Review Category : National News

Video captures moment 4-year-old girl falls out the back of moving van

Ryan Ciampoli(HARRISON, Ark.) — Harrowing dash cam video captures the moment a 4-year-old girl fell out of the back of a moving church bus on a state highway in Arkansas.

The footage depicts the small child swinging out from the back door of a church bus on Highway 65 in Harrison, Arkansas, before falling off onto the street as the van briskly drives away.

“I saw it happening and it blew my mind, it’s like I wasn’t even seeing what I was seeing,” Ryan Ciampoli, a volunteer firefighter who witnessed the girl’s fall and called for help, told local ABC News affiliate KHBS-TV of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

“Obviously, you want to leave her laying there, you know, if she’s not in danger, but we’re in the middle of a state highway so I couldn’t leave her just laying there,” Ciampoli added.

Ciampoli said that at first the girl was unconscious, but eventually the “shock kicked in” and she started crying and calling for her mother.

The family of the young girl in the video declined ABC News’ request for comment at this time, but told KHBS-TV that she broke her jaw in the fall and was hospitalized. She is expected to make a full recovery.

Tim Hampton, a pastor at the Christian Life Center Church, told ABC News that the church would not be using the bus again.

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Tennessee teen’s sister on kidnapping, ‘roller coaster’ of emotions

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Elizabeth Thomas’ older sister, Kat Bozeman, said her family has experienced a “roller coaster” of emotions since her sister was returned home on Friday.

“It’s a roller coaster. Some days are good you see her more, some days are bad you see her less,” Bozeman told ABC News affiliate WKRN-TV on Sunday. “So it’s a long, long road ahead of us.”

She said her sister is being treated at a mental health facility where she spends a lot of time with a therapist. Visitations at the facility are limited, she said.

Bozeman said she and her sister hadn’t spoken much about her “traumatic” time on the run with her former teacher, Tad Cummins, 50, who allegedly kidnapped her more than a month ago.

“She told us she didn’t have access to telephone, internet, any electronic devices. There was not availability to food all the time, is the understanding,” Bozeman said.

“Obviously, we are really trying not to press her, because it’s really traumatic for her to remember all of these things.”

Thomas and Cummins were found at a remote cabin in northern California near the Oregon border where he was captured Thursday, more than a month after the two disappeared in March.

The teen returned to Tennessee on Friday and is currently in a “safe location with family and friends where she is comfortable and resting,” said Jason Whatley, who is representing the Thomas family.

After Thomas was found, authorities said she was “healthy and unharmed.”

Thomas’ father, Anthony Thomas, told ABC News earlier that the experience has changed her.

“She may not be exactly … the person she was because there’s a lot of experiences she’s had,” he said.

Cummins is scheduled to make his first court appearance at 2 p.m. Monday in Sacramento, California.

He faces charges of aggravated kidnapping, sexual contact with a minor, and a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines with the intent of having criminal sexual intercourse, authorities said. That charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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US astronaut Peggy Whitson breaks American spaceflight record

NASA/Bill Ingalls(NEW YORK) — U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, 57, broke the record for the most cumulative time in space by an American astronaut early Monday, streaking past the 534-day record held by Jeff Williams.

The 879-day global record, held by Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, still stands.

By the time she returns to Earth in September, Whitson will have spent 666 days in floating above the planet. She hopes she won’t hold the title for long.

At 1:27 a.m. ET on April 24, @AstroPeggy has officially broken @Astro_Jeff‘s record of 534 days in space. Wish her well with #CongratsPeggy! pic.twitter.com/ylZtOwt4lA

— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) April 24, 2017

“I’m not here because of the record,” Whitson told ABC News’ David Kerley via video teleconference from aboard the International Space Station earlier this month. “I’m definitely here for conducting the science.”

The research she’s doing is “a really important stepping stone” to sending astronauts on even longer missions to Mars — “the sooner the better,” Whitson hopes.

However, “we still have some critical questions to answer,” including the medical complications that come with living in zero gravity, like bone density and muscle constriction, she told Kerley.

“I think the biggest hurdle probably for the human body is going to be the radiation … and probably the easiest solution is to get there faster so that you take less risk along the way,” she said.

Whitson, an Iowa native, is no stranger to shattering records. In 2008, she became the first woman to command the ISS, and just last month — during her eighth spacewalk — Whitson surpassed NASA’s Sunita Williams for the woman with the most cumulative “extra-vehicular activity” time.

Her journey hasn’t always been smooth sailing.

During re-entry following her second mission in 2008, her Soyuz capsule experienced a technical glitch, sending it hurtling into a violent dive and exposing the crew to forces eight times more powerful than the earth’s gravity for more than a minute.

Nevertheless, her time in space is “one of those rides you hope never ends,” Whitson tweeted Sunday. “I am so grateful for all those who helped me on each of my missions.”

It is one of those rides that you hope never ends. I am so grateful for all those who helped me on each of my missions! #LifeInSpace pic.twitter.com/msjKSg6WWH

— Peggy Whitson (@AstroPeggy) April 23, 2017

President Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump are expected to call the ISS from the Oval Office to congratulate Whitson on her achievement Monday morning.

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Police appeal to public for help finding missing 5-year-old; father arrested

iStock/Thinkstock(SOUTH PASADENA, Calif.) — Police in California appealed to the public for help finding a 5-year-old boy who has been missing since Saturday and whose father has been arrested after police found him unconscious in a park.

Police said they found Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, passed out near a car in Arroyo Park in South Pasadena, California, on Saturday and arrested him after an investigation about the whereabouts of his son, Aramazd Andressian Jr., ABC affiliate KABC-TV reported Sunday.

Police were still searching for the boy as of late Sunday and urged anyone with information to come forward.

Andressian was arrested on charges of child endangerment and child abduction, police said.

The child’s mother reported the boy missing on Saturday after Andressian, her estranged husband, failed to drop him off at a scheduled meeting place, authorities said. The couple is in the process of divorce and a custody battle, according to police.

The boy currently spends one week with each parent and speaks with the other through a video call twice a week, according to the boy’s mother. She said she spoke with the boy via Skype on Tuesday, but a second call scheduled for Thursday never happened.

Police in South Pasadena said they searched the park for signs of the boy to no avail, the report said. It was still unclear how and why the father passed out.

Police described the father’s statements as “convoluted and not consistent” as well as “contradictory.”

“When we found out the boy was missing we don’t know if he crawled out of the car himself, if he walked away, if he was abducted — we have no idea,” South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller said Saturday during a press conference. “To become unconscious when you’re supposed to be in the care of a child, that’s where our main concerns are.”

A judge increased Andressian’s bail to $10 million from $100,000 after detectives provided additional information about the circumstances of the case.

In a Facebook post late Sunday, the South Pasadena Police Department said it was still “pursuing leads” and had requested assistance from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Wheaton College freshman dies in accident at track meet

WLS-TV(WHEATON, Ill.) — A 19-year-old college student was killed at a track meet in Wheaton, Illinois, on Saturday when he was struck by a hammer during the hammer throw event.

Wheaton College said in a statement that freshman Ethan Roser, a transfer student from Cincinnati, Ohio, was volunteering at the school’s track and field competition when he was accidentally hit.

Paramedics were on the scene with Wheaton College Public Safey immediately, according to the college, but Roser was pronounced dead after he was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.

“We are deeply grieved, but, because of our faith in Christ, not without hope,” Wheaton College President Philip Ryken said in a statement. “We ask people to pray for Ethan’s family, his friends, and our campus community.”

Roser was a member of the soccer team, according to ABC station WLS-TV.

A service was scheduled to be held for students, faculty and staff of Wheaton College at Pierce Memorial Chapel on Sunday night.

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Three children among five dead in Queens house fire

FDNY(NEW YORK) — Five people were killed, including three children, after a three-alarm fire blazed through a family home in the New York City borough of Queens on Sunday.

Fire officials said the entire house was consumed in flames by the time they showed up, just minutes after FDNY first received a phone call around 2:30 p.m. reporting the fire traveling from the first floor to the second floor.

The youngest child who died was 2 years old and the oldest victim was 21, according to New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro, but as of Sunday afternoon one victim’s age was still unknown.

At least one person, a 46-year-old, survived by jumping out a second-story window, the fire commissioner said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was the city’s biggest loss of life in a fire in two years.

“This happened in the middle of an afternoon when the weather was good,” he said at the news conference. “How could something like this could have happened? There are many unanswered questions.”

The fire commissioner said Sunday that fire marshals would investigate the cause of the fire.

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Father of Tennessee teen: She ‘may not be exactly’ the person she was prior to alleged abduction

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — The father of the Tennessee teen found more than a month after she was allegedly kidnapped by a former teacher said the girl’s family wants her to be the same person she was before she disappeared.

But Anthony Thomas told ABC News that his 15-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, has now had experiences that may have changed her.

“What we want to see when we look at her is the child we knew,” Thomas told ABC News. “She may not be exactly … the person she was because there’s a lot of experiences she’s had.”

After Elizabeth was found, authorities described her as “healthy and unharmed,” but added that the main concern is the state of her emotional and mental well-being.

Her father said that even physically, she has at least temporarily changed.

“She has lost a lot of weight,” Anthony Thomas said.

Elizabeth was allegedly kidnapped by her former teacher, Tad Cummins, 50, on March 13 and taken on the run. She and Cummins were found at a remote cabin in northern California near the Oregon border where he was captured Thursday.

Cummins, who surrendered to police without incident, faces charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, authorities said.

The teen returned to Tennessee on Friday and is currently in a “safe location with family and friends where she is comfortable and resting,” said Jason Whatley, who is representing the Thomas family.

Elizabeth’s father told ABC News that the family to “just keep things positive” in their interactions with her at this stage.

“I go in there and tell her how much I missed her, how much I love her and how much her dog missed her,” Anthony Thomas said.

“I’m not allowed to ask her about things that happened along the way right now,” he said.

He said that one of the first things Elizabeth asked for “was to see her baby sister.”

That hasn’t happened yet, the father said. “Now is not really the time.”

Thomas recounted his daughter’s take-charge personality. “She used to really believe in herself. She had this confidence,” he said. “She was always a leader. She was very outspoken.”

“I think she has the determination to really go somewhere in life,” he said. “But right now she really needs a lot of help.”

Thomas said the first material things Elizabeth asked for upon returning to Tennessee were a shower and a razor.

He added that she has few clothes in her possession right now. “All of the clothes she had with her were taken for evidence” after she and Cummins were found, he said. And many of the clothes she had left at home were previously taken by law enforcement to help with the investigation, he said.

Thomas said the loss of her clothes may be difficult for his teen daughter. “She was always particular with the way she dressed.”

Elizabeth also asked to see her father upon her return to Tennessee, he said. “It was really great to have her tell her she loved me,” he said.

He said his daughter had told authorities that she was afraid her father would be mad at her. “I think Tad had told her too, ‘There’s no way you can go home because your dad is just going to be mad at you,'” Thomas said.

The father said he believes Cummins was aware of the search for him and his daughter, but he’s not sure if his daughter knew before she was found the extent of the effort to find them. “Tad was apparently aware of all the flyers and all the things he saw,” the father said. “I’m not sure of the extent he let her be exposed to that.”

Thomas reflected on the difficulty of parenting a teenager, and then having that child disappear.

“At the end of the day when they’re gone, you find out you can’t live without them,” he said.

Cummins is expected to make his first court appearance at 2 p.m. Monday in federal court in Sacramento.

In addition to facing charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, he also faces a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines with the intent of having criminal sexual intercourse, which has been filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, authorities said. That charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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After controversial Hawaii comment, Sessions says ‘nobody has a sense of humor’

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions says people should lighten up about controversial comments he made earlier this week about the state of Hawaii.

When asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview Sunday on This Week about why he referred to Hawaii as an “island in the Pacific,” Sessions responded “nobody has a sense of humor anymore.”

Sessions stirred up controversy this week when he referred to Hawaii as an “island in the Pacific” to conservative radio host Mark Levin on his program.

“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president from the United States what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Sessions said on the program Tuesday.

Sessions’ comments were referring to the Hawaii judge who issued a nationwide restraining order on President Trump’s revised executive order that calls for suspending the entire refugee program for 120 days and halting immigration from six countries in the Middle East and Africa for 90 days.

Sessions’ comments prompted backlash from Hawaii’s Democratic senators and representatives in Congress.

“The suggestion that being from Hawaii somehow disqualifies Judge Watson from performing his Constitutional duty is dangerous, ignorant, and prejudiced,” Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said in a statement Thursday. “I am frankly dumbfounded that our nation’s top lawyer would attack our independent judiciary. But we shouldn’t be surprised. This is just the latest in the Trump Administration’s attacks against the very tenets of our Constitution and democracy.”

Hirono also tweeted, “Hey Jeff Sessions, this #IslandinthePacific has been the 50th state for going on 58 years. And we won’t succumb to your dog whistle politics.”

Hey Jeff Sessions, this #IslandinthePacific has been the 50th state for going on 58 years. And we won’t succumb to your dog whistle politics

— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) April 20, 2017

When, Stephanopoulos pressed Sessions on This Week for a response to Hirono, asking “Why not just call it the state of Hawaii?” Sessions instead defended the administration’s actions, saying that the executive order is “lawful” and he plans to continue the fight to reinstate it.

“The president — nobody has a sense of humor anymore. Look. The president has to deal with the Department of Defense, the national intelligence agencies, CIA. He knows the threats to this country. He is responsible for protecting America,” the attorney general said. “This order is lawful. It’s within his authority constitutionally and explicit statutory authority. We’re going to defend that order all the way up. And so you do have a situation in which one judge out of 700 in America has stopped this order.

“I think it’s a mistake. And we’re going to battle in the courts and I think we’ll eventually win,” Sessions added.

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‘Pure joy,’ but concern, too, for family of formerly missing Tenn. student

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — The brother of the Tennessee teen allegedly kidnapped by a former teacher says that now that she is finally back with her family, “she’s like herself and in ways she’s not.”

Elizabeth Thomas, 15, returned to Tennessee on Friday and is currently in a “safe location with family and friends where she is comfortable and resting,” said Jason Whatley, who is representing the Thomas family.

“We’re all excited,” her brother James Thomas said. “It’s like just pure joy.”

She was allegedly kidnapped by Tad Cummins, 50, more than a month ago, and taken on the run until he was captured Thursday in Northern California.

“Well, right now … in ways she’s like herself and in ways she’s not,” her brother said. “It’s kind of distressing to see her like that. It’s troubling.”

The teen was transported home on an aircraft owned by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The agency sent the plane to northern California after Elizabeth was found on Thursday, along with Cummins, in a remote cabin in Cecilville, in Siskiyou County, a rural, isolated area near the California-Oregon border that has little to no cell service, authorities said.

Cummins surrendered to police without incident as he exited the cabin, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department. He faces charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, said Lawrence County Attorney General Brent Cooper.

The U.S. State Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee has also filed a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines with the intent of having criminal sexual intercourse against Cummins, according to U.S. attorney Jack Smith. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Cummins also faces charges in Siskiyou County for kidnapping and possession of stolen property, according to the sheriff’s department. He was expected to be arraigned in California on Friday, but the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department said he was taken into FBI custody and will likely be brought back to Tennessee. The federal warrant provided by the FBI superseded any local charges filed in Tennessee and California.

Elizabeth had been missing since March 13 when she was allegedly kidnapped by Cummins, who had been added to Tennessee’s Top 10 Most Wanted list.

After Elizabeth was found, she was described by authorities to be “healthy and unharmed,” but they added that the main concern is the state of her emotional and mental well-being.

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Girl Scout troop is ‘first single troop’ for homeless girls in New York

Courtesy of NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramers office(NEW YORK) — It’s what the Girl Scouts of Greater New York is calling a first.

Girl Scout Troop 6000 — which serves homeless girls and women in New York — is the first “full single unit…that serves girls in shelters” in the nation, Meridith Maskara, the organization’s chief operating officer, told ABC News.

It was created back in February by Giselle Burgess, a homeless woman who serves as a community engagement specialist for Girl Scouts of Greater New York.

She began the troop out of a Sleep Inn, located in Long Island City, Queens, that has been turned into a 10-floor homeless shelter that serves 100 homeless families.

Burgess told the New York Times, who first reported on the troop, that her organization is not only paying for the girls’ monthly dues, but they also covered the costs of membership fees and starter kits.

Maskara noted that many times families will be “reassigned within the shelter system. Their family can get moved without notice within the city.”

“The troop says [to the girls] although other things in your life won’t be consistent, we will be. We’ll be your anchor,” she added.

Troop 6000 currently has a membership of 23 girls, ranging from kindergarten students to high school students. They meet weekly to organize and execute several community service projects that benefit their community — from planting seeds in local gardens to learning how to become mentors.

Council Member Van Bramer visited the Long Island City homeless shelter last November to serve Thanksgiving dinner, he told ABC News in a statement.

“Last November, I joined the Girl Scouts of Greater New York to serve Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter for women in Queens. It was there that we dreamed of a Girl Scout troop created specifically for homeless girls,” he said in a statement. “With Troop 6000, that dream became a reality.

“I’ve met the members of Troop 6000, who all live in a shelter in my district, and I can tell you that they have big dreams. They are our future engineers, fashion designers, athletes, doctors, activists, and community leaders. With Troop 6000, these girls now have a place to realize these dreams, find stability, make lifelong friends, and discover the strength they have inside to be whoever they want to be. Troop 6000 is just about the most right thing I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m committed to its expansion all across New York City,” Van Bramer concluded.

Girl Scouts of Greater New York already wants to expand the troop, offering their services to more homeless girls in New York.

Maskara said, “There’s such a need.”

“We’re doing what we do best: give girls courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place,” she continued. “They’ve really bonded together as a unit, immensely. It’s beautiful to see the transformation.”

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