Review Category : Top Stories

Elementary Students in NY Return Home After Being Stuck at School Due to Snowstorm

iStock/Thinkstock(WEST SENECA, N.Y.) — Students in upstate New York who were stuck at school overnight because of a heavy snowstorm have returned safely to their homes Friday morning, school officials said.

Students at West Elementary and Allendale Elementary schools in West Seneca, New York, spent Thursday night in school classrooms when road conditions became treacherous. At one point, school buses carrying nearly 50 students were told to return to the school, according to the school district.

West Seneca was blanketed with 26 inches of snow by 10 p.m. Thursday, the Buffalo News reported.

Parents said they received robocalls throughout the night informing them about the situation, ABC News affiliate WKBW in Buffalo reported.

“It was scary not knowing the whereabouts. I didn’t know what school he was at, at first, and then he had called,” parent Jamie Weixlmann told WKBW of her son. “It was scary but it was good to know they were in safe hands here at school.”

School officials said via Twitter that the students and faculty were eating pizza, watching movies and playing board games. “Things are great,” West Elementary principal Carolyn Anderson said in a tweet.

The superintendent’s office for the West Seneca Central School District did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

The nasty weather currently affecting residents in upstate New York will next head to mid-Atlantic states and southern New England.

Winter storm advisories were in effect from Alabama to the southern Delmarva Peninsula, including Birmingham, Greenville/Spartanburg, Charlotte, Durham and Norfolk, according to the National Weather Service.

As much as 56 inches of snow has pummeled the Sierra Nevada mountain range so far this week, due to a persistent plume of jet stream off the Pacific Northwest. That jet stream will move to the South and East regions, according to ABC News meteorologists.

Meanwhile, forecasts indicate a powerful “atmospheric river” event will take aim at California this weekend and into next week with heavy precipitation and high snow levels.

The brunt of the storm is expected to arrive Sunday and Monday, which could unleash floods that the National Weather Service said may be the worst since December 2005.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Firefighters Rescue Two Teens Who Fell Through Icy Lake

iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — Firefighters in northwestern Washington raced against the clock Wednesday afternoon to save two teenage boys who fell through an icy lake.

The teens, both 15, had apparently walked out to the middle of Lake Serene near Lynnwood, Washington, when the ice broke and the boys fell into the cold water, according to a news release from Snohomish County Fire District 1.

Someone immediately called 911 for help, and a rescue team responded to the scene “within minutes,” the fire department wrote in the release. The boys “were about 150 feet from the shore when firefighters arrived,” the fire department added.

It was “certainly a long way to be from shore,” firefighter David Erickson told ABC affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle.

One of the teens managed to climb out of the water and make it back to shore safely, Erickson said.

The other teen was not able to get out on his own, and he was in icy water for “at least 30 minutes before he was rescued,” according to the news release.

That teen “had some hypothermia and couldn’t get out,” Erickson told KOMO. “He needed assistance with even the simplest of tasks, from getting the life jacket on to getting on the rescue board.”

Erickson added that it is “very difficult to survive out there in street clothes and boots.”

Pamela Penning, an 84-year-old woman who lives in a home on the lake, witnessed the rescue and captured several photos.

“Of course you can’t get very far and fast on ice and in freezing water, so it was painfully slow and agonizing to watch,” Penning told ABC News Thursday. She added that she was impressed by the rescue operation, “which was so efficiently and carefully done.”

Once both teens were ashore, they were transported to a nearby medical center, according to the fire department’s news release. Health privacy laws prevented the department from releasing additional information on the boys’ conditions, the news release said.

Erickson told KOMO he hopes the rescue story is a lesson not to play on frozen lakes and ponds.

“It’s deceptive near the shore” where the ice is thickest, he said, adding that the ice gets thinner as you go further into the center of the lake.

Leslie Hynes, public information officer for the fire department, said that the teens were “very fortunate.”

“Even though temperatures here have been below freezing for several days, the ice on our lakes and ponds doesn’t get thick enough for anyone to safely walk across it,” Hynes said in the fire department’s release.

“We’ve had fatalities in the past and we urge everyone to stay off the ice,” she added.

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Tilikum, SeaWorld Killer Whale Featured in “Blackfish,” Has Died

iStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Tilikum, one of SeaWorld’s best-known orcas featured in the documentary Blackfish, has died, the theme park announced Friday.

The killer whale passed away early Friday morning “surrounded by the trainers, care staff and veterinarians that provided him around-the-clock world-class care,” SeaWorld said in a statement on its website.

SeaWorld veterinarians had been treating the whale for “a persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection,” but the official cause of death will not be determined until a necropsy, an animal version of an autopsy, is performed, the theme park wrote.

Tikilum was estimated to be about 36 years old when he passed. He was “near the high end of the average life expectancy for male killer whales, according to an independent scientific review,” SeaWorld said.

The orca first came to the park 25 years ago and has been connected to the deaths of three people at the park.

One of the most prominent deaths happened in 2010, when the 12,000-pound, 22-foot animal pulled SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau into the water and killed her.

The 2013 documentary Blackfish examined the tragedy and raised the question of whether killer whales should be held in captivity.

Seaworld acknowledged in its statement Friday that “Tilikum’s life will always be inextricably connected with the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Dawn Brancheau.”

“While we all experienced profound sadness about that loss, we continued to offer Tilikum the best care possible, each and every day, from the country’s leading experts in marine mammals,” the park said.

SeaWorld’s president and CEO, Joel Manby, added that “Tilikum had, and will continue to have, a special place in the hearts of the SeaWorld family, as well as the millions of people all over the world that he inspired.”

“My heart goes out to our team who cared for him like family,” Manby said.

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Man Tries to Burglarize Spy Shop Selling Surveillance Cameras

iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) — Note to would-be burglars: Attempting to rob a shop that makes its business selling surveillance cameras may not be the smartest move.

That’s precisely what happened in South Florida early Wednesday morning, when a man attempted to break into a spy shop in Deerfield Beach.

The would-be robber tried to break into Spy Spot Investigations by smashing its door with a rock, but he failed.

Not surprisingly, his failed attempt was caught on several cameras.

“This is probably the last place you would want to try to burglarize,” store manager Evan Tannenbaum told WSVN in Miami. “We got a whole bunch of surveillance cameras. We’ve got hidden cameras, we also do GPS tracking devices, audio recording devices.”

Tannenbaum said the store’s cameras captured the aspiring thief approaching the store and picking up a rock. “And then all he did was he went over to the door, he threw it right against it,” Tannenbaum said.

And it even appears that the would-be thief was aware of the surveillance cameras. Tannenbaum said there are signs alerting that cameras are rolling.

“And at one point, it looks like he can tell he’s on camera, but he doesn’t stop,” he said. “Then he comes back, basically kicks the door again, tries to push it with his hands and then walks away.”

A stunned Tannenbaum reiterated, “I don’t know why you would try to rob a spy store. The guy’s probably not the smartest criminal.”

Police are circulating images of the man that the store’s cameras captured.

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Findlay Police Chief Retires Saturday

1/6/17 – 5:12 A.M.

Findlay Police Chief Greg Horne’s last day on the job is Saturday. Horne is retiring so he can take a job as the director of public safety at Ohio Northern University. He started as an auxiliary officer in Findlay in 1983, becoming chief in 2010.

Horne tells the Courier humor is the key to getting through the sometimes stressful job. Horne says, “Sometimes it seems like a dysfunctional family. You would do really stupid stuff and make fun of each other. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a whole lot of good guys.”

Horne said a lot has changed in law enforcement since he first became an auxiliary officer in 1983. Horne said, “We’ve become problem-solvers rather than just enforcement.” He added officers now train in many areas like crisis intervention, safety curriculums, and even cultural differences.

Captain Sean Young will serve as the interim chief while the search for a full-time replacement take place. Young is eligible for the role. Lieutenants Ryan Doe, Robert Ring and John Dunbar are also eligible.

MORE: The Courier

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Officer Captured RI Prison Escapee by Chasing Him for Two Blocks

Massachusetts State Police(BOSTON) — A Massachusetts state trooper spotted a federal prison escapee in a town outside Boston and chased him on foot for two blocks before taking the man into custody as he tried to jump a fence.

James Morales, 35, had been on the run for days after breaking out of a federal prison in Rhode Island on New Year’s Eve.

On Thursday afternoon, after Morales allegedly tried to rob two banks in the Boston area, state trooper Joseph Merrick chased and captured him in Somerville, Massachusetts.

“At the beginning of the shift, we were notified that the subject could be in the area,” Merrick later told reporters, according to ABC affiliate WCVB-TV in Boston.

“I saw the suspect which I believed to be the escapee from Rhode Island. After a foot chase, a couple of fences, I was able to get him into custody,” Merrick said.

State Police Colonel Richard McKeon said Merrick managed to pull Morales off a fence and tackle him.

Three other officers helped Merrick make the arrest, WCVB reported.

“It was a great job by everybody just to get him off the street, a dangerous man,” Merrick said, according to WCVB. “I’m glad I was able to help out.”

Morales — a former Army reservist — was in federal custody for the “theft of numerous firearms from the Worcester Army Reserve Armory in 2015,” Massachusetts State Police said. He was also wanted “for an alleged violent and brutal sexual assault of a child,” police said.

He escaped from a Rhode Island federal prison — the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls — on New Year’s Eve, authorities said.

Morales is expected to appear in federal court in Rhode Island Friday morning.

Officials said Morales broke out of the prison by climbing a basketball hoop to reach a rooftop, cutting through a fence and then climbing through razor wire.

Morales was discovered to be missing by prison staff at 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 — about three hours after he escaped, authorities said.

Jamie Hainsworth, a U.S. marshal for the district of Rhode Island, said earlier this week that officials will take a “hard look” at the procedures of the Wyatt prison and investigate whether the community of Central Falls was appropriately notified of the escape.

Hours before his capture, Morales allegedly tried to rob a bank in Somerville and another bank in nearby Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The FBI in Boston released surveillance images of the Cambridge robbery and urged the public to help police find Morales.

Morales will not be taken back to the Wyatt facility, U.S. Marshal Kevin Neal told reporters.

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Professional Slackliner Describes Rescuing Skier Dangling from Chairlift

ABC News(KEYSTONE, Colo.) — The professional slackliner who saved a fellow skier from a near-death experience at a Colorado ski resort said he had a a “eureka moment” when he realized how he could save his friend’s life.

Mickey Wilson was skiing with friends at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, in Keystone, Colorado, Wednesday when one of them suddenly disappeared from the chairlift.

“Our other friend had to ride up front because there wasn’t enough space for him on our chair and when we got off the chair he wasn’t there,” Wilson said Friday on Good Morning America. “At first we didn’t know what to think of that and then we started to hear screams and yells.”

“We went down to investigate and we saw our friend hanging lifelessly from the chair,” he said.

Wilson said he and his friends realized their friend could possibly die. They first teamed up with a chair lift operator to try to form what Wilson described as a “human pyramid” to reach their friend, who did want to be identified.

“Because of the very deep powder…we just toppled over and it didn’t work,” said Wilson who competes around the world in slacklining, a sport that involves walking on a flat piece of webbing tied between two anchors, such as trees.

With the ski patrol on its way to help, Wilson said he knew “time was of the essence.”

He said he had a “eureka moment” when he realized he could climb the nearby lift tower and “shimmy” down the cable to reach the victim.

“I threw off my gloves,” said Wilson. “It was very cold but the adrenaline was really pumping.”

Wilson said people below yelled at him to stop climbing the tower. He then got on the cable and treated it like a slackline.

“I slid across it, just like I’ve done thousands of time on a slackline and I got down to him,” Wilson said. “I realized I didn’t have my knife. Right then ski patrol showed up and one of the ski patrolmen made the most perfect toss to me from below from about 20 feet and I caught the knife with my hurt hand and cut him down,” he recounted. “It was a wave of relief.”

The injured skier was transported to a local hospital and treated for injuries, including a broken rib, but was released from the hospital on Thursday, according to Wilson.

“They’re actually having survival a party for him,” said Wilson. “It’s amazing.”

Wilson wrote on Instagram, where he posted photos documenting the rescue, that the friend “got his backpack strap stuck in the chairlift as he tried to unload and the lift dragged him back down the hill.”

Officials at Arapahoe Basin emphasized that the skier should not have been wearing a backpack on the ski lift. The ski lift was stopped immediately after the incident, officials said.

“It’s okay to use a backpack skiing but when you get on the chairlift take it off,” said Arapahoe Basin Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth. “Hold on to it. Set it on your lap and don’t wear it when you’re riding the chairlift.”

The injured skier, identified by The Denver Post as a 30-year-old from Broomfield, Colorado, told the newspaper he just remembers people yelling as his backpack before it became entangled in the chairlift.

“Then it was all a blur,” he told the Post on Thursday. “It was kind of surreal. I knew I was going around the (bullwheel) and then I was backwards and all of the sudden I was blacking out.”

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area issued a statement to ABC News Thursday about the incident.

“The lift did not malfunction and is currently running and open to the public,” the statement read. “We wish to extend our best wishes to our guest for a speedy recovery.”

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Michelle Obama to Make Final Remarks as First Lady

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — First lady Michelle Obama will give her final remarks as first lady Friday at an event recognizing the 2017 School Counselor of the Year.

School Counselor of the Year is an annual White House tradition started in 2015 by Obama as part of her Reach Higher initiative, according to the first lady’s office.

Obama “has championed school counselors and encouraged post-secondary education for students across the country,” her office said in a press release.

While the first lady is expected to remain publicly engaged on several issues close to her heart, she had profusely ruled out ever seeking public office.

The American School Counselor Association selects awardees from all 50 states, based on criteria including creative school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership skills and contributions to student enhancement, according to the White House.

Awardees and guests will also attend a panel featuring Education Secretary John B. King Jr., former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, actress Connie Britton, 2016 School Counselor of the Year Katherine Pastor and First-Generation Baltimore Founder Verlando Brown.

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Family of Facebook Live Alleged Torture Victim Speaks Out: ‘This Should Never Happen’

WLS-TV/ABC News(CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill.) — The family of the 18-year old Chicago-area man who was bound and allegedly tortured Tuesday in a Facebook Live video spoke out for the first time Thursday.

“He’s doing well — as well as he could be at this time,” the victim’s brother-in-law, David Boyd, told reporters at a press conference at a Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

“We’re so grateful for all the prayers and efforts that led to the safe return of our brother,” Boyd said.

Police said the victim has “mental health challenges.”

“This should never happen,” Boyd said of his brother-in-law being tormented for nearly six hours by his captors at an apartment on Chicago’s West Side.

Boyd said the family is “trying to stick together” and has been “overwhelmed and surprised” by the outpouring of support from the public.

“We’re happy everyone is concerned,” he said. “We appreciate all the support from everyone … We haven’t spoken to anyone but each other, but we have read what’s out there and we really appreciate it.”

He added, “At this time, we ask for continued prayers for all those involved and for our family’s privacy as we cope and heal. We would also like to thank the Streamwood and Chicago police departments for their help.”

Boyd also confirmed that the family is “fully aware of the charges being brought against the offenders.”

CPD Arrested and Charged all four offenders with Hate Crime, as well as other charges, from West Side kidnapping and attack. Presser@2:15 pic.twitter.com/EoYnluf573

— Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) January 5, 2017

Jordan Hill, 18, sisters Brittany and Tanishia Covington, 18 and 24 respectively, and Tesfaye Cooper, 18, were charged with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Hill, Cooper and Brittany Covington were also charged with residential burglary. Hill was additionally charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to the prosecutor’s office.

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Seven-Year-Old Saves Baby Sister’s Life After Stray Bullet Strikes Family’s Car

iStock/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) — A 7-year-old girl was being praised as a hero for saving her 22-month-old sister’s life after a stray bullet struck their family’s car in Oakland on Thursday, ABC affiliate KGO-TV reported.

The girl’s mother, who asked that she not be named, told police she had parked her car in East Oakland just before noon to consult her GPS when the shots rang out.

The mother said she reached back to check on the toddler and saw blood coming from her back. That’s when she asked her 7-year-old daughter, who was also in the car, to apply pressure to the wound while she raced to the hospital.

Residents near the crime scene describe the chaos that broke out when the shooting occurred.

“It was like four or five [shots] and then a pause, and then like another four,” said neighbor Claire Stanley. “Right after the last gunshot I heard a car peeling away.”

Family members of the girl said that two cars were shooting at each other and the girl got caught in the crossfire.

The little girl was in stable condition after undergoing surgery on Thursday night.

“I can let you know she is stable. And, we just ask for prayers. We’re holding up fine,” a member of the girl’s family said.

Oakland police say they are still investigating what happened.

“That’s my child too that got shot, that little girl,” said community activist Daryle Albums. “They’re crying. I’m crying. I mean we’re all in this together.”

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