Entries in South Dakota (6)


Mom Raises Money to Watch Daughter’s Killer Die

David J. Sams/Getty Images(SIOUX FALLS, S.D.) -- Friends, family members and strangers have helped Tina Curl’s grim dream come to fruition -- to watch the man who raped and murdered her 9-year-old daughter be strapped to a gurney and fight for his final breath as lethal drugs course through his veins.

Curl, 50, spent months raising money for the trip from New York to South Dakota where she’ll get a “front row seat” to watch Donald Moeller be executed.  The execution could happen any time between Monday and Nov. 3.

“I have waited 22 long years for this,” Curl, who has arrived in Sioux Falls, S.D., told ABC News during her fundraising drive.  "He watched her die and I am going to watch him die.”

Curl's daughter, Becky O’Connell, went to the convenience store to buy candy on May 8, 1990.  The following morning, her body was found in a wooded area in Lincoln County, S.D.

An autopsy found O’Connell had been raped vaginally and anally and died of a cut to the jugular vein of her neck, according to court documents.

Curl and her husband, Dave, who was O’Connell’s stepfather, had lived in South Dakota for five months at the time of the murder.  The couple later relocated to Lake Luzerne, N.Y.

“After this she wasn’t going to stay in that state,” said Rhonda Springer, a longtime friend of Curl who helped spearhead the fundraiser to send Tina and Dave Curl to South Dakota to witness the execution.

Although a one week window has been set for Moeller’s execution, the actual date of lethal injection is at the warden’s discretion, with 48 hours’ notice required, Tina Curl said.

“It means everything,” she said.  “I ain’t only doing it for me.  I am doing it for Becky.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Safest City for Driving Is Sioux Falls, South Dakota

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What’s the safest city to take your new car out for a spin? That would be Sioux Falls, S.D., which Allstate Insurance Co. proclaimed as ”America’s Safest Driving City” for the fifth year in a row.

The report, drawing from Allstate claims data, ranks America’s 200 largest cities in terms of car collision frequency.  The good news for Sioux Falls drivers?  The average driver in Sioux Falls will get into an auto collision every 13.8 years -- or is about 28 percent less likely to get into a crash when compared with the national average of 10 years.

Boise, Idaho; Fort Collins, Colo.; Madison, Wis.; and Lincoln, Neb., took the top spots behind Sioux City. And for the eighth year in a row, ever since Allstate has issued its safe-driver report, motorists in Phoenix topped the list among commuters in U.S. cities with more than one million people, with the average driver experiencing a collision every 10.2 years.

While car crash fatalities are at their lowest level since 1949, they still average more than 32,000 every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports.

“Allstate’s Best Driver’s Report was created to boost the country’s discussion on safe driving,” Mike Roche, senior vice president of claims, said in a statement.  “Minimizing distractions, obeying traffic laws and using your car’s safety features like turn signals and headlights, are all ways to be safer, no matter where you drive.”

So where are the worst drivers?  In Washington, D.C., where the average driver has a collision every 4.7 years, which, when compared with the national average, makes D.C. drivers 112 percent more likely to have a crash.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Firefighting Plane Crashes in South Dakota; Casualties Confirmed

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- An Air National Guard cargo plane based out of North Carolina crashed Sunday while fighting wildfires in South Dakota. Officials say six crew members were on board the C-130, but will only say there were casualties as well as survivors.

The plane had been dropping flame retardant on the White Draw fire near the town of Edgemont.

“Can't speculate on what may or may not have happened that caused the incident. That's going to be investigated in the next weeks and months,” said North Carolina National Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Robert Carver.

“There were casualties. There were lives lost. There were injuries,” Carver said. “We're very grateful for the survivors and our thoughts and our prayers and our hearts go out to the families that have lost loved ones.”

President Obama echoed that sentiment in a statement issued by the White House on Monday.

“The full details are still under investigation, but the crew of this flight – along with their families and loved ones – are in our thoughts and prayers.  

“The men and women battling these terrible fires across the West put their lives on the line every day for their fellow Americans,” he said. “The airmen who attack these fires from above repeatedly confront dangerous conditions in an effort to give firefighters on the ground a chance to contain these wildfires – to save homes, businesses, schools, and entire communities.

“They are heroes who deserve the appreciation of a grateful nation.  I know Americans across the country share my concern for the well-being of the surviving members of the crew and my deep condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. And I know that Americans join me in expressing my deepest gratitude for the selfless determination they and thousands of men and women involved in this fight in states across the country demonstrate every day.”

Northcom says the other seven C-130s have been placed on “an operational hold at the present time.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Long Trek: Cougar Walked from South Dakota to Connecticut

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision(MILFORD, Conn.) -- The mountain lion that met an untimely death on a Connecticut highway last month had walked 1,500 miles from South Dakota, environmental officials say -- an incredible journey tracked through DNA samples collected in the Midwest over the last two years.

The 140-pound male cougar, whose age is estimated at between 2 and 5 years, almost certainly left its native habitat to look for mates but went in the wrong direction, according to Adrian Wydeven, mammal ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "He was looking for love in all the wrong places," he said.

The mountain lion was struck by an SUV on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford, Conn., on June 11. The driver was unhurt, but the cougar died at the scene.

Experts initially believed it had been released or escaped from captivity, given that no mountain lion had been sighted in the state in more than 100 years.

But Daniel Esty, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said in a statement Tuesday that genetic tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service Wildlife Genetics Laboratory showed that the animal had traveled from the Black Hills of South Dakota. DNA samples of scat (droppings), blood and hair -- taken at one site in Minnesota and three sites in Wisconsin in 2009 and 2010 of a mountain lion whose movements were tracked in those states -- confirmed the findings.

The cougar was not neutered or declawed -- more evidence that it was a wild creature -- and had no implanted microchips. Porcupine quills were found under its skin -- another sign of its having lived in the wild.

Biologists believe the creature wandered through Ontario and New York State before arriving in Connecticut. Normally, mountain lions only travel 100 miles or so looking for mates, and it's not clear why this cougar took such an epic journey.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Heat Wave Continues to Scorch the Nation

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Excessive summer heat and humidity are taking their toll on millions of Americans.

Some 20 states issued heat advisories or warnings Monday, with health officials in Texas advising people to drink at least two bottles of water per hour to avoid heat stroke.

Dr. Michael Halbert, an emergency room physician in Madison, Wisconsin, says the heat has triggered an increase in ER cases and he expects even more as the hot weather continues this week.

And if you were thinking of jumping into a lake to cool off, think again.  The heat is causing many lakes to evaporate even faster, and as a result, blue-green algae and bacteria are exploding in the stagnant waters.

In Oklahoma, health officials have closed access to several contaminated lakes.  Tony Clyde of the Army corps of Engineers says spring floods carried a lot of ground fertilizer into the lakes and that has turned many lakes and reservoirs into “pea soup.”

Temperatures across Minnesota rose to 97 degrees Monday with a heat index that reached 112 degrees.  At a Minnesota Twins doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians in Minneapolis, a woman had to be treated for what appeared to be heat exhaustion.  Ironically, one of the games was a make-up for a game that had been canceled on April 22 on account of snow.

Elsewhere, the heat index was 126 in Newton, Iowa and 120 in Mitchell, South Dakota Monday.

Folks in Phoenix, Arizona are used to the heat, but they're getting tired of a recent rash of dust storms.

Another giant wall of dust, this one some 3,000 feet high, rolled through the Phoenix area Monday, causing poor visibility and some delays for flights at the city’s Sky Harbor International Airport, where visibility was less than a quarter mile.  The dust storm generated winds with gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

Earlier this month, a monster dust storm a mile high pounded Arizona, halting airline traffic and knocking out power to many residents.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


South Dakota Residents Urged to Evacuate Amid Pending Flooding

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PIERRE, S.D.) -- The governor of South Dakota is urging residents in three cities to leave their homes as flood waters from the Missouri River approach the state.

Although the evacuations are not mandatory, Gov. Dennis Daugaard wants people living in Pierre, Fort Pierre and Dakota Dunes to get out of the area by Thursday night.

"I ask that all residents in flood-threatened areas evacuate their homes by 8 p.m. on Thursday night," Gov. Daugaard said in a statement Wednesday, referring to residents in Pierre and Fort Pierre. "The Corps will begin to increase water levels on Friday morning, and releases will increase by 50 percent by June 5."

In a separate statement also issued on Wednesday, the governor said, "We hope that levees will protect Dakota Dunes from flooding, but residents should assume the worst.  Every homeowner should take individual action to secure their property and we recommend that they be ready to be out of Dakota Dunes by Thursday evening."

Police officers relayed the governor's request to residents Wednesday night, going door to door in the affected areas.

Despite the warning, some residents, like Jayme Deis in Pierre, are refusing to leave their homes.

"We're gonna stay here through Sunday and if it looks like we're gonna get into trouble then we'll pack up and leave," Deis said.  "We have everything ready to go so we can be out of here in four hours."

"I think the levees gonna hold fine. They're doing a really good job building it," he added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio