Articles on this Page
- 06/13/14--07:24: _Scene of Fatal Fire...
- 06/13/14--04:57: _Man Charged in Fata...
- 06/13/14--17:04: _Armed Homeless Burg...
- 06/13/14--11:21: _Help Build 8-Foot L...
- 06/13/14--13:22: _Power Restored in W...
- 06/13/14--03:56: _Bogus Site Charging...
- 06/13/14--17:04: _Missing Child Turns...
- 06/13/14--11:00: _Access Health CT No...
- 06/13/14--15:20: _Child Hit By Car in...
- 06/13/14--12:27: _Police Make Arrests...
- 06/13/14--15:50: _Wolcott Police Put ...
- 06/13/14--16:03: _State Reforms Brown...
- 06/13/14--16:08: _Lawmakers to Retail...
- 06/13/14--17:37: _Dodgers Owner Testi...
- 06/13/14--16:19: _Rain Floods New Hav...
- 06/14/14--09:02: _New Britain Police ...
- 06/14/14--03:56: _Heavy Rains Keep Fi...
- 06/14/14--09:57: _Cops Bust Cockfight...
- 06/14/14--09:46: _Route 82 Reopens in...
- 06/14/14--12:26: _Man Treks U.S. Meet...
- 06/13/14--07:24: Scene of Fatal Fire Up in Flames Again
- 06/13/14--04:57: Man Charged in Fatal Coventry Crash
- 06/13/14--17:04: Armed Homeless Burglar Found Under Child's Bed
- 06/13/14--11:21: Help Build 8-Foot Lego Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
- 06/13/14--13:22: Power Restored in West Hartford
- 06/13/14--03:56: Bogus Site Charging for Metro-North Lost and Found
- 06/13/14--17:04: Missing Child Turns Out to Be Missing Parrot
- 06/13/14--11:00: Access Health CT Notifies 395 Customers Affected By Data Breach
- 06/13/14--15:20: Child Hit By Car in Hartford Has Minor Injuries: Cops
- 06/13/14--12:27: Police Make Arrests in Fake Credit Card Scheme
- 06/13/14--15:50: Wolcott Police Put iPads in Cruisers
- 06/13/14--16:03: State Reforms Brownfield Remediation
- 06/13/14--16:08: Lawmakers to Retailers: Ban Customers from Carrying Gus
- 06/13/14--17:37: Dodgers Owner Testifies in Trial
- 06/13/14--16:19: Rain Floods New Haven Streets
- 06/14/14--09:02: New Britain Police Investigate Random Attacks
- 06/14/14--03:56: Heavy Rains Keep First Responders Busy
- 06/14/14--09:57: Cops Bust Cockfighting Ring
- 06/14/14--09:46: Route 82 Reopens in Haddam After Crash
- 06/14/14--12:26: Man Treks U.S. Meeting Facebook Friends in Person
The New Haven Fire Department returned to the scene of a fire at the University Towers apartment building at 100 York Street early Friday morning, almost two days after a three-alarm fire at the building killed one person and injured four others.
On Wednesday, Charlton Gilbert was killed when a fire started in his apartment and spread through the building. Two firefighters and two residents were also injured in the fire.
The apartment had been under "fire watch" ever since, which means that crews constantly check the building to see if fire flares up again.
Around midnight, the fire department responded again and flames were coming from the same apartment where the blaze began.
Residents who were again evacuated said this was a reminder to take fire alarms seriously.
“The alarm went off, same as before, and we all learned our lesson to actually get up and move this time. So we went straight to the stairwell. It smelled a little smoky, but I didn’t know if that was just what was left over from yesterday,” Ken Huy, of New Haven, said.
The fire was extinguished within 20 minutes and residents have been allowed back into their homes around 1 a.m.
The cause of both fires remains under investigation.
Photo Credit: nbcconnecticut.com
Coventry Police have charged a local teen in connection with a crash that killed a motorcyclist last November.
Ahmed Ouda, 19, was driving a 2004 Honda Pilot SUV and Leroy Brown, 71, also of Coventry, was driving a 2011 Honda motorcycle when they crashed at the entrance of the 7-Eleven on the Boston Turnpike on Nov. 6, police said.
LifeStar medical helicopter transported Brown from the scene to Saint Francis Hospital and he died from the injuries.
Ouda was charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and failure to yield right of way at left turn.
He was released on a $5,000 non-surety bond and will appear in court on June 24.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
This was the scene last November when a man was transported from the scene of a motorcycle crash in Coventry. The man died from his injuries and another man has been charged.
A 56-year-old homeless man is accused of breaking into a New Jersey home, where police say they found him hiding under a child’s bed with a knife.
Officers say they found Kenneth Webb Thursday at a home in Fair Lawn after Darla Donohue, the homeowner, called police.
Donohue says she heard the piggy bank in her 6-year-old Joshua's room being rattled before dawn. Joshua and a babysitter were sleeping in her bedroom.
"I felt my heart beating out of my chest and knew I had to do something, so I just got up out of the bed, he might have heard me," she said. "I got the phone, turned the light on in the hallway between the bedroom I was in and the bedroom he was in."
She grabbed a billy club she keeps at her nightstand table for emergency situations and after calling the police raced down the hall to let them in.
Webb allegedly had stolen jewelry along with the cash in the piggy bank. Police believe he cut a window screen in order to get into the house.
"He was trying to steal my money but I don't think he got anything," said Joshua.
Webb is charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and two counts of burglary. He’s being held on a $35,000 bond.
Information on a lawyer for him was not immediately available.
Kenneth Webb allegedly broke into a New Jersey home and was found under a child's bed by police.
The Lego store at Westfarms has opened and you’re invited to take part in the grand opening and help build an 8-foot tall Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
A Lego Master Builder will be there to make the structure entirely out of Lego bricks and people who participate will receive a free certificate of achievement for participating.
The huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is being built in the seating areas on the lower level near JCPenney and you can take part on Friday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Your children could help build a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle this weekend.
A transformer at Reed and Dexter avenues in West Hartford blew on Friday morning and power was out for more than 600 Connecticut Light and Power customers on several streets.
Utility crews worked to make repairs and power was restored by afternoon.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Power is out for hundreds in West Hartford.
Metro-North wants you to watch out for a bogus Web site targeting commuters who have lost property on the railroad.
The site, lostpropertynyc.com, implies that it works with the railroad and its parent company to return your lost belongings – but it charges a fee, and representatives from Metro-North say the railroad doesn’t make you pay.
Some commuters came close to finding out the hard way.
"I filled out the form very carefully so they'd know exactly what it was and then I hit submit and all of a sudden, it kind of stunned me," said Dave Smith, who was confronted with a price tag of nearly $50 when he tried to get back something lost on the train. "I thought to myself, Metro-North is so bad now that they're charging me 50 bucks just to look for my item, much less find it."
But Metro-North wasn't charging him. The railroad wasn't even running the site where Smith had entered all his information.
"Out of principle, I wasn't going to pay Metro-North $50 to look for my item," Smith said. "The whole thing was very upsetting, and then [more so] to find out it's actually a scam."
The railroad issued a warning Thursday night after commuters complained that online searches have directed them to the official-looking site where you report items missing from trains, cabs and subways.
The MTA doesn't know if anybody paid to file a claim. Upon closer inspection, the site lists someone named "Robert" who supposedly lost a tennis racket on a Metro-North train from New York to New Haven – except it's dated 2015.
The MTA Police have launched an investigation. Luckily, Smith didn't get ripped off and even got his valuable item back: a 3D printed color customized helmet that he hopes will be his good luck charm for fantasy football this season.
"Our commissioner has won every year so I'm hoping that is going to break the spell," Smith said jokingly.
The MTA tells us no arrests have been made. The transit authority also says it’s been unable to contact the owners of the Web site.
Photo Credit: nyclostproperty.com
A woman who raced to help when she heard a child calling for his or her daddy assisted in a very different reunion when she learned the calls were actually coming from a missing parrot named Ralphie.
The woman became concerned when she heard what she thought was a child calling “Daddy, Daddy” over and over again in the area of Holland Hill School, at 105 Meadowcroft Road, around 5 p.m. on Thursday, so she did what she thought she needed to to do and started looking for the child.
When she followed the sound, she did not find a missing child. Instead, she found a large green parrot 25 feet up in the tree, so she called Animal Control.
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The talking bird, which had been reported missing from a home about a mile away, was too high up for Animal Control to reach, so they called the on fire department, according to police.
Firefighters used a long pole to get the bird out of the tree and it flew into an area of bamboo.
Firefighters then chased Ralphie out of those trees so Animal Control could catch it in a net and bring it to the shelter.
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Ralphie continued to talk, nonstop, according to police, and was finally reunited with its owner.
Photo Credit: Christopher Gerbasi/Fairfield Police
Ralphie sounded like a child while he called "Daddy." A woman who thought she was helping a child helped reunite Ralphie and his owner.
Access Health CT has reached out to 395 people affected by a data breach when an employee of a call center doing work for the state-run health care exchange left a backpack with customers’ personal information on Trumbull Street in Hartford last week.
Inside that backpack were four notepads with 413 handwritten notes, including names and birth dates and Social Security numbers.
The person held responsible is an employee of a company called Maximus, the call vendor for Access Health CT, which was created in the wake of the 2010 health care overhaul.
As Access Health CT went through the notes, they identified 395 people whose information could be at risk. Among the 413 notes, were some duplicates and other people whose first names were the only identifying information, according to Access Health CT.
A priority-overnight letter has been sent to all the people affected and they are being offered free credit monitoring, fraud resolution services, identity theft insurance and security freezes of credit reports.
The Maximus employee apparently left the bag behind when he left a deli after work on Thursday evening and got a ride home, Ilene Baylinson of Maximus said last week.
Access Health CT officials found out about the breach around noon on Friday, when they received a call from the office of state Rep. Jay Case.
The Maximum employee is on administrative leave and “has had all system access privileges revoked,” according to Access Health CT officials.
Any Access Health CT consumers who have questions or concerns can call Access Health CT staff directly on a dedicated phone number for Privacy and Security at 1-860-757-6844 or (TTY) 1-855-789-2428.
A child was “banged up,” but not seriously injured when he or she was struck by a car in Hartford on Friday afternoon, police said.
The driver, who stopped, was going less than 20 miles per hour at Broad and Russ streets when she hit the child, police said.
No additional information was available.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
A child was not seriously hurt after being hit by a car at the intersection of Broad and Russ streets on Friday afternoon.
North Haven police arrested four people accused in a fake credit card and gift card scheme.
Police made the arrests after employees of a Universal Drive business contacted authorities on Wednesday to report that people had tried to buy electronics using fraudulent credit cards.
When the cards were swiped, the transaction did not process and the group left the store, police said.
North Haven Officers found the four suspects as they were getting into their vehicle and found more than one dozen fraudulently produced credit cards, and gift cards, police said.
Before police detained the group, one of the people involved went to a frozen yogurt shop and hid a laptop and skimming device in a bathroom garbage can, police said. Police believe that was the equipment used to make the fake cards.
Sabreena Young, 24, Andrew Swainson, 24, Donica Collins, 25, and a 17-year-old boy, all from New York, were arrested and charged with unlawful completion or reproduction of a credit card, illegal use of a credit card, unauthorized use of a computer, unlawful use of a scanning device or re-encoder, criminal attempt to receiving goods or services obtained by illegal use of credit cards and criminal attempt to commit larceny in the sixth degree.
The 17-year-old was released to his mother and will appear in juvenile court. The other three individuals were held on a $20,000 bond.
Wolcott's eighteen police officers now have iPads instead of Toughbook laptops, in a deployment vendors say is the first of its kind in Connecticut.
Replacing seven toughbooks would have cost nearly the same as the $22,000 Wolcott has spent on the 18 iPad Airs, mounts, keyboards, hotspots, and modifications, said Chief Edward Stephens.
"The guys love 'em out in the field," he said, "the convenience of 'em, and what they can do."
He found vendors able to satisfy the FBI's guidelines for remote connections to the federal criminal information system.
"So when they run a plate, when they look for a criminal," said Chris McLoughlin of Hunt Computer Design. "They use that system and this makes them a pilot program for using it on the iPad."
Stephens displayed how the iPads work, saying for example that officers have used translation software twice already.
"If we go into a house and there's a victim of a crime, say, a woman who got assaulted, she might be distraught, upset, and would rather not come down to the station," he said. "What we can do is take a statement right then and there."
The officers can even get signatures remotely, and take and transmit photos. Stephens also expects police to use the iPads to cooperate with firefighters and to check the public schools' surveillance cameras.
Hotspots with 100-yard signals connect cruisers to headquarters, where the information is stored, without reliance on the cell phone system aircards use.
The vendors expect police departments in Redding and Weston, to begin with, to follow Wolcott's lead.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Wolcott police have replaced laptops in their cruisers with iPads.
Old factories in Waterbury closed for decades are just some of the brownfields in Connecticut that could see cleanup, after Gov. Dannel Malloy signed into law reforms to liability laws enacted by the state legislature.
"Waterbury will see 27 brownfield sites cleaned up and come into use again," said Malloy, during a heavy rain at the Waterbury public works department's future home.
Most of MacDermid's old buildings along Huntingdon Avenue will be torn down over the next two years with the change in liability law. It makes getting just part of the pollution cleaned up sufficient to land a loan to clean up the rest.
"It gives private investors a higher level of comfort, recognizing that they don't have to be saddled with all the past sins of the sites," said Mayor Neil O'Leary. "Now it's a new day moving forward."
Other sites in the city O'Leary says is "loaded with brownfields" include the Municipal Stadium where lead and asbestos were buried, and the Nova Paint and Dye factory on Mill Street. It burned down in April 2012. Removing the remains will enable development nearby along the Mad River.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary was joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy and others to celebrate a new program to help clean up rundown factories and other buildings more quickly.
Some Connecticut members of Congress are appealing to national retailers to help fight gun violence by preventing customers from carrying guns in their stores.
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty sent a letter on Friday to Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation, calling on the organization to push retailers nationwide to institute voluntary anti-weapons policies at their stores.
READ THE LETTER HERE
The letter comes just four days after a shooting rampage in Las Vegas – part of which happened at a Walmart store – in which several people, including the suspects, were killed.
It also comes after a loaded gun was found last month among items on a toy shelf at a Target store in South Carolina.
“At Walmart alone, since Newtown, 79 shootings have occurred and 19 fatalities,” Blumenthal said on Friday during a news conference at the Legislative Office Building next to the Capitol in Hartford.
Edward Peruta, director of gun rights advocacy group “Connecticut Carry,” said he doubts those numbers are accurate. He didn’t mince words in describing what he thinks of Blumenthal and Murphy, telling NBC Connecticut he’d be happy to engage either senator in a gun laws debate.
“Senators Murphy and Blumenthal, as good political surfers as they are, saw a tsunami wave on December 14, 2012,” said Peruta, referring to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 26 children and educators were killed, “And they have been grabbing their surfboards to ride the political surf ever since.”
Blumenthal, Murphy, and Esty have been fighting to get fresh momentum behind gun legislation that failed shortly after the shootings at Sandy Hook, and they said backing from the National Retail Federation is the kind of leverage they need.
“Our mission now has to be on moving five or six or seven votes, so that we can pass that bill in 2015,” Murphy said.
He contends that support from the NRF would trump the NRA and other opponents, noting that some retailers and restaurants are already onboard.
“Companies like Starbucks and Chipotle and Sonic have adopted no-firearms policies in their establishments,” Murphy said.
People from both sides of the argument talked of nearly identical strategies.
Po Murray, a member of the Newtown Action Alliance, was also at the news conference and said her group is supporting a “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America” petition to retailers.
“We’re prepared to boycott stores such as Target until they change their policies,” Murray pledged.
Peruta said that he and others who share his opinion are also willing to put their money where their mouths are, and they won’t be eating or spending at establishments that dissuade gun owners.
“If I walk up to a Wal Mart and it says ‘Firearms Prohibited,’ I’m not going to buy there. If I walk up to a Starbucks and it says ‘No Firearms,’ I’m not going to get their coffee.”
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt provided testimony Friday in the civil trial stemming from an attack on Giants fan Bryan Stow during opening day in 2011 at Dodger Stadium.
Attorneys for Stow claimed in the negligence lawsuit that McCourt and the Dodgers failed to provide adequate security at the March 31, 2011 season opener when Stow was beaten by two men in the stadium parking lot.
David Lira, a lawyer for victim Bryan Stow, asked McCourt whether he had hands-on involvement in security matters. McCout testified that he was committed to fan safety, but was not involved in the details of the safety operation at Dodger Stadium.
He also testified that he suggested the drafting of a fan code of conduct, which was adopted.
"I appreciated the opportunity to be able to address the jurors today regarding the Bryan Stow matter," McCourt said outside court. "Like all Dodgers fans, I was appalled at the criminal behavior of (Louis) Sanchez and (Marvin) Norwood. Make no mistake, they're the parties resposible for this tragic incident."
He was referring to the two men who accepted criminal responsibility for the attacks in February and received prison sentences.
Stow suffered brain damage and is permanently disabled. His lawyers say his lifetime care could cost $50 million.
Stow's father was asked what he thought of McCourt's testimony.
"Not much," said David Stow.
During opening statements in the civil trial, a lawyer for the Dodgers and McCourt aggressively argued that it was intoxication and flared tempers that caused the fight, and that the team provided adequate security at the stadium. The attorney also said Stow inflamed the situation with comments and gestures toward the two men who later pleaded guilty to beating him.
Stow, 45, was in court when jurors in the civil case were selected, but has not appeared since last week.
Jurors Thursday heard the 911 call placed by one of Stow’s friends immediately after the altercation.
Earlier in the week, doctors testified that the beating also caused long-term loss of intellectual capability.
McCourt paid $430 million in 2004 to buy the team, Dodger Stadium and 250 acres of land that includes parking lots, from the Fox division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., a sale that left the team with about $50 million in cash at the time.
The Dodgers went into bankruptcy protection in June 2011 and the next year McCourt sold the team for $2 billion to a group that included former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson. The group vowed to restore dignity to the storied franchise after the era of McCourt, who was widely reviled by Dodgers fans for driving the Dodgers to the brink of bankruptcy.
In bankruptcy filings, attorneys for Major League Baseball said McCourt looted more than $180 million in revenue from the club.
NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd and Patrick Healy contributed to this report.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Former Dodgers team owner Frank McCourt.
A second round of heavy rain moved into Connecticut on Friday night with some thunder and lightning with it.
Earlier in the day, emergency crews had to close streets and respond to stranded cars during flooding in New Haven on Friday afternoon.
Union Avenue looked like a river until the water receded.
The New Haven Fire Department had to tow a car that was in water on the Interstate 95 overpass at Boulevard and Kimberly.
The road is closed at Whitney Avenue and Grove Street in New Haven after a tree came down and crews are working taking care of it.
State police had to close the ramp from Route 34 to Interstate 95 North in New Haven because of flooding on Friday afternoon.
Brewery Street in New Haven was also flooded and crews urged people to use caution in the area of Humphrey and James streets.
The rain also caused flooding at Water Street and Meadow, where one woman had to carry a suitcase under her arm as she waded down the flooded road after getting out of a taxi.
Police said the flooding had no impact on staffing or response time.
There was also no impact on Metro-North or Shoreline East, according to officials from the rail services.
The National Weather Service has issued several flood advisories and a flash flood warning is in effect for New Haven County.
A flood advisory has been issued for Litchfield County until 3:30 p.m.
Check the interactive radar.
Download the NBC Connecticut weather app.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
There is flooding in New Haven.
Police in New Britain are investigating after three people were randomly attacked on the street. All of the crimes are happening at night, in a neighborhood just off South Main Street.
Police say these crimes resemble the “knockout game,” a game where the objective is to knock the victim unconscious by hitting the person in the head. Attackers aim to knock out innocent victims in one hit, just for fun. The game is gaining popularity across the country.
NBC Connecticut spoke to a neighbor who witnessed two of these attacks. She wished to remain anonymous, fearing retaliation. She spoke about the frightening attacks by her home near Cornelius and South Main in New Britain. “It’s scary I always have to have my eyes behind my back,” she said.
That woman told NBC Connecticut last Friday night she watched a group of teens knock a man down for no reason. She claimed the victim was standing by his car when the teens approached him. “They acted like they were looking for something and came down the street and just punched him right in the jaw,” she added.
When they took off, she called 911 and ran over to help. She said she witnessed a similar crime the next night. “A woman was walking. Two girls came from behind and pushed her and they took off running,” she said.
She admitted the random nature of the attacks had her and other neighbors on edge. “Very scary…I'm scared to come out and to go to the store...I’ve never had this problem before,” she said.
Friday's storms had first responders across the state heading out to calls of flooding and fire.
In Southbury, police blocked off Burr Road after receiving reports of lightning striking a home. Neighbors say they heard a loud noise as the lightning hit.
According to fire officials, a fire in the kitchen immediately after the strike caused extensive damage. Officials are still investigating to see if weather was the cause. Three people were inside the home at the time but managed to escape unharmed.
In New Haven, heavy rains descended around 8:30p.m. after a brief respite. Earlier in the day heavy rains caused flooding in New Haven, forcing those traveling by foot to either grin and bear it with shoes on or walk across barefoot.
Some of those who drove found themselves stuck and ended up needing a lift or a rescue.
"Several people were stuck in their vehicles. They were able to get out with the help of police and fire department response," said New Haven PD Communications Supervisor Nicole Britton.
New Haven police say everyone managed to escape safely.
Truck Flooded A truck and other cars on a flooded street in New Haven.
One person is in custody after police busted a cockfighting ring in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.
Officials say a tip led them to a home on the 2900 block of E Street where the operation was taking place.
When police arrived on Saturday around 3 a.m., they discovered a large scale cockfight that was in progress, according to investigators. Police say dozens of participants and spectators fled the scene but officers were able to arrest the owner of the property.
Officials with the PSPCA initially told NBC10 that they removed 20 birds from the home. They later sent a press release revealing that they removed 18 live roosters and one dead rooster from the home. The birds were brought to the Erie Avenue shelter for forensic evaluation.
“This is a fairly elaborate setup,’ said George Bengal of the SPCA. “He’s got an area in the back of this location that is pretty well concealed. There’s a lot of training equipment that he has back there. He’s got all the paraphernalia that’s used in bird fighting.”
The homeowner, who has not yet been identified, was arrested. Cruelty charges are pending.
Photo Credit: NBC10.com
Route 82 has reopened in Haddam following a Saturday morning crash, according to state police.
The road was shut down for several hours at the intersection of Route 154/Saybrook Road. It reopened just after 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
No additional information was immediately available.
Check back for updates.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
A Minnesota man is on a mission to get real social with his social media friends: he’s driving across the U.S. in an effort to meet all of his Facebook friends in person, some for the first time ever.
“For me, I started to realize that as my Facebook friends number grew, I knew less and less of them very well. I had some free time and I thought, ‘This might be an interesting experiment for me,’ and a fun one as well to see if I could connect with people on a basis that didn’t involve a computer screen in front of us,” Mikel McLaughlin, 35, told NBC 7.
McLaughlin began his social experiment road trip on April 2 from his hometown of Bloomington, Minnesota.
By Friday, he was on day 74 of his trek and had made it all the way to San Diego where he planned to meet with an old high school friend he hadn’t seen in 18 years.
“When I started this, she actually reached out to me and invited me out, which is great. A lot of times I’m the one kind of inviting myself so it’s always nice when somebody invites me,” McLaughlin explained.
So far, McLaughlin has met 156 of his Facebook friends face-to-face and traveled through multiple states including Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Colorado, California and Iowa. On his way back home, he plans to visit friends in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
McLaughlin said that when he began his project – aptly dubbed “We’re Friends, Right?” – he had 302 friends on Facebook. He now has more than 500 friends and though he’s not sure he’ll be able to meet all of them, he plans to keep trying.
The friends he has visited so far have included everyone from old childhood pals, including a friend he hadn’t seen since he was 8, to distant relatives, friends of friends, and friends of his wife.
About 15 to 20 of those people have been friends he had only previously met through Facebook, but never in person until now. He said those meetings haven’t been too awkward, and he’s enjoyed becoming better friends with people.
“Just about every time I leave somebody I feel like I’m a little bit closer to them than I was. I’m not making best friends necessarily while I’m out here, but I’m making a lot of first steps towards better relationships,” he explained. “I’m trying to build relationships, create memories and also, I like to write about it on my website, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
McLaughlin said he’s had some very fun, unexpected adventures with friends on this trip, too, including the time one of his Facebook friends -- a police officer in Rigby, Idaho -- took him on a ride-along.
“I got to turn on the siren during a funeral procession, even. It was a busy day,” he laughed.
Another friend took McLaughlin to Yellowstone National Park for the first time ever, while another showed him around the hometown of late Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain, in Washington.
While most meetings with friends have involved lunch or coffee somewhere, McLaughlin said he’s really enjoyed the travel aspect of his project and the times when his friends have showed him around their hometowns.
And, after more than two months on the road, McLaughlin can say he’s gotten great response from most of his friends and not many rejections to his meet-in-person friend requests.
“Nobody so far has given me a hard ‘no,’ though in fairness, I have gotten some non-responses and some people that have come up with some brilliant excuses which may or may not be true. But nobody has actually said no [to meeting] so far,” he said. “I’ve been surprised by how receptive and open people have been to it. For the most part everybody is saying, ‘Yeah, come on over, let’s do something.’”
After each encounter with a friend, McLaughlin writes a post on his Facebook page and website as a way of chronicling his journey. He also tries to take a selfie with each and every friend and posts it to his Facebook timeline.
He said the most surprising thing about this trip, at least so far, is how nice people have been to him, proving that the human connection is still really there.
“People have been good to me. They’ve treated me really well – they’ve been generous with their time,” he said. “That’s the main thing. I was starting to get rather cynical with my approach to people, and it’s changed quite drastically since I’ve been doing this.”
McLaughlin intends to make his way back home to Minnesota by July 3. After that he plans to spend time with his wife and maybe map out another leg of his trip, if time allows.
McLaughlin said he graduated from law school last year and is currently waiting to get licensed, so this seemed like the perfect time in his life to hit the road and attempt this project.
As for his growing pool of Facebook friends, McLaughlin said he’s still accepting friend requests and will try to meet as many new people as possible in person, perhaps down the road.
“I’ll go [and do this] until I feel like it’s over. I don’t know when that’ll come,” he added.
To follow McLaughlin’s travels and Facebook friends endeavor, visit his website or, of course, his Facebook page.
Photo Credit: Monica Garske
Mikel McLaughlin visits San Diego on Day 74 of his cross-country road trip to meet all of his Facebook friends in person.