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Life Jacket Link to Missing Fla. Teen Boaters Questioned


The family of two teenage boys who went missing off the Florida coast in July says they do not consider a search dog’s findings, linking two life jackets found along the Georgia coast to their boat, to be conclusive.

In a joint statement released Thursday, the families of Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, said even though a dog did match the scent, the items did not have identifiable markings like tags or stenciling that would confirm a link to the boat.

“The canine field evaluation was made by a single dog and its handler. We do not consider the results to be conclusive,” the statement read.

According to Dr. Robert Bowie with DEEMI Search and Rescue, a search and rescue dog positively matched the orange life vests retrieved from a sandbar near Savannah to Stephanos and Cohen.

However, Bowie was quick to point out that the discovery is only a preliminary indicator. Further testing will need to be done to confirm a positive match, he said.

The teens were last seen July 24 after heading out on a fishing trip in the Jupiter Inlet.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the young fishermen on July 31 after an eight-day search spanning from Jupiter to Wilmington, North Carolina. The boys’ families called off their privately-led search on Aug. 8.

The teens’ capsized boat was found about 65 miles east of Daytona Beach on July 26, two days after they disappeared. The boat went missing when a marine salvage company the Coast Guard hired to bring it to shore didn’t secure the vessel.

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Man Hit, Killed by Roller Coaster


A man died Thursday after being hit by a roller coaster at Cedar Point, an amusement park in Ohio. 

The man had hopped a fence into a restricted area at the Sandusky amusement park in an attempt to retrieve a cellphone that had fallen below the Raptor roller coaster before he was struck, according to Erie County Coroner Dr. Brian Baxter.

“He apparently jumped over the fence and then when he stood up he was hit by the Raptor, that’s what we think,” Baxter said.

When asked about the possibility of a suicide attempt, Baxter said, “No, not at all. From what we saw we have no reason to believe it was anything but accidental.”

After waiting until the victim’s family was notified of the accident, police identified the man as 45-year-old James A. Young, of East Canton, Ohio, NBC 5's affiliate station WKYC reports. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Baxter said the investigation into the incident is ongoing. The Coroner’s Office is working with park officials and the Sandusky Police Department to review surveillance footage of the accident.

The Raptor reaches speeds up to 57 mph, according to the theme park’s website.

Cedar Point officials released the following statement after the man's passing:

"At approximately 5 p.m., a guest entered a restricted, fenced area of the Raptor roller coaster and was struck by the ride. Park safety officials responded immediately to the situation. Unfortunately the guest has passed away. Local authorities are on the scene conducting an investigation ... Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this time."

Photo Credit: Ryan Haidet, WKYC-TV

Survivor Rescued 31 Hours After China Blasts


Rescuers working in the aftermath of massive explosions in the Chinese port city of Tianjin on Friday found a person alive more than 31 hours after the disaster, a city official told reporters.

State media agency Xinhua said the survivor is a 19-year-old firefighter named Zhou Ti. China's state broadcaster CCTV said he was treated for burns, smoke inhalation and an injured leg.

At least 56 people, including 21 firefighters, died after a pair of massive explosions erupted from a warehouse containing "dangerous goods" on Wednesday.

A total of 701 people remained hospitalized, and 70 are still in critical condition, a Tianjin official said.

Eighteen firefighters remained missing Thursday, Xinhua reported.

Photo Credit: AP

Firefighter Shot in NYC Amid Blaze, Police Standoff: Sources


An alleged gang member was killed by police Friday afternoon on Staten Island after a tense six-hour standoff sparked when the man shot a firefighter responding a small fire set inside the home as  U.S. Marshals tried to execute an arrest warrant, law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York.

Garland Tyree, 38, was killed in a shootout with SWAT team members at the home on Destiny Court in Mariner's Harbor at about 11:45 a.m., the sources say. 

Tyree, an alleged member of the Nine Trey Gangsters chapter of the Bloods street gang, had barricaded himself in the home after shooting FDNY Lt. Jim Hayes, 54, who had responded to the residence after U.S. Marshals tried to execute a warrant for the 38-year-old at about 6 a.m.


Marshals had gone into the Tyree's basement apartment and found it full of smoke, so they called in the FDNY, police say. Hayes, a 31-year veteran with the force, went inside to look for people inside and found Tyree hiding in the shower. That's when the man allegedly opened fire, hitting Hayes in the buttocks and ankle.

Police Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that Hayes ran from the apartment and didn't realize that he had been shot until he was outside. Police say that police then moved to set up a perimeter, and Tyree fired a few more shots.

Heavily armed tactical teams and uniformed officers alike then swarmed the house, which was relatively quiet for more than 6 hours. They set up a line of communication with Tyree at about 7:40 a.m. and negotiators worked with the man, who was thought to be armed with an assault rifle.

Then, shortly before noon, four loud blasts and heavy gunfire could be heard as the standoff came to a head. 

A post on a Facebook page thought to belong to Tyree included the message "Today I die." The message was posted at about 6 a.m. Friday.

Homes around the scene were evacuated. One neighbor, Maria Quinones, described the scene through an interpreter.

"She heard the shots, then they came and took her out," the interpreter said. "She was scared but then she saw all the police action and she felt a little safer."

 Nigro visited Hayes at the hospital after the shooting. He said the man is "as comfortable as you can be" and is with his family. Nigro said Hayes is one of four brothers to join the force and a Sept. 11 first responder.

"He's lucky that he will survive this incident," Nigro said. "He acted heroically."

-- Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.

Shark Spotted at Cape Cod Beach


A shark was spotted swimming extremely close to the shore of a Cape Cod beach Thursday evening.

NBC Connecticut meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan was at Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts, when he saw the shark near the shore.

The sighting comes one week after a single research trip in which the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy spotted 17-19 sharks off the Massachusetts coast.

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WATCH: Bystanders Tackle Attempted Carjacker


A crowd of bystanders tackled a Washington state man suspected of driving under the influence Thursday after he rammed seven cars, jumped out of his vehicle and tried to carjack another one in a Seattle suburb, NBC News reported.

Video captured by a surveillance camera near a Bellevue intersection shows the man crashing into several cars, then running from car to car, grabbing at door handles and punching and kicking windows.

Eventually, other people get out of their cars and begin surrounding the man, who police say was being restrained by four people when they arrived.

Bellevue police said the 32-year-old, who has not been identified, was previously known to law enforcement.

Photo Credit: Bellevue Police
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Car Hits Pole in Hartford

Mother "Angry" Death Penalty Overturned for Daughter's Killer


A mother whose daughter’s killer sits on death row says she’s “angry” after the state Supreme Court struck down the death penalty on Thursday, ruling it's unconstitutional.

“The only hope that I had for him to be confined and miserable for the rest of his life they’re taking that away too,” Betsy Betterini, mother of Elizabeth Garcia, said.

In 2002, Garcia was the victim of a horrible crime, police said.

Then 21-year-old was raped and killed in her Hartford apartment, police said.

Her neighbor, Lazale Ashby, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death.

He had just turned 18 years old days before the attack.

“He had no remorse,” Betterini said.

Betterini says she hoped her daughter’s killer would be put to death. But she thought that Ashby living on death row was a punishment itself.

“Death penalty would put you in a cell 6-by-6. I believe you only go out one hour a day and that could be during the day or the night. So he’s confined for 23 hours,” says Betterini.

Betterini says she had found some closure in the sentence. Now that her daughter’s killer no longer faces the death penalty, Betterini feels that she’s lost something again.

“The only hope that I had for him to be confined and miserable for the rest of his life, they’re taking that away too,” says Betterini.

Betterini holds close the memories of her daughter and pictures of Garcia still adorn the family fridge.

“She was very caring and loving. And she wasn’t prejudiced. She liked everyone,” says Betterini.

“I go on with my life. I laugh. I work. I have fun. I go on vacations. But people really don’t understand that not a day goes by that I don’t think about my daughter.”

Photo Credit: Betsy Betterini (Mother of Elizabeth Garcia)

Judge: Aaron Hernandez Can Sell Home, Vehicle


A judge has approved a request by Aaron Hernandez and the mother of the man he was convicted of murdering to sell Hernandez's $1.3 million North Attleboro home and his Hummer.

Lawyers for Hernandez and Ursula Ward had filed a joint motion in July seeking to sell the home at 22 Ronald C. Meyer Drive and the 2005 Hummer.

Hernandez was convicted earlier this year in the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. Ward has sued Hernandez, and court records indicate Ward could be awarded more than $5 million in the case.

The proceeds from the sale of the house and the vehicle will be deposited with the New Bedford Superior Court clerk's office for distribution upon further order of the court. Both items will be sold by brokers to be agreed upon by both parties.

All expenses incurred for the marketing and sale of the property and the vehicle will be deducted directly from the sales proceeds.

Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison without parole in April. He still faces two murder charges in Boston.

Photo Credit: necn

Boyfriend of Missing Woman Violated Restraining Order: Police


The boyfriend of a Middletown woman who has been missing since mid-July has been charged with violating a restraining order she has against him.

Police took Gregory Erhardt, 55, of Middletown, into custody on July 30 and charged him with criminal violation of a restraining order earlier in the month.

Coe has been missing since July 15, according to the Silver Alert.

She disappeared after a dentist appointment and family members who had been in constant contact with Coe became concerned when two days passed and they could not reach her.

Police have been searching for Coe for weeks and said there are concerns because she suffers from alcohol dependency and might need immediate medical attention.

According to a Silver Alert issued last month, Coe is also dependent on pain medication and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Coe stands 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighs 130 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes. Police said she wears glasses and has a tattoo on one leg and a scar on the right side of her neck.

Police are asking anyone with information on Coe's whereabouts to call 860-638-4000.

Erhardt remains in police custody on the restraining order violation charge and has not posted bond.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Steven Hayes' Brother: Decision “Does Not Bring Peace”


The brother of one of the two men who killed a mother and two children during a home invasion in Cheshire in 2007 says the Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday that the state’s death penalty is unconstitutional brings no peace to those who’ve suffered at the hands of the 11 men on death row.

Steven Hayes was convicted of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, in a crime that shook the community of Cheshire, the entire state and beyond.

Matthew Hayes, the brother of Steven Hayes, released the following statement in reaction to the court’s decision yesterday:

"Thursday's ruling by the CT Supreme Court does not bring peace to any family or victim who has suffered at the hands of any of Connecticut's 11 CT Death Row inmates. Nobody is restored by the decision. While the death penalty has been a highly charged topic since the events of July 2007 in Cheshire, it has been highly politicized as well, but to what end.

As an educated society, we grapple with the profound question of any state taking life as reparation for a crime, even crimes as heinous as Cheshire. If the state has the penalty available, and has ethical issues imposing it, erring on the side of life is the wise choice, regardless of the justification for death.

When it comes to my brother's sentence, I, like many, am troubled. A hollow sentence ending in the eventual repeal of the death sentence leaves many wondering why the state charted a course they knew wouldn't stand review. For the many that were impacted by the events of Cheshire, I find peace knowing that Dr. Petit will never have to face the two men in court again; his healing can continue, without the barriers of endless appeals.

While we may not agree on the death penalty as an appropriate sentence, or whether Thursday's ruling is a step forward, I'm confident that moving this case, and the two individuals responsible into the history books, is in everyone's best interest."

Matthew Hayes
Seattle, WA

Groton Police Officer Saves Life in Mystic


A town of Groton police officer saved a life in Mystic this morning and is being honored as a hero.

When police responded to a medical emergency on High Street at 6:35 a.m., Officer Korteweg found the victim unresponsive with no signs of a pulse, so he acted quickly.

Officer Korteweg started performing life-saving measures and used the Automated External Defibrillator until the victim had a pulse.

Members of the Mystic River Ambulance Company arrived a short time later and transported the victim to a nearby medical facility to be treated.

“This is just one example of the great work done every day by Groton Police Officers. We are proud of Officer Korteweg’s life saving actions and we will keep this person in our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery,” Chief L. J. Fusaro said in a statement.

Hammerhead Shark Bites Diver Off San Diego Coast in Rare Attack


A diver was injured in a shark attack about 100 miles off the coast of San Diego, U.S. Coast Guard officials confirmed.

The 58-year-old man was underwater Monday just after 8 a.m. when he was bitten in the right hand by a hammerhead shark, Coast Guard officials said.

The unidentified man was diving from a passenger vessel called "Peace" at the time of the attack. According to Peace Dive Boat's website, the Ventura-based boat is part of a chartered trip to the Cortes Bank, a popular diving area about 100 miles off the coast.

An EMT on board gave the man basic first aid help, but the Coast Guard's flight surgeon recommended that the patient be airlifted from the boat.

Officials sent an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to the boat, where they lowered a rescuer, strapped the patient to a stretcher and lifted him into the chopper.

He was taken to the UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest in stable condition.

Coast Guard officials say it’s the only shark bite report it has received this summer.

Mike Price, an assistant curator of fishes at SeaWorld, said hammerhead shark attacks are extremely rare because humans are not on their prey list.

Since scientists started keeping records in the 1950s, there have only been 32 documented hammerhead shark attacks, according to Price. If verified, Monday's would be the first one on the West Coast.

He said the shark was likely a scalloped hammerhead that can grow up to seven feet long. They are typically found off Southern Mexico and Central America.

"It's very possible because of the warm water and the fact that Cortes Bank is a type of sea mountain, that you would have scalloped heads that have just followed the warm water and are just aggregating like they would normally do, around the Cortes Bank," said Price.

He told NBC 7 hammerheads are not scary sea monsters that are coming to bite people.

The Shark Research Institute reports that hammerhead sharks are typically nonaggressive when approached by divers. However, they will defend themselves if threatened.

"And sharks that defend, really defend with one way, and that's sharp teeth and strong jaws," Price said.

It's unclear why the hammerhead bit the diver, and the charter boat company did not return NBC 7's calls or emails.

Photo Credit: Coast Guard

Firefighters Battle Massive Waterbury Factory Fire


An abandoned Waterbury factory is still smoldering almost 12 hours after a massive fire broke out  and officials are trying to determine how it started because there no electricity fed the building.

Heavy fire broke out at the former factory, known as the old Bristol company, on Bristol Street on Thursday night and consumed the five-story, 400,000 to 500,000 square-foot building.

The building has been abandoned for 20 to 25 years and the fire marshal is trying to determine how the fire started since it was supposed to be empty. Officials said could be suspicious.

"A building that's unoccupied with no electricity, it's certainly suspicious," Waterbury First Chief David Martin said. "These building do attract a lot of vagrant activity."

This was one of the biggest fires Waterbury firefighters have had to battle and, fortunately,  no one was injured.

Firefighters from several companies responded to the fire on Bristol Street and significant accessibility issues made it difficult for crews battling the fire.

"Due to the disrepair of the building, it had various stages of collapse throughout the building, already," Martin said. "When you add that volume of fire, it basically burned the rest of the floors and the rest of the roof off."

Firefighters were not able to get the fire truck to the back of the factory to fight the flames. so they had to cut through a fence and go through the brush to get inside.

Several roads were closed as firefighters battled the fire.

Neighbors watched nervously from their own homes.

George Cipriano said it was a little scary at some points.

"We saw the embers coming back down toward us and you never know what's going to happen." he said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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OSHA Closes Citation from Fire Thank Killed Firefighter: Officials


Officials from the Hartford Fire Department said the state’s OSHA division closed the citation issued after finding violations in the wake of the first line of duty death the department had in 40 years.

State and federal officials began investigating after firefighter Kevin Bell died on Oct. 7, 2014 during a fire on Blue Hills Avenue.

State labor leaders handed the city citations for five serious violations pertaining to safety issues within the Hartford Fire Department, including with problems with breathing apparatus testing, and outdated air packs.

The department previously said the fines were reduced 20 percent – from $5,000 to $4,000 -- in response to the department adopting measures to address safety concerns.

Now, fire officials said Connecticut Occupational Safety and Health has dropped the citation and the fire department demonstrated all improvements were completed prior to July 28, including selection of new fire and heat resistant hoods. 

"The Department is continuing to partner with CONN-OSHA to identify opportunities to enhance the safety of our men and women." a statement from the fire department says.  

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Michigan Woman Kept Disabled Sister in Closet for 7 Years


A Michigan woman kept her disabled sister locked in a closet for six or seven years with only a bucket to urinate in, authorities said Friday. 

Cindy Lawson, 44, is charged with unlawful imprisonment, vulnerable adult abuse, and embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, Shiawasee County's chief assistant prosecutor said. Lawson has entered a not guilty plea. 

Corunna police Chief Nick Chiros said a handyman reported finding the woman locked up. Police visited Lawson's home on July 9 for a welfare check following the tip and found the 42-year-old sister, who has "cognitve and physical impairments," locked in a closet suffering from malnourishment and dehydration. 

Police Investigating Untimely Death in Shelton


Police are investigating an untimely death on Howe Avenue in Shelton.

Shelton police have called in the state police major crimes squad has also been called in to investigate.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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After 80 Years Social Security is America's Favorite Gov't Program


Social Security, which turned 80 years old on Friday, is American's favorite government program.

Two-thirds of Americans view Social Security as one of the most important government programs, according to a new AARP survey. This view has remained consistent in AARP polling since 1995 and 82 percent of Americans say it is important to contribute to Social Security for the common good. 

Social Security retirement benefits represent about 38 percent of the income for seniors, who mostly depend on these checks. 

But Americans have doubts that Social Security will be there for them when they retire. Only 43 percent express confidence in the future of Social Security, according to AARP.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File

Gore Not Considering 2016 Run, Source Says


Former presidential candidate Al Gore will not seek a presidential run in 2016 despite rumors to the contrary, a top Democratic Party source told NBC News. 

A BuzzFeed report Thursday claimed that Gore's supporters have begun trying to figure out whether there is a path for the former vice president in the race. But the top Democratic source told NBC News there was nothing substantive happening along those lines. 

Gore has faced speculation about a second presidential run since he lost the election to George W. Bush in 2000. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Driver Taken to Hospital After Coventry Truck Fire


A man was taken to the hospital after the truck he was driving caught fire in Coventry late Monday morning.

Police responded to a vehicle fire on Route 31, at Route 44, and the driver was already out of the truck cab, but was taken to the hospital to be evaluated.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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