Jersey Pine Barrens, which she said also happens to be an area the Durst organization once considered for development.

“He would have been familiar with this area as a dumping ground,” Pirro said. “The perfect hiding spot — that he would have known about.”

“She is here, there is no doubt in my mind she’s here,” she continued. “And the family deserves to be able to bury her in a place of respect and dignity.”

Pirro says she has been coming to the Pine Barrens since Kathleen’s cold case landed on her desk in the Westchester D.A.’s Office. Reading Kathleen’s file, Pirro said she immediately suspected Durst, who has never been charged in his wife’s disappearance.

“She’s married to a wealthy guy, and he doesn’t report her missing for five days. Really?” Pirro said. “Why not report her missing? Something’s up.”

On the night Kathleen disappeared in January 1982, Durst maintained that he put his wife on a train from Westchester back to New York City, and after he said she arrived at their penthouse there safely, he never heard from her again. The doorman and elevator operator at their apartment building corroborated his story. When police investigated at the time, they reported no signs of foul play and the trail went cold.

Eighteen years later, operating on a tip, Pirro said her team started from scratch and went to re-interview the two Durst building employees.

“When we come back 18 years later, one is dead and one retracts his statement and says that’s not true,” Pirro said.

Pirro also said she heard claims from Kathleen’s friends that Durst was beating her and that she was seeking a divorce from Durst. In 2001, Kathleen’s brother Jim McCormack told ABC News he witnessed something that unnerved him.

“We were at my mom’s house and Bob wanted to go,” McCormack told ABC News at the time. “He had enough of the family thing because he was never really into it. And I came in. He grabbed Kathy by the hair and started pulling her out of the room by her hair.”

In The Jinx, Robert Durst himself was candid about their tumultuous relationship.

“Our life was half arguments, fighting, slapping, pushing, wrestling, it deteriorated from then on,” he said in the HBO documentary. “It never got better, got worse and worse.”

Three weeks after Pirro’s cold case investigation became public in 2000, Susan Berman, who had served as Robert Durst’s spokeswoman when Kathleen disappeared, was found dead in her Los Angeles home – shot execution style in the back of the head.

Pirro said she believes Durst killed Berman “because she knew too much.”

“She was a woman who was desperate. He had been sending her $25,000 checks. We were monitoring his bank accounts,” Pirro said. “We were coming down to the point with enough information that we had garnered that we were ready to go at Susan.”

But not everyone agrees with Pirro’s account. Her former co-author Lisa Depaulo filed a lawsuit last month, claiming, among other things, that Pirro fired her when she raised accuracy issues — a claim Pirro denies.

“Everything in that book is accurate. I know. I was there. Everything is backed up, everything is fact-checked,” Pirro said.

After Durst was acquitted for the murder of his neighbor in 2003, he served time for three lesser crimes, including bond jumping, and was paroled in 2005. He lived mostly out of the public eye until he decided to participate in The Jinx, a move his lawyers strongly advised against.

In the shocking final scene of the documentary, Durst was alone in a bathroom off-camera, with his microphone still on, muttering to himself, saying, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all of course.”

When Pirro was watching The Jinx, she said she thought, “of course you did.” Like Pirro, many viewers considered what Durst uttered to be a confession.

“You know, I knew it, I knew it from the day they walked in my office in 1999, that man killed her,” she said.

Durst, now 72, remained free until March 2015 when he was arrested in New Orleans on first-degree murder charges for Susan Berman’s death. Law enforcement found him allegedly trying to flee with over $42,000 in cash, a fake ID, a latex mask and a loaded revolver. Durst remains imprisoned on a weapons charge and is waiting to be transferred to Los Angeles to face first-degree murder charges for Berman’s death.

Durst’s legal team did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment on this report.

For Pirro, she says the story is not over until Durst is held responsible for Kathleen’s disappearance, the one case that started it all.

“I have a personal vendetta against anyone who commits murder,” she said. “I have a personal vendetta on behalf of women who have been silenced by the men who say they love them. I have a personal vendetta against all the silent witnesses out there, the women who’ve died and no one looked at their case. The women who told us they were going to die. Yeah, I have a vendetta and I’m proud of it.”

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See Why Couple is Traveling the Country in RV

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — The venue, the flowers, the rings, the DJ, the dress…weddings have grown in both size and extravagance.

In some cases, the wedding day overshadows the marriage itself. But one couple from Baltimore, MD has set out on journey to change that and get people to start talking more about the “happily ever after” instead of the big day.

Liz and Ryan Bower have seen it all when it comes to weddings, both photographing more than 125 weddings together, and want to show the world what marriage is really all about.

They started a non-profit called Amazing Life Together and according to their latest press release, the Bowers are “on a mission to inspire all couples to live a happy, healthy, and everlasting amazing life together.”

The Bowers have been traveling in an RV since January of this year and aim to hit all 50 states, interviewing at least one couple from each state.

So far they have hit 38 states, driven 35,882 miles and documented 75 couples.

Their latest stop was in New York City where they met with Rolando and Jennifer Molina, who have been married for 7 1/2 years. When asked what the secret is to their happy marriage, they responded “Laughter. We don’t take life too seriously and we don’t sweat the small stuff… a lot of compromise.”

According to Liz Bower “Every couple has an amazing story that we all can learn something from…by sharing these stories, we hope to open the lines of communication surrounding marriage and encourage couples to work through the difficult times while celebrating the good times!”

Ryan and Liz Bower expect to finish their tour in January of 2016.

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Atlanta Mother’s Wedding Photos Honor Late Son

Courtesy of Brandy Angel Photography(COLBERT, Ga.) — There’s no stronger bond than a mother and her child — so when Anna Bozman Thompson lost her eldest son to a battle with leukemia six months ago, she couldn’t imagine taking family photos without him — especially on her big day.

And she didn’t have to.

Last month, when Anna married her longtime boyfriend Travis Thompson in Colbert, Georgia, she asked her friend and Georgia-based photographer Brandy Angel to Photoshop Thompson’s son, Lake, into the photos.

Angel said it wasn’t an easy task, but with the help of a friend, she was able to fulfill Thompson’s wish.

“There’s not really a word for this experience,” Angel said. “It makes me feel good to make her feel better even if it’s in a little way.”

A day before the wedding, the Thompsons visited the location where the shoot would take place and there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky, which they associated with Lake, Angel said.

Angel recalled joking with the Thompsons, saying, “I wonder how Lake will show out tomorrow.”

“Oh, he’ll show out tomorrow,” Thompson replied.

And so he did. The day of the wedding, Angel said she felt like she was witnessing a miracle.

“After I started editing the photos … I was completely covered in chills. The light moved around them, it never changed shape, it never changed color,” Angel said.

Angel texted Anna Thompson the night of her wedding with screen shots of the unedited photos, Thompson told ABC News.

“I started crying and got the chills. I feel like our family was complete, even though he’s not physically here, the light comforted me,” Thompson said. “We are still a family of five even though there are only four of us here.”

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