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    Police said two men found dead in a burned-out East Brooklyn apartment on Friday were killed in a murder-suicide and the blaze that gutted the complex was intentionally set.

    The men have been identified as Wayne Harbold, 50, and Harley Roberge, 40. Both lived together at the old Tiffany mill complex at 182 South Main Street in Brooklyn, according police.

    Authorities said one was found in the living room with several gunshot wounds and the other died in the kitchen of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Detectives from the State Police Fire and Explosion Unit have deemed the fire arson.

    Investigators believe the fire started in the locked apartment where the two men died, but police haven't said who pulled the trigger or lit the blaze.

    Michael Gaugh, who lived across the hallway from the apartment where the violence unfolded, was home at the time and said the gunshots came first.

    "We were sitting in the living room and we heard two muffled bangs. I wouldn't say, the way it sounded, you wouldn't think gunshots at first," Gaugh said. "Now that I found out exactly what happened, that's probably what it was, the beginning of everything."

    When smoke began to emanate from the apartment, Gaugh went door-to-door in an effort to rouse his neighbors, many of whom worked third-shift jobs.

    "I tried banging and kicking on Wayne's door some more and that's when I noticed some serious black smoke coming out of the door," he said. "I put my hand on the door and it was hot to the touch."

    The smoke and fire forced him outside, where he said more gunshots rang out as fire caused hundreds of rounds of ammunition to explode inside Harbold and Roberge's apartment.

    "As we were outside, we started hearing the gunshots going off, live ammunition, which was blowing out the windows before the fire even came through," he recalled. "There were people actually hiding behind cars because of the bullets coming through the windows."

    Days after the blaze, Gaugh displayed shell casings that still littered the apartment floor.

    "It was like a grenade went off and shrapnel everywhere, bullet holes in the walls, some right back into the brick," he explained. "It was like machine guns going off."

    Residents described Harbold as a friendly neighbor who didn't mind lending a hand. Despite the fact that Harbold and Roberge lived together in the complex for several years, no one could speak to Roberge's character because no one really knew him.

    Building owner Jim Dandeneau said the historic facility, which dates back to 1820, contains seven apartments and suffered heavy damage. The blaze displaced a total of 16 people. With help from the Red Cross, many have been staying in local hotels while they try to salvage what's left.

    Dandeneau said he plans to set up the Tiffany Building Victims' Fund at Putnam Bank on Wednesday to raise money for tenants who lost everything. Checks can be mailed to the following address:

    Tiffany Building Victims' Fund
    c/o Putnam Bank
    40 Main Street
    Putnam, CT 06260



    Photo Credit: Karl Kuhn Jr./Legacy.com

    Wayne Harbold is one of two people who died in a murder-suicide at an apartment complex in East Brooklyn. His roommate, Harley Roberge, was also found dead.Wayne Harbold is one of two people who died in a murder-suicide at an apartment complex in East Brooklyn. His roommate, Harley Roberge, was also found dead.

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  • 02/03/15--13:15: Soda, Candy Tax Proposed

  • Bad news for those of us with a sweet tooth: Connecticut residents could soon be shelling out for a tax on candy and soda.

    State Rep. Juan Candelaria, a Democrat representing New Haven, proposed a tax of one cent per ounce during the January legislative session.

    If approved, the measure will target candy and soft drinks "that are high in calories and sugar," according to a digital copy of the bill.

    Tax revenue will go toward child obesity prevention, the governor's scholarship program and municipalities around the state, the bill states.



    Photo Credit: Consumer Bob

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    Connecticut residents signing up for health insurance through Access Health CT must enroll by Feb. 15 or face a potential tax penalty from the federal government.

    "We're on track to hit our [enrollment] goals," said Access Health CT's acting CEO, Jim Wadleigh.

    The state's health care marketplace aims to sign up 100,000 private citizens during the current enrollment period. With less than two weeks left, more than 96,000 residents have signed up for qualifying health plans.

    About 30,000 of them are new sign-ups, Wadleigh said, adding that all avenues for enrollment have been successful.

    Customers have utilized the website, phone banks, and the in-person enrollment centers in Bridgeport, New Haven and New Britain, in addition to community organizations.

    "All of them have done well," he said.

    The mobile app, however, has seen some outsized success in just its first year.

    "We've seen about a thousand sign-ups just through the mobile app so that's been a great resource for us," Wadleigh said.

    If Connecticut residents don't have health insurance by the time tax season comes around, they could face tax penalties.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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  • 02/03/15--17:25: Puppy Rescued From Icy River

  • A black Labrador puppy was rescued from the frigid Mystic River in Arlington, Massachusetts, after breaking away from its owners on a walk to chase some swans onto thin ice Tuesday, police say.

    A woman and her daughters were walking along the river with their puppy Lucy when the dog spotted swans in the river, broke away and ran onto the ice near the Mystic Valley Parkway and Medford Street, police said.

    The dog fell through the ice into the river, and state police in Medford were around 4:35 p.m.

    Arlington firefighters Chris Gibbons and Joseph Andrade donned "warm suits" to help rescue her. Gibbons found Lucy about 30 feet from the shore before he broke through the ice as well, and with Andrade's help, they brought the dog to safety.

    Lucy had a checkup with Arlington EMS before happily being reunited with her owner. 



    Photo Credit: Massachusetts State Police

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    As the debate over vaccinations is heating up across the nation, the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters have obtained new numbers on unvaccinated children in Connecticut.

    You may recall last February, the Troubleshooters put the spotlight on the growing number of vaccine exemptions. The new numbers show that trend continues.

    The state health department tracks the number of vaccine exemptions of new students entering Kindergarten and seventh grade.

    For the 2013-2014 school year, just over 1,200 of the state's more than 84,600 new students were exempt.

    Data shows that over the past five school years, the number has more than doubled:

    • 2009-10: 595 exemptions
    • 2010-11: 764 exemptions
    • 2011-12: 1,056 exemptions
    • 2012-13: 1,153 exemptions
    • 2013-14: 11246 exemptions


    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    A 911 operator told a teenage girl to "stop whining" just after her father was fatally struck by a car as he tried to change a flat tire along the Baltimore Washington Parkway last weekend.

    Rick Warrick, 38, and his fiancee were taking his two teenage children to Dave & Buster's at the Arundel Mills mall when their tire went flat on the BW Parkway in Anne Arundel County.

    Warrick, a car salesman from D.C., and his fiancee pulled to the shoulder and got out of their 2007 Hyundai Sonata to change the tire. Warrick had gotten the doughnut onto the car and was tightening the lugs around 9:15 p.m. when they were both struck by a car that did not stop.

    Warrick's fiancee, 28-year-old Julia Pearce, suffered two broken legs, a broken pelvis and a fractured skull. She tried to encourage Warrick to keep breathing, but he died at the scene.

    News4's Pat Collins obtained the audio from Warrick's teenage daughter's 911 call.

    "Can y'all please hurry up!" the teen asks.

    "Ma'am, stop yelling, I need a location," the operator said. The girl then tells him they're situated along I-295.

    "OK, 295, that's good. We're located now on a highway. Now that's a pretty long road," he says.

    The teen then says two people were struck.

    "Yes, they both..."

    "OK, let's stop whining. OK, let's stop whining. It's hard to understand you... two people were struck, correct?" the operator said.

    When the teen describes that her father and his fiancee are motionless and lying on the ground, the operator asks to talk to someone else.

    "Is there someone else there I can talk to, because it's so hard..."

    The teen then explains the only other conscious person is her young brother.

    Russ Davis with the Anne Arundel County Fire Department admitted the operator used a poor choice of words.

    "However, what he was attempting to do was to get her attention, to start ascertaining information from her," Davis said. "It was pretty clear at that point they didn't know where they were."

    He added the situation could have been handled differently.

    "There could be a better choice of words."

    The driver who struck Warrick and his fiancee has not yet come forward.

    "It's hard on me, and I think the right thing will be to do just to turn yourself in. Accidents happen and we understand," said Warrick's mother, Scharmaine Ferrell-Anthony. "It was a tragic accident."

    Anyone with information is asked to call 202-610-8737.


    Rick WarrickRick Warrick

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    Back-to-back snowstorms are taking a toll on the people who have to spend long hours cleaning up roads and sidewalks.

    A spokesperson for the East Haven Public Works Department said 14 workers called out sick Tuesday, just hours after many worked long hours to keep up with Monday's storm.

    “We knew people weren’t going to show up because they’re tired. We got some people who worked physically for 20, 30 hours in a row and we got people behind trucks and it’s not the easiest job in the world let me tell you,” said Bob Parente, superintendent of operations at East Haven Public Works.

    The crew’s union president, John Longley, called out sick himself. He said crews were run down from all the work over the past week.

    “The last thing I want is anyone fatigued on the road where they’re not going to, number one, they’re not going to feel good and put them in a position of their own safety to be jeopardized,” said Parente.

    He said the town hired private contractors to help keep up with Tuesday's cleanup.

    Longley emphasized that the large number of sick workers was neither coordinated nor planned.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Potential presidential candidates and others are taking on the touchy topic of children and vaccinations, sparked again by the measles outbreak that started in Disneyland and has now infected nearly 70 people.

    Republicans Chris Christie and Rand Paul stirred the debate over the outbreak by saying parents should have a choice, only to be countered by Democrat Hillary Clinton coming down on the side of vaccinations.

    The New Jersey governor made the first comments during a visit to the United Kingdom on Monday, telling reporters the government needs to find a “balance” between parental choice and public health.

    “We vaccinate ours [kids], and so, you know, that's the best expression I can give you of my opinion," Christie said. "You know, it's much more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official. And that's what we do. But I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that's the balance that the government has to decide."

    Later that morning, his office issued a statement that seemed to soften his comments, saying he believed that with a disease like measles there was no question that children should be vaccinated. Vaccines are an important public health protection, the statement said.

    “At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate,” it said.

    The issue of vaccinations can be tricky going for politicians.

    During the last presidential race, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry disavowed his earlier decision to require schoolgirls in Texas to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer. Merck & Co., the maker of the HPV vaccine Gardasil, was paying to try to make the vaccine mandatory across the country, but conservatives and parents groups objected, saying the demand could seem to condone premarital sex and interfere with the way they raised their children.

    A recent Pew Research Center report found that differences between political parties over vaccinations were modest.

    Sixty-five percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of independents said that children should be required to be vaccinated, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2009, there were no party differences.

    Greater divisions were based on age. More than 68 percent of American adults overall say childhood vaccinations should be mandatory versus 30 percent who favor allowing parents to decide. But among 18- to 29-year-olds, the number on the side of parental choice rises to 41 percent. Only 20 percent of adults 65 and older agree.

    During this latest tempest, Democrats immediately accused Christie of trying to appeal to what the spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, Mo Elleithee, called the "radical, conspiracy-theory base that's wagging the dog of today's Republican Party."

    "But if he wants to actually be a leader, then he should stop bowing to junk science and take a cue from President Obama by showing leadership that promotes facts and keeps our children and our nation safe," Elleithee said.

    President Barack Obama earlier urged Americans to vaccinate their children.

    "The science is, you know, pretty indisputable," he said.

    Paul, the senator from Kentucky who has appealed to libertarians, initially did not back down from his comments to CNBC linking vaccines to mental disorders, despite widespread criticism. He presented the decision of whether to vaccinate as one of personal freedom.

    "I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines," he said on Monday.

    Rand also said he thought that vaccines were a good thing but that parents “should have some input” on whether their children received them. On Laura Ingraham’s radio show, he said most vaccines should be voluntary.

    But by late Tuesday, he also issued a statement clarifying his comments, noting he had not said that vaccines caused disorders. He supported vaccines, had gotten them himself and had had all of his children vaccinated, he said.

    Democrat Hillary Clinton had jumped in on Monday, tweeting, “The science is clear. The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let's protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest."

    And Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Louisiana's Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal both came out strongly for vaccines on Tuesday.

    Rubio said all children should be vaccinated, except those who needed medical exemptions.

    "This is the most advanced country in the world," he said. "We have eradicated diseases that in the past have killed and permanently disabled people. My own grandfather was disabled by polio as a young child."

    Jindal said he would not send his children to a school that did not require vaccinations.

    "There is a lot of fear-mongering out there on this," he said. "I think it is irresponsible for leaders to undermine the public's confidence in vaccinations that have been tested and proven to protect public health. Science supports them, and they keep our children safe from potentially deadly but preventable diseases."

    House Speaker John Boehner was asked on Tuesday whether parents should legally be required to vaccinate their children.

    "I don't know if we need another law, but I do believe all children ought to be vaccinated," he said.

    Meanwhile, members of parties came together over during a Congressional hearing over their concern about the outbreak.

    “This is far too serious an issue to be treated as a political football,” Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said. “People still die from measles.”


     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    From left, Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul. All three possible presidential candidates weighed in on the vaccination debate.From left, Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul. All three possible presidential candidates weighed in on the vaccination debate.

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    Federal prosecutors announced the arrest of a former high-ranking Defense Department civilian in the international Navy bribery scandal involving the military contractor known as “Fat Leonard.”

    Paul Simpkins, a 60-year-old former senior contracting officer for the U.S. Navy, was arrested and charged Tuesday in Virginia on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery.

    A criminal complaint alleges Simpkins accepted several hundred thousand dollars in cash and wire transfers, travel, hotel rooms, entertainment expenses and prostitutes from Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), the Singapore-based company led by Leonard Glenn Francis, known in military circles as Fat Leonard.

    Francis pleaded guilty last month to giving military officials prostitutes, travel and cash in exchange for classified information that allowed his company to overbill the U.S. government by more than $20 million.

    Simpkins worked as a supervisory contract special for the Navy in Singapore in 2005 and became a manager at the Department of Defense’s Office of Small Business Programs in 2007.

    The complaint says in early 2006, Simpkins and Francis met several times at a Singapore hotel, where Francis hand-delivered $150,000 in cash. He also wired money to Simpkin’s wife’s bank account, and Simpkins allegedly used the email account of his mistress to give Francis his wife’s banking information.

    In return, Simpkins is accused of helping steer Navy contracts in Francis’ direction. The complaint says he interceded on GDMA’s behalf in contract disputes, even overruling his subordinate’s recommendation that the company’s contract not be renewed due to “many exceedingly high cost” items.

    According to the court document, Simpkins also told Navy officials in Hong Kong to stop using meters to measure how much liquid waste GDMA removed from Navy ships under its contract. If the meters had been used, they would have calculated the actual amount of waste to ensure the company was not overbilling the government, prosecutors say.

    After Francis complained some Navy personnel were asking questions about his billing, Simpkins is suspected of telling a Navy official not to review GDMA invoices from a Hong Kong port visit.

    “As we've mentioned previously, the GDMA investigation is far from over,” said Director Andrew L. Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). “NCIS will follow the evidence wherever it leads, to bring to justice those who were involved in perpetrating this massive fraud on the Department of the Navy and the American taxpayer. Active leads remain and NCIS will stay on the case until our work is done.”

    U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy says the government wants Simpkins to be transferred to San Diego to face charges in the Southern District of California, so he will appear at a detention hearing in Virginia Wednesday. Simpkins faces five years in prison if he is found guilty.

    The NCIS and Defense Department Investigative Service are continuing the investigation and hinted more arrests were to come after Francis turned in his guilty plea. He and six others, including high-ranking Navy officers and Francis’ own cousin, have admitted to their part in the scheme. 



    Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David Flewellyn/Released

    Forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) moor in Singapore for a scheduled port visit in June 2014.Forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) moor in Singapore for a scheduled port visit in June 2014.

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    Several crashes have slowed the morning commute statewide on Wednesday.

    Police responded to crashes on every highway in the state since early this morning.

    There were crashes on Interstate 84 West in East Hartford, the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Meriden, Interstate 395 South in Uncasville, Interstate 95 South in Stamford and Interstate 91 North in Windsor Locks.

    There were also rollovers and crashes on the Merritt Parkway Northbound in Greenwich, which temporarily closed the highway.

    In Waterbury, a car crashes into a snowbank on the exit 24 ramp to I-84 East.

    Traffic through East Haven and New Haven was slow early after a tractor-trailer broke down on the Q-Bridge.

    Multiple crashes also slowed traffic on I-84 East between Farmington and West Hartford.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

    This was one of several crashes on Wednesday morning.This was one of several crashes on Wednesday morning.

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    Stratford police have arrested a local man who they said stabbed his roommate with a meat fork during an argument on Monday.

    Police responded to 259 Jackson Avenue to investigate the report of a stabbing and Vincent Anka, 50, told officers that he’d been stabbed in the leg with a two-pronged meat fork during an argument with another resident.

    Police identified the suspect as William Goerig, 64, who was in his room and waiting for officers, police said.

    When police asked Goerig what happened, he told officers that he and Anka had argued, but then it turned into a physical fight.

    During the fight, Goerig accidentally stabbed Anka with the fork, he said, according to police.

    Goerig was arrested and taken into custody and charged with second-degree breach of peace and second-degree assault. He was unable to post bond.

    Anka was issued a summons at the scene and charged with second-degree breach of peace, released and transported to the hospital for treatment.
     



    Photo Credit: Stratford Police

    Stratford police have arrested William Goerig, who they said stabbed his roommate with a meat fork during an argument on Monday.Stratford police have arrested William Goerig, who they said stabbed his roommate with a meat fork during an argument on Monday.

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    Federal accident investigators were headed to New York Wednesday to begin piecing together Tuesday night’s fiery Metro-North Railroad crash that killed six people, injured more than a dozen and left the front of the upstate-bound train “melted and charred,” officials said.

    Five passengers on the train and the driver of an SUV were killed when the train slammed into the SUV, which was trapped between crossing gates in Valhalla, at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 45 minutes after it left Grand Central with hundreds of commuters aboard. After the collision, the train burst into flames and pushed the SUV nearly 10 car lengths down the tracks before coming to a halt. The force of the impact also caused the electrified third rail to come up and pierce part of the train.

    "This is truly an ugly, brutal sight," Gov. Cuomo said at a briefing shortly after the accident Tuesday night. "The third rail of the track came up from the explosion and went right through the car, so it is truly a devastatingly ugly situation to see."

    Officials initially said six passengers aboard the train and the driver were killed, but the death toll was lowered to Wednesday morning to include five passengers and the SUV driver – a reduction Westchester Executive Rob Astorino called a “minor miracle."

    Fifteen train riders were hurt in the crash, some of them seriously. The MTA didn't have a rundown of the hospitalized patients' conditions Wednesday. The train engineer was treated for his injuries at a hospital, but was not considered one of the casualties, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast said.

    The crash was the deadliest in Metro-North history. Astorino said that all but one of the victims who were killed were burned beyond recognition and will have to be identified by dental records.

    “To think about what some of these commuters went through, they got on the 5:45 p.m. train, probably talked to somebody at home to say, ‘I’m on the way,’ and the world became upside down,” Astorino said. “That train had so many flames in it, so engulfed, the inside of that first car is just melted and charred with the third rail going right through it.”

    A National Transportation Safety Board team was dispatched to the Valhalla scene Wednesday morning. At a briefing in Washington, D.C., before his team left for New York, NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said teams would likely be at the scene for about a week gathering facts and insight, and will look into a myriad of factors that may have contributed to the crash.
    "At this point, everything is on the table," Sumwalt said.

    Investigators will look at data from recorders from the train, the signal system and the crossing gates. They'll also investigate medical records, highway conditions and will have fire officials on scene because of the blaze sparked by the crash, Sumwalt said. Cuomo and Prendergast said that an event recorder on the train will lend investigators valuable insight.

    It may be a year before the NTSB issues its final report on the crash, Sumwalt said, but he added the agency may recommend some essential safety measures sooner based on preliminary findings.

    Six hundred and fifty people were on board train No. 659, which departed Grand Central at 5:45 p.m. The train made one stop at 125th Street in Harlem before it proceeded express toward Chappaqua, the MTA said. Passengers' accounts of the crash varied according to where they were sitting. Those in back reported feeling only small "jolts" or "jerks" upon impact, while those sitting toward the front heard a loud explosion and saw smoke quickly filling their cars.

    The collision comes a little more than a year after new Metro-North President Joseph Giuletti took over, with a vow to make safety the top priority.

    Multiple derailments in 2013 and 2014 -- including one in December 2013 that killed four people when a fatigued engineer fell asleep at the controls -- had prompted a federal review in which investigators concluded that Metro-North sacrificed safety in 2013 to accommodate an obsession with on-time performance.

    The MTA says it has made dozens of recommended changes, but big-ticket items like automated train control could still be months or even years away. It appears too early to tell whether safety controls could have prevented Tuesday's collision. 

    Metro-North has established a family assistance center at the Mount Pleasant Town Hall at 1 Town Hall Plaza in Valhalla and a phone hotline at 1-800-METRO-INFO (800-638-7646).



    Photo Credit: @bizzz23/Instagram
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

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    Six people were killed when a Metro-North train packed with commuters from New York City hit a car on the railroad tracks in Westchester at the height of evening rush hour, sparking a fiery crash that's also injured at least 12 people, officials say.

    The train out of Grand Central Terminal was going northbound on the Harlem line when it struck a Jeep Cherokee at the Commerce Street crossing in Valhalla at about 6:30 p.m., officials said. 

    The Jeep was stopped on the tracks when the railroad crossing gates came down on top of it, according to MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan. The driver got out to look at the back of the car, then got back in and drove forward when the train struck the Jeep, pushing it about 10 train-car lengths up the track. 

    The Jeep driver and five passengers on the train were killed in the crash, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news conference Tuesday night.  The crash is the deadliest in the history of the Metro-North Railroad. Officials initally said six passengers had died, but MTA officials downgraded the death toll Wednesday morning. 

    "This is truly an ugly, brutal sight," Cuomo said. "The third rail of the track came up from the explosion and went right through the car, so it is truly a devastatingly ugly situation to see." 

    The rail did not hit any passengers, officials said.

    The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday it is launching a team to the crash site to investigate. Cuomo and MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast said an event recorder on the train will help piece together the circumstances surrounding the crash. 

    Chopper 4, first over the scene, showed a massive emergency response as the front train cars smoldered for hours, sending thick plumes of smoke into the air. 

    Six hundred and fifty people were on board train No. 659, which departed Grand Central at 5:45 p.m. The train made one stop at 125th Street in Harlem before it proceeded express toward Chappaqua, the MTA said. 

    Passengers' accounts of the crash varied according to where they were sitting along the train. Those in back reported only feeling only small "jolts" or "jerks" upon impact, while those sitting toward the front heard a loud explosion and saw smoke quickly filling their cars. 

    Jamie Wallace, who was sitting in the back of the second car, recalled how everyone escaped the train after the crash. 

    "We started to hear people further up toward the head of the second car start to panic a bit, and they were calling for a fire extinguisher," he said. 

    But as passengers rushed to help, "we could not get the head car doors open for some reason, it was jammed," he said. "We then were trying to break the glass to no avail." 

    "A number of us started smelling fumes from the car, the fuel, and we said, 'you know what, we need to get out.' The fire was starting to spread back toward the second car, and the second car finally did ignite," he said. 

    Another passenger named Fred was on the fourth train from the front. He hurt his fingers when he smashed his hand through emergency glass during the evacuation.

    "The thing that precipitated people really starting to freak out and break the glass and open the door was there was a loud 'bam,' explosion-type thing, and once we jumped off the side, there was another explosion to a lesser degree," he said. 

    Neil Rader of Katonah was sitting in the middle-back of the train when he felt a "small jolt."

    "It felt not even like a short stop, and then the train just completely stopped," he said. 

    He said passengers in his car also had to evacuate by breaking glass on the doors to get out. He said he saw 50 to 60 ambulances at the scene as he walked to a nearby gym, which was acting as a holding area for the escaped train riders.  

    "I've never seen anything quite like it," said Rader. 

    Stacey Eisner, an NBCUniversal News Group employee, was sitting in one of the rear two cars of the train, and said she felt the train "jerk" at some point. The conductor walked through the train to explain what had happened, and passengers were calm at first, but tension began to build when they learned the train had hit a car, she said. 

    About 10 to 15 minutes after the train "jerk," Eisner's train car was evacuated, with ladders used to get people out. People were taken either to a nearby rock-climbing gym called The Cliffs or allowed to walk to the Hawthorne Funeral Home, she said. 

    Ryan Cottrell, assistant director at The Cliffs, told NBC News that the passengers who were brought there appeared to be shaken up but generally OK. Staffers who saw the incident from the front door went to the scene to help bring passengers into the gym, where they were providing shelter and warmth until MTA buses arrive to transport commuters to Pleasantville, Cottrell said. 

    A few injured people were transported from the gym to the hospital, said Cottrell.

    The train engineer was treated for his injuries at a hospital, but was not considered one of the casualties, Prendergast said. 

    The Taconic State Parkway, which runs parallel to the Metro-North tracks in the area, was closed in both directions in the town of Mount Pleasant as police, EMS and firefighters responded. 

    The Metro-North Harlem line will remain suspended Wednesday between Pleasantville and North White Plains. There will be limited bus/train service for Upper Harlem line customers beginning with morning rush hour service on Wednesday until further notice.

    Normal train service remains between Grand Central and North White Plains, the MTA said. 

    Harlem line tickets will be cross-honored on the Hudson and New Haven lines. Up to 300 parking spaces at the Westchester County Center and up to 50 parking spaces at the North White Plains Station will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    The collision comes a little more than a year after new Metro-North President Joseph Giuletti took over, with a vow to make safety the top priority.

    Multiple derailments in 2013 and 2014 -- including one in December 2013 that killed four people when a fatigued engineer fell asleep at the controls -- had prompted a federal review in which investigators concluded that Metro-North sacrificed safety in 2013 to accommodate an obsession with on-time performance.

    The MTA says it has made dozens of recommended changes, but big-ticket items like automated train control could still be months or even years away. It appears too early to tell whether safety controls could have prevented Tuesday's collision. 

    U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, a vocal advocate for improved safety on the Metro-North, said in a statement he's spoken to Prendergast, who said that "a full and thorough investigation has already begun."

    "At this early stage, it is premature to point any fingers of blame, but there are many important questions that must be answered in the coming days," Schumer said. 

    Metro-North has established a family assistance center at the Mount Pleasant Town Hall at 1 Town Hall Plaza in Valhalla and a phone hotline at 1-800-METRO-INFO (800-638-7646).



    Photo Credit: @bizzz23/Instagram
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

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    Back-to-back storms have dumped up to 3 feet of snow across parts of the state, and there's more on the way, along with possibly the coldest temperatures of the season so far.

    We could see some snow showers on Wednesday, but Chief First Alert Meteorologist Brad Field said he doesn't expect the snow to stick.

    The focus now is on another round of snow moving on Thursday morning, which could blanket the state with a coating to 2 inches and make for a slippery morning commute.

    Wind gusts will pick up on Thursday after the snow moves out, and temperatures could dip down below zero overnight Thursday into Friday, creating what could be the coldest morning of the season so far.

    Our weather team is also keeping an eye on the potential for another snowstorm that could affect the state from Sunday night into Monday. It's too soon to say how much snow the state could see.

    Temperatures will be in the 20s early next week.


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    Fred George, of Danbury, was not on the Metro-North train that crashed in New York last night because he took an earlier train home, but he fears he knows some of the six people killed in the crash.

    Six people were killed when a Metro-North train from New York City hit a Jeep on the railroad tracks in Westchester at 6:30 p.m., during the height of evening rush hour, sparking a fiery crash that's also injured at least 12 people, officials said.

    "I caught the earlier train last night or else I would have been right here on the 5:44 in the front car, because I always sit in the front car," George said.

    Since the crash, he's been calling around, hoping to reach fellow commuters to see how his friends are.

    "I'm sure I know some of those people, probably lost some friends," George said.

    Witnesses said the railroad crossing gates came down on top of the SUV while it was stopped on the tracks. The woman driving that car got out, then tried to drive forward when she was struck.

    "From the investigation, people need to learn, don't sit on the tracks in your car. It's just scary. It really is because you never know what could happen," George said.
     



    Photo Credit: AP
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    Emergency personnel work at the scene of a Metro-North Railroad passenger train and vehicle accident in Valhalla, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. Metro-North Railroad spokesman Aaron Donovan says the train struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing about 20 miles north of New York City. (AP Photo/Robert Mecea)Emergency personnel work at the scene of a Metro-North Railroad passenger train and vehicle accident in Valhalla, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. Metro-North Railroad spokesman Aaron Donovan says the train struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing about 20 miles north of New York City. (AP Photo/Robert Mecea)

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    Collisions involving trains and vehicles have dropped dramatically despite increases in highway and rail traffic. The Federal Railroad Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, points to engineering improvements including flashing lights, gates and traffic dividers, stepped up enforcement of traffic regulations and motorist education. About 94 percent of collisions are a result of drivers’ risky behavior or poor judgment, according to the FRA.


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    A train hit a tractor-trailer in North Haven on Wednesday morning, rupturing a fuel tank, and now the fire department, police and state environmental officials are investigating.

    The North Haven Fire Department responded to reports of a propane truck leaking within the CSX railyard off Universal Drive at 6:39 a.m. and found a tractor-trailer carrying propane on the tracks that was leaking diesel fuel from the saddle tanks.

    A crews investigated, they determined that a train had hit the truck, causing the passenger side saddle tank to rupture.

    AMR also responded, but no one reported being injured.

    The immediate area was evacuated and crews worked to contain the 100 to 200 gallons of diesel fuel.
    Clean-up efforts continue and DEEP is expected to remain at the scene throughout the incident.


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    The plan for Texas-based Tenet Healthcare to acquire several hospitals in Connecticut has come to an end. After two years of discussions, the talks are over, according to a statement from Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Office.

    “After more than two years of working toward an arrangement under which a subsidiary of Tenet Healthcare Corporation, in partnership with the Yale New Haven Health System, would acquire four hospital systems in Connecticut, we regret to announce that we have decided to end our discussions. We believe it is best for the hospitals, their employees and the communities they serve to move forward exploring other options,” Malloy said in a statement.

    Tenet Healthcare Corp. was in discussions to acquire Waterbury Hospital, Saint Mary's, Manchester Memorial, Bristol Hospital, and Rockville General Hospital.

    In December, the company told investors that it was ending talks with the state after proposed regulations were unveiled. Last month, Malloy offered to renew negotiations.

    Today, the governor's office and Tenet released statements saying the negotiations are off.

    “The environment for both providers and state government is complex and rapidly changing. Unfortunately, the issues that separated us simply could not be overcome. We will continue to work with the hospitals, the affected communities, and our colleagues in the legislature to come up with smart, creative solutions that will preserve local access to care for all patients.” Malloy said in a statement.

    Trevor Fetter, president and chief executive officer of Tenet Healthcare Corporation, also released a statement.

    “While Tenet is disappointed with the outcome, we wish the hospitals, local community leaders and Governor Malloy the very best in their effort to build a sustainable future for these and other hospitals in the State of Connecticut,” Fetter said.

    State Senator Len Fason called the breakdown in the deal "a devastating blow" to the Waterbury community.


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    What may have been a night of target practice for an unidentified gunman almost turned deadly for a young Philadelphia-area boy who was nearly struck by a stray bullet while he was sleeping.

    "They could've murdered a child," said Zach Marino. "Like me."

    The 12-year-old boy was asleep in his room inside his home on the 600 block Bryn Mawr Avenue in Radnor Township around midnight Wednesday when he woke to a noise in his room.

    "It just sounded like, I don't know, like wood cracking in half, " he said.

    Zach and his parents initially thought an animal had struck the outside wall of the home.

    "We heard that noise, and we thought a deer hit the house," Zach's mother, Laura Marino, said.

    It wasn't until Saturday that Laura Marino discovered a bullet-sized hole in the wall in her son's room. They then found shrapnel on the floor and, finally, a bullet that police believe came from a .38-caliber gun.

    Police determined that a stray bullet had ricocheted off a wall inside the house and then pierced the wall of Zach's room as he slept just five feet away. The bullet then bounced off a dresser before it landed on the floor.

    Investigators later found two bullet holes in the "Route 320 South" sign on the 300 block of Bryn Mawr Avenue, located about 70 feet away from Zach's home. Police determined that an unidentified gunman fired several shots at the sign and one of the bullets missed, ultimately striking Zach's house before it landed in his bedroom.

    "We have somebody who was doing something extremely dangerous that could have caused very serious injuries to the family and we'd like to get it resolved," said Radnor Township Police Lieutenant Christopher Flanagan.

    No arrests have been made, and police have not yet released a description of any suspects. They also told NBC10 recent snow on the ground is hampering the investigation, as they’ve been unable to locate any rounds on the street.

    They are asking anyone who was in the area of Bryn Mawr Avenue at midnight on Wednesday and saw something suspicious to give them a call.



    Photo Credit: NBC10

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    Passengers who survived the Metro-North crash that killed six people and caused the front of the packed train to burst into flames experienced everything from loud explosions to small "jolts" when the train hit an SUV stopped on the tracks in Westchester Tuesday afternoon. 

    Six hundred and fifty people were on board train No. 659 when it slammed into an SUV stopped at a crossing in Valhalla at about 6:30 p.m., less than an hour after leaving Grand Central. The train burst into flames and pushed the SUV nearly 10 car lengths down the track, killing the driver of the SUV and five passengers in the first car. 

    Fifteen other people were hurt in the crash.

    Passengers sitting in the front of the train described an alarming scene following the impact, with many hearing a loud explosion before smoke filled their cars. Commuters in the back of the train reported only feeling small "jolts" or "jerks" upon impact. 

    Survivor Chris Gross, 24, was sitting in the front train car watching a movie on his laptop when he suddenly went airborne, he said. 

    "I heard a loud bang and a lot of screaming. People were screaming, 'Call 911, fire extinguisher,'" he said. 

    "Flames cames up, of which were about a foot away from my face," he said later. "And then after that happened, you know, people are screaming and crying." 

    A quick-thinking passenger pried open the emergency exit and helped Gross escape. He said the five men who died on board the train were sitting right next to him. 

    Jamie Wallace, who was sitting in the back of the second car, described escaping the train after the crash. 

    "We started to hear people further up toward the head of the second car start to panic a bit, and they were calling for a fire extinguisher," he said. 

    But as passengers rushed to help, "we could not get the head car doors open for some reason, it was jammed," he said. "We then were trying to break the glass to no avail." 

    "A number of us started smelling fumes from the car, the fuel, and we said, 'You know what, we need to get out.' The fire was starting to spread back toward the second car, and the second car finally did ignite," he said. 

    Another passenger, Fred Buonocore, was on the fourth car from the front. He hurt his fingers when he smashed his hand through emergency glass during the evacuation.

    "The thing that precipitated people really starting to freak out and break the glass and open the door was there was a loud 'bam,' explosion-type thing, and once we jumped off the side, there was another explosion to a lesser degree," he said. 

    Neil Rader of Katonah was sitting in the middle-back of the train when he felt a "small jolt."

    "It felt not even like a short stop, and then the train just completely stopped," he said. 

    He said passengers in his car also had to evacuate by breaking glass on the doors to get out. He said he saw 50 to 60 ambulances at the scene as he walked to a nearby gym, which was acting as a holding area for the escaped train riders.  

    "I've never seen anything quite like it," said Rader. 

    Stacey Eisner, an NBCUniversal News Group employee, was sitting in one of the rear two cars of the train, and said she felt the train "jerk" at some point. The conductor walked through the train to explain what had happened, and passengers were calm at first, but tension began to build when they learned the train had hit a car, she said. 

    About 10 to 15 minutes after the train "jerk," Eisner's train car was evacuated, with ladders used to get people out. People were taken either to a nearby rock-climbing gym called The Cliffs or allowed to walk to the Hawthorne Funeral Home, she said. 

    Amateur video captured at the scene shows frantic passengers crowding a train car's aisle to get out, then trudging through ankle-deep snow near the tracks. 

    The train engineer, identified by sources as Steven Smalls, sent out an emergency call after the crash and went back to the burning train several times to help carry people out of the first and second cars, said the sources, who spoke to Smalls afterward. He put a jacket over the legs of one victim in the first car because they were so badly wounded, the sources said. 

    Ryan Cottrell, assistant director at The Cliffs, told NBC News that the passengers who were brought there appeared to be shaken up but generally OK.

    Staffers who saw the incident from the front door went to the scene to help bring passengers into the gym, where they were providing shelter and warmth until MTA buses arrive to transport commuters to Pleasantville, Cottrell said. 

    Buonocore, a Ridgefield, Connecticut resident, told NBC Connecticut he normally sits in the front car and happened to be running late Tuesday before he ran to slip into a middle train car.

    "To come to the realization that people in the train actually died was really a frightening concept," said Buonocore. 

    -- Gus Rosendale, Jonathan Vigliotti and Pei-Sze Cheng contributed to this report 



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