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Kids Wear Fit Bit For Fun and Health


Tracking steps and creating fitness goals has become a part of kids daily routine.

“I usually get a lot of steps each day,” Jackson Senecal said. “The goal is 10,000 but since I get a lot my goal is like 13,000 each day.”

With 1 in 3 children being considered overweight or obese, parents aren’t complaining.

"It's good to know kids are not only my own kids but other kids in the community are challenging each other to be out, be active and I don't know it's better than sitting around playing video games in my book," Stephen Balgach about his two kids, who both wear Fit Bits. 

It’s talk of the playground and inspiration for one set of brothers.

“My brother, he’s active and it puts a challenge to me,” said 10-year-old Michael Balgach. “Sometimes it’s a good way (to) try to get as active as we can.”

“I always try to beat my goal,” said 7-year-old Bradford Balgach. “It always rises up to try to get me more active.”

But it’s not all fun in games…

“It gives a fun rivalry between me and my brother” adds Michael. “And it’s fun to ask my friends during school how many steps do you have. What we’re trying to work towards is just being outside and being active and the goal is you get whoever gets the most steps in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we add all those up and then whoever has the most steps gets a good $5.”

Right now Bradford is in the lead and there’s no sign of the competition ending any time soon.

“I think we’re doing it until at least mine or Mikey's Fit Bit breaks.”

If you want to get a couple steps in this weekend, join the NBC Connecticut team at the March of Dimes Run for Babies this Sunday at Rentschler Field and Run for Today. We’re just days away, but it’s not too late to sign up.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Russian War Plane 'Intercepted' US Aircraft


A Russian jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. aircraft over the Baltic Sea on Friday, according to military officials, NBC News reported.

The Russian SU-27 flew within 25 feet of the U.S. RC-135 aircraft’s fuselage, conducting a barrel roll over the U.S. plane. 

A Department of Defense spokesperson said the Russian plane “performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers” and that it “intercepted the U.S. aircraft flying a routine route at high rate of speed from the side.” The spokesperson said the U.S. aircraft was operating in international airspace and didn’t cross into Russian territory. 

The incident comes a few weeks after another Russian aircraft flew dangerously close to the USS Donald Cook and another RC-135 in the same area.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Group Ride Motorcycles From CT to Delivery Water to Flint


Bottle by bottle, Metropolitan District Commission employee Kenny Hinson has collected water to help Flint Michigan in the midst of a crisis.

On Friday, a group of volunteers will make the trip to deliver the donated water.

“This is a Connecticut movement for Flint,” said the head of the project, Kenneth Hinson. “We are supporting Flint.”

Kenny will lead a group of motorcycle riders called JUST US that will collect, deliver and distribute the 3,000 cases of donated water.

“We’re gunna go house-to-house with this water, this is why our movement is different than any other movement,” said Hinson. “We’re not just going to drop the water at a distribution center. We’re going to drop the water house to house to make a difference.”

As a 17-year-veteran at MDC, the water-company couldn’t be more proud of Kenny’s innovation and execution of such a large project.

“There’s a whole lot of people here that have made this a success,” said MDC chairman William DiBella. “But Ken is a ring leader I guess they call it a ring leader he was the one that went and put it together.”

But that doesn’t mean he gets a break when the project is done

“The bus is already on its way out, when they hit the ground out there they’ll do the dissemination and they’ll be back,” said DiBella. “Ken’s going to be back to work Monday morning.”

Three tractor trailers set out for the trip to Michigan today making it the largest delivery Flint has seen during this crisis. Prior to today, the largest delivery came from one 18 wheeler from Boston.

Photo Credit: AP

Clinton Team Shifting Staff to General Election States


Hillary Clinton’s campaign is preparing to hire staffers in some of the general election’s battleground states, NBC News reported.

A Clinton campaign official told NBC News the first wave of new hires and reassignments will involve state directors and other senior staff. The campaign is setting up state directors in Florida, New Hampshire and Colorado, and will eventually have general election operations in every state. 

The aide stressed that Clinton will continue to campaign in the remaining primary states. 

The news was first reported in USA Today.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

4 Students Banned Following Univ. of Hartford Attempted Robbery


University of Hartford officials said they have banned four students from campus at least temporarily after Thursday's armed robbery attempt.

Officials said the students face charges from Hartford police for possession of marijuana including the roommate of the victim in the crime.

The roommate appears to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time-- in his dorm room.

John Schmaltz of University Public Safety said, "The student who was actually robbed -- I think we believe his roommate may have been involved in the drug dealing aspect of it. I think he may be a true victim of circumstances."

Schmaltz said Hartford police are looking for the man who had the gun and his three accomplices, who left campus in a gold Chevy Malibu. He said the people they are after were guests invited onto the private campus.

Security here is being enhanced with the addition of police patrols, said Walter Harrison, president of the University of Hartford.

"We're gonna try to work quickly to as I said earlier to make students realize that it's not a good idea to allow people into residence halls they don't know," Harrison said.

As police rolled onto the campus Thursday afternoon, authorities told students to stay inside. They ended the lockdown after about 45 minutes. But students had to sign up in advance to receive lockdown alerts.

Andrew Ouellette, a junior, said, "Should definitely sign up for the alerts. I got the text pretty much immediately when it happened so I was made aware of the incident immediately. So everyone should totally get it."

There was a similar armed robbery attempt in the same dorm complex two weekends ago during the university's Spring Fling.

Police have been trying to determine whether there's a connection. Public safety officials on campus expect more arrests.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

A Look at How the Zika Virus Can Kill You


The Zika virus is not usually thought of as a life-threatening virus, but it did kill a man in Puerto Rico. The man, in his 70s, is the first reported U.S. death from the virus, which is spreading across the Americas, according to NBC News. 

Zika can lead to complications like immune thrombocytopenic purpura, as in the case of the man in Puerto Rico. In cases like these, patients can suffer internal bleeding. 

The virus can also cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, severe birth defects and other dangerous nerve conditions in adults. 

There is no specific treatment for Zika infection, and there’s no known way to reverse damage done to a developing baby. A vaccine is in the works, but would be years away from the market.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

More Rain, Hail, Tornadoes to Hit Storm-Weary South


Dangerous storms tore through parts of the Plains and South Friday and early Saturday, knocking out power and prompting disaster declarations in at least two Texas communities, NBC News reported.

A record amount of rain fell on Little Rock, Arkansas, overnight, with the same system expected to drop up to 5 inches in parts of Louisiana and Texas, according to Weather.com. A new round of heavy rain was forecast for the storm-weary South that could linger for two days.

Parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma were under tornado watches Friday evening. Other parts of those states were under flash flood and flood watches and warnings, the National Weather Service said. 

The heavy rain, expected to linger over the South until at least Sunday, may trigger flash flooding in areas that have already dealt with widespread flooding damage, according to Weather.com.

Photo Credit: AP

FBI, Police Investigating Laser Beam Pointed at Aircraft


FBI are investigating complaints about a laser, coming from the northern part of Connecticut, pointed at an aircraft on Friday night, police said

South Windsor Police said they are checking the northeast corner of the town near East Windsor and Ellington. 

The pilot of an air plane flying over the state said a laser was pointed at the aircraft from somewhere in the town, police said.

"Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety risk and violates federal law," the Federal Aviation Administration website reads. "Many high-powered lasers can completely incapacitate pilots who are trying to fly safely to their destinations and may be carrying hundreds of passengers." 

The FAA works with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to pursue penalties against people aiming lasers at aircraft. 

Anyone with information related to this incident or any other misuse of a laser pointer please contact the South Windsor Police Department at 860-644-2551.

'America's Katrina': Group Helps Groton Responders Fight Addiction


The heroin epidemic is a crisis that is crippling towns and cities in every corner of Connecticut.

“These people that are selling this stuff are like the Grim Reaper because it’s death in a dose,” Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department Chief Joe Winski said.

For firefighters in his department, responding to heroin overdoses in Groton has become part of their routine.

“We’re in the trenches here,” Chief Winski said. “The men are becoming very fatigued. They see death on a regular basis.”

Two weeks ago on Friday, Winski said his department responded to three overdoes within an hour and a half: two people survived, the third did not.

“The potency of what’s on the street is pretty bad right now,” Winski said, “it’s being laced with fentanyl and who knows what else. It’s not like you’re taking a prescribed drug that you were addicted to.”

The frequency of needing to administer Narcan to save lives is increasing, Winski said. His department began using the opiate antidote late last year.

“We have this euphoria of success for a very short period because the chances are we’ll be back,” he said.

There is nothing more frustrating, Winski said, than returning to the same address to find the same person suffering from another overdose.

“Now we see a glimmer of hope,” Winski said. “Because at least we are getting an idea and a direction that we can send people to.”

Poquonnock Bridge firefighters are now handing out to family members cards with contact information for Community Speaks Out, an organization trying to stop the stigma of addiction and put people on the path to recovery.

“Once the family learns how to deal with addiction,” Groton Town Council member Joe de la Cruz said, “We’ve had great success getting those folks the help they need.”

Joe and his wife Tammy de la Cruz are part of Community Speaks Out. The group hosts public forums on treating addiction, supplies families with drug testing kits and has raised money to send 31 people to rehab.

“This is America’s Katrina,” de la Cruz said of the heroin epidemic. “It really is.”

For de la Cruz, this mission is personal. His 24-year-old stepson has battled a Percocet addiction since after high school.

“Right now everything is pretty good,” he said, “you know, he’s been opiate free since August.”

Often times, those who become hooked on prescription pain killers later become addicted to heroin.

Both de la Cruz and Chief Winski told NBC Connecticut the state should restore cuts and increase funding for mental health and addiction services.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Willimantic Police Patrol for Springfest Weekend


This weekend Willimantic police are out in force.

They’re looking for rowdy Eastern Connecticut students who are celebrating what they call spring weekend.

On Friday, hundreds of people watched fireworks mark the end of Springfest. It’s the three-day festival for students at Eastern Connecticut State University.

“There’s just been lots of fun activities that the school has organized,” said Tesse Cavello, ECSU freshman.

Police kept a close eye, also worried about what happens after the official event is over.

“We’re not here to ruin anyone’s college experience. But we want you to do it safely and we want you to do it responsibly,” said  Corporal Stanley Parizo, Jr. of Willimantic Police.

On Friday, Willimantic police doubled patrols, concerned about house parties off campus growing out-of-control and what happens when hundreds of people flood out of the homes into the streets.

“It’s the cups, the breaking of bottles, shaking of cars to set off alarms,” said Parizo.

Police said they’ve previously gone door-to-door to remind students to be good neighbors.

A message the school reinforced this week.

Rowdy behavior could lead to criminal charges and punishment by the university.

“I think it helps them realize that you can actually get in trouble if you do do something stupid,” said Danielle Dempsey, ECSU freshman.

Police said this is a busy time of year here.

Last week they busted a dozen house parties and made numerous arrests.

They expect to be busy next weekend which is preceded by Cinco de Mayo.

Toddlers Found Tied Outside Texas Home


A mother of six was arrested Friday after two toddlers were found chained and tied in the backyard of a Texas home late Thursday, authorities said.

Deputies went to the home Thursday night after a neighbor reported hearing a crying child and found the toddlers tied up in the backyard with no adults around. One was chained to the ground and another tied to a door with a dog leash, the Bexar County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

"To describe this as disturbing is an understatement," sheriff's office spokesman James Keith told NBC affiliate WOIA. "This is a sick, disturbing, horrific crime."

The mother, Porucha Phillips, was taken into custody as she and another person came home Friday morning, the sheriff's office said.

The toddlers, 2 and 3 years old, were transported to a local hospital and the six other children are in the care of Texas Child Protective Services, according to the agency.

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Plainfield High Staffer Accused of Inappropriate Conduct


A Plainfield High School faculty member has been placed on administrative leave as police investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct with a student, according to police.

Police have not released much information, but said they started investigating on Wednesday when school administrators contacted them about a potential criminal incident “outside of the Plainfield schools and school activities,” according to a news release.

That investigation led police to learning information about a separate potential incident involving a Plainfield schools faculty member and a student, police said, so they notified school administrators and the superintendent’s office.

The faculty member was placed on leave, pending an investigation into the inappropriate conduct allegations.

Police have not released any additional information.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to the superintendent’s office.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Kasich: Gay People 'Probably' Born That Way


Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday distanced himself from discriminatory laws passed recently by some states and said some people are "probably" born gay during a heated exchange with a man challenging the Republican Party’s stance on gay rights.

During a town hall-style event hosted by the Commonwealth Club of California, a 62-year-old San Francisco resident, who said he came out to his parents at age 19, asked Kasich if he believes people are born gay.

"You know Sir, probably," the governor replied. "I don’t know how it all works. Are they? In all probability they are. Okay?"

Kasich told the audience member he doesn't believe in discrimination but said "there is a balance, however, between discrimination and people’s religious liberties."

"But I think we should just try to...relax and try to get along with one another a little bit better instead of trying to write some law to solve a problem that doesn’t quite frankly exist in big enough numbers to justify more lawmaking,” he added.

Photo Credit: AP

Overnight Flooding Kills Five People in Texas


A grandmother and her four grandchildren were killed amid heavy flooding in the east Texas town of Palestine, NBC affiliate KXAS reported.

The grandmother was 64 and the children were ages 6, 7, 8 and 9, according to Palestine Police Chief James Muniz.

"The water just came up extremely fast," he told NBC News. "Before they knew it, water was waist high, then chest high, and then it was roof line."

The overnight flooding was part of dangerous storms that tore through parts of the Plains and South on Friday and early Saturday, knocking out power and prompting disaster declarations in at least two Texas communities.

A record amount of rain fell on Little Rock, Arkansas, overnight, and the same system expected to drop up to 5 inches in parts of Louisiana and Texas, according to Weather.com. A new round of heavy rain was forecast for the storm-weary South that could linger for two days.

Photo Credit: Chelsey Vasquez.

Lane Restriction on Route 8 in Trumbull Following Fatal Crash


Lane restrictions are in effect on Route 8 in Trumbull following a fatal crash, state troopers said. 

The highway is passable but lanes will be restricted going southbound on Route 8 near exit 7. Heavy delays are expected. 

The name of the victim who died in the crash has not been released.

There were no other immediate details. 

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Feds Investigating Dole After Listeria Outbreak


Dole Food Co Inc said on Friday the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating a deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to packaged salad products from its processing plant in Springfield, Ohio.

Dole, the world's largest fruit and vegetable producer, said in a statement the agency recently contacted the company and "we will be ... cooperating with the DOJ to answer questions and address any concerns."

Listeria, a common bacterium that can be either harmless or pathogenic, can enter a processing facility via raw produce or other materials, and form colonies. Thirty-three people in the United States and Canada fell ill in the outbreak from May 2015 to February 2016. All were hospitalized and four died, NBC News reported.

Dole said on Jan. 22 it had temporarily suspended operations at the Springfield plant. It also issued recalls on all salad products packaged at the facility.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Route 72 in Bristol Closed After Crash


Route 72 in Bristol is closed after a crash on Saturday.

Police said Route 72 going westbound is closed at Pine Street at Emmett Street following a crash.

There were no other details immediately available. 

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Frontier Unveils Plans to Bring Fiber to Hartford


Frontier Communications announced plans to build high speed fiber internet in Hartford’s North End. At full capacity, the new technology will be 100 times faster than average internet speeds, and will serve a section of the Capital City that still runs on dial-up.

The gigabyte speeds will cost about as much as many people pay for standard internet—between $130-150 a month.

It’s news Gordon Scott of Scott’s Jamaican Bakery has waited on for a long time. His current internet bandwidth doesn’t let him upload pictures to Facebook or send large files.

“Things that folks take for granted all the time,” said Scott. “I can do that better on my phone than on my computer at work and it shouldn’t be that way.”

Enter the CT Gig Project. Over the past year and a half, state officials have looked for ways to bring high speed Internet to homes and businesses without affecting taxpayers.

Frontier is the first company to step forward in opening their fiber lines for commercial and residential use. Senior Vice President and General Manager Paul Quick told us this is just the beginning, with hopes to expand fiber to other towns as well.

“We have spent 162 million dollars last year upgrading our network and our services in the state,” said Quick. “We will spend a common amount each year the next two years.”

When asked about how Frontier will handle that expansion after the challenges it faced during its faced during its shaky start 18 months ago, Quick told us his agents are working hard and will continue to do their best.

“I know we are solving problems here,” said Quick. “We are hitting all of our commitments. When a customer calls us and we tell them we’re gonna be there, we’re there.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Tx. Cop Helps NYPD Arrest Suspect


A Texas police chief vacationing in New York City intervened in a fight between an alleged thief and a store security officer on the street, and helped arrest the suspect, the NYPD said. 

Sean Ford, chief of the Sunset Valley Police Department in the Austin area of Texas, says he was strolling along Fifth Avenue and headed to Central Park when he encountered a scuffle near 58th Street, in front of the Plaza Hotel. 

Police said a store employee followed the suspect out of the Abercrombie & Fitch store after he allegedly swiped a fragrance bottle and chased him down Fifth Avenue. 

The suspect was swinging at the employee and no one appeared to be helping, even as the struggle became more violent, Ford said.

"Everybody was standing around taking pictures," he said. 

Ford's instincts kicked in and he helped break up the fight, holding down the suspect until police arrived, he said. 

"I got the guy, told him I was a police officer and took him to the wall, held him there until NYPD could get there," Ford said. 

"The officers that responded were amazing, as usual. Just what we would expect and what the rest of the nation looks up to." 

The NYPD tweeted a message of thanks to Ford, who now says he feels a little bit more like a New Yorker.

"I probably would not have wanted to do it this way," Ford said, laughing. "But I'm glad I was there and then I got to meet some of the great guys from New York." 

The alleged 26-year-old shoplifter was taken to the Midtown North precinct stationhouse on a larceny charge. He's expected to be arraigned overnight or on Saturday morning. 

Photo Credit: NYPD

Truck Driver Flees Scene of Crash


A search was underway for a semi-truck driver who apparently detached the cab from its trailer and took off after a deadly hit-and-run crash early Saturday morning in Vernon, California, officials said. 

The crash was reported just after 3 a.m. near the intersection of East 37th Street and South Santa Fe Avenue, according to the Vernon Police Department. 

Police said the driver was involved in a minor crash, about a block away from the scene, before running a red light and colliding with the Chevrolet pickup truck.

When rescue crews arrived at the scene, the pickup truck was found lodged underneath the trailer and the cab was missing from the 18-wheeler.  

Police said the driver detached his cab from the trailer and took off. 

Two people were trapped inside the pickup truck. The driver of the pickup was rescued and taken to a hospital with minor injuries. The passenger, identified as 28-year-old Armando Murillo of Pacoima, was pronounced dead at the scene, Vernon police said. 

Guillermo Ortiz Jr. was identified by police as a person of interest and is believed to have information on the crash. Police were seeking to speak with him and anyone else who may have witnessed the crash. 

Authorities found the trailer's cab abandoned in a parking lot on 26th and Soto streets. A restaurant employee near the site said she found beer next to the cab portion of the truck.

"It looks like he had two beers and left the rest of the 12 pack," Linda Sanchez said.

Photo Credit: Loudlabs News
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