Review Category : National News

Engineer in Fatal NJ Transit Crash Had Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea, Say Sources

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(TRENTON, N.J.) — The engineer at the controls of a New Jersey Transit train that smashed into the Hoboken train station, killing one and injuring more than 100 back in September, had undiagnosed sleep apnea, according to sources familiar with a closed-door briefing for the New Jersey congressional delegation.

Three sources with knowledge of the briefing confirmed to ABC News that the engineer, Thomas Gallagher, had undiagnosed sleep apnea that was only discovered after the crash.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have not yet determined the cause of the accident.

The engineer in a 2013 commuter train accident that killed four and injured dozens in New York City also had sleep apnea and said he felt “dazed” as his train hurtled around a 30 mph curve at more than 80 mph, causing it to derail.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, the agency in charge of New York City’s commuter trains and subway system, now requires screening for sleep apnea, a policy put in place in 2015.

“Sleep apnea is a medical disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts while a person is sleeping,” the agency said in a statement announcing the required apnea screenings. “This results in insufficient sleep. Left untreated, someone with the disorder functions with reduced alertness and may involuntarily fall asleep. Those who are at risk for sleep apnea will be referred to medical treatment that can ensure they can do their jobs safely.”

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Police Searching for Vehicle That May Be Linked to Slain MA Jogger

iStock/Thinkstock(PRINCETON, Mass.) — Massachusetts detectives are seeking information on a dark-colored SUV seen by witnesses near the area where the body of a 27-year-old jogger was found in August.

Vanessa Marcotte, who had been working for Google and living in New York City, was visiting her family in Princeton, Massachusetts when she stepped out for a jog and never returned.

Police found her body in the woods not far from her family home.

The vehicle was seen by witnesses “around the time the murder is thought to have occurred,” and “was parked near where Ms. Marcotte’s body was found,” police said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Massachusetts State Police say they have received more than 1,000 tips related to the case and welcome any information about men with access to a dark-colored SUV around the time and the area of the murder.

Investigators have said they believe that Marcotte may have struggled with her killer and that she was likely attacked between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Aug. 7 in the town of Princeton, about 60 miles west of Boston.

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1 Dead, 10 Injured, in Explosion in Central Illinois City

MattGush/iStock/Thinkstock(CANTON, Ill.) — An explosion in the central Illinois city of Canton killed one person, and injured another 10 people on Wednesday, officials said.

Fulton County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency said the explosion occurred around 5:45 p.m. local time. The cause of the explosion is unknown.

Photos from the vicinity of the explosion showed extensive damage, including storefronts with blown-out windows.

Eleven people were initially transported to Graham Hospital in Canton, but one of the individuals died in the emergency room, said a hospital spokesperson.

The Fulton County Coroner’s Office confirmed the death.

One of the injured with non-life threatening injuries was transported from Graham Hospital to Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois, located about 30 miles northeast of Canton.

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Students Walk Out in Solidarity with Immigrants as Anti-Trump Protests Continue

Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Several hundred NYU students and some professors walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday in an effort to pressure school administrators to protect immigrant students from potential deportation under a Trump administration.

The protestors gathered in Washington Square Park, and then ended their march at the school’s Bobst Library, where a 10-minute moment of silence was staged.

Tufts, Yale, Columbia, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Brown, Miami-Dade College, and other institutions across the country also held rallies to protest Trump and his tough stand on immigration, which may include the elimination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy passed by Obama that allows certain undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The president-elect vowed to deport millions of undocumented immigrants from the U.S. in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, saying that as many as 3 million people could be removed, focusing on those with criminal backgrounds.

Trump has not explicitly said he wants to repeal DACA, but has said he wanted to get rid of some Obama executive orders.

#Sanctuarycampus walkout at NYU ends with ten minutes of silence pic.twitter.com/JwTvQVcS6G

— Michael E. Hayden (@MichaelEHayden) November 16, 2016

“It’s important that we show solidarity with undocumented students,” 18-year-old Joaquin Caceres said, regarding his decision to involve himself in the NYU walk-out.

Caceres, who is a freshman at the school, was born in the U.S. to Cuban and Puerto Rican parents. He said he believes he “benefits” from his light complexion, but worries about how Hispanic men and women will be treated now, not only by Trump’s policies but by his supporters.

He said that he cast his vote in New York for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, but would have “held his nose” and voted for Clinton in a swing state to prevent a Trump presidency.

Sirkka Miller, 21, who voted for Hillary Clinton, volunteered to help organize the crowd of protesters. After the moment of silence, she said that she still felt a degree of shock following Trump’s win, and blamed the media for imbuing the country with a “false sense of security that a Clinton win was inevitable.”

She said shared the desire of her fellow protesters to push administrators into offering protection to immigrant students, regardless of what Trump might do as president.

“People feel desperation because of this,” she said. “Powerlessness.”

Earlier this week, protests targeted white supremacist support for Trump, as well as the Wall Street ties of Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York.

The tone of the NYU protest was critical of Trump, but also the Democratic Party.

Void Diaz, 21, who is a political organizer from New York City but is not a student at NYU, used the opportunity hand out pamphlets urging protesters to fight America’s political system in a more broad way, and expressed concerns that President Obama and Hillary Clinton had “normalized” Trump’s presidency in recent remarks about his victory.

“The Democrats are trying to make Donald Trump a legitimate candidate which he is not,” Diaz said, referring to Trump’s nationalist policies, which she referred to as fascist. “In my eyes they want to conciliate this man–and that’s a real problem.”

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Philando Castile’s Girlfriend Says Minnesota Cop Who Killed Him Should Have Been Charged With Murder

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images(FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn.) — The girlfriend of Philando Castile has said she believes the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed him should have been charged with murder instead of manslaughter.

“Murder to the highest extent of the law would be more suitable to this case because this was my best friend. This was my best friend,” Diamond Reynolds said.

St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez was charged on Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter in Castile’s death. Ramsey County prosecutors also announced two additional felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon that endangered the safety of the other two passengers in the car, Reynolds and her young daughter.

Castile, a 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker, was killed on July 6 during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, a suburb outside of St Paul. The aftermath of the shooting was broadcast live on Facebook by Reynolds.

Reynolds said “nothing” can “fix the situation.”

“At the end of the day, none of that is going to bring my boyfriend back,” she added.

Reynolds said she believes she and Castile were “racially profiled” because they are black.

“If he were a white man, he would have been let go,” Reynolds said of the fateful traffic stop. She pleaded with the public to not “forget Philando Castile.”

Castile’s family said it was “pleased” that the officer who killed him was charged today. His mother, Valerie Castile, thanked prosecutors and asked that demonstrators keep any protests peaceful.

“I’m just glad that we have come to this chapter and it’s the beginning to a different chapter,” Valerie Castile said in a press conference this afternoon. “We all hope and pray that the right thing is done in this issue and I just want to thank everybody for coming out.”

In the video broadcast on Facebook, Reynolds sits in the passenger seat of a car with Castile beside her in the driver’s seat, his shirt apparently soaked with blood. Reynolds explains in the video that the officer “asked him for his license and registration.”

Reynolds says in the video that Castile told the officer that the documents were inside his wallet and informed the officer that he had a pistol on him. “The officer said, ‘Don’t move.’ As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times,” Reynolds explains in the video.

A uniformed police officer can be seen in the video outside the car holding a gun. He is heard saying, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi noted in announcing the charges against Yanez that Castile’s last words were that he was not reaching for the gun.

“Based upon our thorough and exhaustive review of the facts of this case, it is my conclusion that the use of deadly force by Officer Yanez was not justified and that sufficient facts exist to prove this to be true,” Choi said at a press conference today. Castile had a legally permitted handgun with him, said Choi, adding that Castile “never attempted to reach for his gun.”

Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, said he is “disappointed” with the decision to charge Yanez and that he expects the officer to enter a not-guilty plea.

“Police officers in Minnesota and across the country face pressure of life-and-death situations daily,” Flaherty said. “No one can speak for Officer Yanez as to what he actually encountered and what he feared that evening. We hope all people can understand that and can refrain from judgment.”

Judge Glenda Hatchett, who is representing Castile’s family in all civil matters, called the move to charge Yanez an “historic decision” in an “historic time.”

“We see this [as] historic for the benefit that it has for this community, but we also see it as an important signal to this nation because of the series of shootings that we have seen across this nation,” Hatchett said.

Castile’s death prompted days of protests in Minnesota.

In a statement obtained by ABC News after the shooting in July, Yanez’s attorney, Thomas Kelly, said the incident had nothing to do with race.

“Officer Yanez has been completely cooperative with the investigation led by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He is deeply saddened for the family and loved ones of Philando Castile,” Kelly said. “Tragically, the use of force became necessary in reacting to the actions of Mr. Castile. This heartbreaking incident had nothing to do with race. It had to do with the presence of a gun.”

After briefly returning to limited duty, Yanez was placed on administrative leave in August.

Kelly did not immediately comment on Wednesday’s announcement.

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NY Sanitation Crew Finds Woman’s Lost Wedding Rings After Digging Through 6 Tons of Garbage

mipan/iStock/Thinkstock(NORTH BABYLON, N.Y.) — A sanitation crew in Long Island, New York, recently recovered a woman’s lost wedding rings after digging through 6 tons of trash for nearly four hours.

Colleen Dyckman, a resident of North Babylon, said she accidentally threw out her rings after cooking Sunday night. She only realized they were missing the next morning.

“But, by that time, the garbage truck had already come by and taken our trash,” Dyckman told ABC News today.

On an impulse, Dyckman said she ran out the house and chased down the truck and its driver. The driver then called Edward Wiggins, sanitation site crew leader at the Town of Babylon’s Department of Environmental Control.

Wiggins said he had the driver immediately stop his route and take the truck over to a special area at the Town of Babylon’s Recycling Center.

After digging for about two to three hours, Dyckman appeared “ready to call it a day,” Wiggins said.

So to “give her a little ambition to keep going,” Wiggins said he told Dyckman a story about how his daughter lost her wedding rings in a bay and how a friend was able to find it the next day after nearly six hours of searching.

A little while later, Dyckman and the sanitation crew found her kitchen trash bag.

Though she and her husband weren’t able to find her lost rings in the bag, a crew member double-checked it and, alas, found the lost wedding rings, ending the nearly four-hour search.

Dyckman said she was brought to tears. To show her appreciation, Dyckman said she later baked brownies and bought pizza pies and cookies that she took to Wiggins and his team during lunch.

“We’re really glad we were able to help her and get her ring back,” Wiggins said today. “To be honest, in the 41 years I’ve been here, we’ve only been able to successfully recover lost items three times.”

But Wiggins said that requests for help finding items possibly lost in the trash are actually made quite frequently.

“No one really likes or hears about the unsuccessful stories, but they do take the same amount of work and effort,” Wiggins said. “But at the end of the day, this is our job as civil servants. If a resident needs assistance and we can do it, we will always try.”

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Police Believe Body Found in NJ Likely That of Missing Connecticut Man

TheaDesign/iStock/Thinkstock(STAMFORD, Conn.) — Detectives believe a body that was found in New Jersey Wednesday morning belongs to a Connecticut man who went missing this weekend after a party on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, New York authorities have told ABC News.

Stamford police said that Joseph “Joey” Comunale, 26, of Stamford, was reported missing by his father Monday morning. Comunale was last seen on the Upper East Side Sunday morning. According to Stamford police, he’d traveled to the city Saturday night to attend a party at the Grand Sutton, an apartment building on East 59th Street.

Authorities said that Comunale was with two men from New Jersey and three women at the time. When his friends left Sunday morning, police said, Comunale stayed willingly.

The NYPD said the investigation continued into the circumstances of his disappearance.

According to WABC-TV, police were talking to the resident of the apartment where the party was held as well as examining surveillance from the building.

WABC-TV said a police search warrant also had recovered potential evidence, including blood, items in a garbage bag and a luggage cart.

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Video Shows 9-Year-Old Saving Baby Brother as He Falls Off Changing Table

poligonchik/iStock/Thinkstock(BAL HARBOUR, Fla.) — Dramatic video shows the moment a 9-year-old boy saved his baby brother after he fell off a changing table.

The video was taken on Sept. 29, but Bal Harbour, Florida, resident Tila Levi, 35, didn’t post it to her Facebook until last week because she was “embarrassed” about the incident at first, she told ABC News. Three days after it happened, on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, her husband sent it to all of their family and friends to let them know they were “starting the year off with a miracle.”

In the video, Levi has just changed 11-month-old Eitan’s diaper when she becomes distracted by her 6-year-old son, Zion, who she says asked a question about his homework. At first, Eitan is lying on his back on the changing table, but in the moment Levi turns away, the baby rolls over. One of his legs can be seen dangling over the table’s edge before he tips and falls about 3 feet to the ground.

Just before Eitan hits the ground, Levi’s 9-year-old son, Joseph, dives in to catch his baby brother. Eitan’s legs hit the floor, but Joseph is able to grab his upper body to soften the blow and prevent his head from smacking the wood floor.

After Levi realizes what happened, she is seen in the video embracing both of her sons. Eitan was fine, Levi said, but Joseph was “shaken up” and “surprised” that he even caught his 30-pound baby brother, since he can barely lift him.

Joseph wasn’t even in Eitan’s bedroom at the time, Levi said — he just happened to be walking by when Eitan fell. Joseph told his mother that he felt as if an “angel pushed” him because he doesn’t believe he could have rescued the baby on his own, she said.

Levi decided to post the video after Election Day last week when people were “so angry and so mean to each other on Facebook.” The mother of five decided to craft a message to “change the tone of the day,” saying parents should be “grateful” for every minute they have with their children.

“We all experience miracles every day,” she said

The video was recorded on a high-tech baby monitor that stores videos on a smartphone app. After everyone calmed down, Levi said she and her husband must have watched the video hundreds of times to try and figure out what went wrong and how she can prevent something similar from happening again.

“My baby had an angel by his side,” Levi said. “… Thank God it was a happy ending.”

Joseph’s family hailed him a hero after he saved his brother. His grandparents wanted to buy him a gift to reward him “for being so brave,” but he declined, saying getting to help Eitan was “enough” for him, Levi said.

Levi said she wanted to share her story to emphasize that parents go through similar ordeals every day.

“My message is to parents: Enjoy your kids,” Levi said. “Protect them as much as you can. At the end of the day, in a second, everything can change.”

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‘Making a Murderer’: Brendan Dassey to Be Released by End of Week

zudin/iStock/Thinkstock(PORTAGE, Wisc.) — Brendan Dassey will be released from prison by the end of the week, ABC News has confirmed.

The “Making a Murderer” subject will leave Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin, by Friday at 8 p.m., according to legal paperwork obtained by ABC News. U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin denied Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel’s request to stay the release on Wednesday.

“In the motion to stay the respondent largely reargues the same points already considered and rejected by the court in deciding Dassey’s motion for release. The court finds that reconsideration of these arguments yields the same conclusion,” the judge wrote in his denial.

Dassey’s attorney, Lauren Nirider, told ABC News earlier this week that she hoped her client would spend Thanksgiving with his family after almost a decade behind bars.

“We’re over the moon — Brendan and his mother have spent 10 Thanksgivings apart and the prospect of spending the next one together … it’s incredible we’re just so grateful,” she said.

In 2007, Dassey, now 26, was convicted along with his uncle, Steven Avery, of murdering photographer Teresa Halbach two years prior. Dassey was sentenced to life in prison, but this past August, a judge overturned his conviction, stating that the then-teenager’s confession was obtained using questionable tactics.

Court documents obtained by ABC News indicated that investigators made leading statements including, “Tell us, and what else did you do? Come on. Something with the head, Brendan?” and, throughout a four-hour interrogation, assured Dassey that he had “nothing to worry about.”

The documents also noted “Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult.”

About a month later, Schimel appealed the overturned conviction on behalf of Warden Michael Dittmann and the State of Wisconsin. Schimel’s office also released a press release stating that Halbach’s family “fully supports the state’s decision to seek justice on behalf of their daughter.”

The appeal is ongoing, but in the meantime, Duffin ordered Dassey’s release, though he is subject to a number of restrictions, including a ban on travel. Dassey is also ordered to have no contact with Avery, who remains in prison.

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Freight Train Collision Destroys Tractor-Trailer Stuck on Tracks in Georgia

iStock/Thinkstock(NORCOSS, Ga.) — The driver of a tractor-trailer narrowly escaped death Tuesday night when his vehicle became stuck on train tracks in a Georgia town and, seconds later, was obliterated by a speeding freight train.

Video of the crash looks more like a scene from an action film than something from real life: The freight train blasts completely through the side of the tractor trailer, sending its contents shooting outward in an explosion of debris.

Eli Mercado, the driver, was moving a family’s belongings from Norcross, Georgia to Florida when his truck got stuck on the tracks, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV.

While he was trying to figure out how to move the truck, the train horn sounded. Mercado’s wife, who was traveling with him, then exited the truck, according to WSB. Norcross police arrived and told Mercado to get out, as well, before the train arrived.

“I’m a little shaken up,” Mercado told WSB. “I’m blessed that I’m still here.”

The family’s belongings were strewn across the area by the impact. But, both Mercado and his wife were unharmed.

The Norcross Police Department issued a statement on Facebook indicating that delays caused by the accident had been cleared.

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