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Tuesday
Aug142018

Prosecutors mulling charges against woman who pushed friend off bridge

KATU-TV(VANCOUVER, Wash.) -- Prosecutors in Washington will consider charging an 18-year-old woman who pushed her teenage friend off a bridge, sending her plummeting 60 feet to the river below and leaving her with multiple injuries, officials said Tuesday.

Clark County Major Crimes unit investigators wrapped up their probe of the incident that occurred earlier this month at the Moulton Falls Bridge near Vancouver, Washington, and are turning over their findings to prosecutors, said Brent Waddell, a spokesman for the Clark County Sheriff's Office.

"The case will be forwarded to the Clark County Prosecutor's Office for appropriate charging," Waddell said in a statement.

Waddell said the suspected pusher, Taylor Smith, has been cooperating with investigators.

Smith allegedly pushed 16-year-old Jordan Holgerson off the bridge on August 7, officials said.

Surveillance camera footage shows the girl was standing on a bridge ledge and was pushed off by another girl standing behind her.

Holgerson initially wanted to jump off the bridge after she saw a friend do it, she told ABC affiliate station KATU-TV in Portland. But Smith allegedly pushed her from behind before she was ready to leap, officials said.

Holgerson hit the water with a belly flop, leaving her with several broken ribs, a bruised esophagus and an injured trachea.

"I went to the top of the bridge and my other -- my friend ... she came up to the bridge with me," Holgerson told Portland. "And so, she was counting down, but I didn't think anything of it. And I was like, 'No, don't count down, like, I won't go if you count down. I'm not ready.' And then, she pushed me."

Holgerson said she didn't feel any pain but adrenaline hit her after she was pushed into the water.

"And then an EMT that was off-duty helped me onto the rocks and just a whole bunch of people surrounding me were helping me, calming me down," Holgerson said.

"In the air I was trying to push myself forward, so I could be like straight up and down that make my head hit first but that definitely did not work," she told KATU during the interview at a hospital.

She said she's just grateful to be alive.

"I am happy to be OK," she said.

Smith did not return ABC News' request for comment.

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Tuesday
Aug142018

Nearly 1 year after Hurricane Maria, 100 percent of customers have power in Puerto Rico: Officials

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority(NEW YORK) -- Nearly 11 months after Hurricane Maria, 100 percent of the customers that lost power due to the storm have access to the grid as they now have electricity.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) confirmed to ABC News that two families in the mountainous area of Ponce were the final customers brought back online.

The bankrupt utility company said Tuesday that today represents the end of the restoration of power to customers that are able to get power. PREPA says that the homes of customers with damaged or destroyed means of getting electricity will have to call the company after they make the necessary fixes to get power again. There's an unannounced number of customers without power living in El Yunque rainforest, and PREPA's waiting for the Forest Service to approve the installation of energy poles, the company said.

It has been 328 days since Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island as a category 4 storm, plunging the island into darkness, decimating the electrical grid, causing nearly $140 billion in damage and claiming countless lives. And, despite the good news, blackouts and brownouts are a part of daily life on the island.

PREPA engineer Carlos Alvarado detailed to ABC News the complexity of Tuesday's operation.

"We spent more than two weeks working to make roads with excavators bringing and raising electrical poles, doing all the preparation," Alvarado said. "And, today, the aerial operations unit to bring electrical cables."

The wires were connected to the generator that delivered power to the homes of the two families.

The two families reside in Ponce’s mountainous Barrio Real Anon. One of the families would go to a relative’s home in the evenings and then back to their home during the day, according to Alvarado.

He said the families were emotional when the power came back.

PREPA has faced recent organizational turmoil with two CEOs resigning in the same number of weeks after a storm of controversy surrounding the salary of one of the CEOs. In June, then-PREPA CEO Walter Higgins told The Associated Press that it would take an additional two months for the organization to restore power to 100 percent of its customers. The island entered the Atlantic hurricane season with 10,200 people without power.

In a statement to ABC News, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) called Tuesday "an important milestone" for the island's recovery but acknowledged there's a lot of work to do.

"FEMA, its federal partners and the government of Puerto Rico are undertaking one of the largest post-disaster reconstruction efforts in U.S. history," Juan A. Rosado-Reynes, a FEMA spokesperson, said. "Today, electricity is flowing, water systems are operating, traffic is moving, airports and seaports are operating and permanent reconstruction has already begun."

FEMA has disbursed a total of $2.1 billion in mission assignments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for emergency power restoration efforts and a total of $1.19 billion in public assistance grants to PREPA for grid restoration expenses.

In mid-October, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello announced a benchmark of Dec. 15 to reach 95 percent of electricity distribution on the island.

ABC News has reached out to Rossello for comment on Tuesday's restoration and will update this story when we hear back.

This milestone in Puerto Rico marks the end of the longest blackout in American history.

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Tuesday
Aug142018

Baltimore police officer charged for disturbing beating caught on video

Instagram/@otm.twinchin(BALTIMORE) -- Baltimore police officer Arthur Williams, seen on video repeatedly punching a civilian, has been charged with first and second-degree assault, as well as misconduct of an officer, for the Aug. 11 incident, Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced at a press conference Tuesday.

"It is important that the community knows there is one standard of justice, no matter your sex, race religion, or occupation,” Mosby said in a statement. "Police officers are sworn to protect and serve and when that oath is taken for granted and an abuse of that power is evident, we will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law. This is an integral part to rebuilding trust in our criminal justice system."

Williams resigned from the police department on Sunday.

The former officer graduated from the police academy last year and joined the department in April, Baltimore Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said on Monday.

The man who was attacked in the video has been identified as 26-year-old Dashawn McGrier.

"It seems like this officer had just decided that Dashawn was going to be his punching bag," Baltimore attorney Warren Brown, who represents McGrier, said Monday. "This was a brutal attack that was degrading and demeaning to my client, to that community and to the police department."

McGrier suffered a fractured jaw and injuries to his nose, ribs and eye socket, and he was expected to be released from the hospital on Monday, according to Brown.

In the video, McGrier can be heard saying "So what? Don't touch me," and Williams immediately starts throwing punches at the suspect, who did not fight back. Then, Williams tackled McGrier onto a stoop and kneed him while continuing to punch him.

The second officer shown in the video, whose name hasn't been released, was placed on "administrative duties," according to the police department.

McGrier was approached by Williams and the other officer as they were working on a crime-suppression initiative, and asked to provide identification, according to police. However, the situation "escalated" when he refused to show ID to the officers, police said.

McGrier was arrested, but he wasn't charged with a crime.

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Tuesday
Aug142018

Mother struck, killed by car while trying to save students outside Texas elementary school

KVIA(EL PASO, Texas) -- When a car careened toward a mother and students outside a Texas elementary school, she put herself in front of the children before being struck and killed, according to the school district.

Kharisma James and three students were struck by a driver who had apparently hit the accelerator instead of the brake by accident in the parking lot of Tippin Elementary School Monday afternoon, according to the El Paso Independent School District.

As the car headed forward, James stepped in front of the three children and took the brunt of the hit, witnesses reported, according to school district spokesman Gustavo Reveles.

James, 33, died at the scene, the district said, and the three injured students were taken to hospitals. James' relationship to the injured children was unclear.

Reveles called the elementary school and district "a tight-knit community and one that takes care of its own, especially the children."

"We're saddened by the event but not surprised that someone would sacrifice themselves in this manner," he told ABC News Tuesday.

The children were listed in varying conditions, including critical and critical but stable, Reveles said.

Counselors responded to the scene to help students and staff who witnessed the accident, the district said, and the driver was taken into custody but it’s unclear whether charges have been filed.

The school district called it a "tragic accident."

"At times like this, students process grief in many ways," the school district said in a statement, adding that counselors will be available at school Tuesday.

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Tuesday
Aug142018

State of emergency declared in Florida amid toxic red tide outbreak on Gulf coast

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The Governor of Florida issued a state of emergency in response to this year’s excessive red tide, the toxic algae bloom spreading across the West Coast of the Sunshine State and leaving beaches covered with piles of dead marine wildlife.

"I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide so we can combat its terrible impacts," said Governor Rick Scott in a statement on Monday.

The executive order issued by Scott will make additional biologists and scientists available to assist with clean-up and animal rescue efforts.

Two hours south of Tampa in Lee County, where red tide signs have been posted at more than 170 beach access points, the state will allocate additional funds for cleaning the beaches.

"I am also directing a further $900,000 in grants for Lee County to clean up impacts related to red tide –- bringing total red tide grant funding for Lee County to more than $1.3 million," Scott said.
Other counties in the state that have been directly affected include Collier, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas.

The state will also allocate $500,000 to assist local tourism boards, so that "communities continue to bring in the visitors that support so many Florida families and businesses."

"Red tide" refers to the natural phenomenon of toxic algae blooms and resulting wildlife die-off that has occurred many times along Florida's coasts. The first recorded instances was in the 1840s, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The blooms discolor the seawater and produce toxins that can sicken or kill fish, seabirds, turtles and marine mammals, such as manatees, according to the FWC. The animals can inhale the toxins through the air or become affected by consuming toxic prey. Piles of dead fish have been found along the West Coast of Florida.

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Tuesday
Aug142018

More flooding possible in Northeast as stormy summer continues

ABC(NEW YORK) -- It has been a rainy summer in the Northeast and the entire East Coast with more flash flooding possible Tuesday.

There was more flash flooding Monday as Jonestown, Pennsylvania, received 7.7 inches of rain , while the area around Brick, New Jersey, received 7.83 inches. The same areas saw flooding over the weekend.

A storm system and stationary front will continue to slowly meander into the Northeast through Tuesday and produce more rain. Flash flood watches continue to be in place for New York and Pennsylvania because of the threat.

With daytime heating, showers and thunderstorms will fire up again in the Northeast and some of them could be heavy at times and produce flash flooding.

Most areas won't get a lot of additional rainfall but some could see another 2 inches of rain or more.

There is also a storm system moving through the central United States from the Southern Plains into the Midwest, over the next 48 hours, bringing heavy rain and possible flooding.

A flash flood watch has been issued from Oklahoma to Arkansas because of heavy rain.

Western heat and fires

Tuesday will be the hottest day of the week for the Northwest with temperatures near 100 degrees in Portland and into the 90s for Seattle.

Red flag warnings have been issued for erratic winds Tuesday for Oregon, California and Nevada.

The next couple of days will be hot for the Northwest but then a cooling trend will begin for the area.

For California and parts of Nevada, there will not be much of a break in the heat with temperatures staying near 100 degrees from Reno, Nevada, to Fresno, California.

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Tuesday
Aug142018

Crowbar crashes through windshield, kills former prosecutor in Massachusetts

Spencer Police(PAXTON, Mass.) -- A former Worcester County, Massachusetts, prosecutor died suddenly after a crowbar crashed through his windshield Monday.

John Madaio was driving his SUV in the town of Spencer when a crowbar that was kicked-up or fell from another car crashed through the windshield, the Spencer Police Department said. Madaio, 63, was struck in the head.

His car veered off the road, hit a curb and an empty car in a parking lot before it went over an embankment and came to a stop, police said.

First responders broke the passenger window to reach him, police said. He was taken to a hospital where he died.

Madaio, of Paxton, Massachusetts, "was a great father, great lawyer and extremely well-respected member of the DA’s office for more than 15 years," Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early said in a statement Monday.

"The entire DA’s office extends its heartfelt condolences to John’s wife Sue, his daughter Laura and his daughter and our colleague ADA Molly," Early continued. "John touched many people in his life with his sharp wit, his compassion and his legal abilities. He will be missed by all who knew him. This is a big loss for our community."

Recently, Madaio had been working as a defense attorney, Early said. One of his daughters currently works for the DA's office.

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Tuesday
Aug142018

Michigan girls escape kidnap attempt by fighting, throwing hot coffee on suspect

WJRT(MILLINGTON), Mich.) -- Police in Michigan say four girls managed to fight off a man who assaulted them over the weekend by throwing hot coffee on him.

The girls, ages 11 to 14, were leaving a gas station convenience store in Millington, Michigan, last week when a man grabbed one of the girls by the hair and attempted to kidnap her, according to police.

Officers with the Millington Police Department said the suspect, identified as 22-year-old Bruce Hipkins, followed the girls last Friday night and eventually grabbed one them “around the head and told her she was coming with him.”

“The other three girls kicked, hit, and threw their hot coffee on him,” the department said in a statement Saturday. “The suspect let the young girl go and grabbed another one of the girls by her hair. The suspect was again kicked and hit by the girls until he let her go and fled on foot.”

Two of the girls, sisters Allison, 11, and Lauren Eickhoff, 13, described the scary ordeal in an interview with Flint ABC affiliate WJRT on Monday.

"He said, 'You're coming with me.' And like, he grabbed my face," Allison added. "This cannot be happening; I thought it was a test at first, but then I'm like, 'This is real.'"

Lauren said she screamed and immediately jumped into action. She said their father told them to fight back whenever they felt they might be in danger.

"I grabbed my drink and chucked it at his head. I tried, I punched him in the head," Lauren said. “Seeing that your little sister was going to get taken is very scary."

The girls escaped to a nearby hotel and called for help. There were no injuries reported.

Officers caught up with Hipkins later on and arrested him on charges of unlawful imprisonment, assault and battery and two counts of criminal sexual conduct, police said.

Hipkins is being held at the Tuscola County Jail on a $250,000 bond. It was unclear if he had obtained an attorney as of early Tuesday.


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Tuesday
Aug142018

Suspects in New Mexico compound case expected to be released despite sheriff's pleas

Taos County Sheriffs Office(AMALIA, N.M.) -- A New Mexico judge agreed on Monday to release on bond five suspects who were arrested on child abuse charges and were alleged to have been training the children to carry out school shootings. The decision to release the suspects came against the wishes of the sheriff's department and FBI.

The suspects -- two men and three women -- were arrested last week at a makeshift compound in Amalia, New Mexico, where authorities rescued 11 emaciated children living in filthy conditions with very little food and no clean water, according to police.

Judge Sarah Backus released the suspects -- Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, Lucas Morton, 40, Jany Leveille, 35, Hujrah Wahhaj, 37, and Subhannah Wahhaj, 35 -- on $20,000 bond each on Monday evening and ordered them to wear ankle monitors until trial, the Taos County Sheriff's Office announced.

They are also required to have weekly contact with their attorneys, the office said in a statement, adding that the suspects must also cooperate with the the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Division (CYFD), where the children are being held in protective custody.

The Taos County sheriff, undersheriff, prosecutors and an FBI agent involved in the case all argued the five adults should not be released, Albuquerque ABC affiliate KOAT reported. The judge, however, said they failed to articulate a "specific threat" and released them on bond.

Police discovered the decrepit compound, located near the Colorado state line, while searching for Wahhaj's 4-year-old son, Abdul, but he was not there. His mother reported him missing late last year and claimed his father kidnapped him.

Investigators found the malnourished children, ages 1 to 15, barefoot and wearing "rags for clothing," according to a complaint. Authorities recovered the buried remains of a young boy during a subsequent search of the compound on Aug. 9.

Prosecutors believe the remains were that of Wahhaj's son, who is disabled, according KOAT, but investigators say it could take weeks to verify the child's identification.



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Tuesday
Aug142018

Firefighter's death in Mendocino Complex blaze is 6th this fire season

Mario Tama/Getty Images(UKIAH, Calif) -- The largest fire in California history turned deadly on Monday as a firefighter tending the blaze was killed.

There were few details on how the firefighter died in the Mendocino Complex Fire, northeast of Ukiah, California. The fire is burning near the Mendocino National Forest, about 140 miles northwest of Sacramento.

"The Mendocino Complex Unified Incident Commanders from CAL FIRE, and the United States Forest Service are deeply saddened to report the death of a firefighter on the Mendocino Complex," CAL FIRE sad in a statement. "Fact finding on the accident is ongoing and notification of the next of kin is in progress. More information will be released as it becomes available."

Officials said the firefighter was from Utah and was injured while working an active part of the fire. He was airlifted to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

The fire became the largest in state history last week, passing the Thomas Fire from December 2017 as it grew to over 283,000 acres. The fire has now grown to over 349,000 acres, but the Ranch Fire -- one half of the Mendocino Complex Fire -- is up to 59 percent contained.

The fire season has already been a hard one for firefighters working dozens of fires, especially in California.

Two firefighters were killed in the Ferguson Fire, which began on July 13 in Mariposa County, east of San Jose and burning in part of Yosemite National Park. Brian Hughes was killed on July 29 when he was struck by a falling tree. Hughes was the second firefighter to die in the blaze after Braden Varney was killed July 13.

The Carr Fire has been the deadliest of the wildfires to hit the West this season. Three firefighters have died in the blaze, which started on July 23 and has burned through 206,000 acres and destroyed 1,077 homes near Redding in the far northern Shasta County in California.

CAL FIRE officially lists two firefighter deaths in the blaze, though San Francisco ABC station KGO reported a third firefighter, Andrew Brake, was killed in a car accident traveling to the fire.

Five civilians were killed in the Carr Fire as well, including a worker for Pacific Gas & Electric.

Progress has been made, as the Carr Fire is now up to 63 percent contained, according to CAL FIRE.

This year has been the deadliest for firefighters since 2008, according to SF Gate.



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