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  • 01/31/14--16:03: Bikes to Ride Metro-North

  • This week the MTA in New York approved something advocates of bicycling in Connecticut have been demanding for years:  bike hooks on Metro-North commuter trains on the New Haven Line.

    It's just a test, with only two hooks to be installed on each of fifty cars, but enthusiasts have been pursuing the trial for years.

    "We're really excited about this," said Matthew Feiner, owner of Devil's Gear Bike Shop in New Haven. "To be able to put a bicycle on Metro-North and be able to travel in and out of New York City with a bicycle so you can be a better, more effective commuter is huge."

    The bikes are not to be used during peak-fare times, during rush hours, for fear of crowding passengers.

    "We wish they'd work around that," said Feiner, "because that is when the commuter goes.  People will work around that and I know in the future Metro-North will back off that.

    He is confident the test will be a success and that the Connecticut Department of Transportation will approve and pay for more hooks for more cars.

    Shore Line East allows bicycles on board its trains between New London and New Haven, but to put a bike on an Amtrak train requires removing the pedals, turning the handlebars, packing the bike into a box and checking it for $10.


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    Does Chicago have the inside track to land President Barack Obama's library?

    Speculation will surely move in that direction with the announcement that Marty Nesbitt -- a close Chicago Obama friend and former campaign treasurer -- is heading up a new foundation to develop and build the post-presidential library.

    "I think the vision is that it's a place that's going to reflect the arc of his career and what he spent his time working on throughout his career, promoting economic opportunity, justice and human rights and the pursuit of that ideal of American citizenship," Nesbitt told NBC 5.

    Another Chicago businessman, Kevin Poorman, is also heading up the non-profit Barack H. Obama Foundation. Poorman runs a company founded by Obama's Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. Julianna Smoot, a former White House social secretary and a top official in Obama's re-election campaign, is also leading the foundation.

    Chicago, Obama's native Hawaii, and his college home, New York, have also expressed interest in housing the library.

    But despite the Chicago connections, Nesbitt says don't assume the library will land in Illinois.

    "We've tried to develop a process that creates a level playing field for any party, community, institution, developer that's interested in submitting a proposal, so we're not ... there's no pre-determination about what's more or less desirable than any other place, Nesbitt said. It'll all be a function of the proposals that folks submit, and the quality of those proposals."

    The foundation will do the bulk of the fundraising for the library after Obama's second term ends. Nesbitt says the ultimate decision on where the library goes will be made by President Obama and the First Lady.

    "I also think there's a vision of the library through its physical and virtual presence that will serve as an economic anchor for the community that it is ultimately situated in," Nesbitt said.

    Last month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated that he wanted the city to put together a cohesive bid for the library. The University of Chicago, Chicago State University and the Bronzeville neighborhood have all expressed interest in hosting it.

    U of C president Robert Zimmer released a statement Friday officially expressing interest in hosting the library, saying he firmly believes it should be "located in one of our neighboring communities on the South Side of Chicago."

    "Such a location would reflect the personal and professional lives of the Obamas, as well as their commitments to society," Zimmer said.

    Obama taught law at U of C before entering politics.


    Marty NesbittMarty Nesbitt

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    Inside the gates of Hartford Soldiers Field rests nearly 5,000 American heroes from as far back as the 19th century. It's a place family members proudly buried their loved ones. Marlene Parker's dad, Adam Karatkiewicz, has been there for more than 40 years.
     
    "He was a WWII vet who was injured during his time in service. He died of service-connected disability," said Parker. "He loved Soldiers Field, and when he was buried everything was pristine there."
     
    Today that cemetery is in disarray. Headstones are cracked and haphazardly leaning. Some have toppled over while others are propped up with pieces of wood. You can see grass destroyed by tire tracks right in front of the names of war veterans from long ago.
     
    "We were all horrified when we pulled in the cemetery to see the deplorable conditions," said Parker.
     
    It's what greeted her when she came to bury her mom, Isabella, next to her dad earlier this month. She also discovered pieces missing from her own father's headstone.
     
    "I know my father would never have wanted to be buried there with the conditions that they are today," said Parker.
     
    Hartford's Department of Public Works is responsible for maintaining the cemetery and the director told NBC Connecticut when he last visited Soldiers Field back in November it was in excellent condition and there have been no reports of vandalism.
    He says he'll head out to the cemetery himself and figure out just what needs to be done to fix the problem.
     
    Still the current condition has Marlene Parker considering drastic measures.
     
    "I did say something to a relative, I wonder if we could have both our parents moved," said Parker.
     



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    When a fire broke out a Branford quarry Thursday, Fire Chief Jack Ahern knew it would be a fire with complications, because the quarry housed explosives for a blasting company.

    “We didn't know exactly at the time if it was near the explosives, but we always plan for the worst case, and in this case, it ended up being a good thing,” said Chief Ahern.

    The fire department needed eyes on what was going on, so the Chief turned to volunteer firefighter Peter Sachs, who had offered up his drone for the fire department's use.

    “I flew it up and over the fire with the Chief looking over my shoulder at the video because it has a live video feed,” said Sachs.

    The video the drone captured is what the chief used to decide if it was safe enough to send firefighters in.

    “Through his knowledge and experience, he was able to determine that the fire was far enough away from the explosives for them to safely send in fire department personnel,” said Sachs.  “Yesterday's fire turned out to be the perfect example of why a drone could be useful to the fire service.”

    Fire Chief Jack Ahern agrees.  He says fire departments used to use media helicopters to get a bird's eye view.  Drones like the one used are more cost effective.

    “These drones are $1500.  It's a drop in the bucket for what we saved people last night by being able to see what was going on,” said Chief Ahern.

    The Branford Fire Department plans to use drones in the future after going over privacy concerns and the legalities of it.



    Photo Credit: Branford Fire Dept.

    Smoke from a fire at Stony Creek Granite Corp. in Branford could be seen for miles on Thursday afternoon.Smoke from a fire at Stony Creek Granite Corp. in Branford could be seen for miles on Thursday afternoon.

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    Firefighters are able to extinguish a barn fire at 259 Moose Meadow Rd in Willington Friday night.

    According to the Willington Fire department, dispatchers received a call reporting the blaze at around 10:02 p.m.

    Crews from Tolland, Mansfield, UCONN, and Ashford fire departments also responded.

    There were no injuries.

    The cause of the fire is being investigated.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    New London police arrested a woman yesterday who they said was caught burglarizing the home of a man killed in an industrial accident earlier in the day.

    Floyd Smeeton, 59, of New London, died Thursday afternoon after an accident at the local transfer station.

    Police said he fell into the trash compactor while removing refuse from his pickup at 2:30 p.m. and was pronounced dead at the hospital about half an hour later.

    Hours later, police went to Smeeton’s home to secure the residence.

    That's when police found Danielle Sullivan, 24, of Nathan Hale Road in Groton, leaving Smeeton’s home with a trash bag full of his possessions, police said. 

    Police have confirmed that Sullivan was aware that Smeeton had died.

    Sullivan fought as officers detained her and continued to be combative while being brought to the detention facility at police headquarters.

    Police said Sullivan had a small amount of suspected PCP on her.  

    She was charged with second-degree burglary, second-degree criminal mischief, possession of burglary tools, sixth-degree larceny, interfering with a police officer, criminal attempt to commit assault on a police officer, possession of a hallucinogen and tampering with evidence.


     



    Photo Credit: New London Police

    Danielle Sullivan is accused of burglarizing the home of a man who was killed in an industrial accident.Danielle Sullivan is accused of burglarizing the home of a man who was killed in an industrial accident.

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    An explosion blew out the wall of a building on Farren Avenue in New Haven on Friday afternoon, sending a woman to the hospital.

    The explosion and fire happened around 3:50 p.m. at 95-97 Farren Avenue.

    Crews found a woman outside the building who had suffered burns in the fire.  She was rushed to Yale-New Haven Hospital and then transferred to the Burn Unit at Bridgeport Hospital, according to fire officials.

    Ten adults and seven children were all accounted for after the explosion and fire, officials said.  All were residents in apartments in the building.

    Mohammed Choudary made a run for it from his first-floor apartment.

    "Everything is lost and maybe something will be left over," he said.

    The fire was brought under control around 5 p.m.

    "I was watching the living room TV and there was a noise," said Takshesh Patel. She also lived in the multi-family home.

    The Fire Chief said there were multiple calls for an explosion and it appears something caused the outside walls to blow out, but the cause is still being determined.

    The building owner is assisting the families displaced by the fire and will provide them with alternate housing.

    Fire investigators will be at the scene throughout the night working to determine the cause.

     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Emergency crews have responded to a fire on Farren Avenue in New Haven.Emergency crews have responded to a fire on Farren Avenue in New Haven.

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    New Haven police are investigating a homicide near East Pearl Street Friday night.

    According to authorities, officers responded to a person lying on the ground with a gunshot wound. When they arrived they found an identified man, in his twenties, shot in the head.

    He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Police said this is the city's third homicide of the year.

    Anyone with information or who may have witnessed this crime is asked to contact New Haven police at 203-946-6316.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    One person has died and two others are in the hospital after a car struck a building at 2180 Main Street in Hartford early Saturday morning.

    The crash happened just before 6 a.m. near the intersection of Main and Capen streets.

    Police said the man who died was sitting in the front passenger seat. The male driver and a female passenger are both in stable condition. One is in the Intensive Care Unit and the other received minor injuries, authorities said.

    Their names have not been released, but investigators believe the victims were in their 20s.

    The building they struck contains a few apartments and the Kirbs & Contours Salon is located on the first floor. According to the salon owner, the store was not damaged and should be able to reopen.

    The 2000 block of Main Street and part of Capen Street has been closed while authorities investigate.

    It's not clear if speed as a factor in the crash, but neighbors said they're concerned about the way people drive in the area.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Emergency crews are responding to the area of 2180 Main Street in Hartford, where a car struck a building Saturday morning.Emergency crews are responding to the area of 2180 Main Street in Hartford, where a car struck a building Saturday morning.

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    Officials are investigating after a fire broke out at a home on Washington Circle in West Hartford this morning.

    The fire at 121 Washington Circle started just before 5 a.m. Saturday, according to the fire department. It ignited in the back of the building in the basement and spread to part of the first floor.

    Firefighters said they’re not sure yet whether the damage is extensive enough to keep residents from returning home.

    “They’re not going to be able to get back inside right away, unfortunately,” said West Hartford Fire Battalion Chief John Sokolowski. “The fire is under investigation at this time. We still have more officials that are going to be coming to take a look at the building, so whether or not they’ll be able to get back in is unclear right now.”

    The residents made it out safely.

    It’s not clear what sparked the blaze. Authorities are investigating to determine the cause.

     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Emergency crews responded to a house fire on Washington Circle in West Hartford Saturday morning.Emergency crews responded to a house fire on Washington Circle in West Hartford Saturday morning.

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    College sweethearts Anthony and Aly Femia wanted a long engagement, but their plans changed so the bride's terminally ill mother could see them tie the knot.

    Just over a week ago, Aly's mother Mary Quinn found out she had lung cancer that spread to her brain, Buzzfeed reported. Doctors told her the cancer was incurable and she had a short time left to live. 

    When Aly asked the doctors when she should have her wedding so her mother could be there, they responded, "tomorrow."

    Anthony proposed to Aly during a weekend getaway on December 14, 2012 and the Connecticut couple wasn't planning on tying the knot until September 2015, according to Buzzfeed. But after hearing the doctor's diagnosis, the couple decided to get married right away.

    They got their marriage certificate from New Haven City Hall that day and the planning, which was orginally projected to take over a year, was completed in under 24 hours with the help of staff at Yale-New Haven Hospital where Aly's mom is staying.

    "The hospital was incredible. They made my wedding possible," Aly said.

    The stafff took her dress shopping, donated food, flowers and the cake. Some of them even bought her a bracelet as her "something new" and a social worker also brought Aly her grandmother's hankerchief to be her "something old" at the ceremony.

    "Today is incredibly bittersweet as I marry the love of my life at the hospital with my mom," Aly wrote in a Facebook post on January 29.

    The hallways were filled with doctors and nurses as Aly's stepdad walked her down the aisle and the hospital chaplain performed the ceremony (Aly's biological father died of metastatic lung cancer 16 years ago).

    "My favorite part of the day was having my mom see me in my wedding dress, wearing a string of her pearls and seeing her smile," Aly said. "I'm so glad that she was there to watch me say 'I do' and see me marry my best friend."



    Photo Credit: AP

    In this undated publicity photo provided by Lauren Karnitz Studio, a White Petal Cascade Cake is shown in Knoxville, Tenn.In this undated publicity photo provided by Lauren Karnitz Studio, a White Petal Cascade Cake is shown in Knoxville, Tenn.

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    Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has disclosed that his campaign recently recently paid back $11,200 for a free private jet trip he took three years ago from a Florida campaign donor.

    This latest payment comes after the senator paid back $58,000 out of his personal account for two other private jet trips he took to the Dominican Republic with that same donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen.

    The senator’s office also announced Friday it was opening a legal defense fund to try to cover the cost of mounting legal bills.

    Menendez is facing more than $400,000 in legal defense bills so far, his office said.

    Investigators have said the criminal investigation is focusing in part on whether Menendez improperly contacted Medicare officials at a time when Melgen was facing investigation for alleged overbilling of Medicare. Menendez’s spokesman has said the senator only called Medicare officials to suggest they clarify poorly written rules and was unaware of any investigation at that time.

    Melgen, whose offices have been searched twice by the FBI, denies any wrongdoing and is suing Medicare in what he says were mistakes by the agency.

    NBC 4 New York reported last week the federal criminal investigation into the senator is also focusing in part on his relationship with two fugitive bankers from Ecuador.

    The bankers are accused of embezzling over $100 million dollars from their Filanbanco bank, and their relatives donated thousands of dollars to the senator’s 2012 campaign.

    In 2012, Menendez wrote letters to U.S. Homeland Security officials on behalf of Ecuador businessmen William and Roberto Isaias in support of their efforts to gain permanent U.S. residence in the Florida.

    Federal election records show relatives of the Isaias brothers donated over $10,000 to the senator’s 2012 campaign and over $100,000 to the Democratic Party.

    The Senator said he never acts based on campaign donations. And he said he agrees with the Isaias brothers, who say they have been unfairly persecuted by the current government in Ecuador.


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    The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recalling three baby pacifiers due to a choking hazard.

    The pacifiers are manufactured by Fred & Friends and have elements that can detach and create a problem. The CPSC also said the ventilation holes to two of the pacifier guards are too small.

    The pacifiers recalled are the Artiste, Volume, and Panic pacifiers. The Artiste has a fake mustache on it while the Volume and Panic pacifiers have knobs on the front.

    There has been one report of a knob detaching. No injuries have been reported.

    Consumers should immediately take the recalled pacifiers away from young children and return them to Fred & Friends for a $12 refund. Fred & Friends is providing a postage paid envelope for consumers to return the recalled pacifiers.

    People can call Fred & Friends toll-free at (855) 346-6372 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, email the firm at pacifiersconsumer@fredandfriends.com or online at www.fredandfriends.com and click on Pacifier Recall for more information.

     

     


    The moustache could possibly come off and create a choking hazard for babies.The moustache could possibly come off and create a choking hazard for babies.

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  • 02/01/14--07:21: New Md. Mall Shooting Info.

  • Columbia Mall gunman Darion Aguilar met someone in Burtonsville, Md., before the shooting in which two people were killed before he turned the gun on himself Jan. 25.

    That morning, Aguilar, 19, left his College Park home at 5:15 and met another young man at a Wendy’s on Briggs Chaney Road, sources told News4. Sometime after 9:30 a.m., he used a smartphone app to summon a Barwood taxi to take him to the mall. An employee at the restaurant said the two men parted ways when the cab arrived.

    Aguilar sat quietly slouched in the cab and carried a backpack that appeared to be heavy, according to sources. He left the driver a $13 tip for the $27 fare.

    After the driver heard about the shooting on the radio, he called police to say he dropped off someone there who appeared to be “weird.”

    The Wendy’s employee who spoke to News4 recognized Aguilar from a picture and described him as a polite young man who she’d seen at the restaurant before with other young people.

    About an hour after arriving at the mall, Aguilar went on a shooting spree inside the Zumiez store, killing employees 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson.

    Aguilar also was with an unidentified man when he bought the shotgun used in the shooting.

    The Mall in Columbia will hold a moment of silence at 11:15 a.m. Saturday to remember the victims.

     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    COLUMBIA, MD - JANUARY 25:  Police evacuate employees and patrons from the Columbia Town Center Mall after three people were killed in a shooting there January 25, 2014 in Columbia, Maryland. Police still do not have a motive for the shooting but believe the shooter has been killed.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)COLUMBIA, MD - JANUARY 25: Police evacuate employees and patrons from the Columbia Town Center Mall after three people were killed in a shooting there January 25, 2014 in Columbia, Maryland. Police still do not have a motive for the shooting but believe the shooter has been killed. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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    Route 66 has reopened at North Main Street in Marlborough after a multiple-car crash crash closed the intersection earlier today.

    LifeStar was called to the scene but canceled. Police said no serious injuries were reported.

    No additional information was immediately available.



    Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia

    Police responded to a multiple-car crash on Route 66 in Marlborough.Police responded to a multiple-car crash on Route 66 in Marlborough.

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    Over 150 people were evacuated after smoke was discovered in a plane at Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday.

    Officials say Delta Flight 987 was scheduled to depart for Salt Lake City Saturday morning when smoke was found inside the cockpit shortly before takeoff.

    “Flight 987, a Boeing 737-800 departing from Philadelphia to Salt Lake City with 150 passengers on board, returned to the gate shortly after pushback when the Captain experienced a smoky odor in the vicinity of the cockpit," said Delta Air Lines spokesman Paul Skrbec. "Out of an abundance of caution, the Captain elected return to the gate and advised emergency ground personnel."

    The plane returned to the gate and the 159 passengers and crew were evacuated and evaluated. No injuries were reported. Officials say the smoke dissipated but they have not yet revealed the cause.

    "All passengers onboard deplaned without incident and will be accommodated on the next available flight scheduled in the day today," Skrbec said. "The aircraft is currently in maintenance. We apologize to the passengers for the inconvenience.” 
     

    Also on NBC10.com:


     



    Photo Credit: NBC10.com

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    A 25-year Suffolk County Police Department veteran was arrested Friday, accused of targeting Hispanic drivers in traffic stops, and in some cases stealing from them, authorities announced. 

    Sgt. Scott Greene, a patrol supervisor in the 6th Precinct, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday on two misdemeanor charges, including official misconduct. A conviction on that charge could lead to his removal from the police force, officials said. 

    Suffolk District Attorney Spota said Greene stopped Hispanic drivers, then took cash from them.

    "He masqueraded as a police officer, but was in fact nothing more than a thief," said Spota. 

    The investigation into Greene began with a complaint from the relative of an alleged victim last year, and two more potential victims have since come forward, according to Spota. 

    He could face an additional hate crime charge as the probe continues, Spota said. 

    In one sting operation conducted by police, a car was outfitted with cameras and audio equipment, and an undercover Hispanic officer was at the wheel.

    The video shows Greene taking a $100 bill from an envelope containing twelve $100 bills, slipping it under his sleeve, the district attorney said. 

    "That's as red-handed as you can get," said Spota. 

    Greene, whose salary last year was $175,000, has been suspended without pay, and he has surrendered his badge and gun.

    Police Commissioner Ed Webber said it appears no other officers involved in the alleged misconduct and said Greene's behavior was not representative of the police force. 


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    Two Hartford felons, one of whom has been convicted of murder, were arrested around midnight Saturday after the car they were riding in led police on a chase and officers found drugs and a handgun, authorities said.

    Shermane Rose and James Canidate were arrested early Tuesday morning and face firearms and narcotics charges.

    Both have extensive criminal records. Rose, 34, of Capen Street, was convicted of murder, kidnapping and robbery in 2001. Canidate, 37, of Cornell Street, was previously arrested 35 times in Hartford, beginning in 1993, according to police.

    Police said the car they were riding in, a blue minivan with New York license plates, was driving recklessly in the area of Main Street and Cleveland Avenue in Hartford around midnight Feb. 1.

    When officers tried to stop the car near Asylum Street, it turned west and drove through a red light at the intersection of Trumbull Street.

    Police pulled them over on Asylum Street, but the front passenger rummaged around in the side door pocket and the car sped off again.

    They led police onto Pulaski Circle and Interstate 91 southbound, where officers used stop sticks to deflate the van’s tires, authorities said.

    Police said the minivan took exit 27 onto Airport Road and lost control on Brown Street, where it struck two other cars, one that was occupied and one that was parked.

    Rose and Canidate received non-life threatening injuries and were arrested at the scene. No one else was hurt. Police are still searching for the driver, who got away.

    Inside the car, officers found a Luger Hi-Point 9mm pistol with a chambered round and 10-round magazine, along with several grams of crack cocaine.

    Both Rose and Canidate are charged with carrying a weapon in a motor vehicle, criminal possession of a firearm, possession of narcotics and possession with intent to sell.



    Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

    James Canidate (left) and Sermane Rose (right) were arrested around midnight Tuesday following a police chase in Hartford. Both are convicted felons with extensive records.James Canidate (left) and Sermane Rose (right) were arrested around midnight Tuesday following a police chase in Hartford. Both are convicted felons with extensive records.

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    Police are investigating the Cheshire crash that left one man seriously injured Friday night.

    According to police, Jose Guichay-Jarro, was driving a truck eastbound on West Johnson Avenue in Cheshire when he crossed the double yellow line around 8:50 p.m. Jan. 31.

    It happened near the intersection with Dickerman Road when Guichay-Jarro’s truck drifted into the opposing lane and sideswiped a van driving toward him. That driver, 56-year-old Richard Dube of Cheshire, was not injured, police said.

    Guichay-Jarro was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital for treatment of serious injuries and was later moved to Hartford Hospital, according to police.



    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    A Cheshire resident is in serious condition following a Friday night crash.A Cheshire resident is in serious condition following a Friday night crash.

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  • 02/01/14--09:06: Emergency Landing at Newark

  • A flight from Washington, D.C. bound for Germany made an emergency landing at Newark Liberty International Airport Friday night after there were reports of a smell of smoke in the cabin, an airline spokesman said.

    United flight 932 to Frankfurt, which departed Dulles International Airport at 9:55 p.m., landed at Newark at 11:30 p.m. following reports of a smell of smoke, according to a United spokesman.

    The plane, a Boeing 777, landed safely and taxied normally at Newark, the spokesman said.

    Some passengers were treated for smoke inhalation, according to a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, but no one was seriously injured. 

    The passengers, who were put up in hotel rooms for the night, were expected to resume their flight Saturday.
     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Passengers at Newark airport. (File)Passengers at Newark airport. (File)

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