Entries in Cars (23)


After 24 Years, Children Reunite Father with Beloved Mustang

(BRAZIL, Ind.) -- In an act of extraordinary devotion to their father, four siblings bought the car he sold 24 years ago and shipped it to his home in Indiana.

Richard Lookebill first purchased the car, a bright green 1972 Ford Mustang on March 1, 1972. He had to part ways with it 24 years ago for financial reasons, his son Cory Lookebill told ABC News.

“He needed to make sure he could take care of [us] when we were kids,” said Lookebill.

But the family never forgot it. The car’s presence was always felt, even if it was no longer with them physically.

“It was part of our family,” said Michael Lookebill, Cory’s brother. “It’s just been something my dad always wanted back and we got the crazy idea to look for it.”

Michael found the car on an eBay auction, identified Bruce Hrobak as the owner, and contacted Hrobak to purchase the car.

The car was relatively easy to identify, Michael Lookebill told ABC News, because they had the vehicle identification number and there were “unmistakable characteristics” like pinstripes on each side of the car.

The siblings shipped the car to their father’s house in Brazil, Indiana. It arrived in April. When they finally did reveal the surprise to their dad, Michael videotaped his reaction and put it on YouTube, displaying his father’s shock on social media.

“Our father gave us everything when we were kids, so we decided we wanted to do something for him now that we are older, to show him we appreciated him,” Sarah Misner, Cory and Michael’s sister, told ABC News.

The siblings declined to disclose the cost of the car.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Two Children Die After Being Left in Hot Cars

iStockphoto(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) -- Two communities in different states are reeling from the tragic deaths of two infants who died after being left in hot cars.

In Alexandria, Va., a 25-year old mother apparently forgot to drop her 8-month old son off at daycare on her way to work in Arlington on Friday and left the child all day in her parked car while the temperature climbed above 90 degrees. When the mother left work, she still didn't realize what had happened and drove half the way home before noticing her child in his car seat.

“When she was driving back into the city, she realized the child was still in the car, found the child was unresponsive and drove directly to the emergency room,” said Lt. Mark Burgin with Alexandria police.

“We don't know why at this point what led to her mistake, her failure.”

A 16-month-old child also died in Lansdowne, Md. on Friday after being left in a car in 88 degree heat for about four hours. A relative was supposed to take the toddler to a daycare program but went home to take a nap instead, according to county police.

“You don't even leave a dog in the car for that amount of time,” said a neighbor. “I mean, I don't care if it's two minutes it's too hot out here.”

“No common sense,” the neighbor continued. “You don't need an education to do that. It's just sad.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Seat Belt Use at Record High, New Report Shows

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Seatbelt use in the U.S. has reached an all time high, according to a new report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA.

Through an annual survey, the organization found that 86 percent of Americans use a seat belt when driving a car, a 2 percent increase over the previous year. Researchers also found that seat belt use has been on a consistent incline since 1994, which corresponds with a steady decrease in unrestrained vehicle passenger fatalities in the daytime.

“When it comes to driving safely, one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and your family is to use a seat belt,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Officials attribute the trend to the passage of primary seat belt laws in certain states, where authorities can issue tickets solely based on those not wearing a seat belt. A total of 32 states and the District of Columbia have passed primary laws requiring seat belt use.

There have also been rising efforts in seat belt use awareness, such as the "Click It or Ticket" initiative, a national campaign dedicated to heighten awareness among young people to wear a seat belt when in the car.

"We’ve made steady gains in belt use in recent years,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Moving forward, it will be critical to build on this success using a multi-faceted approach that combines good laws, effective enforcement, and public education and awareness.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Thieves Cracking Security Codes to Get Into Cars

ABC(CHICAGO) -- Just after 1 o'clock one August night, a man calmly walked up to a locked car parked on a downtown Chicago street and within seconds -- without a key, without any force -- was sitting in the passenger's seat. If you witnessed it, you wouldn't think anything of it. It was just a man getting into his car.

Except it wasn't his car. It was someone else's, but the man had easily broken in and could now steal whatever he wanted. Thieves, it seems, have figured out a way to unlock cars equipped with security systems, all without so much as breaking a window or even jimmying a lock. While they are not actually stealing automobiles yet, they are able to steal belongings found inside locked cars.

That car in Chicago belongs to Michael Shin, who thought he was losing his mind when his sedan was robbed. Shin, after all, had locked the car, but now his belongings had been stolen with no sign of forced entry.

"I kept thinking, 'How did they gain access to my car if nothing was broken?'" he told ABC's Chicago station WLS-TV.

Fortunately for Shin, the answer was right there on his home security video, so he got to see how the robber had done it.

"He walks past my car, the dome light comes on and he kind of stops in his tracks and walks right into the car," Shin told WLS. "It's mind-boggling how smart they are to build some sort of a device or an app or something that allows them to steal easily."

It wasn't only Shin's car that was robbed -- his neighbors' were, too. Wireless signal experts think some car thieves have cracked security codes, so they are able to send the same unlock signal that an owner's key transmitter uses.

"It's quite possible that they already decrypted the code, they actually have the key of the car, so they can open it any time they want," Xang Xiu, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, told WLS.

That is what Chicago police believe too.

"We believe that this code-grabbing technology was utilized and we are looking into it and investigating," the Chicago Police Department's Andrew Schoeff told WLS.

The technology that keyless entry systems use has become much more complicated since 2010 and now changes the codes on a regular basis, but for systems that were built before then, it's a different story. And that has left locksmiths like Bill Plasky feeling dumbfounded at how thieves are now exploiting outdated systems to open cars like Shin's.

"Honestly," said Plasky, "I've never seen anything like that."


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eight Children Died in August After Being Left in Hot Cars

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Parents' leaving their kids in the backseat of cars during the sweltering days of summer has become an all-too-familiar scene in the United States.

Twenty-three children have died of hyperthermia in cars in 14 states this year alone, and eight of the deaths occurred in the first week of August.  Nearly 40 children die this way each year, according to Kids and Cars.

The latest death was Aug. 7 when, police say, Stephanie Gray, 38, forgot to drop off her five-month-old son, Joel, at a church day care in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Instead, Gray dropped off her 11-year-old at school and returned home, leaving Joel in the backseat of the minivan, according to ABC News affiliate KLTV.

When Gray arrived at daycare around 2:30 p.m., she was told Joel was never dropped off, according to police.

"She was informed that her son was not there," police representative Kris Mumford told KLTV.  "She ran to her minivan, found her 5-month-old child inside the van and she carried her child into the day care.  It's believed he died in the van from the heat."

Police said that no charges have been filed.

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The temperature inside a car can increase 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Children are especially at risk because they can't handle extreme heat the way adults can.

"Kids heat up three to five times faster than adults," said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide.

In response to these incidents, the departments of Transportation and Health and Human Services is launching a nationwide campaign on Friday to crack down on kids being left in hot cars.

Called "Where's baby? Look before you lock," the program asks the departments of head start and also day care units across the country to distribute safety tips -- like when you leave your car, make sure you have something important in the backseat like your keys, cellphone or purse so you can't forget them or your child.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Furry Car Burglars Loose in Colorado

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo.) -- A gang of car burglars have residents of Colorado’s Snowmass Village on edge and the mountain town’s police force on high alert after reports of at least 14 cars broken into.

The suspects are proving elusive to capture but easy to identify, namely by the prints they leave behind: big, furry paw prints.  The suspects in this crime drama are a mother bear and her three cubs that have been reportedly breaking into cars in the town near Aspen over the past week in search of food, the Aspen Daily News reports.

The bears were caught red-handed Saturday night when the unidentified owner of a car they were breaking into opened the door to find them inside.  The mother scampered away but when police arrived two of the cubs were still in the car and captured on-camera by quick-thinking Officer David Heivly of the Snowmass Village Police Department.

Most of the break-ins came by the bears simply opening an unlocked car door, prompting the local transportation department to issue a plea to residents.

“Bears are breaking into cars in Snowmass Village,” the Town of Snowmass Village Transportation Department posted on its Facebook page Sunday, along with the photo of the cubs.  “Please lock your cars and try to clean all traces of food out of them. On second thought, sell your car and ride the Village Shuttle. Beats having to clean it. Seriously! Lock your cars. These cute little guys lives depend on you to act responsibly in bear country.”

Wildlife officials confirmed to the Aspen Daily that they have set up two traps in the village to try and capture and relocate the bears.

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“We’re trying to get a hold of her before she breaks into any homes,” Kevin Wright, a wildlife manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told the paper.

Officials say the bears’ meandering into human territory is most likely a result of the area’s drought conditions that are pushing them out of the wilderness in search of food.  Many of the break-ins have occurred near a mall by a mountain where officials believe the bears are roaming.

The town is erecting “Bear Alert” signs on Wednesday and distributing “Bears in Your Area” brochures.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kentucky Father Arrested After Son Left in Hot Car

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LONDON, Ky.) -- A Kentucky father has been arrested for allegedly leaving his 2-year-old son inside a hot car parked outside his office.

Kenneth Robinson, 31, told police he got distracted on Monday and drove straight to work instead of dropping off the boy at daycare.  The toddler was strapped in the backseat as the temperature hit 100 degrees in the car in London, Ky.  One of Robinson’s co-workers noticed the boy more than two hours later and made a frantic call to police.

“I need an ambulance at Patton-Chestnut and Binder ASAP.  A child was left in the car,” the co-worker said.  “Is he breathing?  Is he breathing?  Yes, he’s breathing.”

Witnesses say the boy was alert in the backseat, but his face was red before being rushed to the hospital.  Robinson told police it was a terrible mistake.

This is not an uncommon story during the hot summer months.  A Massachusetts woman was charged last week with reckless endangerment for leaving her 5-month-old niece in the car for hours.  The baby survived.

Thirty-three children died of hypothermia in the United States last year after being left in a vehicle; six have already died this year.  Half of the children were forgotten in the vehicle by a caregiver.

Robinson’s story didn’t end in tragedy and he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Wednesday.  He faces a felony charge of wanton endangerment and is due back in court on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Thieves Stealing Car Registrations to Find and Rob Empty Homes

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Thieves in Seattle are finding a new way to target victims: stealing vehicle registrations from cars parked at movie theaters, checking the address of the registration, and heading straight for the vehicle owners' homes for a two-hour stealing spree.

The Kings County, Wash., Sheriff's Department has responded to four reports of car burglaries in the past two weeks that have turned out to be much more than smash-and-grab thefts.

As moviegoers arrive in the parking lot and leave their cars to go inside, vigilant thieves swoop in, smash the passengers' side window and reach into the glove box to steal one vital piece of information: their car registration.

"I would imagine that they probably watch the people pull up to the movies, figure they're going to be gone for two hours.  It's likely that they'll knock on the (car owner's) door to see if someone's home, and if not, go around back to break in," said Sgt. Cyndi West.

Gary Van Wieringen, a Washington resident whose car and home were broken into, said he never thought to take his registration with him when leaving his car.

"Redmond Police showed up within four minutes.  Their first question to us was, have you checked for your registration?" Van Wieringen, whose house was robbed while he watched a movie, told ABC News affiliate KOMO.  "Like the sign says, don't leave your valuables in the car.  But it doesn't say don't leave your registration in the car."

When the individuals emerge from the movie or dinner to see their car window broken, they call police, but often don't realize that the thieves are already nearly finished robbing their homes.

"In all of our cases, nothing else was taken, and then when the individual gets home from the movie or wherever, the house had been broken into," West said.

Police suspect that the four Seattle crimes are related, but are warning residents to be aware of copycat burglars.

"At the very least lock your glove box," West said.  "It's just a deterrent.  It's not going to keep someone with the right tools out.  Or keep you registration on you.  If there's only one person operating the vehicle, keep it on so you have it available."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Keyless Car Ignitions: Are They Too Dangerous?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Keyless ignitions are designed to simplify the driving experience -- push a button rather than turn a key.  But recent fatalities, including this past week in Boca Pointe, Fla., where drivers left the car running and died of carbon monoxide poisoning, have highlighted whether keyless ignition cars are safe.

Adele and Mort Victor were found dead Thursday in the bedroom of their Boca Pointe home. Their keyless ignition cars have now been impounded by police.

In 2009, Mary Rivera of Long Island, N.Y., survived after leaving her Toyota running in her garage, but her husband died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"The ignition didn't turn off," Rivera said.  "I was very familiar with the car.  I drove it every day.  I don't know.  I thought I turned it off, but apparently I didn't."

She was saved by her brother, John, who was worried when he didn't hear from her.

"I thought she was dead.  I rushed to her and was yelling at her and shaking her to have some response," John Rivera said.

More than 160 car models now offer keyless start.  Toyota said its cars sound a warning when the driver leaves without shutting down the car.

Still, the Center for Auto Safety said it tracked six fatalities involving push-button starters and wants car manufacturers to return to keys.

When asked if drivers are partly to blame for walking out of the car without turning off the ignition, Clarence Ditlow, executive director with the Center of Auto Safety, said it's part of the issue.

"Sure, it's our fault," Ditlow said.  "But this is a device that makes it easy to forget, and the cost of forgetfulness should not be death by carbon monoxide."

The National Highway Transportation Agency wants manufacturers to standardize all the push-button starters to avoid confusion.

In the meantime, Mary Rivera and several other push-button start users are suing the manufacturers for alleged losses.

Rivera said manufacturers are "a 100 percent at blame because they designed something that could be left on without a person knowing.  So we have to blame them 100 percent."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Watch Out! Self-Driving Cars Approved in Nevada

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CARSON CITY, Nev.) -- Google’s self-driving car has been demoed a number of times over the past few years -- Good Morning America even took it for a spin in 2010. But the pedal’s about to be really put to the metal in Nevada.

Nevada’s Legislative Commission has approved regulations that would allow self-driving vehicles on the state’s roadways.

“Nevada is the first state to embrace what is surely the future of automobiles,” the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles Director Bruce Breslow said in a statement on the DMV’s website.

“These regulations establish requirements companies must meet to test their vehicles on Nevada’s public roadways as well as requirements for residents to legally operate them in the future,” said Breslow.

But the state is going even further: It is developing “licensing procedures” for companies to test their self-driving cars. Google has already signed on to test-drive its self-driving Toyota Prius. (Google was behind the legislation lobbying effort.) Car manufacturers such as BMW and Audi are working on similar vehicles.

Drivers will be able to distinguish self-driving test vehicles by their  red license plates. When the robotic cars actually make it to market, they will have green license plates.

General Motors has predicted the technology will be standard by 2020, which means it will probably be awhile before lots of cars with green license plates are seen zooming around the Silver State.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio