Entries in Massachusets (6)


Mother and Daughter Trapped in Brazil Custody Dispute Return Home

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A Massachusetts mother and her 6-year-old daughter have returned home to the United States after being stranded in Brazil for nearly two months as a result of a tumultuous custody battle, according to their Facebook page.

Shauna Hadden, 33, of Agawam, Mass., took to Facebook to announce that she and her daughter, Ava, made it back Friday night.

"We are home!!!!!! Love you all thank you all," Hadden wrote on her Facebook page, "Trapped in Brazil." The page has received more than 12,000 likes.

Hadden said she got word that she could leave Brazil on Wednesday, when a federal regional judge there ruled that she and her daughter should be given back their passports, which they had turned over to police, according to a post on Facebook. Both Hadden and her daughter were also removed from the country's no-fly list, the post said.

Hadden took her daughter to Brazil on May 21 to visit the girl's father, Donizete Machado, whom Hadden divorced in 2009. When the mother and daughter arrived, Hadden says, her ex-husband went to court to get custody of Ava.

Although he was denied custody, a Brazilian judge ordered Ava's passport confiscated, Hadden said, adding that she surrendered her own passport as well when police came to her door.

Hadden, who has full custody of her daughter, said she planned a three-week trip to the South American country with Ava so the girl could meet her extended family and learn more about her cultural heritage.

"I was trying to do the right thing, what I thought was the right thing for Ava, and he hadn't seen her in four years," Hadden said.

When the two arrived in Brazil, "Shauna got a call from a man who lived in Machado's town telling her not to come," Shauna's mother, Linda Hadden, told ABC News. "Her ex-husband was planning to take Ava from her."

So instead of traveling to see Machado, Hadden says she chose to go north and stay with friends.

"That's when Machado got angry," Linda Hadden said. "He and his sisters started sending my daughter nasty messages, saying things like, 'You're going to have to stay in Brazil forever.' So Shauna decided to take her return flight home."

But Machado, who had bought the plane tickets, cancelled them when Hadden arrived in Brazil, she said.

While the U.S. State Department tried to get Hadden and Ava out of Brazil, Hadden grew increasingly concerned that she would not get her and her daughter's passports back before her travel visa expired Aug. 21.

"I have no documents here. I fear to even go in the car because if I get pulled over and I don't have my documents, ultimately they could throw me in prison because I'm undocumented," Hadden told ABC News in a Skype interview.

But after the judge ruled in her favor, Hadden posted pictures of herself and her daughter smiling and holding their passports on Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Lost Teenage Skier Credits Reality TV Survival Skills

Maine Warden Service(BOSTON) -- The teenage skier who survived two freezing nights alone in the woods said he used skills he learned from reality television to survive the snow and blistering winds.

Nicholas Joy, 17, of Medford, Mass., was found at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, three days after he disappeared from Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Maine on Sunday afternoon.

The teen was found on the Caribou Pond Road snowmobile trail, on the west side of the mountain, by Warwick, Mass., fire captain Joel Paul said.  Joy was about four miles from a road and two miles from Sugarloaf Mountain.

“He was hungry.  I gave him some peanuts and crackers I had in my snowmobile,” Paul told ABC News affiliate WCVB.  “He said he watched a survival show on TV and basically took branches and snow and made himself a shelter and slept under the shelter.”

Joy, a senior at Medford High School, is expected to be released from the hospital later Wednesday and his mother, Donna, is understandably ecstatic her son is safe.

“He said ‘I’m so glad to see you,’ and I said the same thing,” she told WCVB after visiting her son at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Maine, on Tuesday.

Joy’s ordeal began when he got separated from his father while skiing Sunday afternoon.  Blinded by snow and strong winds, Joy says he kicked into survival mode, building a cave and covering his body with twigs and leaves.  During the day, he drank water from nearby streams and followed the faint remains of snowshoe tracks to the road where he was eventually found by Paul.

“I turned the news on to see what the weather was like, to go snowmobiling, and I heard about Nicholas,” Paul told ABC News.  “My grandfather and I used to hike up there a lot, so I knew the trail well and figured I could help out.”

Joy was walking along the snowmobile trail when Paul spotted the teenager waving him down.

“I’m glad to see somebody,” Joy told Paul when he was first rescued.

Paul and the EMTs were surprised at how good Joy looked after being stuck in freezing temperatures, which dipped down into the low teens, and snowy conditions.

“I thought, like most everybody, that he was hurt, broke a leg or something like that.  He was cold but for being in the woods for two days, he was in great shape,” said Paul.

The first thing Joy asked for after being transported to the hospital was a cheeseburger.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


School Shooting Protocol Shifts From Lockdown-Only

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CANTON, Mass.) -- Students in Canton, Mass., are the latest to receive training that would give them a more proactive role in responding to a school shooter. Instead of hiding, they would barricade doors and learn counter techniques.

The program, called ALICE -- alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate -- has been implemented in 300 schools since it was founded in the mid-2000s by former SWAT officer Greg Crane and his wife, a former school principal.

After the Columbine shooting in 1999, Crane said he realized the lockdown-only policies most schools have aren't enough to protect students if there is a shooter on the loose. By locking doors and hiding, students become easy targets, he said.

"You look at Columbine and every single child killed in the library that morning," Crane told, referring to the library in which 52 children and teachers hid for more than four minutes before the gunmen entered and shot 18 of them. "They were all sitting down. ... Why were they there five minutes when they had five minutes to do something else?"

In Canton, the adoption of ALICE training has been received with some hesitation from the Canton School Committee, the Boston Globe reports. After a reporter questioned local officials, the committee called a meeting on Nov. 15 to discuss the program.

"Truthfully, we're a little behind the information curve on all of this," committee chairman John Bonnanzio told the Globe on Thursday. "At the very least we need to be able to ask some questions. We think the community should be able to weigh in, too."

The C in ALICE is for "counter," and that's often the most controversial step, but it's also a last resort, Crane said.

Usually only for older students, "counter" involves making use of students' advantage in numbers over the lone shooter, because 97 percent of shooters act alone, Crane said. In his experience, police are often less accurate shooters during shootouts because of overwhelming stimuli, like noise. Taking that knowledge into account, Crane's program suggests that students keep moving, make noise, and sometimes throw things.

"There are things you can do to make yourself a harder target," Crane said.

Of course, "counter" only happens if the student comes face-to-face with a shooter.

"Maybe it is thought out completely, but we need details," Bonnanzio told the Globe. "Maybe giving these kinds of instructions to children in the high school, as opposed to the elementary schools, is a better idea."

Crane said training differs based on age, but it's ultimately up to local law enforcement to decide who learns what.

Other ALICE steps include an updated version of "lockdown" because doors -- especially those with glass -- can be easy to break through, Crane said. Since shooters know they have a finite amount of time to kill people, Crane said they'll often move on if entering one classroom takes too long. As such, ALICE involves barricading doors. For instance, one teacher he trained plans to tie a 400-pound filing cabinet to the door handle of her classroom to make it difficult to open.

But ALICE has its critics, most notably, Kenneth Trump, a school safety consultant in Ohio who runs a consulting firm called National School Safety and Security Services.

Trump argues on the NSSSS website that Crane's expectations are unrealistic. He told the Globe that as soon as a student is shot obeying ALICE standards, parents are going to ask who taught them to do that.

But Crane says law enforcement haven't proven that they can arrive in time to save lives during a shooting. As such, students should have options and decide for themselves how to react.

Crane said he knows of two instances in which ALICE saved lives. During the high school cafeteria shooting in Ohio this February, for example, a young girl ran from the cafeteria because her mom received training and told her never to just duck and cover during a shooting. The girl brought several friends with her, but four people who remained were shot, and three of them died.

"She did the right thing," Crane said. "She made herself a very hard target."

ALICE trainings will also be held in Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana this month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Massachusetts Shark Sends Kayaker Running ‘Like a Little Child’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CAPE COD, Mass.) -- Walter Szulc will likely never forget the first time he went kayaking thanks to the great white shark that appeared directly behind him, trailing his kayak.

He was kayaking 100-150 yards off the waters of Cape Cod, Mass., on Saturday when hundreds of beachgoers saw the shark’s dorsal fin about 10 feet behind him.  People began to point in Szulc’s direction while yelling “shark.”

A nearby surfer watched in horror as the 12-to-14 foot great white approached.  Szulc credits that surfer for saving his life because he was the first person to point out the shark.

“I looked back and that’s when the shark was right behind me,” Szulc said.

More than 3,000 swimmers at Nauset Beach were asked to get out of the water when the shark was sighted.

“Everyone was very relaxed and the shark put on quite a show moving back and forth out in front of the beach, but it was done in a very orderly fashion,” Harbormaster Dawson Farber said.

It was the third great white sighting in Cape Cod in the past couple of weeks.  The sharks are drawn to the area because of a huge spike in the seal population. Seals are essentially shark bait.

Author Jonathan Kathrein, who survived a shark attack, said the fear of sharks is overrated.

“The reality is sharks aren’t trying to eat people and statistically in almost every shark attack, the person who’s attacked survives,” Kathrein said.

Szulc credits his own survival to instinct.

“I just reacted.  I thought it was either it or I’m getting in so I just paddled like no tomorrow,” he said.  “I kind of ran out of the water like a little child.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NJ Hits Up Mass.Woman for 35-Year-Old $73 Debt

Hemera/Thinkstock(AMESBURY, Mass.) -- Back in 1976, when Alice Mainville received an unemployment check from the state of New Jersey, she remembers feeling elated.

In 1976, Mainville was 17 and had been working in Paterson, N.J., in a union job at Lazzara bakery. When another union, the Teamsters, which also had members employed at the bakery, went on strike,  Mainville said she and her fellow union members were told not to cross the picket line.

Out of work for a time, she was eligible to claim unemployment. It was then that the state allegedly overpaid her, but Mainville said she never had any idea there was a problem until the recent notices started coming.

Never did she think that 35 years later, long after she had moved to Massachusetts to start a new life, that New Jersey would track her down for a $73 debt, the result of a miscalculation in her unemployment check.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Mainville said in an interview. “They’re coming after me for $73, after 36 years, for a debt I incurred at 17?”

She first received the notice from the New Jersey Department of Labor last fall telling her that she owes the state $73 due to the state’s miscalculation.

The notice was addressed to her using her maiden name, Alice Scheller, a last name she had not used in 12 years.

Mainville initially thought that the letter was for her mother, who had passed away five years ago and had lived her life in New Jersey, as there was no social security number listed on the notice.

She replied with her mother’s death certificate. Then in March, she received another notice that included her Social Security number, ostensibly proving that the debt was indeed in her name.

Back in the 1970s, Mainville recalls, she could fill up her car’s entire gas tank for just $5. She was earning about $80 a week.

According to Brian Murray, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Labor, Mainville’s case is hardly unprecedented. The state of New Jersey is owed $376 million in debts from people who were overpaid unemployment insurance benefits and now owe repayments and penalties.

There is no expiration date for debts like this. The department is “obligated, under the law, to follow up on these matters, regardless of the amount of the debt or the age of the case,” Murray said.

Ultimately, Mainville, single mother of three and school secretary in Amesbury, Mass., says she’ll pay back the $73, but only after checking to ensure that the notice is legitimate and factual. Only the balance of the over-payment was provided; no additional information was given. She said that she would love to contact the Department of Labor and get more information, but that there was no email address or phone number listed on the notice.

Murray says that if she gives him a call, he’ll be happy to help out.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Family’s Corn Maze ‘Fun’ Ends in 911 Rescue

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DANVERS, Mass.) -- How do you find your way through a corn maze?

Call 911.

At least that was the approach taken by a Massachusetts family Tuesday, after they lost their way amidst seven acres of nine-foot corn stalks and became scared.

Fearing for the safety of their 5-year-old and 3-week-old children, the couple, whose names were not released, used a cellphone to call 911 just after dusk on Tuesday night. “We came in during the day time and we got completely lost and we have no idea where we are,” the caller told the 911 operator.  “I’m really scared. It’s really dark and we’ve got a 3-week-old baby with us.”

The family was trying to find their way through the maze at Connors Farm in Danvers, Mass. “We thought this could be fun.  Instead it’s a nightmare,” the couple told 911. Police quickly alerted farm management of the family’s situation, and sent a rescue team, K-9 unit and all, to the farm.

 “They responded so fast,” Bob Connor, the farm’s owner, told Good Morning America.  “It was unbelievable how fast they came up.”

The quick-thinking 911 dispatcher instructed the parents to yell out, “Hello K-9!” until they were finally escorted out to safety. The entire search, and rescue, took all of about five minutes, according to Connor. It turns out the family was just 25 feet from the exit when they were found by a police officer.

“They were in the heart of the maze,” Connor said of the family’s location. “Bridge, hanging out by bridge, right in the center of the horse.” Connor said the family is the first this year to get stuck in the maze, which features maps and signs along the way to help people find their way.

The maze path has been a part of the Connor Farm for the past five years. “We designed the maze for people to get lost but it’s all about family fun and it’s unfortunate that the family got stuck,” he said.  “That’s not our goal.  We want a positive experience for all.”

While the family -- who declined an offer of free tickets from the farm’s management to give the maze another try -- likely won't be adding the experience to their family scrapbook, Connors Farm is not. “We are going to put a mark in the area where the family got lost,” Connor told Good Morning America. “We’re going to say ‘This is the famous point where the family got lost.’”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio