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  • 03/26/14--13:30: 2 Dead in 44-Vehicle Crash

  • Two people were killed, and more than a dozen were injured, in chain-reaction crashes involving approximately 40 vehicles on both sides of a snowy West Virginia interstate Wednesday morning.

    Interstate 81 near between Spring Mills and Falling Waters was experiencing white-out conditions from a quickly moving snow squall at the time of two separate, serious crashes, WHAG first reported.

    The pile-up accidents began in the northbound lanes around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, and spread out into the southbound lanes as more drivers began to brake and skid, said 1st Sergeant Chris Zerkle of West Virginia State Police.

    Two people were killed in the pile-up crashes, Zerkle confirmed to NBC Washington. Another 14 were taken to area hospitals, including some who were airlifted. A few of the patients were in serious but stable condition, Zerkle said.

    "It was white-out conditions, and from what the preliminary investigation indicates, the people were driving at normal speed and [the weather] got so bad so quick," he said. "It was a chain reaction, basically."

    The crashes happened between milemarkers 21 and 24, said Carrie Bly of the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

    Between 35 and 45 vehicles were involved, and 15 to 20 sustained damage so serious they need to be towed or otherwise physically removed from the interstate.

    "It was weather-related for sure," Zerkle said. "It was so hectic there at one time we had every police officer in the area [responding]."

    Police had to call in off-duty officers, and so many people were using cell phones at the chaotic scene that the nearby cellphone towers couldn't cope with demand, leading to communication difficulties among the officers.

    All lanes of Interstate 81 in the area of the crashes were shut down for several hours.

    The southbound lanes reopened during the afternoon, but traffic remained slow as of 4 p.m. Only one northbound lane had reopened as of that time.



    Photo Credit: Lysa Torino via WHAG

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    The National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday ruled college athletes are considered employees, a decision that moves Northwestern University football players a step closer to forming the nation's first college athletes' union.

    The agency was tasked with deciding whether the football players qualify as employees under U.S. law, and hearings were held in Chicago. The decision gives the players rights to unionize.

    "So proud of my teammates, Ramogi, lawyers, and supporters around the nation! This is a HUGE win for ALL college athletes!" Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter tweeted after the decision.

    The regional director of the NLRB directed a secret ballot election be held to determine whether the players should be represented by the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA).

    Northwestern University spokesman Alan K. Cubbage called the decision disappointing.

    "While we respect the NLRB process and the regional director’s opinion," Cubbage said, "we disagree with it. Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are not employees, but students. Unionization and collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address the concerns raised by student-athletes."

    Northwestern plans to appeal the decision, Cubbage said.

    "Northwestern considers its students who participate in NCAA Division I sports, including those who receive athletic scholarships, to be students, first and foremost," he said. "We believe that participation in athletic events is part of the overall educational experience for those students, not a separate activity."

    CAPA's creation was announced in January after an "overwhelming majority" of Northwestern's team signed cards to apply for labor rights and representation by the union.

    Colter co-founded CAPA and serves on its board of directors with former UCLA football player Ramogi Huma, who founded the union, and former basketball player Luke Bonner.

    CAPA says the new union is necessary to "challenge the treatment of players under the current pay-for-play system for college athletes." It cites a court case in which the NCAA stated it has no legal duty to protect college athletes from injury.

    The NCAA has said the move undermines the purpose of college to get an education.

    "Student-athletes are not employees," the NCAA said in a statement, "and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize."



    Photo Credit: AP

    Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter (2) looks to a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter (2) looks to a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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    UConn is heading to the Sweet Sixteen and hundreds of UConn students waited in line today for tickets to the men’s basketball game against Iowa State on Friday night in New York City.

    Two hundred tickets were available and the school held a lottery to give the students a chance to buy tickets.

    Some who won, and others who hoped there would be leftovers, lined up as early as 3:30 a.m. at the ticket office on campus.

    The winning numbers were posted yesterday and students could purchase their game tickets for $150 today between 10 a.m. and noon.

    However, some students sold their winning lottery tickets for $100 to $150, so the tickets would cost $250 to $300.

    Those who did not win the lottery waited in a separate line in hopes that some people who did win the lottery ticket would decide not to pick up tickets.

    The school did not hand out the actual tickets today over concerns about students trying to resell the tickets. Instead, students obtained a voucher to exchange for a ticket immediately before the game on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

    Students will need to show and ID to get the tickets.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Students line up to get tickets to see UConn play in the Sweet Sixteen in New York.Students line up to get tickets to see UConn play in the Sweet Sixteen in New York.

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    Police in South Windsor are looking for a man who stole hundreds of dollars worth of men’s cologne from a local CVS and they need your help to identify him. 

    A man went into the CVS pharmacy on Buckland Road in South Windsor at 11:45 a.m. on Monday and stole several boxes of men’s fragrances, police said. The total value is estimated at $675.

    The man is in his 20s or 30s and was wearing a tan jacket, dark pants and black and white sneakers.

    He has some facial hair and a short haircut.

    Anyone with information should call Officer Charlie Bowes at the South Windsor Police Department, 860-644-2551.



    Photo Credit: South Windsor Police

    South Windsor police are looking for the man who stole almost $700 worth of men's cologne from a local CVS,South Windsor police are looking for the man who stole almost $700 worth of men's cologne from a local CVS,

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    Waterbury police are searching for two men in connection with a weekend gun battle at strip club.

    Shots were fired in the parking lot of Pandora's Cabaret around 4:20 a.m. on Saturday. Three people suffered minor gunshot wounds in the shooting at the Washington Avenue club, police said.

    The incident began with a a fight inside the club before bouncers forced the melee outside, where the shots were fired.

    On Wednesday, police released a video showing one man firing shots from a semi-automatic handgun while standing at the club's front door. The video also shows two men police say they want help identifying.

    Both men should be considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached, police said.

    Anyone with information on either suspect is asked to call Sgt. Napiello, Det. McKnight or Det. Davino of the Waterbury Police Department Detective Bureau at 203-574-6941.

    The club has had issues before and has since been shut down, according to police.



    Photo Credit: Waterbury Police

    Waterbury Police have released video of two men they want to identify in connection with a weekend shooting at Pandora's Cabaret, a strip club in on Washington Avenue.Waterbury Police have released video of two men they want to identify in connection with a weekend shooting at Pandora's Cabaret, a strip club in on Washington Avenue.

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     In a simulated morning briefing Wednesday, officials laid out what New Haven was facing as part of a four-day disaster drill.

     
    “We had a fuel farm fire at the Port in New Haven,” said Shannon Marquez from FEMA.
     
    A fire at the fuel farm, a chlorine leak at a Yale pool, an ammonia leak at the Yale ice rink and an act of terrorism were all scenarios that are being played out this week to train first responders and members of the New Haven and Yale communities how to react when there is a large scale disaster or mass casualty event.
     
    “It's all about communication.  It's about making sure we have situational awareness,” said New Haven’s Emergency Management Director Rick Fontana.
     
    The training is part of a $250,000 FEMA grant that Yale and New Haven jointly applied for after seeing the response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
     
    “Some of the lessons we learned there we thought were very important.  As we came back, we said wow, what we really need to do is take a look at this for our community,” said Fontana.
     
    Yale University had its own test when someone called in a hoax on campus last November.  It's incorporating lessons learned during the hoax into this training. 
     
    “As part of our Yale alerts, it was built to communicate with Yale faculty, staff and students, we weren't communicating with our community.  Now we can,” said Yale’s Director of Emergency Management Maria Bouffard. 
     
    However, this drill, created especially for New Haven, is taking it even further to find even better ways to respond to and be prepared for an emergency situation in New Haven.
     
    “It eases the suffering of the Yale and New Haven communities and it helps us recover better,” said Bouffard.
     

     


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    Lisa Ventura McHugh has been in her Morris Cove house across from Tweed New Haven Airport for 19 years.

    “When I bought this it was a little hub, you know, and it was wonderful. It was very quiet, it was very quaint. Now it's just too much,” said Ventura McHugh.

    She says as the airport has expanded, the noise has become terrible.

    “We can't even open our windows anymore. The seal in my front window is gone because of the vibration. They actually sit and idle right here in front of my living room,” said Ventura McHugh.

    Ventura McHugh says she's in the noise zone and was one of the people who received a letter from Tweed about possible noise mitigation.

    “Over 65 decibels, it really creates some health problems, we want to go through every house, make a determination how we can do remediation in those areas that we know the noise is louder than that,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

    According to the letter, an engineer will be hired "...to determine eligibility for noise mitigation improvements such as insulation, air conditioning, or new windows and doors." Those would be paid for by a federal grant. Neighbor Anthony Lauria says he already made improvements himself.

    “Maybe about six years ago we replaced our windows. We still hear the jets,” said Lauria.

    However, he and other neighbors are hoping even more can be done.

    “They're going to come and do a noise test. So, we'll wait, we'll see what happens,” said Lauria.

    Mayor Toni Harp also says that there are four or five homes that could be sold to the City if the residents don’t want to deal with the noise any longer.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    Waterbury Firefighters rescued a woman after she drove off an embankment and became trapped in her car. 

    According to Waterbury Police Deputy Chief Christopher Corbett, the elderly female was driving through the parking lot of a Rite Aid  at 1030 Wolcott Road.

    The female drove off an embankment and crashed, her car landing on the roof. Firefighters were able to pull her out of the car. She was transported to the hospital with non-live threatening injuries.

    Witnesses say that the car may have fell around 60 feet before coming to a rest.


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    Route 44 in Winchester is closed between Park Place West and Rowley Road because of a truck fire.

    No additional information was immediately available.
     


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    West Haven Police arrested a local man who is accused of forcing his way into a home and threatening to kill the police officers who responded.

    On March 16, William Leonard, 51, of  Main Street West Haven, forced his way into an occupied Peck Avenue home and confronted  the homeowners, who called the police.  Police said Leonard and the residents did not know each other.

    Leonard was still inside when police responded to the home, struggled with officers, refused to stop resisting arrest and screamed he was going to kill the officers. 

    Police subdued Leonard and he was transported to an area hospital to be treated for injuries he received and for being under the influence of a narcotic substance, police said.  

    Leonard was charged with first-degree burglary, risk of injury to a child, two counts of attempting to commit a crime, two counts of assault on public safety/emergency medical personnel, first-degree criminal trespass and breach of peace.
       
    Bond was set at $125,000 and he will be arraigned today.
     



    Photo Credit: West Haven Police

    Police said this man forced his way into a West Haven home and threatened to kill police officers.Police said this man forced his way into a West Haven home and threatened to kill police officers.

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    State police are investigating the untimely death of a 2-year-old in Putnam.

    Local and state police were notified of a sudden death of a the child shortly after noon, according to state police.

    EMS had responded to a home at 129 Mechanic Street, where the child was reported to be distress.

    The child was transported to Day Kimball Hospital, where he or she was pronounced dead soon after arrival.

    State Police Major Crime Squad Detectives responded to the scene and are assisting Putnam Police with the investigation, which is ongoing.

    The cause of death has not yet been determined.

    The name of the child is being withheld at this time, pending notification of next of kin.


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    A man suffered serious injuries when he was hit by a car at North Frontage Road and College Street in New Haven just before 5:30 a.m. on Thursday.

    The man has two broken legs and other serious injuries, according to police.  

    The driver remained at the scene.

    The accident reconstruction team went to the scene, but the traffic was so high that they will have to go back over the weekend.  



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    A man suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a car in New Haven this morning.A man suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a car in New Haven this morning.

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    Post Road in Fairfield will be closed between Ruane and Reef roads until about 4:30 p.m. after a fire this afternoon.

    There is extensive damage. Five businesses are affected and it took firefighters about an hour to extinguish the blaze.

    The cause of the fire is not known.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    There was a fire on Post Road in Fairfield this afternoon.There was a fire on Post Road in Fairfield this afternoon.

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    Hillhouse High School and the Wexler-Grant School in New Haven were in precautionary lockdowns after shots were fired Thursday afternoon.

    New Haven police are investigating at Goffe and Orchards streets, where gunshots were fired at a car. 

    Police said the schools were not involved, but were placed in lockdown as a precaution.

    The rear window of a Chevy Impala was shattered by the gunfire, but no one was hit, according to police.

    Bethel police have also responded to the scene. Officers from the department were in the area, heard a gunshot and saw people running,

    Several people in the area are being questioned about the incident.


     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Hillhouse High School and the Wexler-Grant School in New Haven are in precautionary lockdowns because of police activity in the area.Hillhouse High School and the Wexler-Grant School in New Haven are in precautionary lockdowns because of police activity in the area.

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    Waterbury police have arrested the former manager of a local gas station who is accused of embezzling almost $58,000 from her employer.

    Police first arrested Lelik Feliz, 44, in April on a larceny charge after the owner of the Valero gas station on Wolcott Street in Waterbury noticed $200 missing, police said.

    Feliz admitted to taking the money, but claimed it was a loan for her son’s tuition and she planned to pay it back, police said.

    She also told police that she had been having a secret relationship with the gas station owner and that he would give her cash.

    When it came time for Feliz to appear in court on the larceny charge, she never showed up and was discovered in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Meanwhile, the store owner was looking into his business finances and learned that $200 was just a small dent in actual amount of missing money, according to police.

    Between 2012 and 2013, $100 to $300 had been taken almost daily. The owner found more than 200 incidents of theft, except for when Feliz was on vacation, according to police. 

    The store owner told police that he had trusted Feliz and she’d been a good employee.

    When police spoke with Feliz, she told investigators she called the relationship with the store owner  of in 2011, when she got married, and he’d reduced her work hours.

    Police said she offered to return the money, but the store owner did not think she would be able to.

    Feliz was arraigned on Wednesday and bond was set at $250,000, police said.
     



    Photo Credit: Waterbury Police

    Lelik Feliz is accused of embezzling more than $50,000 from the Valero gas station where she worked.Lelik Feliz is accused of embezzling more than $50,000 from the Valero gas station where she worked.

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    Patricia Rosoff, a 64-year-old Kingswood Oxford School teacher, who was killed in a car crash in West Hartford on Tuesday morning died of blunt trauma, according to police. 

    Rosoff was on her way to school on Tuesday morning when her car and a school bus carrying Conard High School students collided at Boulevard and Mountain Road, according to police.

    Police are continuing to investigate the crash and said they cannot determine whether the angle of the sun was a factor in the collision.

    Investigators have found no mechanical issues or brake trouble with the school bus, no drugs or alcohol, and nothing to indicate why the vehicles collided.

    There is no evidence of excessive speed and the traffic lights were functioning properly.

    "We're gonna look at everything and investigate it thoroughly before we will come to the conclusion of what happened," said Capt. Jeffrey Rose, commander of the traffic division of West Hartford police.

    Capt. Rose said the strongest part of the school bus, the front end, collided with the weakest part of the victim's car, the driver's door. 

    Police returned to the scene on Thursday morning to see if the angle of the sun was a problem.

    They found that it was sunny at the time of day the crash happened. The sun was at a low angle and visible at times, but obscured by trees at others. 

    It is inconclusive whether the sun angle was a factor in the crash. 

    Four witnesses have told police what they saw.  Capt. Rose said all of them were on Mountain Road and he'd like to hear from anyone who was on the Boulevard at the time of the crash.

    Rosoff taught art, art history, and English at Kingswood-Oxford School for 39 years. 


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    The Coast Guard Academy will hold a hearing next week to determine whether to court martial a cadet who is accused of sexually abusing another cadet at the academy in New London.

    The Day Newspaper reports that the cadet is accused of unlawfully breaking into the victim’s dorm room at the Chase Hall barracks in mid-September and sexually assaulting the person.

    The hearing will be held on Wednesday, April 2 in Hamilton Hall at the Academy and is open to the public, according to a news release from the Coast Guard Academy.

    The hearing planned for next week is similar to a civilian grand jury and no verdict or sentencing will be handed down during it. 

    “These charges are accusations against the cadet, who is presumed innocent unless and until found guilty by a court martial. The Coast Guard is committed to providing all needed support to the victim, and to ensuring a full and fair proceeding in compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Academy Assistant Superintendent, Capt. Eric C. Jones said in a statement.

     



    Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Academy Facebook page

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    A man being sought in the disappearance of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd bought contractor-sized trash bags and spent considerable time in a large wooded park in northeast D.C. after the last known sighting of the girl, D.C.'s police chief said Thursday.

    Cathy Lanier said police are still actively searching for any sign of Relisha and for Kahlil Tatum, the 51-year-old janitor she was believed to be with.

    But, Lanier added, "We cannot ignore the possibility that he may have killed her."

    "Given the circumstances right now, we are fearful of leaving any stones unturned," Lanier continued.

    Rudd's mother knew her daughter was with Tatum, Lanier said. Surveillance video had captured the two in a D.C. hotel on Feb. 26, Lanier said.

    The last time anyone else is known to have seen Rudd was March 1, and she was in the presence of Tatum. Lanier did not say where the two were seen, only that it was "in the District of Columbia."

    On March 2, Tatum bought contractor-sized trash bags and spent considerable time in Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Lanier said.

    FBI agents, D.C. police officers and cadets had descended on the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and Kenilworth-Parkside Community Center and Park Thursday morning in search of evidence.

    Investigators say the search could take days or weeks as the park covers 700 acres. The park runs along the Anacostia River and much of it is wooded.

    The search comes a day after authorities extended their investigation into Relisha's disappearance into Atlanta, Ga. Tatum, the man believed to be with her, may have connections to the area, according to the FBI.

    An Amber Alert for Relisha was issued March 20. Police say she was last seen Feb. 26 at a homeless shelter in southeast D.C., and she may be with Tatum -- who worked as a janitor at the shelter.

    Tatum was added to FBI's Wanted List Wednesday -- he is said to be armed and dangerous.

    Investigators say Tatum posed as a doctor March 10, telling city officials who were concerned for her safety Relisha was sick with a neurological disorder, and undergoing treatment. When they asked for documents, "Dr. Tatum" said he would leave them behind at the shelter where Relisha and her mother lived.

    When officials came to the shelter March 19 to pick up the paperwork, they couldn't find "Dr. Tatum" or Relisha. Shortly after, a missing persons report with D.C. Police was filed.

    Tatum is wanted on unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and murder charges in connection with his wife's shooting death. Andrea Tatum's body was found at an Oxon Hill Red Roof Inn last Thursday during the search for Relisha.

    Patrick Kelly believes his cousin was killed because she knew Tatum was with the missing girl. 

    "[Andrea] was a beautiful person and she didnt deserve what she got," Kelly said. "He's a wolf walking out here amongst us. He’s a demon. She lost her life by standing up for what she believed in."

    Relisha's mother told News4 she, and her daughter, had a trusting friendship with Tatum. Investigators say Relisha's mother gave her daughter to Tatum Feb. 26. The two are seen on surveillance footage walking down a Holiday Inn Express hallway that evening on Bladensburg Road NE.

    But Relisha may look very different now, said Derrica Wilson of the Black and Missing Foundation.

    "He may have cut her hair, tried to make her look like a little boy," Wilson, a former police officer, told News4. "Time is critical.... Notification must be made as soon as possible," Wilson said.

    A $70,000 reward is being offered by the FBI and Prince George's County Police for information leading to Relisha and Tatum. Call 911 if you have seen either of them. 


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    Hundreds of people are saying their final goodbyes to Kristjan Ndoj, a 15-year-old Shelton High School student whose life was cut short when he was shot along Agawan Trail on March 15.

    Families and friends gathered at St. Joseph’s Church, at 50 Fairmont Place in Shelton, this morning to focused not on how Kristjan died but on how the teen lived and impacted so many others.

    Kristjan was born in Albania and the funeral is a traditional Albanian service, with songs and scriptures being sung and read in English and in Albanian.

    Those who knew him described him as a good friend and loving son who was wise beyond his years.

    His family described him as a bright and good kid who loved soccer.

    Shelton High School headmaster Beth Smith said they really want to tell the story of Kristjan’s life and celebrate the impact he made on the community as a whole.

    Authorities are continuing to investigate the shooting and have made no arrests.

    Kristjan was shot after riding his bike to a friend's house in a quiet residential neighborhood. He was in critical condition at the hospital and died on March 20 at Bridgeport Hospital. 

    In dealing with the tragedy, students are already looking to assist others by filling a bulletin board with the random acts of kindness done in his memory.

    Contributions can be made to Kristjan's family.


     


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    DeAndre Tatum, the last remaining person hospitalized following a deadly crash in Austin during the South by Southwest Music Festival, has died, Austin police say.

    Tatum, 18, was placed in a medically-induced coma after he was run over by a suspected drunken driver who barreled through police barricades and drove down a crowded street in downtown Austin on March 13.

    Rashad Owens, 21, of Killeen, was the driver implicated in the crash. Police said Owens was trying to avoid arrest when he crashed into a closed street packed with people. He was charged with capital murder two days after the crash; more charges are likely with Tatum's death. Owens is currently being held on $3 million bond.

    Tatum is the fourth person to die following the crash. Also killed were Jamie Ranae West, 27, of Austin; Steven Gerardus Hendrikus Craenmehr, 35, of Amsterdam, Holland, were both killed at the scene; Sandy Le, of Pass Christian, Miss., died of her injuries March 17. Nearly two dozen others were injured.

    Tatum and his 18-year-old girlfriend Tish Davis were enjoying spring break in Austin when they were both among the two dozen people run over while walking down the street. Both Davis and Tatum are from Fort Worth; she a current student at Trimble Tech High School and he a recent graduate.

    Davis, who was injured in the crash as well, suffered a broken leg and injuries to her face and head before being allowed to return home to Fort Worth.

    Students at the school learned of Tatum's death Thursday during classes. School officials said grief counselors will be made available to them. 

    NBC 5 talked to Rev. Kyev Tatum, unrelated, the alumni president for the school who was also one of his mentors.

    ”He was a young man who loved life, and he had dreams to become successful in life.  You could not meet him and not love him, and this is really hard on all of us caused we loved him,” said Reverend Tatum.

    Davis told NBC 5's Scott Gordon she doesn't remember the crash. Her first memory is waking up in the hospital holding her grandmother's hands.

    "We was all walking next to each other and suddenly and all of the sudden we all got split up ... You know who I woke up to? I woke up next to my granny," said  Davis. " She was holding my hands. I was thinking, 'What happened to me? Why am I here?' I just can't believe they would hit me. And I've been through a lot of stuff."

    Funeral arrangements for Tatum have not yet been made public.

     NBC 5's Scott Gordon and other NBC 5 staff contributed to this report.


    Tish Davis (left) and DeAndre Tatum (right) were injured in the SXSW crash on March 13.Tish Davis (left) and DeAndre Tatum (right) were injured in the SXSW crash on March 13.

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