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Dec 312012
 

John Foxx/Thinkstock(PENDLETON, Ore.) — Nine people are dead and more than 20 are injured after a charter bus crashed on an icy highway in Oregon, according to Oregon State Police.

Police have not yet indicated what caused the crash, but images from highway I-84 show icy roads.  The bus crashed through a guard rail at around 10:30 a.m. Sunday and slid several hundred feet down an embankment, police said.

Emergency responders trained in rope rescues were on scene helping bring people up from where the bus rolled back onto the highway, police said.

The crash happened about 10 miles east of Pendleton, Ore., in the Blue Mountains.

Investigators are still trying to determine whether the crash was weather-related, State Police spokesman Lt. Greg Hastings said.

“We’ll have to move through our investigation throughout the day to try to determine what exactly were the contributing factors,” he said.

The bus driver survived the crash but investigators had not be able to speak to the person early Sunday evening because of the severity of the driver’s injuries, officials said.

The Pendleton Fire Department told ABC News affiliate KATU-TV in Portland that 39 people were taken to hospitals.

Officials are not yet releasing the bus company, but said the bus was en route on a return trip from Las Vegas to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Dec 172012
 

Jack Pinto (Pinto Family)(NEWTOWN, Conn.) — The first two funerals for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre are scheduled for Monday afternoon, when Newtown, Conn., will bury 6-year-olds Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto.

Pozner’s family will greet the public before the funeral service begins at 1 p.m. at the Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home in Fairfield, Conn. The burial will follow at B’nai Israel Cemetery in Monroe.

Pinto’s service will take place at 1 p.m. at Honan Funeral Home in Newtown.  The burial will follow the service at Newtown Village Cemetery.

Pozner and Pinto were two of the 20 children who were killed Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School when Adam Lanza allegedly sprayed two first-grade classrooms with bullets that also killed six adults.

Pozner’s twin sister, Arielle, was one of the students who survived when her teacher hid her class in the bathroom during the attack.

As millions of Americans try to make sense of the shootings, memorials and personal tributes have been emerging to remember the children and their educators.

After hearing that Pinto was a huge New York Giants fan, Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz wrote “R.I.P. Jack Pinto,” “Jack Pinto, my hero” and “This one is 4 U!” on his cleats and gloves before playing the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon.  Cruz tweeted photos of his tribute shortly before the game, along with his condolences.

Cruz told reporters he spoke to the family on Saturday after hearing Pinto was a Giants fan.  Cruz was told the family planned to bury Pinto in Cruz’s No. 80 Giants jersey.

“There are no words that can describe the type of feeling you get when a kid idolizes you so much that, you know, unfortunately they put him in a casket with your jersey on,” Cruz said on Sunday.

“I also spoke to an older brother and he was distraught as well.  I told him to stay strong and I was going to do whatever I can to honor him,” Cruz said.  “He was fighting tears and could barely speak to me.”

Cruz said he plans to give the gloves he wore during the game to the boy’s family, and spend some time with them.

Like many parents holding their children a little tighter in wake of the school shooting, Cruz told reporters his 11-month-old daughter, Kennedy, slept in his bed Friday night.

“We slept together that night,” he said, “and it was a good feeling.  It was one that I cherished.”

The Giants were shut out by the Falcons, 34-0, and Cruz was held to three catches for 15 yards with no touchdowns.  Cruz had hoped to score at least one touchdown for arguably his biggest fan.

“I probably would have pointed up to the sky, tapped my shoes or something special just to let him know I was thinking of him,” Cruz told Newsday.

More funerals are planned for later this week.  Jessica Rekos, 6, will be buried on Tuesday at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Jul 062012
 

File photo. (Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images)(SANFORD, Fla.) — George Zimmerman walked out of jail on $1 million bond Friday to await his trial on charges of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman, who is accused of second degree murder in the shooting death of the unarmed teen, used money donated by supporters to pay a portion of the bond.

Florida Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester raised Zimmerman’s bond Thursday from $150,000 to $1 million after prosecutors proved that Zimmerman had misled the court about how much money he had raised from supporters and stashed in bank accounts. Lester wrote that it was reasonable to assume that since Zimmerman had more than $130,000 in cash and a second passport, he might try to flee the U.S. to avoid prosecution.

Zimmerman, 28, was charged in April with killing the unarmed teenager in February. He was quickly released on $150,000 bail, and began raising money for his legal defense fund through a website.

He was ordered to surrender himself to jail in June after the court learned of his true finances.

Zimmerman has maintained that he shot at Martin in self-defense after the teenager attacked him.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Jun 212012
 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE, Md.) — The mother of a Baltimore girl who was shot in the head by a juvenile offender wearing an ankle monitor while under house arrest is suing the state supplier of monitoring anklets, claiming the company was aware that its technology had flaws.

Raven Wyatt was 5-years-old when she was struck by a bullet in July 2009 that was a result of a juvenile offender escaping from his home while under GPS surveillance.

The event left Raven with permanent brain damage.

“She’s functional, she can sort of talk, she can play,” said W. Charles Bailey Jr., the family’s lawyer. “But she has speech difficulties. She has problems with the movement of her limbs. She can’t walk or play normally.”

Bailey estimates it will cost between $6.2 million and $7.1 million to provide care for Raven for the rest of her life.

Now, Raven’s mother, Danielle Brooks, is suing iSECUREtrac, the Nebraska-based company that serves as Maryland’s supplier of GPS tracking devices, in federal court for failing to “provide accurate and continuous real-time violation alerts of juveniles who had violated the terms and conditions of home detention orders,” according to the lawsuit.

The family seeks $10 million for each of the seven claims against the company.

The shooter, Lamont Davis, was under house arrest at the time for robbery and assault charges. According to the lawsuit, Davis was a member of the Crip street gang, and had a long criminal history that began at the age of 10.

He was monitored with a state-issued iSECUREtrac anklet, but there is evidence that he had previously left home while wearing the tracker, according to court documents.

Maryland’s Department of Juvenile Services uses the technology as an alternative to detention as part of its treatment for juvenile offenders.

“There appears to be some flaws in the system, and it appears that some folks were aware of this,” said Bailey. “Even though they were aware of it, steps weren’t taken and warrants weren’t made and dangerous juveniles were able to leave the house.”

But the crux of the suit is about safety, said Bailey.

“You can’t be selling a product that is supposed to be saving people money if a little girl is going to get shot,” he said.

In 2010, Davis was found guilty of first degree attempted murder in Raven’s shooting, second degree attempted murder, the use of a handgun in committing a crime and possession of a firearm by minor. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The reliability of Davis’ GPS records was a point of confusion for prosecutors and defense counsel during his trial. Bailey said both attorneys were thrown off by the tracker software’s short range of motion.

“There would be all these monitoring violations once you got past 150 feet,” he said.

“This is a big part of the problem. Was he or wasn’t he there?” said Bailey. “When you have a juvenile [under GPS monitoring], its one thing if it’s Martha Stewart, its holy other if it’s a kid with a gun.”

Bailey said he had spoken with an expert who informed him that the the iSECUREtrac system gave a large number of false positives across the board, showing that some offenders were in their homes when they were not, and vice versa.

But according to Donald DeVore, secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services in 2009, after an internal review of the iSECURE system, no major faults were found.

“I think that some people unfortunately have the impression that if you put somebody on this system, that it’s immediately going to result in an immediate response,” he said. “We did develop certain safeguards to put in place to be able to respond at a rate much quicker than most other departments in the U.S.

“It really is not intended to be a program in and of itself,” DeVore said of the ankle monitoring system. “It’s intended to be part of a level of supervision. It has to be supported with community service, visitation and court appearances.”

But DeVore said it was possible for a juvenile to evade the system.

“When a juvenile goes off the grid, so to speak, depending on the level of service you’re receiving, it will notify you that the juvenile has stepped outside of their exclusionary zone, he said. But “some systems can be tampered with.”

The Department of Juvenile Services has had a contract with iSECUREtrac since August 2008 for GPS equipment and technical assistance, Juvenile Services spokesman Jay Cleary said in a statement. “GPS is a tool the department’s community detention officers use for youth the court has ordered live in the community with electronic monitoring,” said Cleary.

But Cleary would not comment on the technical aspects of the iSECURE system.

Representatives from the GPS tracking company could not be reached for comment.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court on June 11. The state of Maryland is not a defendant.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Jun 132012
 

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kasey Close(WASHINGTON) — Pilots for the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor fighter jets have been ordered to take off a portion of their flying suits, specifically the G-suit vest, during routine training missions as the service continues to investigate a rare but mysterious breathing problem some pilots have experienced in the $420 million-a-pop jets.

As a recent ABC News investigation found, in at least 25 cases since 2008 F-22 pilots have reported experiencing symptoms of oxygen deprivation in mid-flight. In one case, a pilot became so disoriented that his plane actually skimmed the tops of trees before he managed to save himself. Another pilot, Capt. Jeff Haney, was killed in a crash after an unexplained malfunction cut off his oxygen supply during a training mission in November 2010.

Despite grounding the whole $79 billion fleet of jets for five months last year, the Air Force has been unable to discover the source of the problem.

Air Force spokesperson Tadd Scholtis told ABC News Wednesday that the G-suit vest, designed to help pilots’ bodies cope with extreme G-forces during maneuvers, “appears to be contributing to breathing difficulties” for pilots, but is not believed to be the root cause of the prior incidents. It is being removed, he said, because of some “vulnerability and reliability issues.”

Last month Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered new flight restrictions for the F-22 while the breathing problem remains under investigation, but the Air Force has claimed those orders have not curbed the planes’ operations. Panetta also ordered the Air Force to expedite the installation of an automatic emergency backup system, a safety measure that Haney’s family told ABC News would have saved his life.

The F-22 Raptor, which is made by defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin, officially went combat operational in December 2005 but has yet to see an actual combat mission. From Iraq and Afghanistan to last year’s U.S.-led no-fly zone over Libya, the Air Force said it simply has not needed the advanced capabilities of the most expensive jet fighter in history.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio