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Monday
Dec172018

Coast Guardsman kills wife, son before taking own life in Miami: Officials

kali9/iStock(MIAMI) -- An 8-year-old girl is fighting for her life after her father allegedly shot her and killed her mother, her little brother and himself at their Miami home, police said.

Petty Officer 1st Class John Presnar, 44, allegedly opened fire on his family after getting into an argument with his 39-year-old wife early Sunday, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Presnar's mother-in-law witnessed part of the incident before running out of the house to seek help when Presnar pulled a gun, police said.

"According to investigators, [Presnar] and his wife were involved in a domestic dispute that escalated into a shooting," police said in a statement. "When [Presnar] started shooting, his wife told her mother to run out of the house and call for help."

The shooting happened about 12:41 a.m. Sunday at the family's home in Miami, police said.

After killing his wife, Gretchen Presner, the Coast Guardsman allegedly shot his 7-year-old son to death, police said.

When officers arrived at the home, they found Presnar's 8-year-old daughter suffering from a gunshot wound but still alive, officials said.

The girl was taken by helicopter to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, where she was in critical condition, police said.

Police did not immediately say what the couple was arguing about.

John Presnar joined the Coast Guard in 2001 and served as an electronics technician, Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Kelly told ABC affiliate station WPLG-TV in Miami.

"The Coast Guard is deeply saddened by this tragedy and our hearts go out to the family members of those who where killed," Kelly said. "We continue to pray and offer the full support of the Coast Guard to the young child fighting for her life."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Dec172018

More Northeast snow as West Coast storms form

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As one storm system delivers heavy snow to coastal Maine Monday morning, another is brewing off the West Coast.

In the East, 3 to 5 inches of rain fell in several regions, prompting water rescues, as more snow in northern New England and Maine is expected throughout Monday -- up to 8 inches in some parts.

Snowfall in Maine is expected to end by Monday evening as an arctic air mass settles into the Northeast, producing very cold wind chills on Tuesday morning.

A series of storms is heading for the western U.S. and then likely will make their way east throughout the week.

Wind, snow and flood alerts have been issued from Washington to California in anticipation of the coming weather systems. Snow, rain, waves and wind all are possible up and down and near the coastline.

A stronger storm is expected in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California on Tuesday, with more precipitation and strong winds.

This storm will head east over the next few days, and by late Wednesday or early Thursday should be delivering rain to the South and East, where already-saturated areas will be vulnerable to potential flooding.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Dec162018

Pilot whose plane crashed near Honolulu credits good Samaritan who jumped into water to save him

KITV-TV(HONOLULU) -- The pilot who crashed a 1950s-era fighter plane into waters off the coast of Honolulu, is crediting a bystander who untangled his parachute with helping to save his life.

Matt Pothier, 47, ejected himself from a plane Thursday after the plane malfunctioned, he told ABC Honolulu affiliate KITV-TV.

When Pothier realized he wasn't going to make it to the runway, he "just pulled the handle and got out," he said.

"I'm just looking down at the water and I see all kinds of boats and things," he said. "I didn't want to hurt those folks either, so I made a couple of turns and realized the airplane's not going to make it, so I just pulled the handle and got out."

Once Pothier was in the water, Mack Ladner, jumped into the ocean help the injured pilot get out of his parachute.

"You can't ask for a better, more qualified person to be right there in an ejection scenario than Mack was," Pothier said. “I mean, I was the most fortunate person ever. I get out of there, I land in the water, I'm in a little pain, and Mack comes up and is like, 'Hey, you alright, dude?' I'm like, 'Yeah, man.'"

 In addition, Pothier was able to land safely without injuring anyone on the ground or in the water, KITV reported.

"I was just doing my job at the time," he said. "I think every one of us would try not to hurt anybody, so that's what you do."

Pothier is now recovering from a crushed vertebrae and fractures in his spine, he said.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam confirmed to ABC News that a Hawker-Hunter aircraft operated by a civilian contractor crashed into the waters near Sand Island on Thursday afternoon and was rescued.

Pothier said it was his "many years of training" that allowed him to respond well under pressure.

It was the first time he ever had to eject himself from a plane, he said, adding that he's lucky to be alive.

"Don't want to do it again, either!" he said.

The experience won't deter him from going back to the open sky, though.

"I'm just happy to be here," he said. "Looking forward to flying again, looking forward to surfing again, playing a little bit of hockey, and hanging out with my beautiful family -- my wife and daughters."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Dec162018

Crane operator fired for taking insensitive photos on properties destroyed by the Camp Fire

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Workers who were hired to clear the remnants of properties incinerated by the Camp Fire in California have been fired after they posted for photos appearing to make light of the inferno that wiped out nearly an entire community and killed 85 people.

Screenshots posted to the Butte County Fires, Accidents, Crimes Facebook page showed photos that crane operator Rob Freestone posted on his own account on Friday of himself and other workers posing with items left out at the burned-out properties.

In one photo, Freestone posted a photo of the corpse of a burned cat, placing a beer bottle next to the dead animal's mouth.

"Dude... I was just chilling with my homies, having a couple of cold ones, and BAM... damn fire breaks out," Freestone captioned the photo, the screenshot shows.

In another photo, Freestone smiles as he sits on top of a mailbox shaped like a firetruck, writing, "I got to ride on a fire truck today."

A photo showing a man and women clad in safety vests sitting on top of a singed motor home was captioned, "They're off on a fun filled vacation to unknown destinations in their new RV."

Another posted photo showed Freestone standing inside the remaining metal ring of a trampoline, in which he wrote, "Trampolines are stupid. BTW, it used to be called a Jumpoline until your mom got on it." Another shows him resting his feet on the dashboard of a vehicle with the caption, "The struggles are real !!"

Freestone's Facebook page has since been taken down. He was contracted to work on the cleanup in Butte County through the International Union of Operating Engineers, according to the Facebook post. He worked for the Bigge Crane and Rigging Company, which was subcontracted to remove trees by PG&E, ABC Sacramento affiliate KXTV-TV reported.

The Town of Paradise described Freestone's actions as "unacceptable and reprehensible behavior," adding that town officials contacted his employer and that he would not longer be working in the town.



Biggs Crane and Rigging Company wrote in a statement on its Facebook page that Freestone and the two other workers seen in the photos were identified and terminated.

The Paradise Police Department is working with the Butte County District Attorney's Office to determine whether a crime was committed, according to KXTV.

More than 18,000 buildings -- the majority of them homes -- were destroyed by the Camp Fire.

ABC News could not immediately reach Freestone for comment. The Paradise Police Department, the Butte County District Attorney's Office, the Bigge Crane and Rigging Company and the International Union of Operating Engineers for comment did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Dec162018

Authorities complete search on property of missing Colorado mom Kelsey Berreth's fiance

ABCNews.com(WOODLAND PARK, Colo.) -- Authorities completed digging on the Colorado property owned by Kelsey Berreth's fiance Sunday, the second day police searched for evidence of the missing mom at the home.

The Woodland Park Police Department did not say whether anything was found on Patrick Frazee's property but confirmed that Berreth, who was last seen on Thanksgiving Day, has still not been located.

On Saturday, police announced that an anonymous donor is offering $25,000 for information leading to the safe return of the new mom. She was last seen on surveillance video at a Safeway grocery store on Nov. 22 with her 1-year-old daughter. Frazee, told police he later saw Berreth to pick up their daughter.

Berreth, 29, was reported missing on Dec. 2 by her mother, Cheryl.

Woodland Park police served Frazee with a search warrant on Friday to begin investigating his 35-acre property in the rural town of Florissant, Colorado, about 35 miles northwest of Colorado Springs.

Frazee and Berreth do not live together.

While Frazee has not spoken to the media, he says he continues to cooperate with investigators. He has not been named a suspect or person of interest.

"Patrick Frazee continues to cooperate with law enforcement in the missing person investigation of Kelsey Berreth," Frazee's attorney, Jeremy Loew, said in a statement Friday. "We understand that a search warrant was executed on Mr. Frazee’s property. Mr. Frazee was never asked to voluntarily participate in this search. We encourage law enforcement to take whatever steps it deems necessary to find Kelsey Berreth and to be able to exclude Patrick Frazee as a possible suspect in this missing person investigation."

A neighbor of Frazee sent ABC News photos of authorities bringing in an excavator to begin digging on the property at about 3 p.m. on Saturday. Authorities completed their search of the property late Saturday, according to Colorado Springs ABC affiliate KRDO-TV.

It is not clear whether they found anything at the home.

The search warrant is sealed and authorities would not disclose what led them to investigate Frazee's home and land in the first place.

Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young said Friday that they still want to sit down with Frazee for an interview, but had yet to do so.

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Sunday
Dec162018

Loved ones of missing 13-year-old Wisconsin girl hold onto hope she will be found

WQOW(NEW YORK) --  Loved ones and friends of 13-year-old Jayme Closs released balloons at a weekend vigil and reaffirmed their pledge to find her alive, marking two months since police believe she was abducted from her Wisconsin home where they found her parents shot to death.

"Jayme, grandpa wants you to know that we will never give up," Robert Naiberg said during Saturday's vigil. "I want nothing more than to get my granddaughter back home to me and her family where she belongs."

Family and friends gathered around a Christmas tree on Saturday at Riverview Middle School in Barron, Wisconsin, where Jayme is a student. The 16-foot "tree of hope" was dedicated to Jayme and decorated with green lights and ribbons for all abducted children and blue ones for Jayme's favorite color.

 "I wish every day that whoever has you would just let you go or drop you off somewhere safe so I could pick you up," Naiberg, 72, told the crowd, reading from a prepared statement.

The group released 200 green and blue balloons into a clear and chilly Wisconsin sky to let the community know the search for Jayme will not end.

"I need my sweet granddaughter Jayme back," Naiberg said.

Jayme disappeared on Oct. 15, when an emergency dispatch center received a 911 hang-up call from inside the Closs family home and could hear screaming in the background. When a dispatcher called the number back, it went to the cellphone voicemail of Jayme's mother, Denise Closs, police said.

Police responded to the home about 4 minutes after that 911 call ended, but by the time they got there, Jayme was gone.

The bodies of Denise Closs, 46, and Jayme's father, James Closs, 56, were found in the house. Both had been shot to death, police said.

Investigators suspect that Jayme was abducted by whoever killed her parents. They have yet to say if they suspect the Closs family was targeted or victims of a random attack.

Authorities searching for Jayme say that while they have received numerous tips about the girl, none of them have yet to pan out. Police and thousands of volunteers have combed the area around Jayme's home.

The Barron County sheriff's department has also sent an urgent request to deer hunters, who will be active in the area this time of year, to be on the lookout for clues.

A $50,000 reward has been offered for any information leading to the discovery of Jayme. Half the reward was put up by Jennie-O Turkey Store, a turkey hatchery and processing plant in Barron where Jayme's parents worked.

"What we are running on right now is hope," Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told those gathered at the tree lighting dedicated to Jayme on Wednesday night.

 Fitzgerald said sheriff's investigators, FBI and the Wisconsin Department of Justice are investigating every lead in the case although authorities concede that the number of new leads coming in has dwindled considerably.

"It's the Christmas season," Fitzgerald said. "It's time to believe and it's time to bring hope so we can bring a 13-year-old girl home."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Dec162018

California decides not to move forward with texting tax after FCC ruling

ViewApart/iStock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Feel free to send as many "LOLs," "WTFs" and "u up?" messages as you want, Californians.

A planned vote on a texting surcharge, a tax for texts, will not go forward in January as planned, the California Public Utilities Commission announced late Friday. The reason: not because it was a bad idea, but because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made a ruling on Wednesday which would've made the tax unlikely to pass legal muster.

Those precious pennies added to your cellphone bill all come down to the difference between an information service and a telecommunication service.

"On Dec. 12, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a declaratory ruling finding that 'text messaging' is an information service, not a telecommunications service, under the Federal Telecommunications Act, which limits state authority over information services," the CPUC said in its statement. "Prior to this FCC ruling, text messaging was not a classified service under federal law. Under California law, telecommunications services are subject to the collection of surcharges to support a number of CUPC public programs that subsidize the cost of service for rural Californians and for low income, disadvantaged communities, and provided special services for the deaf, the hard of hearing, and the disabled."

As the statement said, intrastate telecommunications services, like your run-of-the-mill phone calls, are taxed in California. But texting is a relatively recent phenomenon and there hasn't been a major update of federal telecommunications law since the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It was in that piece of legislation that the federal government made a distinction between information services and telecommunication services.

The FCC's ruling on Wednesday clarified that texting is an information service, and therefore cannot be taxed by California. The CPUC had planned to vote on Jan. 10 to determine for itself which category texting fell under.

"In light of the FCC's action, assigned Commissioner Carla J. Peterman has withdrawn from the CPUC's Jan. 10, 2019 Voting Meeting agenda the draft decision in Docket R. 17-06-023, which proposed to clarify that text messaging service should be subject to the statutory surcharge requirement," CPUC said in its statement.

The text tax would've increased consumers' bills -- at least those with text messaging services -- by about 7 percent each, according to Republican state Assemblyman Jim Patterson.

Patterson took a victory lap on Saturday in the wake of the CPUC statement, saying, "You can bet I’ll keep a watchful eye on them for future shenanigans. For now...consider the Text Tax cancelled."

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Sunday
Dec162018

Family of 7-year-old girl who died while in border patrol custody calls for 'thorough' investigation

JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The family of the 7-year-old girl who died while in border patrol custody is calling for a "transparent and neutral investigation" into the circumstances that led to her death, attorneys representing her heartbroken family said in a statement Saturday.

The tragic death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, who was just five days past her birthday when she died after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this month, should be investigated within "nationally recognized standards for the arrest and custody of children," said Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House, a non-profit organization that is working with her family.

"The family intends to assist in such an investigation into the cause and circumstances of Jakelin's death," Garcia read from a statement prepared by the family's attorneys, during a Saturday afternoon press conference in El Paso, Texas.

Garcia spoke on behalf of Jakelin's parents: her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cruz, with whom she crossed the border; and her mom, Claudia Marivel Maquin Coc.

Jakelin "was a beautiful and loving child," Garcia said during the news conference.

"Jakelin and her father came to the United States seeking something that thousands have been seeking for years: An escape from the dangerous situation in their home country," Garcia read, referring to Guatemala. "This was their right under U.S. and international law."

Late Saturday evening, Guatemalan Consul Tekandi Paniagua told ABC News that Cruz -- Jakelin’s father -- was grateful to the border patrol and the doctors who tried to save his daughter's life.

"When I spoke to the father he actually said he was very grateful for the effort of both the Border Patrol agents that assisted his daugther at the station as well as the medical staff at the hospital," Paniagua said.

Cruz' sentiments were first reported earlier Saturday by CNN.

Jakelin's death became public Thursday, five days after she died from dehydration and cardiac arrest, and sparked out sparked outrage from Democrats and immigration advocates alike.

"There are no words to capture the horror of a seven-year-old girl dying of dehydration in U.S. custody," former presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted Friday. "What’s happening at our borders is a humanitarian crisis."

Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol officials on Friday defended their handling of the incident. Among the challenges cited, DHS and CBP said it took 90 minutes to get Jakelin medical attention after Caal Cruz alerted agents that she was sick.

Four border patrol agents apprehended a group of 160 migrants -- among them Jakelin and her father -- and there was no medical staff nearby.

Finally, a CBP official with direct knowledge of the investigation told ABC News that a single bus equipped to transport children from a remote part of the New Mexico border had to make two trips to take everyone. Jakelin had to wait four hours for the bus to return for her and her father, the official said.

Jakelin later had a 105.9-degree fever and had to be airlifted to a children's hospital in El Paso. That's when she went into cardiac arrest, suffered brain swelling and liver failure, according to CBP and DHS officials.

She died less than 24 hours later, DHS said.

But Jakelin's family said through Garcia the little girl had been taken care of by her father, who made sure she had eaten and was hydrated.

"She had suffered from a lack of water or food prior to approaching the border," Garcia said Saturday.

Garcia added that Jakelin and her family who speak Q'eqchi, and Spanish as a second language. They don't speak English, Garcia added, yet Caal Cruz filled out an English form during processing.

"It is unacceptable for any government agency to have persons in custody sign documents in a language that they clearly do not understand," Garcia said.

They urged patience while the medical examiner in El Paso County, which conducted Jakelin's autopsy, makes a public statement regarding the cause of death.

Her body has left El Paso and is being transported to a funeral home in Laredo that works with Guatemalan consulate. From there, her body will be repatriated to Guatemala, Garcia said.

"The family of Jakelin ... is still coping with their profound loss," Garcia said. "The death of a child is the most painful experience that a parent or family can endure."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Dec162018

Deaf, blind puppy rescued after being 'tossed away like trash' in frozen creek

Courtesy: Sherry Bishop(SADIEVILLE, Ky.) -- A deaf and nearly blind puppy was rescued in Kentucky earlier this week after being thrown alive into a rock-filled trash bag and dumped in a partially frozen creek.

Highway workers on a road above the creek in Sadieville, Kentucky, spotted the seven-week-old female puppy on Tuesday as she wiggled her head out of the trash bag and tried to keep her head above the freezing cold water. One of the men waded through the icy waters to get her out of the plastic trash bag, which had another bag inside full of large rocks.

The puppy, "shivering and wet," was suffering from hypothermia, so the men brought her to the Scott County Animal Shelter in Georgetown, Kentucky, according to the shelter's assistant director, Sherry Bishop.

"She couldn't even hold her head up and was very disoriented," Bishop told ABC News. "We rushed her to the vet, where she received fluids to warm up her little body."

The puppy, who has been named Chapel, is believed to be a purebred Australian Shepherd and also what's known as a "double merle," which means the puppy's mother and father both had merle coats. Merle-to-merle breeding can result in a beautiful, almost all-white coat but the puppies have a high chance of being born blind, deaf or both.

Chapel is deaf and severely vision impaired, according to Bishop.

"It's a breeder being greedy," she said. "The breeder can't make money from the ones with congenital birth defects, like in Chapel's case, so we feel like she was tossed away like trash."

The Scott County Animal Shelter is working with local law enforcement to find the person or persons responsible, according to Bishop.

"Whomever did this could have called us and we would have gladly picked her up, or they could've dropped her off at the shelter," she said.

Chapel is doing well after the visit to the veterinarian clinic, plus plenty of love and attention from the shelter staff. The puppy has a good appetite and loves to run, play and nap, Bishop said.

"She makes up for being blind and deaf with her sense of smell. It's amazing to watch," she told ABC News. "She would follow us around by our scent or would hang onto our pant leg with her mouth."

On Friday, Chapel was transported to Speak for the Unspoken, a pet rescue group near Columbus, Ohio, that focuses on special needs animals. She has been placed in a foster home, according to the group's executive director Andrea Kochensparger.

Bishop said it was bittersweet saying goodbye to Chapel, who immediately captured the hearts of the shelter staff.

"They will keep her in foster care for awhile and then find the perfect home suited for her needs," she told ABC News "We are going to miss her, but can't wait to see her placed in a loving home."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Dec162018

As Trump argues for a wall, a border security measure gets pulled back

HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Army soldiers have removed barbed wire along the US-Mexico border in areas where the Trump administration has said more border security measures are needed after local community leaders raised concerns.

About 2 miles of military-grade wire was removed from city land in Laredo, Texas, according to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials. The agency ordered the removals after hearing from local elected officials who raised environmental and public safety concerns with the wire running near community parks.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, who leads the Texas Border Commission, said the Trump administration has, in part, used his community to fabricate the threat of migrants traveling north.

“They want to be overly protective,” Saenz told ABC News. “But at what cost? The cost to the local economy. The cost to our livelihoods here at the border area.”

Citing the “very real threat we face at the border,” the Trump administration recently extended the deployment of U.S. troops along the border through January.

“As the situation along the border continues to evolve, we will continue to assess our operational needs, including removal of the c-wire,” a CBP official said in a statement to ABC News.

Laredo routinely handles the bulk of trade across the US-Mexico border, which amounts to more than $200 billion each year.

Saenz emphasized the historic, cultural connection between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, the Mexican town directly across the border line. He said the politicized decision-making has strained this relationship and threatens the local economy.

“By all means we want security, but it’s got to be done properly and weighed carefully,” the mayor said.

Razor wire has also been removed in Hidalgo, Texas, where the Rio Grande River valley acts as a natural impediment to crossing as it does throughout much of south Texas.

Even though some border communities like Hidalgo haven’t seen the direct impact from the military fortifications, City Councilman Rudy Franz says the extra measures are excessive.

“This is blown out of proportion,” Franz told ABC News. “I don’t think it’s necessary. I think it puts fear in people.”

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