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Sunday
Aug102014

JetBlue Flight Evacuated at Puerto Rico Airport

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) -- Passengers suffered minor injuries Saturday after evacuating a New York-bound flight out of Puerto Rico.

An engine fire forced the evacuation of JetBlue Airways Flight 704 at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan around 7:14 p.m, during the time the aircraft was set to for take-off. The 186 passengers and six crew members used emergency slides to leave the aircraft, according to airport official Augustine Arellano.

Three people were taken to the hospital for minor bruises from the slide, Arellano added.

Pastor Raymond Talavera was scheduled to head home to the Bronx, New York when the engine fire broke out.

"All of a sudden there was a huge bang, a boom sound on the left side. I was in the front row so when I looked out the left side of the plane, I saw the smoke coming out of the engine," Talavera said. "...People got up on their feet. They began to scream. They began to lose control. My hats off to the JetBlue crew. I mean they really kept everybody calm."

Officials are investigating the cause of the fire.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug102014

Suspect Arrested in Murder of Washington Girl Jenise Wright

iStock/Thinkstock(BREMERTON, Wash.) -- A 17-year-old boy was arrested Saturday in the killing of a 6-year-old Washington state girl who disappeared last week, police said.

The body of Jenise Wright, who went missing last week from her mobile home park, was found Thursday. On Friday, police made a positive ID on Wright's body and launched a homicide investigation.

The suspect, whose identity was not released, was arrested without incident, one day after police vowed to find justice for the child.

"We made a promise to six-year-old Jenise Paulette Wright that we would find justice for her. Today we have fulfilled that promise, Kitsap County Sheriff's Detective Earl Smith said.

The teen, who is a resident of the same mobile home park where Jenise lived, was being questioned by Kitsap County Sheriff's Office investigators, Smith said.

He will be booked on charges of murder in the second degree, manslaughter in the first degree, and first degree rape of child. He will be held in juvenile custody, according to police.

The 6-year-old girl's death shocked the town of Bremerton, where a vigil attended by more than 300 people was held Friday night.

Wright's family chose not to attend the vigil, but said they are thankful for everyone's support.

"I don't know the right word to describe it, you know they're grieving. It's very quiet in their home, and little things will bring tears," Chris Byron, a spokesman for the Wright family, told reporters.

Miranda Mullins attended the vigil to pay her respects.

"It's hard, I can't, I don't even know what to say, I couldn't imagine losing one of my children."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug102014

Michigan Teen Found After Alleged Street Abduction 

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- A Michigan teen missing since Thursday was found safe more than 40 miles from home, but investigators are still trying to piece together what happened to the 18-year-old, police said Saturday.

The Ecorse, Michigan Police Department told ABC News that Hayley Turner, 18, was found Friday. She was interviewed by police about what happened over the course of two days.

Turner, of Bedford Township, Michigan, about 55 miles southwest of Lansing, was last seen Thursday at a video store around 10:06 p.m., according to ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV.

Police say Hayley was in her car and on the phone with a friend when she stopped at an intersection to investigate a person lying in a ditch, WXYZ reported. She told her friend the man had a gun and was following her before the phone went dead.

The friend called Turner's father, who found her car running and empty near the intersection, the news station reported.

Police say they were notified about her location by a 911 caller who said Turner claimed she had been abducted and had jumped out of a moving vehicle, according to WXYZ.

The University of Toledo student was found on a porch on Friday afternoon and taken to Ecorse Police Department and a local hospital for evaluation, police said. Despite some scratches and being frightened, police said she was in generally in good health.

"Throughout the day we had over 40 officers from multiple agencies following up on tips from the community," Monroe County Sheriff Dale Malone said in a press conference Friday.

Malone refused to say if anyone was with Turner or if any arrests are imminent, WXYZ reported.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office and the Turner family did not respond to a request for comment.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug102014

Police 'Cannot Say' How Many Times Unarmed Missouri Teen Was Shot

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- Police "cannot say" how many times an 18-year-old was struck when a Ferguson, Missouri, officer shot him after an altercation -- but the young man was unarmed, officials said Sunday.

"Was the other subject, the deceased, the 18-year-old, armed with a handgun or rifle or any type of weapon at the time? The answer to that is no," said Jon Belmar, chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, which was investigating the shooting by a Ferguson Police Department officer. Police have not disclosed the name of the teen.

"It started out, the genesis of this, was a physical confrontation," Belmar said.

The Saturday afternoon shooting in a suburb of St. Louis sparked outrage, which continued Sunday as residents marched to police headquarters to demand answers.

"It is our understanding at this point in the investigation that within the police car there was a struggle over the officer's weapon," Belmar said.

According to the police chief, the officer said he then got out of his vehicle and shot "at a subject."

"There were shell casings recovered. The shell casings are all matched to one weapon, that's the officer's weapon," he said. "There were more than a few shell casings recovered. I cannot say at this time how many times the subject was struck."

The officer was able to get out of the car and the fatal shooting occurred approximately 35 feet from where the vehicle was parked.

Belmar added that it was unclear whether a second person allegedly involved in the confrontation was armed.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug092014

Tortoise Art Installation Under Fire; Conservationist Defends Exhibit

iStock/Thinkstock(ASPEN, Colo.) -- An exhibit that opens Saturday featuring iPads mounted on the backs of three tortoises has been accused of promoting "animal abuse," but a turtle conservationist says the installation could actually protect the slow-footed reptiles.

Artist Cai Guo-Qiang's exhibit at the Aspen Art Museum shows video footage of three local ghost towns on iPads, which were filmed by three African Sulcata tortoises named Big Bertha, Gracie Pink Star and Whale Wanderer.

The installation is scheduled for the museum until October 5.

A petition on Change.org asks the museum to take the iPads off the backs of the animals, saying it is "unnecessary exploitation of animals." There were more than 4,390 signatures on the petition as of Saturday.

The museum said in a statement that it has worked closely with local veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Kremzier on health concerns and with the Turtle Conservancy on husbandry issues.

The museum says the iPads add "negligible weight for the tortoise," and their legs are strong enough to carry a mate, which can be more than 150 extra pounds.

The tortoises in the exhibit weigh roughly 60 pounds each, and the combined weight of the two iPads and the mounting on their backs is 2.5 pounds, according to Sara Fitzmaurice, spokeswoman for the Aspen Art Museum.

The silicone/epoxy material on the tortoises is "noninvasive and removes easily and cleanly without damaging the tortoise's shell," the museum claims, and it is a "reduced version of the method employed by scientists and researchers who study the animals in the wild."

"In this instance, it is used to temporarily attach the bolts that hold the mounting system. The mounting system is designed purposely to keep the iPads at a distance from their shell and does not impede their growth," the museum claims.

But Lisbeth Oden, the woman who started the Change.org petition, questions whether enduring the weight of a mate for a few hours prepares them for balancing two iPads.

"The point is that they were not given a choice," Oden writes in comments on the petition website. "And even if they were, do any of us speak Tortoise enough to understand what they might choose?"

Oden could not be reached for comment.

Kremzier said in a statement that she has worked with the museum's staff since the initial planning phase of the project.

"Without question, the welfare of the Tortoises has taken the highest priority in every stage of this exhibit," she said. "The environmental and nutritional needs of the animals have been met and are monitored closely. Environmental enrichment has been provided, and every attempt has been made to minimize stress on the animals. In my opinion, the tortoises have adapted well to their new habitat, and the iPads have not interfered in any way with their natural behavior."

Turtle Conservancy founder and president Eric Goode said the African tortoises are inappropriate as pets for most people, as they grow to become very large, despite being cute pets early on.

"This message is timely as it coincides with the release of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, which is sure to increase demand for pet tortoises just as the demand for Clown Fish skyrocketed after Finding Nemo came out," he said in a statement.

The tortoises were rescued from a breeder, museum spokeswoman Fitzmaurice said.

"The Aspen Art Museum is a contemporary art museum that provides a platform for artists to present their artistic vision with a freedom of expression," Fitzmaurice said in a statement. "That free expression can take many forms, and it is not the museum's practice to censor artists."

After the exhibition, the tortoises will find new homes in conservation and educational facilities selected in consultation with the Turtle Conservancy, Fitzmaurice said.

"As it has been from the beginning, should the attending vet or Turtle Conservancy make recommendations about the tortoises' care, the Museum will follow these recommendations, including if either recommends finding new homes before October 5," she said in her statement.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug092014

Champion Boater Suspected of Faking His Death

iStock/Thinkstock(LONGPORT, N.J.) -- A nationwide manhunt is underway for a champion boater who may have faked his own death, according to authorities.

Andrew Biddle has been missing since a boating accident last month. Police believe Biddle may have faked his own death to avoid criminal charges.

Police say the father of two was with another racer, Justin Belz, riding in a pontoon boat near Longport, New Jersey, on July 20 when they hit a buoy and plowed into a jetty.

Belz survived by swimming to shore and a massive search for Biddle was called off just a day later. Belz was being interviewed by authorities, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

A witness to the accident, Tom Murphy, said, "It just seems like the most ridiculous thing to pull off."

Officials said in a statement to ABC News that Biddle is considered a "wanted person," and they "believe that Mr. Biddle 'staged an incident,' to avoid prosecution."

ABC News' legal expert Dan Abrams said, "It's not illegal to fake your death. The problem is once you do it, you almost inevitably end up committing other crimes by not showing up for court, not paying your taxes, fraud, etc."

According to prosecutors, Biddle and his business and racing partner, Tracy Blumenstein, have been indicted on multiple counts of theft by deception and fraud.

"When someone is facing criminal charges and he disappears, the authorities are going to be suspicious," Abrams said.

Court documents obtained by ABC News allege Biddle accepted a $20,000 down payment for a boat that he never supplied to the customer.

Neither Blumenstein nor Biddle's attorneys would comment on the investigations.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug092014

Florida 9-Year-Old Shares Survival Story in 400-Pound Alligator Attack

iStock/Thinkstock(SAINT CLOUD, Fla.) -- A Florida 9-year old knew just what to do when he had a too-close-for comfort encounter with a nine-foot, 400-pound alligator.

"I just immediately hit it and I let it go a little so I pry its jaw open," James Barney Jr. told ABC News.

Sitting in his hospital bed with only minor cuts, Barney said some quick thinking saved his life when he was attacked by an alligator Thursday in Saint Cloud, Fla.

"First I thought someone was just playing with me and I didn't know what happened. I reached down to go grab it and I felt its jaw, I felt its teeth," Barney said.

Barney escaped with only minor alligator bites and a memorable souvenir, the animal's tooth.

"I want to put it on a necklace so that I can tell all my friends," he said.

Trappers are still searching for the reptile.

In the meantime, Barney has one piece of advice for swimmers.

"Don't go into the lake," he said.

The boy is expected to make a full recovery.



Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug082014

LeBron Welcomed Back to Ohio With Massive Homecoming Rally

Lloyd Bishop/NBC(AKRON, Ohio) -- LeBron James was welcomed back to Ohio in a lengthy homecoming rally in Akron.

The Friday night event came nearly a month after he announced that he would be returning home to Ohio. The general manager of the Cavaliers, the mayor of Akron, the president of the University of Akron, and a choir from a local Boys & Girls Club were all involved in the ceremonies before James even hit the stage.

The homecoming at InfoCision Stadium is just one of the ways that the Cavaliers are currying favor with their fans. Shortly after James announced his return, the team confirmed that they will not be raising season ticket prices.

The celebratory hoards, many of whom waited for hours to get a seat at the event, mark a dramatic turn from four years ago when Cavaliers fans burned his jersey and started riots when he decided to leave for Miami.

The fans weren't the only ones to react poorly: Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert posted a shockingly harsh open letter to the team's "former hero" on the night that James announced his move "with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up."

Now, the 29-year-old superstar has said that he is happy to move past the bitterness and come back to the place where he once belonged.

"Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It's where I walked. It's where I ran. It's where I cried. It's where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart," James wrote in his essay for Sports Illustrated announcing his latest decision.

"If I had to do it all over again, I'd obviously do things differently, but I'd still have left. Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids."

"I always believed that I'd return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn't know when."

James -- whose personal tagline touts his Ohio roots by saying he's "just a kid from Akron" -- started his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first draft pick in 2003.

He stayed with the team until 2010 after declaring free agency and announcing his move to Miami in a highly publicized ESPN special The Decision. He stayed with the Heat until becoming a free agent at the end of this past season.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug082014

Death of Missing Washington State Girl Ruled Homicide

iStock/Thinkstock(BREMERTON, Wash.) -- The body of a 6-year-old girl who disappeared last week in Washington State has been found. An autopsy has confirmed her identity, and on Friday, the coroner ruled her death a homicide.

The remains of Jenise Wright were found near her mobile home park in Bremerton, Washington, by an FBI team using search dogs, police said.

Jenise was last seen the night of Aug. 2, her family told police. They reported her missing on Sunday night. Her parents waited a day before calling for help because they say the girl had wandered around the park on her own in the past.

A criminal investigation is underway. Authorities are taking DNA from residents at the mobile home park.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug082014

Malala Yousafzai's Facebook Chat: One Voice Makes a Difference

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In a wide-ranging conversation with two of the most well-known women in the world, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg interviewed Malala Yousafzai in a live Facebook chat with 185,220 viewers on Friday.

Sandberg introduced the 17-year-old as a "living symbol of the transcendent importance of education," someone who risked her life "not just for herself but for what she stands for." Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 when she 15 because she spoke out for girls' education.

For almost an hour, Malala answered questions posted online from newsmakers such as Arianna Huffington and Melinda Gates, as well as young people around the world – including a friend from Pakistan.

Much of the conversation focused on what inspires Malala in her fight for education. Huffington asked: "During the most difficult days, when you’re facing the most challenging moments, do you have a ritual or practice that helps you reconnect with your inner strength and resilience?"

Malala replied that reading to children helps her the most, stating, "These are the people, this is the young generation that inspires me."

She also said she looks to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela for inspiration.

Khalida Brohi, a friend of Malala's, asked about her hopes for the future of Pakistan. Malala said that her dream is for equal education and more active participation by women in Pakistani culture. She also said she’s working to promote tolerance, freedom and equality in every society.

Sandberg, a director of The Walt Disney Co., which also owns ABC News, read a question posted by Melinda Gates: "What would you say to young people who don't think their voice can make a difference? How can young people get involved in shaping the change they want to see?"

Malala quickly replied, "Tell the young people that I also thought my voice cannot make a difference, but it did."

Malala's final advice for the young audience and worldwide viewers was simple: "Use social media in a good way."

Malala has recently launched a social media campaign asking all those who support girls' education to post their own inspiring messages of what they are #strongerthan. In a video posted on her website Malala holds a sign saying she is #strongerthan fear.


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