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Entries in Alabama (68)

Wednesday
Aug142013

Large Cargo Plane Crashes Near Birmingham Airport

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- A large cargo plane crashed outside the Birmingham, Ala. airport on Wednesday morning.

Flames were reported at the scene where a UPS jet crashed near the Birmingham International Airport, killing the pilot and copilot, according to law enforcement sources at the scene.

The plane had taken off from Louisville and was approaching the Birmingham International Airport around 6 a.m. when it went down, according to authorities.

The TSA said they believed the pilot and copilot were the only individuals on board with the cargo. Authorities have not yet released information on their status.

The National Transportation Safety Board launched an immediate investigation into the crash, announcing that they would send a full "Go Team" of investigators to Birmingham. The first investigator was expected to arrive by 10 a.m., with a full team to arrive later Wednesday.

The plane, an Airbus A300, was manufactured in 2004. It's not clear what cargo the plane was carrying.

It was also unclear what caused the crash. Near 6 a.m., the airport had visibility of 10 miles and a cloud ceiling of 700 feet.

UPS released a statement this morning following the crash:

"At this time, we are still determining the details of the incident. We will release more information as it becomes available. As we work through this difficult situation, we ask for your patience, and that you keep those involved in your thoughts and prayers."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb152013

Carnival Cruise Ship Passengers 'Blessed' to Finally Be Home

Jeff Gammons/Getty Images(MOBILE, Ala.) -- After five days without power in the Gulf of Mexico, the Carnival Triumph cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 people arrived in Mobile, Ala., on Thursday to a cheering crowd of friends and family members waiting to embrace their loved ones.

Passengers began to disembark the damaged ship around 10:15 p.m. CT.  The last passenger disembarked the ship at 1 a.m. local time, according to Carnival's Twitter handle.

As the ship docked, passengers lined the decks of the ship, waving and whistling to those on shore.

"Happy V-Day," read a homemade sign made for the Valentine's Day arrival.  Another, more starkly, read, "The ship's afloat, so is the sewage."

Some still aboard chanted, "Let me off, let me off!" and "Sweet Home Alabama."

The Triumph departed Galveston, Texas, last Thursday and lost power on Sunday after a fire in the engine room disabled the vessel's propulsion system.

After the power went out, passengers texted ABC News that sewage was seeping down the walls from burst plumbing pipes, carpets were wet with urine, and food was in short supply.  Reports surfaced of elderly passengers running out of critical heart medicine and others on board squabbling over scarce food.

Passengers said many of the cabins became intolerable with the smell of raw sewage.  They were forced to create makeshift beds out of lounge chairs on the ship's deck.

"We kind of camped out by our lifeboat.  We would have nightmares about Titanic basically happening," passenger Kendall Jenkins told ABC News Radio after disembarking from the ship.

"I am just so blessed to be back home," she added.

Jenkins was one of many passengers that were photographed kissing the ground when they exited the ship.

Approximately 100 buses were waiting to take passengers on the next stage of their journey.  Passengers have the option to take a bus ride to New Orleans or Galveston, Texas, where the ill-fated ship's voyage began.  From there, passengers will take flights home, which Carnival said they would pay for.

Inside the buses, Carnival handed out bags of food that included French fries, chicken nuggets, honey mustard, barbecue sauce and apples.

Carnival president and CEO Gerry Cahill praised the ship's crew and told reporters that he was headed on board to apologize directly to its passengers shortly before the Carnival Triumph arrived in Mobile.

"I know the conditions on board were very poor," Cahill said Thursday night.  "I know it was very difficult, and I want to apologize again for subjecting our guests for that. ... Clearly, we failed in this particular case."

Passengers are being given a full refund for the cruise, transportation expenses and vouchers for another cruise.  Carnival Cruise Lines is also giving each person $500.  Cahill announced the additional compensation on Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb062013

Alabama Hostage Taker Planted Bombs in Bunker, FBI Says

Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images(MIDLAND CITY, Ala.) -- Jimmy Lee Dykes, the man who held a young boy hostage for nearly a week in an underground bunker in Alabama, had two homemade explosive devices on his property and engaged in a firefight with SWAT agents before they stormed the bunker and killed him, according to the FBI.

One explosive device was found inside the bunker and another was located in the PVC pipe negotiators used to communicate with Dykes, the FBI said Tuesday night.  Both devices were "disrupted," according to the FBI.  The search for hazards is expected to continue through Wednesday.

Preliminary investigation reports indicate that Dykes engaged in a firefight with the SWAT agents who made entry on Monday, according to the FBI.

Officials were able to insert a high-tech camera into the 6-by-8-foot bunker to monitor Dykes' movements, and they became increasingly concerned that he might act out, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the case told ABC News on Monday.

FBI special agents were positioned near the entrance of the bunker and negotiators were able to convince Dykes to approach the bunker door.  FBI agents used two explosions to gain entry into the bunker.  It also appears that Dykes reinforced the bunker against any attempted entry by law enforcement, according to the FBI.

ABC News has learned that Dykes first opened fired on the agents during the bunker raid. Moments later, the agents returned fire, killing Dykes.

The shooting review team continues to gather facts regarding the incident, the FBI said.

The boy, only identified as Ethan, was rescued from the scene by a waiting ambulance.  The bunker raid came six days after Dykes boarded a school bus, fatally shot the driver and abducted the boy, who suffered no physical injuries.

Meanwhile, Ethan is set to celebrate his sixth birthday on Wednesday, happily reunited with his family.

Ethan's relatives told ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday that he seemed "normal as a child could be" after what he went through and has been happily playing with his toy dinosaur.

"He's happy to be home," Ethan's great uncle Berlin Enfinger told GMA.  "He's very excited and he looks good."

In a statement released by the FBI on Tuesday, Ethan's mother said, "For the first time in almost a week, I woke up this morning to the most beautiful sight...my sweet boy. I can't describe how incredible it is to hold him again."

Ethan is "running around the hospital room, putting sticky notes on everyone that was in there, eating a turkey sandwich and watching SpongeBob," Dale County Schools Superintendent Donny Bynum said at a news conference on Tuesday.

When asked about a birthday party for Ethan, Bynum said, "We are still in the planning stages.  Our time frame is that we are waiting for Ethan, waiting on that process, but we are going to have it at a school facility, most likely the football stadium at Dale County High School."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb052013

Boy Rescued in Alabama Standoff Is 'Laughing, Joking' with Family

ABC News(MIDLAND CITY, Ala.) -- The 5-year-old boy held hostage in a nearly week-long standoff in Alabama is in good spirits and apparently unharmed after being reunited with his family at a hospital, according to his family and law enforcement officials.

The boy, identified only as Ethan, was rescued by the FBI Monday afternoon after they rushed the underground bunker where suspect Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, was holding him.  Dykes was killed in the raid and the boy was taken away from the bunker in an ambulance.

Ethan's thrilled relatives told ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday that he seemed "normal as a child could be" after what he went through and has been happily playing with his toy dinosaur.

"He's happy to be home," Ethan's great uncle Berlin Enfinger told GMA.  "He's very excited and he looks good."

"If I could, I would do cartwheels all the way down the road," Ethan's aunt Debra Cook said.  "I was ecstatic.  Everything just seemed like it was so much clearer.  You know, we had all been walking around in a fog and everyone was just excited.  There's no words to put how we felt and how relieved we were."

Cook said that Ethan has not yet told them anything about what happened in the bunker and they know very little about Dykes.

What the family does know is that they are overjoyed to have their "little buddy" back.

"He's a special child, 90 miles per hour all the time," Cook said.  "[He's] a very, very loving child.  When he walks in the room, he just lights it up."

Officials have remained tight-lipped about the raid, citing the ongoing investigation.

"I've been to the hospital," FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson told reporters Monday night.  "I visited with Ethan.  He is doing fine.  He's laughing, joking, playing, eating, the things that you would expect a normal 5- to 6-year-old young man to do.  He's very brave, he's very lucky, and the success story is that he's out safe and doing great."

Ethan is expected to be released from the hospital later Tuesday and head home where he will be greeted by birthday cards from his friends at school.  Ethan will celebrate his sixth birthday on Wednesday.

Officials were able to insert a high-tech camera into the 6-by-8-foot bunker to monitor Dykes' movements, and they became increasingly concerned that he might act out, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge told ABC News on Monday.  FBI special agents were positioned near the entrance of the bunker and used an explosive charge to gain access and neutralize Dykes.

"Within the past 24 hours, negotiations deteriorated and Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun," Richardson said.  "At this point, the FBI agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child."

Richardson said it "got tough to negotiate and communicate" with Dykes, but declined to give any specifics.

After the raid was complete, FBI bomb technicians checked the property for improvised explosive devices, the FBI said in a written statement Monday afternoon.

The FBI had created a mock bunker near the site and had been using it to train agents for different scenarios to get Ethan out, sources told ABC News.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb052013

Alabama Hostage Standoff Ends: Kidnapper Dead, Child Safe

WDHN(MIDLAND CITY, Ala.) -- A week-long standoff in Alabama, where a retired trucker held a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker, has ended with the kidnapper dead and the child safe, according to law enforcement.

"FBI agents safely recovered the child who's been held hostage for nearly a week," FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson said at a news conference late Monday afternoon.

Officials were able to insert a high-tech camera into the bunker to monitor the movements of the suspect, Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, and they became increasingly concerned that he might act out, according to a law enforcement source with direct knowledge.

Richardson said negotiations with Dykes "deteriorated" in the past 24 hours.

"Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun," Richardson said.  "At this point, the FBI agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child."

The boy, identified only as Ethan, was being treated at a hospital, authorities said.

"I've been to the hospital," Richardson told reporters Monday evening.  "I visited with Ethan.  He is doing fine.  He's laughing, joking, playing, eating -- the things that you would expect a normal 5- to 6-year-old young man to do.  He's very brave, he's very lucky, and the success story is that he's out safe and doing great."

"I'm a father," added Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson.  "A lot of these men and women that've been sacrificing tireless hours, they're parents, as well.  You know, it's a relief for us to be able to reunite a mother with her child."

Dykes is dead, but officials have not yet provided details on how he died or how the boy was rescued.

"Right now, FBI special agent bomb technicians are in the process of clearing the property for improvised explosive devices," the FBI said in a written statement late Monday afternoon. "When it is safe to do so, our evidence response teams, paired with state and local crime scene technicians, will process the scene."

Richardson added Monday evening, "I can't talk about sources, techniques or methods that we use. ... We were speaking with the subject.  I can tell you that.  Other than that, I can't go into detail."

Dykes allegedly shot and killed a school bus driver last week and threatened to kill all the children on the bus before taking the boy, one of the students on the bus said.

"He said he was going to kill us, going to kill us all," Tarrica Singletary, 14, told ABC News.

Dykes had been holed up in his underground bunker near Midland City, Ala., with the abducted boy for a week as police tried to negotiate with him through a PVC pipe.  Police had used the talks to send the child comfort items, including a red Hot Wheels car, coloring books, cheese crackers, potato chips and medicine.

The outcome of the situation drew praise from the White House.

"This evening, the president called FBI Director Robert Mueller to compliment him for the role federal law enforcement officers played in resolving the hostage situation in Alabama today," read a statement from a White House official late Monday.  "The president praised the exceptional coordination between state, local, and federal partners, and thanked all the law enforcement officials involved during the nearly week-long ordeal for their roles in the successful rescue of the child."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb042013

Alabama Hostage Standoff: Suspect Threatened to Kill All Kids on Bus

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(MIDLAND CITY, Ala.) -- Jimmy Lee Dykes, the retired Alabama trucker who allegedly shot a school bus driver last week and has held a 5-year-old boy hostage in his underground bunker for seven days, had threatened to kill all the children on the bus before taking the boy, one of the students on the bus said.

"He said he was going to kill us, going to kill us all," Tarrica Singletary, 14, told ABC News.

"The bus driver kept saying, 'Just please get off the bus,' and [Dykes] said, 'Ah, all right, I'll get off the bus," Tarrica said.  "He just tried to back up and reverse and [Dykes] pulled out the gun and he just shot him, and he just took Ethan."

Drones are flying over the homemade underground bunker Monday morning near Midland City, Ala., where police say Dykes is holding Ethan hostage.  Officials have not released the boy's last name.

Despite days of negotiations, police say they have little to go on.  Dykes, 65, has made few demands, and they still have no motive for his actions, or any sense of when the standoff might end.

Negotiators have been communicating with Dykes through a ventilation pipe that leads to the bunker, and have used it to send the child comfort items, including a red Hot Wheels car, coloring books, cheese crackers, potato chips and medicine.

At a news conference this weekend, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson surprised many when he thanked Dykes.

"I want to thank him for taking care of our child, that is very important," Olson said on Saturday.

On Sunday, the tight-knit Midland City community buried bus driver Chuck Poland, who died protecting the children from Dykes.  Hundreds came out to the funeral as they prayed for Ethan.

Cindy Steiner, who lives next door to Ethan, said his mother is worried and just wants her "loving little boy" home safe.

"Because Ethan being autistic, he has behavior problems, and she doesn't want him to get in one of those moods where he's uncontrollable," Steiner told ABC News.  "She's scared what would happen."

Steiner said she had a message for Ethan.

"Hang tough, little man," she said.  "We love you.  We are praying for you."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb032013

Alabama Hostage Standoff Enters Sixth Day, Boy Being Made 'As Comfortable As Possible'

ABC News(Midland City, Ala.) -- A retired Alabama truck driver is making his 5-year-old hostage "as comfortable as possible" in an underground bunker, authorities said, as they enter the sixth day of negotiations.

Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, has allowed negotiators to send medicine for the boy, who has only been identified by his first name, Ethan.

Other comfort items, including potato chips, coloring books and toys, have been sent into the bunker for Ethan through a ventilation pipe that leads into the 6-by-8-foot subterranean hideout four feet underground.

"I want to thank him for taking care of our child, that is very important," Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said at a news conference on Saturday.

The incident began on Tuesday when Dykes boarded a school bus and demanded two boys between 6 and 8 years old. Bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was shot dead when he tried to block Dykes, who then abducted 5-year-old Ethan.

"The bus driver kept saying, 'Just please get off the bus,' and [Dykes] said, 'Ah, all right, I'll get off the bus," said witness Terrica Singletary, 14. "He just tried to back up and reverse and [Dykes] pulled out the gun and he just shot him, and he just took Ethan."

Neighbors told ABCNews.com that Dykes has been known to retreat underground for up to eight days.

Cindy Steiner, who lives next door to the 5-year-old boy, Ethan, said his mother is worried and just wants her "loving little boy" home safe.

"Because Ethan being autistic, he has behavior problems, and she doesn't want him to get in one of those moods where he's uncontrollable," Steiner told ABC News. "She's scared what would happen."

While the community is praying for a peaceful resolution, Steiner said she had a message for 5-year-old Ethan.

"Hang tough, little man," she said. "We love you. We are praying for you."

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb022013

Alabama Standoff: Authorities Maintaining 'Open Line of Communication' with Hostage Suspect

WDHN(MIDLAND CITY, Ala.) -- Alabama police have an "open line of communication" with the retired Alabama trucker who took a 5-year-old autistic boy hostage from a school bus and was holding him in his underground bunker.

"Through our communication, we've been able to -- he's told us that he has electric heaters and some blankets inside, that he's taking care of [the boy]," Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said on Saturday.

Olson said he was "limited" in what new information that he could provide, but expressed gratitude for the growing concern regarding the condition of the child.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb022013

Alabama Standoff: Students Say Hostage Suspect Jimmy Lee Dykes Threatened to Kill

ABCNews.com(MIDLAND CITY, Ala.) -- A brother and sister who escaped the school bus where a 5-year-old autistic boy was taken hostage by a retired Alabama trucker are speaking out about the standoff and the man who threatened the lives of the children on board.

"I look up and he's talking about threatening to kill us all or something," 14-year-old Terrica Singletary told ABC's Good Morning America. "He's like, 'I'll kill all y'all, I'll kill y'all, I just want two kids.'"

Singletary and her brother, Tristian, 12, said Jimmy Lee Dykes boarded the bus on Tuesday and offered the driver what appeared to be broccoli and a note, before demanding two children.

"The bus driver kept saying, 'Just please get off the bus,' and [Dykes] said, 'Ah alright, I'll get off the bus," said Terrica Singletary, "He just tried to back up and reverse and [Dykes] pulled out the gun and he just shot him, and he just took Ethan."

School bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was fatally shot several times by Dykes.

The siblings and the rest of the students on board were able to get away unharmed, but were shocked by what had transpired on Tuesday afternoon.

"I never thought I would have to go through a shootout," Singletary said.

They said they had seen Dykes, 65, working on his fence, and described him as a menacing figure.

"He was very protective of his stuff," Tristian Singletary said. "Whenever he stares at you, he looks kinda crazy."

Dykes has been holed up in his underground bunker with his 5-year-old hostage named Ethan near Midland City, Ala. for five days now. Neighbors told ABCNews.com that Dykes has been known to retreat underground for up to eight days.

While Dykes, who was described as having "no regard for human life," has allowed negotiators to send Ethan's medicine, as well as coloring books, into the bunker for the boy through a ventilation pipe that leads into the 6 by 8 foot subterranean hideout 4 feet underground, authorities are staying quiet about their conversations with Dykes.

Meanwhile, his peers are steadfast that he will return home soon.

"Ethan will make it out there, Ethan will make it out there," said Tristian Singletary.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb012013

Alabama Hostage Suspect Had Court Date Day After Kidnapping

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(MIDLAND CITY, Ala.) -- The retired Alabama trucker who shot a school bus driver and is now holding a kindergarten student in an underground bunker was scheduled to be in court this past Wednesday to answer for allegedly shooting at his neighbors in a dispute over a damaged speed bump.

Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, has been holed up in a 6 by 8 foot bunker, four feet underground with a 5-year-old autistic boy named Ethan since Tuesday, when he boarded a school bus and asked for two 6- to 8-year-old boys.  School bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was shot several times by Dykes, and died trying to protect the children.

Police said that they do not think that Dykes had any connection to Ethan, and that SWAT teams and police are negotiating with Dykes.

"I could tell you that negotiators continue to communicate with the suspect and that there's no reason to believe the child has been harmed," Sheriff Wally Olson said late Thursday.

As the underground standoff moved into its fourth day, tensions grew in this small community near Midland City, Ala., which is now enveloped by SWAT teams and police.

"That's an innocent kid.  Let him go back to his parents, he's crying for his parents and his grandparents and he does not know what's going on," Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper told ABC News.  "Let this kid go."

Neighbor Jimmy Davis said that he has seen the bunker where Dykes has been known to hunker down for up to eight days.

"He's got steps made out of cinder blocks going down to it, Davis said.  "It's lined with those red bricks all in it."

Police say he may have enough supplies to last him weeks.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio