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Entries in Connecticut (107)

Saturday
Aug102013

Four Bodies Recovered from Site of Small Plane Crash in Connecticut

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(EAST HAVEN, Conn.) -- The bodies of four people have been recovered from the remnants of two homes that burned after a small plane crashed into them yesterday in East Haven, Connecticut. 

Two children, who were in one of the homes at the time of the crash, were among those killed. The other two bodies found were those of the pilot and his teenage son. The two were traveling to look at colleges.

The small turbo prop plane took off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and was on its way to New Haven, Conn., when it crashed into two houses in East Haven on approach to Tweed New Haven Regional Airport on Friday.

The children are believed to be a 1-year-old and a 13-year-old.

Investigators are still searching for any sign of what may have caused the crash.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May182013

Investigation Begins in Connecticut Commuter Train Crash

Comstock/Thinkstock(FAIRFIELD, Conn.) -- Federal transportation officials began their investigation Saturday to determine what caused two commuter trains to crash head-on in Connecticut during the Friday rush hour.

At least 70 people were injured Friday when a Metro-North train derailed and barreled straight into the path of another train headed in its direction just outside Bridgeport, Conn.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the scene Saturday morning to begin surveying the twisted rail cars that remained on the tracks.

"We'll be looking at how the crew behaved and how the crew operated the train," NTSB member Earl Weener said.

During the investigation, which is expected to last seven to 10 days, officials will also examine the braking performance of the trains and the conditions of the wheels, cars and track to see if they played a role in the crash, Weener said.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said three people remained in critical condition on Saturday, while six others also remained hospitalized for their injuries. Many of the injured suffered bruises, cuts and minor fractures and were able to be treated and released, according to officials at two area hospitals.

A Metro-North train was traveling east from New York City's Grand Central Station to New Haven, Conn., when it derailed at 6:10 p.m., Weener said.

The jolt of the impact was so strong, passengers said it caused bodies to be flung around the cars.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., was among the elected officials who surveyed the damage and called the scene "absolutely staggering."

He said the injuries could have been much worse and lauded the investment in infrastructure for saving lives.

"Investment in quality of transportation is probably one of the lessons we will learn from this accident," he said.

While the wreckage remains on the tracks, transportation in the Northeast Corridor is expected to be crippled.

Two of the tracks on the line were already out of service for a project, and the remaining two tracks were damaged in the collision, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the Metro-North Railroad.

Amtrak's service between New York City and Boston, which operates on the tracks where the accident occurred, was also suspended indefinitely.

Commuting could be a challenge on Monday for those around Bridgeport who rely on Metro-North to get to and from work in New York City.

Malloy said a system was being set up to move people from Bridgeport to nearby train stations.

"This is going to be with us for a number of days," he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar012013

High School Coach in Film Controversy Reinstated

ABC News(WESTON, Conn.) -- A popular Connecticut high school basketball coach will be reinstated to his position this weekend after allegedly being forced out when a controversial, decade-old film he appeared in was emailed to his bosses.

The film in question is called Forbidden Fruit, and it was directed and produced by Steve Moramarco, who went on to act in the hit sitcom Everybody Hates Chris and produce the 2006 feature Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. Coach Mike Hvizdo was shocked when the film, which he had almost forgotten, resurfaced and cost him his job.

Hvizdo will be reinstated as head basketball coach for Weston High School in Weston, Conn., on Saturday.

“I couldn’t be happier to be reinstated as head coach of Weston High School boys’ basketball,” Hvizdo said in a joint statement with the school administration this afternoon. “This has been a tough few weeks for everyone and I want to thank all those involved – including players, parents, friends and family, and especially my wife Carissa, who has been my rock – for all of their love and support. ”

The school administration and Hvizdo “worked through the issues surrounding Mr. Hvzido’s resignation,” and, “clarified the district’s expectation concerning his performance,” according to the statement.

“We welcome Mr. Hvizdo back to our coaching staff, and we wish him and the boys basketball team every success in the future,” the statement said.

When the video was sent to his bosses, Hvizdo defended himself by saying it was not illegal or pornographic, and he was just an actor. The school superintendant disagreed, saying the film was sexually explicit and vulgar.

After meeting with Hvizdo, the school said he agreed to resign. The principal sent a letter to parents saying he quit because of “personal reasons” and that he “could not lead the program the way it needs to be led.”

Hvizdo said he was forced out, but the community rallied around him.

“It’s time to move forward and I am excited to get back on the sidelines with my team on Monday night for our first state playoff game,” he said.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan312013

Conn. Task Force on Gun Violence Hears from Newtown Parents

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- Connecticut’s legislature's task force on gun violence prevention and children's safety met in Newtown Wednesday, the site of the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 first-graders and six adults dead.

Parents of the murdered children appeared at the hearing to express their desire for strong action to avoid another occurrence of “an unstable, suicidal individual” having access to military-style assault weapons.

The reference was to 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who first killed his mother at home before going on a shooting spree at the school and then taking his own life.  Lanza had been diagnosed with mental issues throughout his life.

Neil Heslin, who lost his 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis on Dec. 14, was direct in what he expected from the task force, calling for “a ban on assault rifles and military-style guns.”

Nicole Hockley's 6-year-old son Dylan was also one of the youngsters killed in the attack.  She told the gathering, “I'm not here to remind you of our sorrow.  I'm not here to proselytize about legislation.  You are our elected officials and it is your duty to create and enforce the laws that protect and help us.”

Meanwhile, a father of a Newtown pre-schooler told lawmakers, “The basic constitutional right to bear arms is a right that should not be impaired merely because others may precipitate violence.  Further restrictions on and bans merely protect the robber, and give them to the advantage over the robbed.”

Wednesday was the task force's final hearing.  Last Monday in Hartford, many of the participants stood in opposition to weakening what they believe are Second Amendment Rights while the Newtown summit focused more on gun control.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan192013

Former Conn. Priest Indicted on Meth Charges

Image Source/Thinkstock(BRIDGEPORT, Conn.) -- A former Roman Catholic priest from Connecticut has fallen from grace after being indicted on charges that he was part of an alleged cross-country crystal methamphetamine drug ring.

Former Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 61, of Waterbury, who was the pastor of the St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport for nearly a decade, was one of five people indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday for allegedly transporting methamphetamine from Connecticut to California.

Also charged were Kenneth Devries, 52, of Waterbury; Michael Nelson, 40, of Manchester; Chad McCluskey, 43, of San Clemente, Calif.; and Kristen Laschober, 47, of Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Wallin was also charged with six counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams of methamphetamine since September, according to court documents.

Law enforcement officials say they believe he received shipments of methamphetamine from the West Coast and resold the drugs out of his apartment in Waterbury, ABC station WABC-TV in New York reported.

In addition, investigators suspect that Wallin may have owned an adult video shop in North Haven called Land of Oz that he allegedly used the store to launder the money he earned selling drugs, according to court documents.

The Diocese of Bridgeport released a statement saying that Wallin resigned as pastor of the Bridgeport parish in 2011, citing health and personal issues, and was granted a sabbatical.

The diocese said that Wallin's "faculties for public ministry were suspended in May 2012, and he has not been reassigned."

Despite that, the diocese continued to pay him a stipend until he was arrested on Jan. 3, the Connecticut Post reported.

Some of his former parishioners are shocked the man they esteemed as a "very honorable man of God" would be involved in such a scandal.

"I feel terrible about it. And we just keep praying from him, that's all. If these allegations are true, we pray he repents, makes his peace with God, like we all have to," a parishioner told ABC affiliate WABC.

If convicted, Wallin faces a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan152013

Children Record Song to Benefit Newtown, Connecticut Causes

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- One month after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and six teachers dead, the children of Newtown, Conn., are eager to help their community.

“So many of the students came to me the day of the tragedy, the day after the tragedy.  And all I could see in their eyes, and you know, from what they were telling me is ‘how do we help’?” local music school owner Sabrina Post told ABC's Good Morning America in an interview that aired on Tuesday.

The children made banners. They drew pictures and helped create memorials.  They tied green and white ribbons -- the school’s colors.  But they still weren’t satisfied.

So 21 children gathered at the Connecticut home of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, both of the legendary rock band Talking Heads, to record a song that they hope will raise money for Newtown.  The children are mostly current or former students of Sandy Hook Elementary.

“My hope is that the kids from Sandy Hook School will have a hit record, you know?” Frantz, the band’s drummer, said.  “And I think they have a pretty good chance.”

Singer Ingrid Michaelson was asked to lend her voice to the project -- a cover of the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

“I thought, well, you know, even if it makes these kids who have been through so much, if it brings them and afternoon of joy and excitement then that’s what I can do, then that’s what I’ll do,” she said, adding, “I think there’s nothing more hopeful than hearing children’s voices in unison all together.  So yeah, I think people will feel that way, I hope so.”

Kayla Verga, 10, sang for her friend, 6-year-old Jessica Rekos, who was one of the students killed when Adam Lanza went on his Dec. 14 shooting rampage at the school.

“Singing the song makes me feel like she’s with me and she’s beside me, singing along with me,” Kayla told GMA.

Barrett DeYoung, 13, said he participated because she wants to help the survivors at her former school in “any way we can.”

Jane Shearin, 10, a Sandy Hook Elementary School student, sang because she wanted to help.

“I really want to be kind to the people who have lost their loved ones and help them to recover from their sorrow,” she said, adding that she hoped “someday our world will be peaceful and loving, no violence at all.”

The children’s recording will be available Tuesday on Amazon.com and iTunes.com.  All proceeds will go towards the Newtown Youth Academy and the United Way of Western Connecticut.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan142013

One Month After Newtown Shooting, Parents Work to Bolster Dialogue

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- One month after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, parents gathered in Newtown, Conn., to publicly pay tribute to their slain children and to support the founders of the non-profit Sandy Hook Promise, who outlined discussion points for a national dialogue on guns and violence.

Speaking at a press conference at Newtown, Conn., Monday morning, Tom Bittman, co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, outlined three discussion points that the organization hopes will bolster a national discussion and affect change in communities: gun responsibility, mental health and making public spaces safer.

"We have a responsibility to make something happen," Bittman said. "We want Newtown to be remembered for change. We refuse to be remembered only for our loss. We want the shooting to be remembered as a turning point."

Bittman emphasized that some of the members of Sandy Hook Promise are gun owners, but that they believe in responsibility and accountability. He also said that though new laws can be passed by Congress in the wake of the shooting, which left 20 children and six adults dead on Dec. 14, 2012, the organization is looking to individuals to look for solutions for what they can do in their communities.

"We don't have all of the answers, but we do know some of the questions," he said. "If we search for new strategies, we might find solutions we couldn't have dreamed of a decade ago."

The group is asking people across the country to sign the Sandy Hook Promise, which asks participants "do everything I can to encourage and support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence."

Sandy Hook Promise was formed in the days following the December 14 shooting under the original name Newtown United.

Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan Hockley was killed in the shooting, spoke frankly about the loss of her son and the moments that she forgets he is gone.

"It's a sad honor to be here today," she said. "At times it feels like only yesterday, and at others it feels like many years have passed," she said. "I still find myself reaching for Dylan's hand as I walk through a parking lot. I expect him to crawl into bed beside me for early morning cuddles before school … it's so hard to believe he's gone."

David Wheeler, whose son Ben died at Sandy Hook Elementary, pointedly asked parents to question how far they'd to ensure their children's safety.

"I would respectfully request that every parent in this country … pause and think and ask yourself, what is it worth doing to keep your children safe?" he said. "What is it worth to you? What is it worth doing?"

Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America Monday, Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez-Greene, who also spoke at Monday’s press conference, spoke of their grief for their little girl, Ana Marquez-Greene, and honored her memory.

"She was kind, she was loving, she was smart -- and she was also a fashionista -- she loved those gaudy flowers. I'm wearing it for her today," Nelba Marquez-Greene said, referring to her flower headwear. "We're hoping that through Sandy Hook Promise, we can bring awareness to issues, and start a conversation based on love and respect."

Ana caught the nation's attention in a video where she sang "Come Thou Almighty King" while her 9-year-old brother Isaiah played the piano. Marquez-Greene said that she wants her work now to be a tribute to her little girl.

"[She was] passionate, she was abut loving God and loving people, and I hope that that can be the legacy that we leave," she said. "That love wins, and that love will prevail in this."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan052013

Protest to Be Held at Connecticut Gun Show

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(STAMFORD, Conn.) -- Occupy the NRA, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, will be holding a protest against a gun show held on Saturday in Stamford, Conn.

The gun show is only 40 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of the fatal shootings of students and teachers.

Amid gun show cancellations across the country, and despite the mayor’s plea, the East Coast Fine Arms Show will go on as scheduled this weekend.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Sandy Hook Parents Shadow Students on Return to School

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Parents in Newtown, Conn., put their children on school buses Thursday morning and waved goodbye as the yellow buses rolled away.  But this first day back since the pre-Christmas massacre is anything but normal for the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Erin Milgram, the mother of a first grader and a fourth grader at Sandy Hook, told ABC's Good Morning America that she was going to drive behind the bus and stay with her 7-year-old Lauren for the entire school day.

"I haven't gotten that far yet, about not being with them," Milgram said.  "I just need to stay with them for a while."

Thursday is "Opening Day" for Sandy Hook Elementary School, which is re-opening about six miles away in the former Chalk Hill school in Monroe, Conn.

Lauren was in teacher Kaitlin Roig's first grade class on Dec. 14 when gunman Adam Lanza forced his way into the school and killed 20 students and six staffers.

Roig has been hailed a hero for barricading her students in a classroom bathroom and refusing to open the door until authorities could find a key to open the door.

The 20 students killed were first-graders and the Milgrams have struggled to explain to Lauren why so many of her friends will never return to school.

"She knows her friends and she'll also see on the bus... there will be some missing on the bus," Milgram said.  "We look at yearbook pictures.  We try to focus on the happy times because we really don't know what we're doing."

"How could someone be so angry?" Lauren's father Eric Milgram wondered before a long pause.  "We don't know."

The school has a lecture room available for parents to stay as long as they wish and they are also allowed to accompany their children to the classroom to help them adjust.  Counselors will be available throughout the day for parents, staff and students, according to the school's website.

The first few days will be a delicate balancing act between assessing the children's needs and trying to get them back to a normal routine.

"We don't want to avoid memories of a trauma," Dr. Jamie Howard told Good Morning America.  "And so by getting back to school and by engaging in your routines, we're helping kids to do that, we're helping them to have a natural, healthy recovery to a trauma."

Security is paramount in everyone's mind.  There is a police presence on campus and drivers of every vehicle that comes onto campus are being interviewed.

"Our goal is to make it a safe and secure learning environment for these kids to return to, and the teachers also," Monroe police Lt. Keith White said at a news conference on Wednesday.

A "state-of-the-art" security system is in place, but authorities will not go into detail about the system, saying only that the school will probably be "the safest school in America."

Every adult in the school who is not immediately recognizable will be required to wear a badge as identification, parent and school volunteer Karen Dryer told ABC News.

"They want to know exactly who you are at sight, whether or not you should be there," Dryer said.

Despite the precautions and preparations, parents will still be coping with the anxiety of parting with their children.

"Rationally, something like this is a very improbable event, but that still doesn't change the emotional side of the way you feel," Eric Milgram said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Sandy Hook Parents and Teachers to Put on a Brave Face for Students 

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(MONROE, Conn.) -- When the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School arrive at their new school building for the first day of classes on Thursday, they will be greeted by their beloved pet turtle, Shelley, and a winter wonderland of cut-out snowflakes sent by well-wishers from around the world.

"You have to put on a smile and you have to just move forward with enthusiasm," parent and school volunteer Karen Dryer told ABC News. "You have to make it the best possible place for the children. You can't afford to fall apart or be afraid yourself. You have to just be really brave and put on a big smile and be reassuring."

Dryer's 5-year-old son is a kindergarten student at the school, and she is the class volunteer for his class who has helped prepare the new school.

Thursday's "Opening Day," as the school is calling it, will mark the first time the roughly 500 members of the school are all together after the Dec. 14 rampage in which gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six staffers.

The school's new home is the building that used to be the Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, Conn., about six miles from Sandy Hook in Newtown.

"[It took] a great deal of thought and effort and volunteer work to make this as seamless as possible," Newtown schools superintendent Janet Robinson said at a news conference Wednesday. "Right now, Chalk Hill has been transformed from a middle school to a very cheerful, nurturing elementary school."

Sinks and toilets were lowered to elementary school levels. Walls were painted and the school's mascot Shelley, a red slider turtle, has been moved to his new home in the library. Many of the students and their parents have already visited the new school and many more were set to visit at an open house Wednesday.

"All the kids love Shelley," Dryer said. "Just seeing Shelley was a huge thing for the kids, knowing he's okay and that he's going to be at the new school."

The paper snowflakes hanging from the ceilings were part of an international effort to send the decorations to the school. The snowflakes came from all around the country and world, from as far away as Israel. Some are personalized with messages on them.

"We just got this brand-new school and it's all decorated and really looking beautiful," she said. "The classrooms are all completely set up, all decorated really well because the teachers and volunteers put in a lot of time making sure it looks welcoming and somewhat familiar."

She said the level to which the classrooms were recreated varied by class and age.

For kindergartners who need structure for security, the classrooms were meticulously recreated from the drawings on the wall to the crayons and water bottles on the desks.

For some of the older students who perhaps saw or heard things that were traumatic, some of the teachers have gone with new designs that are welcoming but not too reminiscent of the past room.

Dryer said that the community has experienced many "miracles" in the weeks since the shooting, but that two big miracles come to mind in terms of the school.

The first was the town of Monroe giving Sandy Hook an entire building to use for their school. When splitting up the school and distributing the members to other schools arose as an idea, it was rejected immediately.

"The teachers were up in arms and they said absolutely not and all the parents agreed that they need to be together more than ever. You cannot split up those teachers or those kids."

The second "miracle" was the return of former principal Donna Page (pronounced Pa-jhay), who the superintendent Wednesday called a "godsend."

Page is leading the new school as interim principal, telling parents it was her "calling" to return after the tragedy. Parents have dubbed her the "new old principal" because Page was the school's leader for 14 years before retiring in 2010.

The school's principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was among the first victims of the shooting. The school didn't know how they would fill Hochsprung's "very, very big shoes" until they heard from Page, who said she knew she was being called back to the school when she heard about the shooting, Dryer said.

Dryer knew Page from when her daughter, now a sophomore in high school, was at Sandy Hook while Page was principal.

"She's amazing. She's an extremely strong woman," Dryer said. "She is the perfect person to come in and take control and lead this school and staff forward."

"Once we had those two things in place, we felt so much better and then everything has been coming together and working hard to prepare the space," she said. "They literally worked around the clock to get it all up to date."

As the school prepares to officially open, security is paramount in everyone's mind. There is a police presence on campus and drivers of every vehicle that comes onto campus are being interviewed.

"Our goal is to make it a safe and secure learning environment for these kids to return too, and the teachers also," Monroe police Lt. Keith White said at the news conference.

A "state-of-the-art" security system is in place, but authorities will not go into detail about the system, saying only that the school will probably be "the safest school in America."

Every adult in the school who is not immediately recognizable will be required to wear a badge as identification, Dryer said.

"They want to know exactly who you are at sight, whether or not you should be there," Dryer said.

The first few days will be a delicate balancing act between assessing the children's needs and trying to get them back to a normal routine.

"They want to try to get things back into a routine as quickly as possible, but they do see the need for some therapeutic days," Dryer said. "They're going to spend the first few days mostly acclimating themselves to the new space doing a lot of different things that will help them get familiar with the school."

Dryer said that some children will do activities that seem like simple, fun games, but are actually providing some therapy and giving adults a chance to assess where they are.

Now that the construction is finished, the walls are painted and the decorations hung, Robinson said that the only missing piece is the children.

"I think they'll feel welcome as they come through the front door," Lt. White said. "Their teachers eagerly await to meet them again and move forward from this point."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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