Entries in Holiday (7)


Holiday Miracle as Man Awakes from Monthlong Coma

ABC News(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Doctors told Benjamin Pessah’s family he might not live after he was shot in the head. But after waking from an almost month-long coma, Pessah said his first words and took his first steps just in time for Thanksgiving.

Pessah, of Burlingame, Calif., was walking home from a Halloween party in San Francisco Oct. 28 with two friends and his girlfriend when a stranger came up and touched his girlfriend inappropriately. Pessah, 21, stepped in to protect her when the man pulled out a gun and shot him in the head.

“It was pretty bizarre and unnecessary,” Pessah’s older brother, Nick Pessah, told “He [the stranger] attempted to shoot the group of four of them. He missed everybody but the last bullet hit my brother in the head.”

When doctors first examined Pessah’s injuries, they told his family he wasn’t going to make it. At one point, doctors said he only had a 25 percent chance of living.

“They weren’t going to operate because he was too severely injured,” Nick Pessah said. “Then they said they would attempt it but normally they wouldn’t. They only did because he is young and has a chance at surviving. They weren’t sure if he was going to make it or not.”


Pessah was in a medically induced coma for almost a month. But just a few days before Thanksgiving, his breathing tube was taken out and he said his first words. In a faint whisper, he said, “Hi Mom.”

“My mom was the only one who saw him speak and it brought her to tears,” Nick Pessah said.

On Thanksgiving Day, Pessah took his first steps with his parents and three brothers in his hospital room at the University of California San Francisco to cheer him on.

“I was the first one to watch him walk,” Nick Pessah said. “I was speechless. I didn’t really know what to say, it was very unexpected.”

Although he doesn’t remember the shooting, which his brother believes is a good thing, Pessah does remember everything else including his computer passwords and address.

“It’s a miracle. I couldn’t be more ecstatic about his recovery,” Nick Pessah said. “It couldn’t have happened at a better time. I have more than enough to be thankful for.”

Pessah is a part-time student and entrepreneur. He likes going to the gym and hopes he’ll be able to again when he fully recovers. One thing he has been able to do in his remarkable recovery is tell his family that he loves them, which they thought they might never hear again.

“Right now I couldn’t be more happy,” Nick Pessah said. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve been crying, I’ve been happy. He’s beaten all of his odds so I couldn’t have asked for a better Thanksgiving.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Thanksgiving Travel: Midwest Fog, New York Train Trouble

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As Americans continued to their holiday destinations Wednesday, train issues in New York City were added to the mix of inclement weather and airport strikes threatening to put a damper on Thanksgiving travels for some.

Service on the Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak to and from Pennsylvania Station were temporarily suspended Wednesday evening because of switching problems, according to ABC station WABC-TV.

In the Pacific Northwest, travelers had a soggy ride. Up to 10 inches of rain have fallen this week in parts of Oregon, up to nine inches in Washington, and 6.5 inches in Northern California.

In Oregon, this was in some places a record rainstorm. A third storm system is moving through the West Wednesday, producing more rain, but it will not be as heavy as Monday's rainfall.

Approximately 39 million of Wednesday's travelers were hitting the road by car, according to the AAA. Motorists along the East Coast faced heavy traffic, but most of the weather looked calm from New York to Atlanta, with temperatures in the 50s in the Northeast and near 70 in Georgia.

Dense fog that rolled into the Midwest from Chicago to Texas Tuesday night caused traffic delays across the area.

At Chicago's Midway Airport, Angieang28 tweeted that fliers were "packed like sardines."

The top five cities bracing for the worst traffic Wednesday were: New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and the most tangled roads will be in Los Angeles, with holiday road trips predicted to take 33 percent longer than usual.

And that's not the only headache in Los Angeles. Airport union workers were preparing to strike at LAX. The workers, who are angry over terminated union contracts and health insurance, admit they could not have picked a worse day or a busier airport.

"It's a national day about being with your family and taking care of your family, and these workers are not able to do that," said Andrew Gross Gaitan of the SEIU United Service Workers West.

Job actions are not just in California. Angry workers are picketing coast-to-coast: from Chicago's O'Hare airport to New York's JFK to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

There is, however a silver lining for motorists, as gas prices are down 5 cents in the last two weeks. The Energy Department reported the national average for a gallon of regular fuel was $3.41.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Report Ranks States on Drunken Driving 

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In 2009, nearly 11,000 people were killed and more than 350,000 were injured nationally in crashes involving a driver with an illegal blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater, according to the latest statistics by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This Wednesday, MADD marks the fifth anniversary of its campaign to eliminate drunken driving with a report that rates each state on its progress in eliminating drunken driving.

The Report to the Nation finds that the nation, according to each state’s average, received an overall three-star rating on a five-star scale. States earning a five-star rating include Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and Utah. States earning one star were Michigan, Montana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Dakota.

“These ratings indicate which states have passed effective laws and employed effective drunken driving countermeasures, and are independent of a state’s fatality numbers,” a spokesperson for MADD said.

The report comes out just before the holiday season, when road travel is expected to be heavier, and drunken driving typically increases, according to a MADD spokesperson.

“Nationally in 2009, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, 879 people were killed by drunk drivers,” the MADD spokesperson said.

The report also finds that drunken driving costs in the U.S. are more than $132 billion annually, according to data compiled by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

According to MADD, in the five years since the campaign was launched, fifteen states have instituted mandatory all-offender ignition interlock laws, up from only one state; all 50 states now have some form of ignition interlock law, up from 45; and advanced in-vehicle alcohol detection technology is no longer just a concept but is now in its second phase of development.

In addition, Arizona’s all-offender mandatory ignition interlock law -- requiring that an alcohol ignition interlock be installed on the vehicles on all convicted drunken drivers -- went into effect in 2007.

Since then, Arizona has seen a 46 percent reduction in drunk driving fatalities. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving calls for these types of all-offender ignition interlock laws in every state.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


North Carolina Third-Grader Buys $15,000 in Gifts for Sick Kids

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A precocious nine-year-old's determination to make sure sick children had gifts during the holidays paid off with stunning results.

Katie Greene, a North Carolina third-grader, went into this holiday season with dollar signs in her eyes -- not for her own gifts, but for those she would help deliver to several area hospitals using money she planned to raise from her school, family, friends and various community groups.

She ended up collecting a whopping $15,708.

"I'm really hard to turn down," Katie told ABC News of her marketing strategy.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Katie launched her own version of a speech circuit, meeting with youth and church groups and her classmates to ask for donations. She also set up shop at craft shows and sold raffle tickets.

It's a project she has undertaken for the last three years -- since she was six -- but this year topped her previous efforts by far.

"I had this idea," she said. "It's just gone off. I think I'm doing a really good job."

That first year, Katie raised $162. Three years later, she set a goal of $15,000 and raised more than $700 on top of it.

Though Katie wasn't allowed to deliver her gifts in person due to concerns over infection and privacy, she said she knew of one little boy -- named Kevin -- who liked to watch movies. So she bought him gift cards to Best Buy and Amazon so he could have his purchases shipped to him.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Winter Storm Foils Holiday Travel

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A nor’easter is projected to dump up to a foot and a half of snow on some areas of the east coast tonight and into Monday. Coming at the end of the holiday weekend, travelers in the northeast can expect conditions that will make getting home difficult, at the very least.

In Atlanta, Delta canceled hundreds of flights Saturday. Continental Airlines said in a statement that the airline has pre-canceled about 250 flights and is monitoring the storm’s potential impact on operations.

Driving conditions are not expected to be any better. Whiteout blizzard conditions are predicted up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

This is the same storm that slammed the west coast this past week with heavy rains that caused flooding and mudslides. It’s made its way across the U.S., and is now headed up the southeast along the coast, having picked up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Holiday Terror Warning Cites Car Bombs, Small Arms Attack

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Federal law enforcement terror bulletins have become as much a part of the holiday season in the past decade as egg nog and department store Santas.  But this year, which ends amid a heightened concern over terror, is a little different.

A Department of Homeland Security bulletin sent to law enforcement nationwide Thursday says that federal authorities worry terrorists will try to rattle Americans by attacking during the holidays, and lists concerns including car bombs, trucks ramming crowds, and a Mumbai-style small arms attack.

"We are concerned these terrorists may seek to exploit the likely significant psychological impact of an attack targeting mass gatherings in large metropolitan areas during the 2010 holiday season, which has symbolic importance to many in the United States," the "Security Awareness for the Holiday Season" bulletin states.

The bulletin cites no specific threats for Christmas and New Year's, but makes clear that this year's enhanced concern is based on a persistent, evolving threat.  The past 12 months brought multiple attempted attacks on U.S. targets, including the attempted Christmas Day underwear bombing of Northwest 253, Faisal Shahzad's failed Times Square car bomb, the "printer bomb" cargo plane plot, and a number of alleged would-be bombers caught in stings in Oregon and elsewhere.

"During the last year," said the bulletin, "al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have attempted to carry out attacks in the United States, thereby raising their international profile.  We cannot discount the possibility that other al-Qa'ida-linked groups, such as al-Qa'ida in Iraq, al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, or al-Shabaab, will attempt to target the Homeland during the holiday season."

The document suggests that terrorists may consider public gatherings like "sporting events, parades, religious and cultural activities" to be attractive targets.  "Attacks against these targets could maximize the psychological impact on the American public given the symbolic importance of the holiday season to many in the United States," says the bulletin.  "Attacks against air cargo during this busy season are also a concern."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama Kicks Off the Holiday Season at the White House

Photo Courtesy - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- “It’s Christmas! It’s exciting!,” first lady Michelle Obama yelled from the festive East Room of the White House Wednesday afternoon.

Mrs. Obama got in the holiday spirit in the newly decorated White House Wednesday, welcoming the families of military members to see the new décor.

“This is a very exciting time here at the White House for me and our family,” Mrs. Obama said. “And I have to say the house looks more beautiful than it did last year.  It is really something special."

Mrs. Obama mentioned the highlights of this year’s Christmas decoration -- the giant Bo replica which she called “shocking,” and the 350-pound gingerbread house. Mentioning the theme of “Simple Gifts,” the first lady said that that is really what the holiday season is all about.

“In the end, the greatest blessings of all are the ones that don't cost a thing -- the time that we spend with our loved ones, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, and the joy we feel from reaching out to those in need.”

For the second time in two years, the White House has teamed up with Toys for Tots to help collect toys.

After her speech, Mrs. Obama went to the State Dining Room of the White House where “creative stations” were set for children to make holiday ornaments, cards and decorated gingerbread cookies.

Mrs. Obama took off her formal jacket and helped decorate a card, and fold magazine pages to make a recycled Christmas tree.

A child gave Mrs. Obama a cookie she had decorated.

“That is delicious,” she said after taking a big bite of the cookie.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio