Review Category : National News

Texas Ebola Patient Now too Weak to Talk on Phone

Will Montgomery(DALLAS) — The Ebola patient in a Texas isolation unit has become so weak that he can no longer talk to his family on the phone, his nephew told ABC News.

Thomas Eric Duncan, who is from Liberia, has been confined to an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas since he arrived in an ambulance on Sunday.

The family had said earlier in the week they spoke with Duncan by phone and prayed with him on the phone, but that is no longer possible, Duncan’s nephew Joe Weeks told ABC News.

“At first we were able to talk to him on the phone, but now he is just too sick to speak,” Weeks said.

Weeks lives in Kannapolis, North Carolina, along with Duncan’s sister and 87-year-old mother. The mother and sister may travel to Dallas soon, Weeks said.

A cleaning crew is expected to arrive Friday at the Ivy Apartments in Dallas where Duncan had been staying when he got sick from the Ebola virus. The crew was turned away on Thursday, but are expected to be admitted Friday.

The cleaning crew is tasked with disinfecting all of the surfaces that Duncan could have touched, Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins said Thursday. The man’s clothes and sheets have been “bagged,” Jenkins said. Additionally, food has been delivered to the apartment for Duncan’s relatives.

Weeks is concerned that the apartment has not yet been sanitized despite having four people confined to the apartment by a judge’s order until they are determined to not be infected with Ebola, which can take as long as 21 days to incubate. Among the people in the apartment are a teenage boy and woman named Louise Troh, who traveled from Liberia with Duncan.

“The house that he lived in has not been cleaned or disinfected. You still have four more people in there, that lived in that house and were allowed to leave and go shopping, go do other things that normal people would do,” Weeks said.

Thomas R. Frieden, the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told ABC News Friday that the Ebola diagnosis offers new challenges for authorities.

“It’s the first time we’re having Ebola in this country and the challenges are real in terms of what do you do with the waste, how do you move it, how do you dispose of it and we want to make sure that everything is done correctly,” Frieden said. “I’m confident that will get sorted out today.”

The initial handling of Duncan’s case has been the subject of controversy. Duncan first visited the hospital last Thursday, Sept. 25, but was allowed to leave the hospital despite telling a nurse he had come from West Africa. Duncan returned to the hospital by ambulance on Sunday.

The hospital said in a statement Thursday that the physician and the nurses followed protocol, but his travel history didn’t automatically appear in the physician’s standard workflow.

Weeks also had concerns that the hospital wasn’t aware that Duncan may have been infected with Ebola. Weeks said that he called the hospital to report his concerns about Duncan’s condition — and when he didn’t get the reaction he wanted, he called officials at the CDC and the Department of Health, at which point Duncan was put in isolation.

“They had him in the ER, like any other patient, and I didn’t think that was the right procedure,” Weeks said.

“I don’t know how long it was going to take, but I wasn’t trying to wait to see how long it was going to take, so I pre-empted and called CDC and reported that there might be a possible Ebola case in Texas. But the hospital was not doing what it needed to do at that time,” he said.

Dallas and federal health officials are tracking all the people who may have come into contact with Duncan and so far that figure is about 100 people.

Duncan, who worked as a driver in Liberia, flew to Brussels on Sept. 19. He continued to Washington’s Dulles Airport, before flying to the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport on a United Airlines flight, arriving on Sept. 20.

Although American Ebola patients have been treated in the United States prior to this diagnosis, they all contracted Ebola in West Africa.

Ebola has killed more than 3,300 people, with nearly 7,200 cases reported since the outbreak began in March.

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Escaped Crabs Delay US Airways Flight

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A US Airways flight from New York to Charlotte was delayed Thursday after a shipment of crabs escaped in the plane’s cargo area, an airline spokesman confirmed to ABC News.

Flight 890 was scheduled to leave LaGuardia Airport at 6:59 p.m. Thursday, but instead left at 7:25 p.m. due to “some seafood cargo problems,” the spokesman said.

Passengers tweeted about the situation, writing that crew members were forced to round up the crabs.

Can’t make this stuff up. Flight delayed cuz live crabs got loose in cargo bin. Have to catch crabs before we can board plane. Seriously.

— Megan Hughes (@Choreocon) October 2, 2014

Yes, crabs.

Was just informed our flight is delayed because a shipment of crabs escaped in the cargo hold #crabsonaplane

— Blake Z. Larson (@BlakeZLarson) October 2, 2014

Passengers were amused, surprised and bewildered.

“Ladies and gentlemen your flight is delayed b/c a box of live crabs spilled out in the cargo bin during flight” @USAirways how is this real

— Anna Scarcella (@Cscarcella) October 2, 2014

“If you are trying to make a connection out of Charlotte tonight that will not be happening” -sound of @USAirways gate agent killing dreams

— Anna Scarcella (@Cscarcella) October 2, 2014

After the crabs were rounded up, the plane took off, arriving in Charlotte about half-an-hour late, at 9:30 p.m.

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Ethiopian Diplomat Leaves US After Firing Gun At Embassy in Washington

metrokom/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — An Ethiopian diplomat who fired a gun at his country’s embassy earlier this week left the United States, the U.S. State Department said.

The U.S. initially requested that Ethiopia waive the individual’s diplomatic immunity so that he could be prosecuted in the U.S, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said. Ethiopia reportedly denied that request, prompting the U.S. State Department to ask the diplomat to leave the country.

No further details about the shooting or the individual were provided.

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UVA Abduction Suspect Jesse Matthew Twice Accused of Sex Assaults But Not Prosecuted

Galveston County Sheriff’s Office(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The suspect charged in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham was accused of two sexual assaults at two separate colleges, but he wasn’t prosecuted in either case, according to records and officials involved in both cases.

Jesse Matthew, 32, remains in police custody after being arrested on abduction charges in the case of Hannah Graham.

Matthew first attended Liberty University for two years before transferring in January 2003 to Christopher Newport University for less than a year.

Michael Doucette, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Lynchburg, told ABC News on Thursday that Matthew was the subject of a sexual assault complaint in 2002 while he was a student at Liberty University, an evangelical Christian school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Doucette did not reveal details of the case, but did say that the incident report was “an issue of consent.” Charges were not filed in this case.

Doucette spoke a day after Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., made public a “criminal incident information” report that stated Matthew was investigated for an alleged sexual assault Sept. 7, 2003, on campus.

The school said in a statement on Wednesday that it initially declined to release the report, but said, “The success of the criminal investigation is paramount at this time. The university has consulted with the Virginia State Police again today, and we are now releasing the following non-exempt ‘criminal incident information.'”

The report said the alleged sexual assault took place on the school’s campus and was investigated by university police Capt. Scott Austin. No injuries were reported in connection with the alleged assault, the report stated.

It does not indicate whether any criminal charges were filed. Calls to the Newport News police station were not returned, but previous criminal records searches did not turn up any charges of sexual assault.

Matthew’s attorney, Jim Camblos, has not responded substantively to repeated requests for comment other than to reply by email Thursday, “I have seen him several times since Monday.”

In the wake of the Graham disappearance and the investigation into Matthew, at least three different police jurisdictions have said they will be looking at open cases to see if Matthew possibly had any involvement. Virginia State Police have already said that there is a forensic link between Graham’s case and the murder of Morgan Harrington, which took place five years before Graham disappeared.

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Route 66 Adds Singing Road as Speeding Deterrent

iStock/Thinkstock(SANTA FE, N.M.) — Drivers in New Mexico are in for a musical treat. They’ll be serenaded to “America the Beautiful” on Route 66.

“It’s right here in New Mexico, one of few such roads that exist in the world,” New Mexico Department of Transportation spokeswoman Melissa Dosher told ABC News Thursday.

But drivers can only hear the song if they go the posted speed limit of 45 mph.

“The road not only entertains but uses ‘rumble strips’ to play music and prevent motorists from speeding or falling asleep at the wheel,” Dosher said. “It is a great safety trick as it forces people to stick to the speed limit if they want to hear the song.”

Added New Mexico Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Church in a statement: “Safety is our number one priority. Speeding is a factor in too many vehicle crashes in New Mexico. The goal of this experiment is to change driver behavior in a fun way by giving them a reward if they obey the speed limit.”

New Mexico’s Singing Road is an experiment by the National Geographic Channel as part of its new series, Crowd Control, that premieres next month.

Crowd Control takes to the streets with innovative experiments designed to test and curate social behavior, revealing how and why we behave as we do,” Julie Frazier of the National Geographic Channel told ABC News via email. “We will be releasing footage and additional information closer to the episodes air date.”

The Singing Road was constructed by Sand Bar Construction on old Route 66, just west of Tijeras and east of Albuquerque. A mathematician from Tigress Productions created the attraction for the National Geographic Channel series.

“They started work on Monday and finished on Tuesday,” Dosher said. “It’s remarkable the speed in which they finished it.”

Besides safety, the New Mexico Department of Tourism acknowledges an added value to the project.

“This is such a fun and creative way to encourage motorists to slow down and see more of our beautiful state, and it’s wonderful that National Geographic will be here to highlight the process,” New Mexico Department of Tourism Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson said in a statement.

DOT spokeswoman Dosher said, “It is such a promising project. I think it will develop into a great tourist attraction.”

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Ebola Patient’s Family Ordered to Stay Inside After Trying to Leave

Will Montgomery(DALLAS) — The family of the Texas Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, have been ordered to stay in their home after violating officials’ initial request not to leave.

“There were violations of the request to not leave their premises,” Dallas judge Clay Jenkins said of the breach that prompted the Texas Department of State Health Services to order the quarantine.

Duncan was staying with family members in Dallas when he became ill and was confined to an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. His family members, including five school-age children, were told to remain at home.

The entire apartment complex is being power-washed Thursday.

The order came as authorities track all the people who Duncan is believed to have come in contact with since his arrival. The circle of people who have come into contact with him has grown rapidly from 18 Wednesday night to 100, according to Texas health officials.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we’re starting with this very wide net, including people who have had even brief encounters with the patient or the patient’s home,” Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson Carrie Wilson said in a statement. “The number will drop as we focus in on those whose contact may represent a potential risk of infection.”

A team of 10 experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have arrived in Dallas and will be helping the local health officials “find, assess, and assist everyone who came into contact” with Duncan, according to a CDC news release.

Disease detectives, a public health adviser and senior scientists are included in the team.

“We are stopping Ebola in its tracks in this country,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in the release. “We can do that because of two things: strong infection control that stops the spread of Ebola in health care; and strong core public health functions to trace contacts, track contacts, isolate them if they have any symptoms and stop the chain of transmission. I am certain we will control this.”

Dr. David Lakey, Texas health commissioner, addressed the control order.

“We have tried and true protocols to protect the public and stop the spread of this disease,” Lakey said in the statement. “This order gives us the ability to monitor the situation in the most meticulous way.”

Authorities say the family members do not currently have symptoms of Ebola, which include fever above 100.5 degrees, headache, nausea, diarrhea or abdominal pain. The order will continue until at least Oct. 19.

Duncan flew from Liberia to Brussels on Sept. 19. He continued to Washington’s Dulles Airport, before flying to the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport on a United Airlines flight.

Authorities with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said airline passengers and flight crew members aren’t at risk for Ebola because Duncan wasn’t exhibiting symptoms until days later, but his diagnosis has left residents in Dallas on edge, with scrutiny for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, which allowed the man to leave after he told a nurse he had come from West Africa.

Duncan returned to the hospital by ambulance two days later. He remains in an isolation unit, listed in serious condition.

Mark Lester, the executive vice president of Texas Health Resources, said a communication issue was responsible for the lapse.

“Regretfully, that information was not fully communicated throughout the full team,” Lester said.

Duncan spoke on the phone Wednesday with family members who live near Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We talked today (with Duncan) and we prayed together with his mother and sister here,” said Joe Weeks, who lives with Duncan’s sister Mai.

Weeks said that the family is concerned that Duncan was admitted to the hospital and put in isolation on Sunday, but hasn’t received the experimental Ebola drugs.

“I don’t understand why he is not getting the Zmapp,” Weeks said.

The manufacturer of the drug has said they have run out of the experimental medicine.

Duncan’s former boss in Monrovia, Liberia, said the patient had been his driver for the last year or two until he abruptly left his job in early September.

“I really don’t know,” why he left, Henry Brunson, general manager of Safeway Cargo, told ABC News. “He didn’t resign. He just left the office. He just walked away.”

Brunson didn’t know where Duncan went until he saw him on the news as the Ebola patient in Dallas, Texas.

Duncan’s identity emerged as Texas health officials outlined efforts to track and monitor the people Duncan was in contact with since becoming sick over the weekend.

Three ambulance crew members who brought Duncan to the hospital were also tested for Ebola. The tests were negative, but the crew members were sent home and will be monitored for the next three weeks, the city said in a statement.

Frieden has said he believes the disease will be “stopped in its tracks” in this country.

Although American Ebola patients have been treated in the United States prior to this diagnosis, they all contracted Ebola in West Africa. Ebola has killed more than 3,300 people, with nearly 7,200 cases reported since the outbreak began in March.

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What Missing Girl Sabrina Allen’s Life Was Like in Mexico

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children(AUSTIN, Texas) — After 12 grueling years of searching for Sabrina Allen, authorities found the missing girl, who was not “living a regular life,” at an apartment in a town southeast of Mexico City.

The blond girl from Austin, Texas, whose face was plastered on missing persons posters, now has chestnut brown hair and goes by another name: Fair. She was with her noncustodial mother.

“She’s in pretty bad shape,” Greg Allen said of his 17-year-old daughter who went missing at age 4. “Sabrina has been under an intense campaign to hate me for 12 years. She’s currently under the care of a therapist that specializes in cases like this.”

As Allen waits patiently to reunite with his daughter, whose is now back in Texas, he said he is already working to line up support that will help her get up to speed on everything she missed.

At a news conference Wednesday in Austin, Allen said his daughter was “in pretty bad shape as far as my understanding.”

“She was not living a regular life,” he said. “She has not been going to school.”

In a video posted on a fundraising website to raise money for his daughter’s care, Allen said her education was reportedly several levels behind.

Acting on a tip from a confidential informant, Mexican officials worked with a team from private investigator Philip Klein’s office to track Sabrina and her mother, Dara Llorens, Tuesday morning to a small apartment in the state of Tlaxcala, authorities said.

“She was effectively a prisoner in a two-bedroom apartment. She has been told that I didn’t want her and that I committed suicide,” Allen said. “She was also told that both of my parents are dead.”

On April 19, 2002, Dara Llorens allegedly took her daughter for a scheduled weekend visit as part of a court-ordered child custody agreement.

Llorens never returned Sabrina to her father, who was her primary guardian, at the end of that weekend, according to the FBI.

Sabrina and Llorens were flown back to Texas Tuesday night. Llorens was booked into Travis County Jail on an aggravated kidnapping charge. It was not immediately known whether she has hired an attorney.

As Sabrina readjusts to life in the United States, her father said he hopes she has some memories of their time together from before she was taken, and to make some new ones with her, too.

“I want to know her. She’s a completely different person, but they say personalities are formed by age 5,” Allen told ABC News’ Austin affiliate KVUE-TV in an exclusive interview. “[I’m] hoping she has some memories still.”

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What Missing Girl Sabrina Allen’s Life Was Like in Mexico

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children(AUSTIN, Texas) — After 12 grueling years of searching for Sabrina Allen, authorities found the missing girl, who was not “living a regular life,” at an apartment in a town southeast of Mexico City.

The blond girl from Austin, Texas, whose face was plastered on missing persons posters, now has chestnut brown hair and goes by another name: Fair. She was with her noncustodial mother.

“She’s in pretty bad shape,” Greg Allen said of his 17-year-old daughter who went missing at age 4. “Sabrina has been under an intense campaign to hate me for 12 years. She’s currently under the care of a therapist that specializes in cases like this.”

As Allen waits patiently to reunite with his daughter, whose is now back in Texas, he said he is already working to line up support that will help her get up to speed on everything she missed.

At a news conference Wednesday in Austin, Allen said his daughter was “in pretty bad shape as far as my understanding.”

“She was not living a regular life,” he said. “She has not been going to school.”

In a video posted on a fundraising website to raise money for his daughter’s care, Allen said her education was reportedly several levels behind.

Acting on a tip from a confidential informant, Mexican officials worked with a team from private investigator Philip Klein’s office to track Sabrina and her mother, Dara Llorens, Tuesday morning to a small apartment in the state of Tlaxcala, authorities said.

“She was effectively a prisoner in a two-bedroom apartment. She has been told that I didn’t want her and that I committed suicide,” Allen said. “She was also told that both of my parents are dead.”

On April 19, 2002, Dara Llorens allegedly took her daughter for a scheduled weekend visit as part of a court-ordered child custody agreement.

Llorens never returned Sabrina to her father, who was her primary guardian, at the end of that weekend, according to the FBI.

Sabrina and Llorens were flown back to Texas Tuesday night. Llorens was booked into Travis County Jail on an aggravated kidnapping charge. It was not immediately known whether she has hired an attorney.

As Sabrina readjusts to life in the United States, her father said he hopes she has some memories of their time together from before she was taken, and to make some new ones with her, too.

“I want to know her. She’s a completely different person, but they say personalities are formed by age 5,” Allen told ABC News’ Austin affiliate KVUE-TV in an exclusive interview. “[I’m] hoping she has some memories still.”

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Why There Is a HUGE Face on The National Mall

Keith Lane/MCT via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The National Mall looks different today. You may only notice what looks like a zen garden while walking past it. But from up above the Washington Monument, you’ll notice a face.

The face is a 6-acre portrait shaped by Cuban American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, who used 2,500 tons of sand and 800 tons of soil. The eye is made from gravel.

But whose face is it? The portrait isn’t of anyone famous. Instead, it is several faces merged into one.

Rodriguez-Gerada told The Washington Post he photographed young men at the National Mall and created a composite image.

The project is called “Out of Many, One,” which is the English translation of E Pluribus Unum.

Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, the project was started on Sept. 2 and finished Thursday.

Bethany Bentley, a spokeswoman for the National Portrait Gallery, said that so far people have been enthusiastic about the portrait.

“When they’re looking at it, they’re trying to figure it out. Then they have this ah-ha moment especially when they’re at the top of the Washington Monument,” she said.

The giant portrait will be on display until Oct. 31.

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Woman Acquitted of First-Degree Murder in Husband’s Shooting Death

iStock/Thinkstock(CARLSBAD, Calif.) — A California mother of three was found not guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder in the death of her high school teacher husband, with a mistrial declared.

Jurors were deadlocked on whether Julie Harper, 41, should be convicted on lesser charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the 2012 shooting of Jason Harper. Prosecutors haven’t made a decision yet on whether to re-try the case on the lesser charges.

Prosecutors argued that Julie Harper shot and killed her husband during a fight in the couple’s Carlsbad, California, home. Instead of calling for help, prosecutors said, Harper took off with their three children and a getaway bag, driving around town before turning herself in 16 hours later.

“The children, say 8 or 9 a.m., they were downstairs watching cartoons when they heard a thud and heard their dad yell, ‘Ahh,’ and then a thump on the floor,” Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said.

Prosecutors said the couple argued frequently about her weight gain, as well as finances. Five days before the killing, prosecutors said, Julie Harper filed for divorce and allegedly withdrew nearly $20,000.

Julie Harper said the shooting was an accident, maintaining she was a victim of domestic abuse.

“He would just be in an absolute fury, in his rage, yelling and screaming,” she said.

Jurors also heard recordings that Harper made during her husband’s alleged rants, recordings alleged to feature Jason Harper screaming obscenities at his wife and demeaning her.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Michael Kraut said that the domestic abuse claims made it difficult for jurors to convict Harper.

“If a jury hears evidence that the victim shot her husband because she was in fear of being verbally and physically abused, they are gonna use that to find her not guilty of the crime of first-degree murder,” Kraut said.

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