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2 Marines from Texas Unit Burned in Blast at Calif. Base


Two U.S. Marines were critically injured Sunday in what military officials describe as a ground flash fire on U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego.

The blast occurred on base at 10:18 p.m. as the Marines were performing routine maintenance on an F/A 18 fighter jet, said Major Kurt Stahl, the director of public affairs for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, MCAS Miramar.

"Technically, this was a 'ground flash fire' rather than an 'explosion,'" Stahl added. "The cause is under investigation."

The two injured Marines suffered severe burns and were transported to UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest.

They were identified as members of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112 (VMDA-112), a reserve unit based out of Fort Worth, Texas.

No other information was available.

The National Fire Protection Association defines a ground flash fire as one involving fuel in the air and an ignition source. The fires tend to last just seconds but can reach intensely high temperatures.

Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

Photo Credit: Becky Stickney

5-Year-Old Heart Transplant Recipient Learns He's Going Home


For the past 189 days, Five-year-old Ari Schultz from Stow, Massachusetts has lived at Boston Children's Hospital, where he had 10 operations, including a heart transplant, and where he almost died when he went into cardiac arrest on March 22, reports Today.com.

Last week, when his parents told Ari he would finally be able to go home — or, for now, to a rental home in Sudbury, Massachusetts, closer to the hospital where he will continue treatment. He was thrilled.

"Do you want to go home on Friday?" his dad asks him in the video. "Yeah!" Ari replies with hesitant enthusiasm, almost as if he can't believe his good fortune. "TWO DAYS!"

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15-Year-Old Bicyclist Hit by DUI Driver in New Britain: PD


A 15-year-old riding a bicycle was seriously hurt after being hit by a driver police believe was driving under the influence in New Britain Sunday.

New Britain police said the victim was riding a bike in the area of Corbin Avenue and Lincoln Street when the crash occurred around 1:30 a.m. The teen was airlifted to the hospital with life threatening injuries. The victim has not been publicly identified.

The driver of the car, identified as 24-year-old Natalie Marie Torres, of New Britain, was charged with DUI, risk of injury to a minor and using a handheld electronic mobile device. Torres’ 2-year-old and 3-year-old children were in the car at the time of the crash but were not injured. The children are with a relative, police said.

Torres is due in court Monday.

A 16-year-old riding with the victim was not injured and is cooperating with police.

Police are investigating the crash. Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to call Sgt. Steven King at 860-826-3071.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

1 Dead, 2 Seriously Injured in Crash on I-395 in Norwich


An Enfield man was killed and two other people seriously injured after a crash on Interstate 395 in Norwich.

The crash happened on the southbound side of the highway near exit 18 around 11 p.m. Sunday night.

Connecticut State Police said a Ford F150 was traveling north in the right lane behind a Ford Escape when the F150 switched lanes. As the truck switched lanes, it struck the back of the Escape.

The driver of the F150 then lost control and crashed into a cement bridge support in the center median before continuing through a guide rail and stopping on the southbound side of the highway, according to police.

A passenger of the F150, identified as 25-year-old Benjamin St. Pierre, of Enfield, was pronounced dead on scene. The driver, 22-year-old Victoria Berube of Suffield, and a second passenger, 26-year-old Eric Lemieux of Enfield, were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

The driver of the Escape was not injured, police said.

The highway was closed for about six hours while police investigated but has since reopened.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Mexican Art Exhibit Drives Museum Engagement with Latinos


An exhibit on modern Mexican masterpieces has drawn one of the largest and potentially most diverse crowds at the Dallas Museum of Art, NBC News reported.

More than half of guests who visited the traveling exhibition, entitled "Mexico 1900-1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde," since its opening in March were first-time museum visitors.

Corporate sponsorships allowed exhibit organizers to allow free entry on over a dozen "family days" and create the "Yo Soy DMA" campaign to promote the exhibit in heavily Latino areas, many of which have been disconnected from the museum in the past.

“I haven’t seen this many brown people in the museum before,” said José Villanueva, 28, a Dallas artist who volunteers as a docent with the “Yo Soy DMA” initiative.

The exhibit -- whose only U.S. stop ends in Dallas July 16 -- features bilingual information and over 200 pieces of modern art that mark the development of a national Mexican identity, like Kahlo's iconic "Las Dos Fridas" painting.

Photo Credit: Suzanne Gamboa/NBC News

Officer Justified in Use of Force in 2013 Shooting: Report


The Hartford State’s Attorney’s office has determined a Farmington police officer was justified in his use of deadly force when he fatally shot a suspect in a domestic incident in December 2013.

On December 12, 2013, Farmington officers responded to 3 Butternut Drive around 10:45 p.m. after a 911 caller reported a violent confrontation between a father and a son at the residence.

When officers arrived, they found 43-year-old Gregory Bendas standing in the street, holding a gun. Police ordered Bendas to drop the gun, but he didn't listen, according to investigators.

Police reported that Bendas raised the gun at officers in a threatening manner, police said, and an officer, identified as Officer Kyle Mortensen, fired at Bendas, killing him.

According to court documents, Bendas has been convicted of assault twice since 2012. He also suffered from mental health issues, police said.

The Connecticut State Police Central District Major Crime Squad and the Hartford State's Attorney took over the shooting investigation.

Mortensen was placed on administrative duty after the incident, which is standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting.

After thorough investigation the state’s attorney determined that Mortensen had reason to believe that Bendas was going to fire a handgun at him and used deadly force due to that threat. Investigators noted that Mortensen told the suspect to drop the gun multiple times before firing his service weapon.

The medical examiner ruled Bendas’ manner of death to be “Suicide (Deliberately Provoked Police to Shoot).”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Ted Kennedy Jr. Will Not Run for Statewide Office


State Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) has announced he will not pursue a statewide office in 2018.

"I will not be a candidate for statewide office in 2018,” Kennedy wrote in a statement released Monday. “I am deeply grateful to everyone who has contacted me and encouraged me to run. I value the contribution I am able to make as the state Senator for the 12th District. I believe that if we put aside our partisan politics and find common ground, we can overcome our challenges and move Connecticut forward. I remain committed to making our state a better place to live, do business and raise a family. "

It was reported that Kennedy had been considering a run for governor.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Part of Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven Reopens After Fire


A portion of the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven reopened Monday after a fire devastated the building on Dec. 5, 2016. 

The pool, racquetball courts and playscape all reopened, as well as a temporary rinsing shower and three private co-ed changing rooms. They also built a wheelchair-accessible ramp from the parking lot to the temporary front entrance of the pool. 

The spas, locker rooms, gym and weight lifting area all remain closed as they were destroyed in the fire

The fire, ruled accidental by investigators, started in the men’s sauna on the lower level. 

“It’s been terrible,” said Myron Geller, of Milford, who returned to the newly opened facility to play racquetball with a group of men. “We’ve been playing somewhere else, but this is better. We’re all looking forward to coming back.” 

Center leaders put a sign out front that read “Welcome Home” and they welcomed people back inside. 

“People missed their home, their center, the place where they saw one another,” said Judy Alperin, the CEO for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. 

“This is the best, the best friends, family, there’s always a lot going on. So we’re very happy,” said Brenda Coleman, a member from Derby. 

As for the rest of the building, Alperin said they hired an architect to design and modernize the facility and will interview several construction management firms this week. 

She is hoping the entire building will reopen in early December. 

“We’re so happy to be having this moment today. We know it’s a giant leap forward on our way back and we want to thank the community,” said Alperin. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Seniors Concerned Health Care Plan is 'Age Tax'


A Senate Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act aims to reduce funding for Medicaid, the single largest source of health care coverage in the United States.

Organizations like AARP are concerned that the cuts unfairly target senior citizens.

AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said in a statement that the Senate bill imposes an “age tax” on older adults.

“AARP is adamantly opposed to the Age Tax, which would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else while reducing tax credits that help make insurance more affordable,” LeaMond noted.

The advocacy organization notes on its website that the current law keeps insurers from charging older adults more than three times as much for premiums as they charge those who are younger for the same coverage. Both the Republican House and Senate legislation would "allow insurers to charge older adults five times as much, and states could receive waivers to remove even that limit."

Jerome Mosman agrees with the “age tax” characterization.

Mosman is the CEO of Sixty & Better, a nonprofit that provides nutrition and socialization services to senior citizens at 25 activity centers across Tarrant County in Texas.

“I think it is an Age Tax because there is a presumption that all older people are sicker, and this is not true,” Mosman said.

“To lose that [Medicaid] safety net is frightening. States are ultimately going to have to ration [their allotment] and say, ‘Well, we only get so much from Medicaid, therefore we cannot insure more disabled people, more elderly people.’ It is frightening for those on low income,” Mosman said.

At the age of 71, Anita Strange — a retired school teacher and lifelong Fort Worth resident — was dropped by her health insurance company, Aetna, which Strange believes was a direct result of her age.

Since then, Strange, now 74, has been enrolled in Medicare.

“I’m watching [the developments] but I’m just going to wait and see [before I pass judgment],” Strange said. “There’s got to be a better plan out there for us because we have to have insurance.”

Republicans have been said to be considering a vote this week, though the bill has a narrow path to victory with Democrats united against it and some moderates and conservatives calling for changes. 

A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the number of people likely to keep coverage under the bill is due out this week. Twenty-three million people would lose insurance under the House version of the legislation, the CBO said last month. 

"Republican Senators are working very hard to get there, with no help from the Democrats," Trump tweeted on Monday. "Not easy! Perhaps just let OCare crash & burn!"

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Lebanon Man Injured in Crash on Route 289


One person was injured in a crash on Bender Road in Lebanon Monday morning.

Police said Wayne Woodward, 58, of Lebanon, was going south on Route 289 just after 10 a.m. when he went across the road and hit a stone wall and several trees. 

LifeStar transported him to Hartford Hospital, where he is in stable condition, according to state police. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

20-Pound Live Lobster Found in Luggage at Boston Airport


A Transportation Security Administration screener at Boston's Logan Airport made a huge catch at checked baggage on Sunday.

TSA spokesperson Michael McCarthy tweeted a photo of a screener posing with a lobster weighing more than 20 pounds.

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According to a later tweet, the lobster was traveling in a cooler in checked baggage. It was "allowed to continue," McCarthy said.

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Son of Ex-MLB Player on Life Support After Freak Accident


Former Atlanta Braves player Keith Lockhart is asking for prayers for his 15-year-old son, who is on life support after being hit in the face by a baseball during a tournament last week, reports Today.com.

Doctors initially thought Jason Lockhart only needed some stitches after he was struck in the face by a throw from the catcher during a game in South Carolina on June 17, his family said.

But the injury was much more serious. Two days later, the bleeding would not stop, and he was taken to an Atlanta hospital, where tests discovered a torn artery. Doctors have been working to control the bleeding.

His sister, Sydney, has been providing regular updates of his condition on Facebook, including one saying Jason was scheduled to have surgery on Monday at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to replace the packing in his face and check for any areas of bleeding.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Mini Therapy Horses Lift Spirits of Critically Ill Children


A miniature horse kicking a soccer ball or playing piano with its nose is a sight that could put a smile on anyone’s face.

But at the Ronald McDonald House in Hollywood, tiny horses mean much more than a good laugh. For the critically ill children who live there, playing with these petite creatures is therapeutic.

"I think it just takes everybody's mind off of whatever they're going through," said 14-year-old cancer patient Chloe Dollar.

Dollar has been living at the Ronald McDonald House with her mother for the past three months while she receives life-saving treatment. She has gone through six rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

"There were times where she didn’t know if she was going to make it through and wanted to keep fighting," said her mother, Tamara Dollar.

But she added that her daughter’s naturally positive attitude has helped her through tough times and spending time with the miniature horses has helped to lift her spirits.

Through the nonprofit Mini Therapy Horses, the horses visit more than 45,000 children and adults in crisis each year. 

"There's such a shift in what people are going through when they see the horse, it's like pulling the clutch in," said Mini Therapy Horses founder Victoria Nodiff-Netanel. "It takes them, a lot of times, out of the pain that they're feeling, out of their depression, despair."

In addition to the Ronald McDonald House, the horses also visit veteran’s hospitals and are certified first responders with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Mayor’s Crisis Response Team.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

Roaming Bear Takes Nap Near Miss Porter’s School


A bear took a nap in some ivy near Miss Porter’s School in Farmington Monday. 

The bear laid down in a front yard on Main Street and stayed there for a while, only lifting its head, until it left the area. 

Officials from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said state EnCon Police responded to a report of a bear roaming near the school and they were later able to chase it into a more suitable wooded area.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Monroe Man Pleads Guilty to Possessing Child Porn, Voyeurism


A Monroe man plead guilty after police investigated him for possessing child pornography and recording young boys around town without their knowledge, according to police. 

Police began an investigation into Kenneth Raftery in October 2015 after being contacted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service concerning a child exploitation case with connections to Monroe.

Federal investigators traced transfers of child pornography to Raftery, police said.

Authorities executed a search and seizure warrant at Raftery's home at 8 Stonecraft Way and found evidence on a computer, iPhone and an iPad in 2015.

While looking for evidence of child pornography, investigators found videos of young teens on the iPad and iPhone recorded around Monroe, police said.

The videos included one recorded at a Masuk High School Football car wash on Route 25 and others from an area near Wolfe Park pool, according to police.

The videos are of young males and men in shorts and seem to attempt to record up the victims' shorts, police said. 

Federal authorities said they also found child porn on Raftery's electronic devices.

On Monday, Raftery plead guilty to third-degree possession of child porn and voyeurism. He is expected to be sentenced on Sept. 8

Photo Credit: Monroe Police

'That's North Haven': Company Volunteers to Clean Graffiti


A vandal spray-painted graphic graffiti, that included vulgar words and inappropriate images, on the property of the Montowese Elementary School in North Haven.

Parents who brought children to the school’s playground were stunned by what was spray-painted.

"It’s awful. I hope that no other kids see this," Maggie Pannone, of North Haven, said.

But the crude work was followed by an act of kindness when, Chris Pelliccio, who owns Enviro Mobile Blasting, volunteered about two hours of his time to remove the graffiti on Monday.

"I know this area. I live around here. I talked to the janitor and I told them, ‘Listen, don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it’,” Pelliccio said.

Pelliccio said he performed the work free-of-charge knowing that school budgets can be tight.

"Paying it forward in the community. I’m thankful for the opportunities I have and I wanted to pay it forward," Pelliccio said. 

By early afternoon, there were few signs of what had been scrawled across the outside of the school building, thanks to Pelliccio. 

"(Pelliccio)’s fantastic. But like I said, that’s the kind of neighborhood this is, everybody helps each other out, everybody pays it forward, that’s the town, that’s North Haven,” Pannone said.

A viewer who contacted NBC Connecticut regarding the graffiti told us that children in the school’s summer program had to go in a different entrance.

Neighbors report that a number of area homes were hit too and we saw one nearby car that had been tagged.

Our requests for comment to the school district and North Haven police have not yet been returned.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

College Cuts Ties With Professor After Warmbier Comments


The University of Delaware will not rehire a professor who wrote controversial comments about Otto Warmbier on social media, the school announced on Sunday.

Anthropology professor Katherine Dettwyler wrote a since-deleted Facebook post that criticized Warmbier, who died last week after being detained in North Korea for over a year, NBC News reported.

Dettwyler described the 22-year-old University of Virginia student as “typical of a mindset of a lot of the young, white, rich, clueless males who come into my classes.” 

After the comments prompted outrage on social media, the University of Delaware issued a statement condemning the comments and said it would not rehire Dettwyler in the future.

Photo Credit: Kim Kwang Hyon/AP, File

3 Transferred to Hospital After Head-on Crash in Tolland


Two cars were involved in a head-on collision in Tolland on Monday, sending three people to the hospital.

Route 30, or Crystal Lake Road, was temporarily closed in the area of Webber Road after a two-car collision at around 4:30 p.m., Tolland dispatch said. 

Ambulances were called to the scene and one person was brought to Hartford Hospital, another to St. Francis Hospital and another to Rockville General Hospital.

No other details were immediately available. 

Photo Credit: Tolland Alert

Malloy Proposes 'Mini Budget' for 3 Months of Fiscal Year


Governor Dannel Malloy proposed a new path forward when it comes to having a budget by the end of the fiscal year.

He presented what he’s referring to as a, "mini budget," a spending plan that would need to be passed by the General Assembly in order to provide allocations and some revenue enhancements for the first three months of the 2018 fiscal year.

Republicans scoffed at the idea and Democrats essentially ruled out the possibility.

Without the three month stop-gap spending measure, Malloy laid out the scary fiscal consequences of not having a budget signed into law. According to his administration, $500 million education spending could be cut from cities and towns, another $500 in municipal aid grants would cut and $92 million wouldn’t be provided to non-profit providers around Connecticut.

The governor said during a press conference following a meeting with lawmakers, “I’m getting impatient. July 1 is an important date. We should have a budget.”

Republicans and Democrats described the cuts that could happen as “draconian,” and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz even said leadership in both the House and Senate will meet through the evening hours Monday to try to come up with a spending plan before the end of the week.

Republicans decried the fact that their budget was debated on the Senate floor on the last night of session, but it didn’t get a vote, even though an agreement was struck to not vote on the measure before the debate even started.

They say if they had the reins of state government, July 1 wouldn’t look so perilous.

“If we would have been running the show we would have had a budget by June 7 so one deadline has come and gone, this deadline is looking like it’s coming and going. If you did that in your own job, you’d be fired.”

With all of the budget talk, Malloy announced that he has struck a tentative agreement with the state’s SEBAC unions to reach $1.5 billion in concessions over the next two years, so long as rank and file members approve the amendment to their contracts.

Unions are expected to vote on the proposal over the next month, and for now the odds are looking good that it’s going to be approved.

Lori Pelletier with the Connecticut AFL-CIO said of members in her group, "I think it’s just pulling the Band-Aid off. We’ve got a tentative agreement. It can go to vote about a month from now. We’re going to have the results but again any worker is willing to come to the table to help their employer. They just don’t want to be taken advantage of."

Republicans have said they oppose the agreement for two main reasons, that the deal extends wage contracts through 2027 and that it doesn’t reach high enough savings targets.

Plainfield Town Pool to Stay Open With Increased Rates


It will cost more for people to go for a swim at the Plainfield town pool, but to many, it’s better than the alternative: shutting it down.  

The pool, in the basement of the town hall, is almost 100 years old. Earlier this year, it was on the brink of closing down since the town budget was tight.

But Recreation Director Myra Ambrogi said residents wanted the local swimming spot. So to keep it open, those who use it will shoulder an additional $52,000 over the course of the year, for the operating costs. 

"It's going back onto the backs of everybody that's using it," Ambrogi said.

The pool will need $112,000 to operate this fiscal year. That means starting July 1, there are rate increases across the board.

For example, the cost of open swim for an adult will up from $3 to $5. Water exercise classes three times per week will boost in price from $90 to $150 for 12 weeks of classes.

"We will probably lose some people. We hope that we don't lose a lot. We were very conservative on our numbers," Ambrogi said.

"I think it's relatively fair," said resident Ryan Gunn, who takes his daughter Aryia swimming once a week.

Joanna Burgess, of Brooklyn, said she's just happy the pool stayed open. She takes her son to burn off some energy. Plus, her nephew takes some of the classes and said her sister won't mind the rate increase either.

"Oh not at all. It's so worth it," Burgess said.

Many touted how the pool is used by seniors to exercise.

Bob Koch grew up in Plainfield and said in the late 60s, early 70s he used to swim and take lessons for free. While he doesn’t live here now, he said he doesn't like the fees, but he's glad at least there's still a town pool.

"We were large families. Very few people would have been able to afford to send their kids to swimming lessons at that cost," Koch said. "I think it's just a shame."

The town is still responsible for the cost of repairs. Finance director, Kelly Vachon, said the pool needs a new dehumidifier that costs about $100,000. The town had to take money out of other departments’ budgets to cover the cost.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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