Entries in Colorado (14)


Colorado Business Denies Withholding Massage Because of Woman's Weight

Courtesy Laura Smith(AURORA, Colo.) -- The owner of a Colorado company accused of refusing to massage a woman because of her weight has denied the allegation.

"She was never refused service and she was never called fat," owner Penny Wells of the Natural Healing Center in Aurora told ABC News on Thursday.

Wells contacted ABC News on Thursday after declining to respond to repeated requests for comment on Wednesday.

Would-be customer Laura Smith said she entered the Natural Healing Center last month, hoping for a massage to relieve the aftereffects of a half-marathon she had run the day before.

"I ran 13.1 miles. I was hurting just from that in and of itself," Smith, 31, told ABC News this week. "I was really looking forward to the massage. I was going to relax."

Instead, Smith said, the owner "was very matter of fact about it. She said, 'I'm really sorry, but you're just too fat for our table. You'll probably break [it] and have to pay for it.'"

Wells denies the accusations.

At 6-foot-3 with an athletic build, the 250-pound Smith said massages at other places have never been an issue.

"I was just kind of in shock," she recalled of the Jan. 21 incident. "When it sunk in, I just started to cry, then I grabbed my stuff and left."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Colorado Teens to Drink with Parental Supervision?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- The state of Colorado will shift its focus away from recently legalized marijuana and toward underage drinking…with supervision, that is. Republican Senator Greg Brophy from Wray, Colo., hopes to propose a new law that would allow 18-year-olds to drink alcohol at bars and restaurants with parental supervision.

Brophy told ABC News that the bill is almost finalized and is in drafting but it should be presented in the next few days.

Brophy told ABC News that he thought that 18-year-olds should have this right because alcohol is a legal substance that they would be consuming legally in a mere three years anyway. "It would be a good idea for young adults to learn about responsible use of this product with responsible adults."

When asked why 18 was the chosen age, Brophy said, "As a society we have arbitrarily chosen that age to convey upon people most of the rights and responsibilities of adulthood." He continues, "At 18 people are old enough to enter into binding contracts, they are old enough to vote, and to serve our country. Age 18 is the number that society has chosen, so I figured we would start there."

As of now, Colorado's drinking laws are fairly lenient. The Centennial State allows its under-agers to consume alcohol on private, non-alcohol-selling premises, with parental supervision, for educational purposes (such as culinary students), and for medical or religious purposes.

"Why is it appropriate for the state to deny responsible parents the opportunity to show their own adult children how to safely and responsibly consume adult beverages in public?" Brophy asked.

Under Brophy's proposal, parents would need to provide their ID as well as identification for their child. However, the server would ultimately have the say on whether alcohol would be served to the underage person.

Pete Meersman, CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, says that he is opposed to the legislation: "It puts all the burden of making the decisions of who can and can't be served onto our servers and our operators."

Meersman continues, "We can have our license suspended or revoked if there is an issue with serving someone under 21 years of age."

The concern of the Colorado Restaurant Association is that they have no real way of discerning between a parental relationship. Meersman mentions the situations of young married couples where one partner is 21 and the other is not and he discusses complications dealing with civil unions and couples/families who do not share the same last name.

"We have no way of telling who is legitimate and who is not," Meersman says.

"If the bill passes, which we are opposed to, we will advise our members to not serve anyone who is under 21." Meersman continues, "We are not going to take any chances on losing our license and the liabilities will ultimately rest on the servers and on the restaurants."

If the legislation passes, Colorado would not be alone in their quest for consented alcohol consumption for young adults. Eleven states -- Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming-- allow the consumption of alcohol for 18-year-olds on alcohol-selling premises such as restaurants and bars with parental approval.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Colorado, Washington Become First States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In a groundbreaking move, Colorado and Washington voters have passed referendums legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The drug is still banned under federal law.

Colorado's Proposition 64 to the state's constitution makes it legal for anyone over the age of 21 to possess marijuana and for businesses to sell it.

"The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. "This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."

Amendment 64 legalized marijuana for anyone over the age of 21 at certain retail stores. Proponents believed the bill could generate millions in revenue for the state government.

A similar measure on the ballot in Washington state legalizes small amounts of marijuana for people over 21.

Even though the issues have passed, they are likely to meet legal challenges very quickly.

In 2005, the Supreme Court struck down a California law that legalized medical marijuana in the state. The Court said Congress had the power to criminalize marijuana under the Commerce Clause.

A similar ballot issue to legalize marijuana in Oregon did not pass.

In Massachusetts Tuesday night, voters approved legislation to allow marijuana for medicinal reasons, joining 17 other states that allow it.

In addition to making a presidential pick, voters in states across the country voted on a number of polarizing issues including same-sex marriage and physician-assisted suicide.

Dozens of state-wide ballot questions were posed to voters, and their implications could reverberate across state lines.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Family of Colorado Shooting Suspect Faces Difficult Emotional Road

University of Colorado Denver(AURORA, Colo.) -- The family of Aurora, Colo., shooting suspect James Holmes faces a difficult emotional road in the days, weeks and months ahead as they struggle to cope with the enormous reality of his alleged actions, experts told ABC News.

In a statement, the family said their "hearts go out to those who [were] involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved."  His mother also told ABC News earlier her son was likely the accused gunman.

By acknowledging what happened, they are taking important steps in the healing process.  Mental health professionals who do not know the Holmes family, and are speaking about the aftermath of violence in general, said that the healing process will likely include disbelief, anger, guilt and grief.  How they cope depends on factors such as their individual characteristics.

"Invariably, they need to be as candid as they can and give one or two interviews so everybody knows what they know," said Charles Figley, director of Tulane University's Traumatology Institute.  "They will undoubtedly be hounded."

After that time, however, the family will need some privacy to deal with the wide range of emotions they are likely to experience.

"They are in the disbelief stage right now, but they may go through an anger stage, then maybe a guilt stage," said Catherine Mogil, an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.  "They may also feel shame that they didn't do more, and may ask whether they missed warning signs or whether they should have done more."

Grief is also a common reaction in traumatic situations, she explained.

"They may be grieving for someone they thought was their brother or son, who is no longer the person they knew," she said.

And that loss can be compounded by other losses.

"There can be societal stigma toward family members of individuals who have committed these kinds of crimes," said Dr. Amir Afkhami, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University Medical Center.  "There's some degree of thought that they somehow colluded with the killer at some level, or are at least collaterally guilty and created some sort of environment that bred this person."

They may also suffer financially if they have business or economic ties to the community.

"Because of the stigma, they may be threatened with the loss of jobs," he added.

The heavy emotional toll may lead to other serious consequences as well.

"In the long term, this can lead in two directions," Afkhami said. "There is a high risk of developing psychiatric illnesses because of the social pressure -- major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress have been reported in family members of killers.  In other cases, family members who are resilient may use their experience as a means of engaging in activism."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How to Talk to Children About the Colorado Movie Theater Shooting

Thomas Cooper/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Hours after the horrific shooting during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at a Colorado movie theater, Melissa Lawrence's young children were on their way to camp, happily oblivious to the tragedy.

They won't stay that way for long. Lawrence said she plans on sitting down her 7- and 8-year-old sons this evening to gently and simply explain to them what happened at an Aurora, Colo., theater hundreds of miles away from their New York home.

"I'll explain that unfortunately these people went to this movie, thinking they were going to enjoy it, and a very ill person came in and did this horrible thing. ... No one expected it to happen in this way," said Lawrence, 42, who wrote about the issue on her parenting how-to video site, "I'm not going to lie about it, but I'm not going to go into every detail."

On Friday, parents across the country are struggling with how to talk to their kids in the aftermath of a tragedy that killed and injured both adults and children. Experts generally agree that in the aftermath of such a tragedy, parents should keep their answers simple, leaving out dramatic details, while reassuring their children of their safety.

But there's more to it than that.

Like other massacres, the injuries and the deaths associated with the tragedy are nearly incomprehensible. But unlike other shootings, the fact that it happened during the viewing of a movie -- the third in director Christopher Nolan's popular Batman film franchise -- anticipated by kids and teenagers everywhere may make it feel frighteningly close to home.

"For weeks, I've had kids in my practice talking about how excited they are for the premiere, planning dates with friends, weeks in advance of the premiere for the movie," said Dr. Jerry Weichman, an adolescent psychologist and parenting expert in California. Now those same kids and others may be at risk of developing phobias of theaters that could last for weeks or months, he said.

A shooting during the showing of any movie, Weichman said, could have the same effect -- but "the fact that it was Batman takes it up a notch for them."

New York mom Lawrence said she doesn't plan to tell her sons that the shooting happened during the Batman movie, which the boys are excited to see.

"I think it's going to scare them, and it's not going to help them understand this tragedy," she said.

Not everyone agrees that the Batman factor is important.

"Kids aren't going to be associating this with Batman. It's going to be the trauma of the whole thing," said Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University, and the director of the Yale Parenting Center.

Kazdin said that young children, in particular, will be much more affected by the dramatic visuals associated with the shooting, such as police cars outside the theater, than by any ties to The Dark Knight.

Kazdin recommends shielding children from media reports on the shooting to reduce the risk of "secondary terrorism" -- a phenomenon witnessed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"There were children who had nothing to do with 9/11 but saw endlessly [reports about it] in the media and some developed traumatic reactions," Kazdin explained. "Such exposure can really have enormous impact."

When a child does show signs of being upset by the tragedy, parents should still plan to return with them to the movies eventually, some experts say.

"Anxious, shy, inhibited kids may need to stay back a few days or weeks. Others may want to go and feel better with friends or family. Teens as well may want to hold off or go with others. I would tend to base the decision on going on how anxious, worried and upset the child is," said Dr. Gene Beresin, director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital. "Frankly, if you keep them away for too long, they may develop a phobia of movies. While we don't want to push them, we do not want to give them the message that movies are dangerous places. They are not!"

Here are more tips from parenting experts on the best ways to address the Colorado shooting with your children:

Watch for Trauma: "Young children may have difficulties identifying and expressing feelings. Parents should pay attention to the children's play (for instance, preoccupation with certain aggressive electronic games, drawings, repetitive play that imitates the traumatic event or events). Another sign of trauma is avoidance of reminders (in this case, going to the movies or to a show or watching certain movies or avoiding other activities that they didn't avoid before)." -- Dr. Aurelia Bizamcer, Medical Director, Outpatient Psychiatry at Temple University Hospital.

Keep Answers Truthful but Simple: "We're not holding back, but we're not giving more because the giving more could have the risk of alarming the child. ... As a parent you have an obligation to protect a young child from being overwhelmed." -- Alan Kazdin, Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University; Director of the Yale Parenting Center.

Reassure Them: "We need to appreciate that kids have different fears. Many will worry about the movies, but others will worry about such events spilling over to other areas, such as the mall, school, the neighborhood. For kids of all ages, it is really important to let them know that these kinds of events are incredibly rare. Movie theaters are very safe places. Just think of all the movies you, mom and dad and everyone has gone to. Things like this really do not happen much at all." -- Dr. Gene Beresin, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training, Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital.

Keep Answers Age-Appropriate: "Parents should be sure to pitch the discussion to their kids' developmental level. For a 6-year-old, it's completely appropriate to reassure them of their safety, with some emphasis on the fact that police have caught the person they think did this, and he is no longer at large. For kids over the age of 8, more concrete details are appropriate, along with, perhaps, a general discussion of how to be safe in public -- locating exit doors for instance, and getting to safety in the event of any dangerous occurrence." -- Jay Reeve,President and Chief Executive Officer, Apalachee Center

Don't Make Assumptions: "Don't project your own feelings, fears and anxiety on kids because you know you don't really know exactly what your kids are feeling until you talk to them." -- Dr. Jane Taylor, psychiatrist

Here are sample answers and tactics meant to reassure children of specific ages, courtesy of Dr. Anand Pandya, co-founder of the Disaster Psychiatry Outreach Center and an associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA:

Preschool Age:
"Something bad happened, but we're going to keep you safe."

School-Age Children: "These things almost never happen. Shootings are extremely rare, and there may be an individual who is sick or who has problems who did this."

Teenagers: Teenagers will be watching the news reports with or without their parents. Engage in a conversation with them. Ask your teenager, "What do you think we should do?" This may strike up a conversation about gun safety or regulations. Again, remind them that this is rare. If they do want to go to the movies, reinforce safety routines.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Saved by Wrong Number 

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio) -- Loretta Smith, 70, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, is back home from the hospital Friday. She was having a stroke last week when she tried to call her son. Instead she got Kenny Crater, 28, a student who lives in Broomfield, Colo., near Denver. It was a mis-dialed call that ended up saving her life.

“If I would have kept laying on that floor, I would have died,” Smith told ABC News.

Last Saturday, Smith was sitting on her bed when the right side of her body went numb. She fell off of her bed and landed on her left arm, the only arm that she could move.

“I was scared to death. A million things go through your mind,” she said.

Thinking that she was on the brink of death, Smith flailed about, trying to free her arm. In the process, Smith knocked into her dresser. Her phone fell out of its holster on the dresser and landed next to her left hand.

Smith tried to dial her son’s number, but dialed one digit incorrectly and instead got Crater on the line in Colorado. Instead of hanging up, he listened to her tell him that she was having a stroke and where she lived. He then called his closest police department, the Broomfield Police Department, who transferred him to Cuyahoga Falls police.

In a recording of his call to Cuyahoga Falls Police, Crater can be heard trying to describe the unusual situation.

Crater: I’m in Broomfield, Colorado right now, somebody [sic] was asking -- they’re having a stroke and they called my phone. … It sounded like an older woman.

Dispatcher: Do you know who it is?

Crater: I have no idea who it is. It’s just a freaky thing that she called me …

He gave them her address and phone number. Dispatchers then called Smith and had her describe the situation. Paramedics arrived at her house within the hour and she was taken to Summa Western Reserve Hospital where she was treated.

Smith said that doctors told her that it was a good thing that she got to the hospital so quickly and a few hours more could have caused irreparable damage.

Crater dismissed Smith’s portrayal of him as a hero.

“All I did was answer a phone and made a phone call. I kind of think it’s silly that the world is that hard up for heroes,” he said. He even thinks that it is Smith who should be described as a hero.

“She was the one who was having a stroke and still gave me all of her information. She was the one who survived the stroke,” he said.

But Smith will always credit Crater and his kindness for saving her.

“He’s like my guardian angel…Kenny Crater, he’s my hero,” Smith said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Colorado Mom Can't Remember Leaving Kids, Walking 12 Miles

Matthew Hatfield(DENVER) -- A Colorado mom who does not remember leaving her two young sons in a van and disappearing for hours is being examined Monday by doctors for clues into what happened.

Police arrested the 26-year-old woman for child abuse and are eager for answers; a handgun has gone missing from the woman's home.

Almost 12 hours after leaving her two sons, ages 2 and 4, in a van parked at a Thornton, Colo. gas station Saturday, Sarah Hatfield said she could not remember leaving her boys, nor could she explain how she arrived outside National Jewish Hospital in Denver around midnight that night.

"She called me and said, 'I don't know how I got here, but I'm here. Please come get me,'" Hatfield's husband Matthew told ABC News. "She was frantic and crying and sobbing and just confused. We just have no idea what happened." 

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Hatfield, who has a history of insomnia and debilitating migraines, was arrested and charged with two counts of misdemeanor child abuse. She is currently undergoing tests at a local hospital for a possible seizure disorder.

"There's no doubt that people can have a seizure and afterwards be confused, be lethargic and have an impairment of memory for what happened shortly before," said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. Devinsky, who has not examined Hatfield, said seizures can lead to a fugue state. "Most of the time it's brief. A fugue state lasting for hours would be very uncommon, but it certainly can occur."

Devinsky said insomnia and migraines are more common among people with seizure disorders, but they can signal other problems, too.

"It's possible is may have been a psychotic episode, unconsciously motivated, where there's a reaction to some stressor," said Devinsky. "It could also be a conscious thing -- life just got to be too much. And after realizing they shouldn't have done something, the person has to come up with a story."

At around 2:30 Saturday afternoon, Thornton police responded to a call from the gas station alerting them to an abandoned gold van in the parking lot. Inside police found the two boys, as well as Hatfield's wallet, cell phone and keys.

"We did an extensive search of the area and filed a missing persons report," said Thornton police spokesman Matt Barnes. Hatfield seemed disoriented when she was found 10 hours later after asking a security guard at National Jewish Hospital to use a phone to call home, according to police.

When police arrived at the hospital, "She advised she could not remember what had happened from the time she pulled into the gas station to the time she arrived at National Jewish," said Barnes. "She didn't suspect foul play or abduction, nor was she injured."

But she was sore, possibly from walking 12 miles down Interstate 25.

A handgun normally locked away in the Hatfield home is also missing, Matthew Hatfield said.

"I don't know when it went missing," he said of the gun, which was last seen around New Years. "It's possible that if we are dealing with a seizure disorder, it could have gone missing at any point."

Thornton Police are requesting a search warrant for the van hoping to recover the missing weapon.

Matthew Hatfield said his wife's behavior is out of character, adding she's never been in trouble before and doesn't do drugs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Listeria Outbreak Linked to Cantaloupes Now Deadliest Foodborne Outbreak in US History

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The death toll from the listeria outbreak that's been traced back to Colorado cantaloupes has now climbed to 29, officially making it the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak ever recorded in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the increase in the total number of deaths earlier this week, and noted that the number of people infected has gone up to 139 in 28 states.

On Wednesday night, a CDC official confirmed that this latest food-borne illness outbreak was the deadliest on record, surpassing the one linked to listeria-tainted cheese that killed 28 people in Mexico in 1985.

"There were 28 deaths (adults as well as infants) and 20 miscarriages and stillborns from Jalisco,” the official said in an email.  “No other outbreak in recent times, since we began collecting/recording data in 1973 comes close.  Of course the system for collecting and tracking foodborne disease is much more precise now.”

The outbreak stemming from the listeria-tainted cantaloupes began in August.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Death Toll from Listeria-Contaminated Cantaloupes Grows

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Public health officials said Tuesday that the country is in the midst of the deadliest outbreak of food-borne illness in more than a decade.

So far, 72 illnesses -- including 13 deaths -- have been linked to cantaloupes contaminated with listeria that came from Jensen Farms in Colorado, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Tuesday.

Illnesses from the recalled melons, which were sold under the name Rocky Ford cantaloupes, have been reported in 18 states; deaths have been reported in Colorado (2), Kansas (1), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (4), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (2).

The CDC says it expects to see more cases of listeriosis next month "because patients can develop listeriosis up to 2 months after eating contaminated food."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Colorado Farm Confirms Listeria Found in Cantaloupe; Faces Lawsuit

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FDA announced a recall Thursday for cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, after the Colorado company confirmed that one of its Rocky Ford melons had tested positive for the bacterium Listeria.

The farm had previously voluntarily recalled shipment of its cantaloupes to 17 states, but it is not clear if those fruits are linked to the two confirmed deaths and 22 cases of listeriosis -- a potentially deadly infection.  The melons were shipped between July 29 and Sept. 10.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the current Listeria outbreak is the first tied to cantaloupe in the U.S.  Cases have been reported in seven states and Colorado officials have told retailers to remove Jensen's cantaloupes from the shelves.

KMGH-TV, an ABC New affiliate in Denver, reported Thursday that a couple was expected to file the first lawsuit related to the outbreak after the husband ate a Jensen cantaloupe and got sick.  He tested positive for listeriosis and remains hospitalized.

According to the CDC, listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.  It primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.  Rarely, persons without these risk factors can be infected.

A person with the infection usually has a fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions often preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.  Pregnant women typically experience flu-like illness but infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or infections in the newborn.

The CDC says that an estimated 1,600 people become seriously ill with listeriosis every year and of these people, 260 die.  A blood or spinal fluid test to look for the bacteria is used to diagnose the infection.  Antibiotics given promptly can cure the illness and prevent infection in the fetus.  But even with treatment, some infections can lead to death, especially in at-risk adults.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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