Review Category : Top Stories

Alabama kidnapping victim escapes by jumping out of car trunk

iStock/Thinkstock(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — An Alabama woman managed to escape from a reported robbery and kidnapping incident on Tuesday by jumping out of the trunk of a moving vehicle, police said.

The woman told police that she was walking to her apartment in Birmingham, Alabama, when an unknown man approached her with a gun and demanded money, the Birmingham Police Department said in a statement Wednesday.

The unidentified woman told police that the suspect forced her to get into the trunk of a car after she told him that she did not have any money.

Recognize this man? Person of interest in recent Robbery/Kidnapping. If so please contact @BhamPolice or @CSMetroAL pic.twitter.com/eLHSQMa9La

— Birmingham Police (@BhamPolice) March 15, 2017

After the suspect drove to a gas station and convenience store in Birmingham, the woman was able to open the trunk and escape just as the vehicle was starting to pull away, police said. She then ran inside and called 911 for help.

The victim, 25, suffered minor injuries when she jumped out of the car, according to ABC News affiliate WBMA-TV.

Police are still searching for the suspect, and circulated an image of the man based on the gas station’s surveillance footage.

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Police say no evidence of criminal activity involved in crash at train crossing

moodboard/Thinkstock(BILOXI, Miss.) — Police in Mississippi say that they have found no evidence to suggest any criminal activity related to the train-bus crash earlier this month that left four people dead.

In a statement Wednesday night, the Biloxi Police Department said that the driver, Louis Ambrose Jr., 60, was an employee of Echo Tours. Ambrose is believed to have been en route to Boomtown Casino, and police say that “it doesn’t appear he was familiar with the area.”

The investigation into the crash remains ongoing, police noted.

On March 7, a casino charter bus driven by Ambrose got stuck while traveling over a hump at a train crossing. The crew of a CSX train attempted to stop when it spotted the bus, but was unable to avoid the collision.

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Hawaii judge puts Trump’s revised travel ban on hold

AlexStar/iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) — A federal judge in Hawaii has issued a nationwide temporary restraining order on President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued his ruling Wednesday after hearing arguments on Hawaii’s request for a temporary restraining order involving the ban.

His ruling prevents the executive order from going into effect Thursday.

Hawaii argued that the ban discriminates on the basis of nationality and would prevent Hawaiian residents from receiving visits from relatives in the six mostly Muslim countries covered by the ban.

The state also argued the ban would harm its tourism industry, as well as its ability to recruit foreign students and workers.

This story is breaking. Please check back for updates

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Dramatic audio captures air traffic controllers helping pilot land with broken throttle

mokee81/iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — A small-aircraft pilot recently got to thank a team of air traffic controllers who helped her land safely last year when her plane’s throttle broke, leaving her stranded in the air.

On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration released dramatic audio from the Feb. 14, 2016, incident.

In the nearly six minutes of edited audio, air traffic controller Mason Braddock and his team could be heard calmly explaining to pilot Cathy Lewan how to land her single-engine Cessna at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Georgia.

Lewan was alone in the plane and had been taking pictures.

“We’re going to touch down and cut power immediately to the airplane,” an air traffic controller says. “Whenever you’re ready, we can set you up for that. Like I said, we’ll have equipment standing by to help you on the runway.”

Lewan, getting emotional, then asks for a favor.

“Would you call my husband for me?” she says. “If you could, ask him to put a prayer chain out to my church and ask the whole church to start praying, and everybody else that’s listening. … Tell him that I love him and call my mother. And I know I’m going to be fine ’cause you’re helping me and the good Lord’s helping me.”

Braddock tells Lewan to give the team her husband’s cellphone number.

“We’ll make sure that he knows that you’re coming in,” he says. “We’re gonna call him. … It’s just gonna be a normal landing. … It’s gonna be fine. … There’s no rush.”

Lewan was able to land the plane safely. During a news conference Tuesday, Lewan met with Braddock as well as the rest of the air traffic controller team that helped her last year.

“They just really, really were there in every way for me,” she said during the news conference. “What I got was my own personal SWAT team — the super, wonderful Atlanta team.”

Braddock and his team from the FAA facility in Peachtree City, including Clay Sutton, Nicole Surunis, Patrick Burrows and Keith Tyus, are expected to receive one of aviation’s highest honors for lifesaving work at a ceremony next week in Las Vegas.

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Late-season winter storm leaves five dead across Northeast

iStock/Ingram Publishing(NEW YORK) — Falling temperatures and icy conditions were major concerns in much of the Northeast on Wednesday after a late-winter snowstorm that stretched from Washington, D.C., to New England, halted school, work and travel for millions of Americans, and left five people dead as a result of the severe conditions.

Tuesday’s powerful nor’easter left much of the Northeast paralyzed, though fell short of anticipated snow fall in New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

With only a week left in what has mostly been a mild winter, the storm dumped between one and two feet of snow in many areas. There was more than a foot in Portland, Maine, about 22 inches in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and a high of 41 inches in Bridgewater, New York, located between Syracuse and Albany.

Winds were also severe, with a whopping 79 mph winds recorded at the high end in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

But several cities of the I-95 corridor were largely spared from the storm’s worst effects — with two inches of snow seen in the nation’s capital, two inches in Baltimore, just under five inches in Philadelphia and a little over seven inches in parts of New York City.

But even where the weather forecast fell short of expectations, it exacted a heavy human cost in a few cases.

During Tuesday’s storm, an elderly man was struck by a snow plow and killed in East Hartford, Connecticut; a 16-year-old girl whose sedan skidded out of control died after striking a tree in New Hampshire; and a 47-year-old Staten Island man died of a heart attack while shoveling outside of his parents’ home.

Because the storm shifted inland from its originally projected path, the New York City area got dramatically less snow than expected. But many areas were under special weather advisories on Wednesday morning as falling temperatures threatened to turn the snow, sleet and sloppy mix into a slippery mess, sparking concerns about black ice for morning drivers and slick sidewalks for pedestrians.

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for Northern Vermont and New York, urging people in the area not to travel.

“Travel is not recommended this morning,” the NWS said in a statement early Wednesday.

“Extremely difficult travel conditions continue through the morning commute due to snow covered and slippery roads and poor visibilities from snowfall and blowing snow.”

Strong wind gusts of up to 30 miles per hour could lead to blowing and drifting snow in many areas received accumulating snow, reducing visibility to less than one mile at times, the NWS said.

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Colorado State student, boat crew member missing off Florida coast

iStock/Thinkstock(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) — Authorities are combing the waters near St. Petersburg, Florida, for two men — a Colorado State University student and a boat crew member — who went missing Tuesday evening, officials said.

The missing student was among 15 from Colorado who had taken a charter boat during spring break, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.

Five students went swimming off the side of the boat while it was anchored, but only four were able to swim back to the boat, the sheriff’s office said.

The crew member jumped in the water to help the student, and authorities think the wind, waves and current kept the men from reaching the boat, according to the sheriff’s office. Neither man was wearing a flotation device, the sheriff’s office said.

The incident happened at about 6 p.m. and the men have been missing since, the sheriff’s office said. The ongoing search is in the Pass-a-Grille Channel, which is near the Gulf of Mexico and Florida’s St. Pete Beach.

A Coast Guard spokesman told ABC News that Coast Guard crew members are searching “fervently” Wednesday by air and sea.

Mike Hooker, executive director of Public Affairs and Communications at Colorado State University, told ABC News in a statement, “The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority and we are very concerned to hear of what has happened in Florida.”

“The thoughts and hope of our CSU community are for the safety of our students involved in this incident, with the missing student and charter mate and families and friends of those involved, and for the safety of rescue crews who are involved in the search,” he added.

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EPA may roll back chemical plant safety rules

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has delayed regulations that were made in response to a 2013 explosion that occurred at a fertilizer storage plant in West, Texas, killing 15 and injuring hundreds.

The date of the rule focusing on preparing for chemical accidents has been delayed to June 19, according to the EPA. The public comment period for the rule has been extended to May 13, which will allow time for the agency to decide if it wants to delay the rule even further.

Last December, the Obama administration put the regulations in place in response to the explosion of the West Fertilizer Co. plant in West, Texas, in April 2013, according to Hillary Cohen, a spokesperson for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), an independent U.S. federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents.

The regulations, which were based on the CSB’s recommendations, were devised to set standards for how companies that own chemical plants, like West Fertilizer Co., communicate with their local communities, so that residents and first responders can prepare in advance for accidents like the explosion that took place.

Cohen told ABC News that her organization recommended the regulations primarily in order to keep people better informed of what was happening in a given facility.

“The CSB’s investigation of the West Fertilizer accident found significant gaps in information critical to first responders. The EPA’s proposed rule was in part a response to our findings and recommendations,” Cohen said. “In the final analysis, facility employees, communities and first responders should have adequate information to understand the risks inherent in such facilities, to ensure everyone’s safety.”

The American Chemistry Association, a lobbying arm for the industry, expressed “concerns” with the regulations, and promised to undertake an effort to review them.

Pruitt, 48, Oklahoma’s former attorney general, was narrowly confirmed by the Senate for his EPA post in February. President Trump has said he wants to roll back many Obama-era regulations created by the agency.

Industry groups submitted a petition to Pruitt in February, formally asking him for the kind of delay that was implemented this week, saying that “an administrative stay is appropriate and necessary while the agency considers and addresses the numerous flaws” in the regulations.

Pruitt issued a statement on the EPA’s website on Monday, saying the agency needs time to reconsider the Obama-era regulations.

“As an agency, we need to be responsive to concerns raised by stakeholders regarding regulations so facility owners and operators know what is expected of them,” Pruitt wrote.

Twelve of the 15 people who died at the West Fertilizer Co. plant explosion in 2013 were first responders, according to Frank Patterson, who led FEMA’s response to the incident.

Firefighters responded to a fire at the plant and began evacuating people in the vicinity.

Shortly thereafter, an explosion tore through a four-to-five block radius, leveling roughly 80 homes and a middle school and trapping 133 residents of a nursing home in rubble. The blast was so powerful, residents said, that it shook the ground. There were even reports of people hearing it several miles away, according to an ABC News report published at the time.

Patterson declined to comment on Pruitt’s decision to delay the regulations until he could appraise the agency’s final decision, but told ABC News that the man-made disaster was the worst such incident he had encountered in his career in emergency management.

“I was headed to what I was told was a fire, and when I got there I realized how bad it was,” Patterson said, referring to the 300 people who were injured by the blast.

“For me, it was a pressure situation and I think everybody who responded to the incident felt that pressure,” he added.

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Man breaks into Arizona mosque, desecrates copies of Quran

The Islamic Center of Tucson(TUCSON, Ariz.) — A man broke into an Arizona mosque earlier this week and desecrated copies of the Quran, the Islamic Center of Tucson said Tuesday.

The suspect entered the mosque on Monday around 3:30 a.m. and ripped copies of the Quran before throwing them on the floor, according to a post on the center’s Facebook page.

“He ripped copies of the Qur’an and threw them around the prayer room before leaving the building,” the center wrote. “Thankfully no one was hurt. The Tucson Police Department are looking for him.”

Surveillance footage circulated by the center showed the suspect wearing a red University of Arizona T-shirt and a baseball cap.

The center described it as an “isolated incident.”

“Although we are disheartened by this incident, we understand that this is an isolated incident,” the center wrote. “The ICT has been a part of the Tucson community since the late 1980’s and since then, the Tucson community has been kind, welcoming, and supportive.”

The vandalism comes on the heels of a spate of threats directed at Jewish Community Centers across the country.

Last month, a group of Muslim activists started a crowdfunding campaign to help repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery near St. Louis, Missouri.

Spearheaded by Muslim-American activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi, the campaign raised more than $161,000.

The activists said they aimed to “stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn” acts of religious desecration.

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Late-season winter storm leaves three dead across Northeast

iStock/Ingram Publishing(NEW YORK) — Falling temperatures and icy conditions were major concerns in much of the Northeast on Wednesday after a late-winter snowstorm that stretched from Washington, D.C., to New England, halted school, work and travel for millions of Americans, and left three people dead as a result of the severe conditions.

Tuesday’s powerful nor’easter left much of the Northeast paralyzed, though fell short of anticipated snow fall in New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

With only a week left in what has mostly been a mild winter, the storm dumped between one and two feet of snow in many areas. There was more than a foot in Portland, Maine, about 22 inches in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and a high of 41 inches in Bridgewater, New York, located between Syracuse and Albany.

Winds were also severe, with a whopping 79 mph winds recorded at the high end in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

But several cities of the I-95 corridor were largely spared from the storm’s worst effects — with two inches of snow seen in the nation’s capital, two inches in Baltimore, just under five inches in Philadelphia and a little over seven inches in parts of New York City.

But even where the weather forecast fell short of expectations, it exacted a heavy human cost in a few cases.

During Tuesday’s storm, an elderly man was struck by a snow plow and killed in East Hartford, Connecticut; a 16-year-old girl whose sedan skidded out of control died after striking a tree in New Hampshire; and a 47-year-old Staten Island man died of a heart attack while shoveling outside of his parents’ home.

Because the storm shifted inland from its originally projected path, the New York City area got dramatically less snow than expected. But many areas were under special weather advisories on Wednesday morning as falling temperatures threatened to turn the snow, sleet and sloppy mix into a slippery mess, sparking concerns about black ice for morning drivers and slick sidewalks for pedestrians.

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for Northern Vermont and New York, urging people in the area not to travel.

“Travel is not recommended this morning,” the NWS said in a statement early Wednesday.

“Extremely difficult travel conditions continue through the morning commute due to snow covered and slippery roads and poor visibilities from snowfall and blowing snow.”

Strong wind gusts of up to 30 miles per hour could lead to blowing and drifting snow in many areas received accumulating snow, reducing visibility to less than one mile at times, the NWS said.

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McDonald’s employee rescues unconscious cop in Florida

iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) — A McDonald’s employee in Florida rescued a police officer on Tuesday after she became unconscious at the restaurant’s drive-thru window, according to a local ABC News affiliate report.

Surveillance footage provided to Miami-based station WPLG showed the fast-acting employee, Pedro Viloria, jumping out of the Doral store’s drive-thru window after a customer very slowly pulled away and ran into a median.

Viloria said the customer — an off-duty Miami-Dade police officer who had her two children in the backseat — was suffering from a medical emergency.

ONLY ON 10: Surveillance video shows a McDonalds worker jump from the drive thru window to save an unconscious police officer. More at 6pm. pic.twitter.com/JP6fqxCTaS

— Derek Shore (@DerekShore) March 14, 2017

Viloria said the customer pulled up and paid for her order without a problem, but he noticed that she was having trouble breathing once he returned to the window with her food.
“In that moment, I thought, I’d rather save that woman’s life,” Viloria told WPLG on Tuesday. “I see she’s like inflating her neck, like trying to breathe, like ‘ahh,’ and basically I thought something was going wrong.”

After checking on the customer and finding her unconscious, Viloria said he rushed back into the restaurant to get help.

Thankfully, he did not have to look far.

A customer, who identified herself as a paramedic, jumped into action and assisted the cop, WPLG reported.

Moments later, an off-duty Miami-Dade Fire Rescue worker entered the store and offered his assistance as well, according to the report.

“The real heroes are the fire rescuers,” Viloria told WPLG.

Viloria said the first responders performed CPR on the woman and used an automated external defibrillator machine to revive her.

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