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Gas Leak in Shelton Over


There was a gas leak in the area of 500 Howe Avenue in Shelton this morning, but it has been fixed.

Officials said a pot was left on a burner at a restaurant overnight.

The gas leak happened about a block away from a devastating fire that collapsed a building and changed an entire block earlier this week.

Crews are also working on removing debris from the fire on Howe Street earlier this week.

Howe Avenue will be closed between Bridge and Center streets from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today because of the fire investigation, police said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Backhoe Falls Into East Hartford Sinkhole


A water main broke in East Hartford, causing a sinkhole and a backhoe that was responding to the scene partially fell in.

A 12-inch main on Woodycrest Drive at Ferncrest Drive was shut down at 3 a.m. and work continues on that main.

Crews also had to shut down an 8-inch water main on Crescent Drive from Shadycrest to Woodycrest Drives as well as a 4-inch water main on Crescent Court to the dead end.

The 8-inch main was back in service as of 8:30 a.m.

Fortunately, no injuries are reported.

Officials said there was some difficulty shutting off the water, but crews are now in the process of working on repairing the water main.

The 12-inch water main was installed in 1950, according to the MDC.

A gas main close to the work was also shut down as a precaution.

This is the latest in a series of water main breaks across Connecticut as freezing cold temperatures linger. 

There have also been water main breaks in Hartford, Berlin, West Hartford,  Newington and South Windsor.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Slight Chance of Seeing Northern Lights Tonight


There is a slight chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights from Connecticut this evening and tonight.

The sky could start to glow through the evening.  Look north to see it until the clouds come in.
NASA refers to Auroras as ”Paintings in the Sky.”

You can sign up for aurora alerts through the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Learn more about Auroras on NASA’s Web site.

If you see it, share it with us by sending a photo to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com


Mom Charged After Son Suffered Deep Bite Wounds: Report


A 27-year-old Torrington woman has been charged with risk of injury to a minor.

Police said the victim is a 19-month-old boy who was under her care at the time and local news reports state the little boy sustained several deep wounds from his brother biting him. 

Candra A. Hescock, 27, of Torrington, was arrested at her home around 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 7.

The Waterbury Republican-American reports that Hescock allowed one of her young sons to bite the other for weeks. When she took the little boy to the hospital for treatment, he had about a dozen bites and needed stitches on his ear.

Police started investigating in September when the state Department of Children and Family Services notified authorities about possible risk of injury to a minor.

The medical professional who reported the case noted it was “very disturbing,” according to the Republican-American.

According to the newspaper, Hescock told police that the boys shared a room and she tried to keep the children separated.

Hescock was charged with one count of risk of injury to a minor.

She was held on a $50,000 court-set bond and was arraigned in Bantam Superior Court on Jan. 8.

Photo Credit: Torrington Police

Man Sentenced for Sex Assault of Meriden Teen


A registered sex offender has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a teenage girl as she was walking to her bus stop in Meriden in December 2011.

The then-16-year-old girl told police a stranger confronted her around 7 a.m. a few days before Christmas in 2011 and tried to restrain her.

She fought back, but he forced her into a vacant house on Springdale Avenue, assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she cried for help, police said.

Police said forensic science helped to identify Luis Concepcion, 42, as a suspect.

Concepcion was arrested on May 2 and charged with first-degree sexual assault and second-degree kidnapping.

He was sentenced on Tuesday.

According to the Connecticut sex offender registry, he was convicted on a first-degree sexual assault on Jan. 29, 1991. He was released from prison on Oct. 13, 2000 in that case.

Court records also state he was charged with third-degree sex assault in August 2012 for an incident in Meriden on May 14, 2012.  He was convicted on Jan. 28, 2013 and sentenced to 18 months in jail. 

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Correction

Route 16 Closed in East Hampton


Route 16 was closed after a car crashed as it was being pursued by police on Thursday afternoon.

The road was shut down between Flat Brook Road and Route 149 in East Hampton, near the Colchester line.

Police received several 911 calls about the car driving recklessly between Portland and East Hampton for more than an hour.

Police began a pursuit and the car hit an animal control officer's vehicle and another car before it slammed into a guardrail around 3 p.m., according to the East Hampton police chief.

Two Lifestar helicopters were called to fly two people, a man and a woman, to the hospital.  Both were inside the vehicle that crashed.

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Police Making Progress in Fake Emergency Dispatch Call Investigation


State police said they are making progress in their investigation into false emergency radio transmissions made over the Litchfield County Dispatch system, which dispatches fire and ambulance crews in northwestern Connecticut.

According to police, at least eight fake emergency broadcasts placed between Dec. 25 and Jan. 6 have sent ambulances out to non-emergencies and canceled calls to actual fires.

State police are conducting a criminal investigation and believe the person responsible is using a lost or stolen portable radio or electronic device.

"We're not sure if this person is someone who has stolen a portable radio, located a lost radio or some other kind of equipment," Lt. Paul Vance, of the state police, said 

Officials said equipment like this is so readily available. There's nothing really high-tech about the crime, but it is highly unusual.

"There are some safeguards that we have in place, but this person was able to override a couple of them," John Barbagallo, of Litchfield County Dispatch, said.

Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the culprit.

Anyone with information is asked to contact state police at 860-234-1529 or 860-626-1821, or send an email to holly.wrightson@ct.gov. Calls will be kept confidential.

Listen to one of the fake dispatches here.

You can listen to a second false dispatch here.

Photo Credit: NBC 5

Part of Howe Street, Shelton Closed for Fire Investigation


A block of Howe Avenue in Shelton will be closed for much of today as emergency crews continue to investigate a devastating fire earlier this week. 

Five people were rushed to the hospital after fire broke out at 446 Howe Avenue around 11:45 p.m. on Sunday. The more than 100-year-old building that housed six businesses, as well as apartments, collapsed during the blaze.

The fire took everything residents owned and changed the landscape of an entire block.

Out of that fire, a community effort was born to provide for the families who lost so much. 

It started on Facebook and grew as people dropped off clothing, toiletries and many other items.

Howe Avenue will be closed between Bridge and Center streets from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today because of the fire investigation, police said.


Photo Credit: Chris Goldspink

Man Charged in Connection With Abuse and Death of 7 Pet Cats


Windsor Locks police have charged a 20-year-old Windsor Locks man with seven counts of animal cruelty after investigating the abuse and suspicious deaths of seven pet cats.

All seven cats were domesticated house pets belonging to his fiancee's family, according to police.

In June, police and the Animal Control officer started investigating the animal abuse case and the suspicious circumstances, according to police.

The Windsor Locks Police Department secured an arrest warrant yesterday, after an extensive six-month investigation, for Timothy Olschafskie, charging him with seven counts of cruelty to animals.

Olschafskie is being held on a $150,000 bond and will be arraigned today in Enfield. 

Photo Credit: Windsor Locks Police

Who's Who in NJ Bridge Scandal


Chris Christie
At the time of the September 2013 George Washington Bridge toll closures, Christie, a 51-year-old Republican, was on his way to a landslide November re-election victory over Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono. The eventual 22-point win in a largely Democratic state propelled Christie to the top of the list of potential Republican presidential candidates for 2016. He has framed that appeal as a result of his cooperation with members of the political opposition — and his image as a blunt-talking executive who is unafraid to make difficult decisions. The bridge scandal threatens to damage that reputation.

A former corporate lawyer, Christie first got into politics as a fundraiser for President George H.W. Bush. He ran for state senate and lost, but was later elected to the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He ran for state Assembly and lost, then lost his bid for re-election to the county board.

Christie's political rise began after he returned to private practice and raised money for President George W. Bush, who nominated him to serve as New Jersey's U.S. attorney. He became a modern-day Eliot Ness, taking down dozens of corrupt politicians, including Gov. James McGreevey and Newark Mayor Sharpe James. Even then, he was accused of being a bully, and of awarding friends and allies with public contracts. In 2009, he upset billionaire incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine.

As governor, Christie made a reputation of slashing spending, antagonizing labor unions and attacking critics in town hall meetings, which his staff recorded for his official YouTube page. Those performances burnished his national profile. In 2012, he gave the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention.

On Thursday, seeking to tamp down the bridge scandal, Christie held a press conference in which he was uncharacteristically contrite and apologetic, saying he'd known nothing in advance about the toll closures, and had been misled about the involvement of members of his staff. Later in the day, he visited Fort Lee to apologize personally.

Bridget Anne Kelly

Kelly, 41, is the author of the most infamous email from the bridge scandal: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

She lives in suburban Bergen County, where Fort Lee is located. At the time of the scandal, she served as Christie's deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs, earning $114,000 a year. The governor fired her this week.

Christie appointed Kelly to the post in April, promoting her from an administration position in which she served as his liaison to local elected officials. Before that, Kelly handled outreach between Christie's office and the state legislature. Her prior government jobs were assisting state lawmakers.

David Wildstein

Wildstein, the official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who frequently corresponded with Kelly about the Fort Lee traffic problem, wrote in a text message that the students unable to get to school during the traffic jam "are the children of Buono voters," a reference to the Democratic lawmaker who ran against Christie last year.

Wildstein attended Livingston High School with Christie in the late 1970s. He briefly served as Livingston's mayor a decade later, then went into private business. He was not well known in New Jersey politics until the bridge scandal unfolded; he joined the Port Authority soon after Christie's first election — hired by Bill Baroni, a top Christie adviser who served as the agency's deputy executive director. When the $215,000-a-year appointment was announced, Wildstein was outed as the long-anonymous man behind a popular political gossip site called PolitickerNJ.

Wildstein's title was director of interstate capital projects, a position that drew little public scrutiny — until the scandal exposed him. Although he resigned in December from the Port Authority, Wildstein was called Thursday to testify to a state legislative committee, where he refused to answer questions.

Bill Baroni

Baroni, 42, one of Christie's most trusted confidantes, earned $289,667 a year as the Port Authority's deputy executive director until he stepped down last month amid the escalating bridge scandal. Christie had given Baroni the job soon after taking office in 2010.

Baroni arrived at the agency after seven years in the state Legislature, where he represented parts of central New Jersey. He is a Republican, but had a reputation for bipartisan dealmaking, and was popular among members of both parties.

He met Christie in the mid-1990s, when Christie was running for a spot on a county freeholder board. They became friends and by the time Christie was elected governor, Baroni was one of his highest-profile and most loyal aides.


Bill Stepien

Stepien, Christie's campaign manager, participated in the email and text-message chains that exposed the toll closures as politically motivated. At one point, he emailed Wildstein to call the mayor of Fort Lee "an idiot."

When he wasn't running Christie's campaigns, Stepien served as a deputy chief of staff in Trenton, and is credited for the idea of Christie's highly popular series of town-hall meetings.

Before joining Christie, Stepien worked on the presidential campaigns of Sen. John McCain and former Mayor Giuliani. He also managed several local New Jersey races, including Baroni's successful campaign for state Senate. Until this week, Stepien was in line to head the state Republican Party.

That opportunity vanished this week, after the emails became public, and Christie asked Stepien to withdraw himself from consideration. He also said he asked Stepien to withdraw from his position as a consultant to the Republican Governors Association, which Christie chairs.

Mark Sokolich

Sokolich, 49, is the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, the town on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge.

As trafficked stalled for hours at the bridge when the lanes were closed, it also clogged the streets of his tiny municipality. On Sept. 10, Sokolich, a lawyer, pleaded for help from Baroni in a text message. A couple days later, Sokolich asserted that the lane closures were "punitive." That claim marked the beginnings of a scandal that would grow over the next several weeks.

After the emails became public, Sokolich told MSNBC that Wildstein "deserves an a-- kicking."

On Thursday, Christie apologized to Sokolich and Fort Lee and said he would visit the town that day to deliver the message personally. Sokolich said he appreciated it, but the visit would be premature because there are so many outstanding questions. Christie went anyway.

David Samson

Samson, 74, Christie's handpicked chairman of the Port Authority, is a former New Jersey attorney general, having served in the administration of Democratic Gov. James McGreevey. He was Christie's 2009 campaign lawyer, and headed the governor-elect's transition committee.

Samson was pulled into the bridge scandal by an Wildstein email to Kelly that was made public this week. In the email, Wildstein mentioned the lifting of the toll closures after five days by a New York appointee to the Port Authority. "The New York side gave Fort Lee back all three lanes this morning," Wildstein wrote Kelly on Sept. 13. "We are appropriately going nuts. Samson helping us to retaliate."

In response, Samson said he was "extremely upset and distressed" over the emails. He denied having any knowledge of the closures until they were lifted.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Obamacare Enrollees Waiting for Coverage


An Old Lyme man who signed up for health insurance through the state health care exchange wants to know whether or not he's covered. 

Bill Fries enrolled way back in October in order to be covered by January 1, but to this day he hasn't received his insurance card and he isn't getting answers from his new carrier Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
"At this point I'm trying to find out, am I covered?" said Fries.
Fries completed the process on the state health exchange in months ago. He even received a bill in December from Anthem for $600 in which he thought he paid. Despite confirmation e-mails from the health insurance company, his credit card was never charged. 
To this day he hasn't received an ID card or paperwork showing he has insurance.
Every time Fries calls Anthem's number he gets this recorded message: "Thank you for your patience as we are experiencing very high volume due to the Affordable Care Act."
NBC Connecticut has received numerous calls from Anthem members reporting similar complaints.
"This is an unprecedented time - and we appreciate our members' dedication to following through and ensuring that they have secured health insurance with us for 2014," said Sarah Yeager, an Anthem spokeswoman. "Our goal is to ensure our members can access their benefits as early as possible in 2014. To make that happen and to accommodate the late December application surge we will not be rejecting any January policies where payment has been received by January 15th. Payment by January 15th ensures coverage will be retroactive to Jan. 1."
The company said combined call volume over two days last week exceeded one million calls across their 14 affiliated states. Anthem said they hired one thousand people to help in anticipation of the Affordable Care Act.
But Fries feels insurance companies were unprepared for the crush of newly enrolled and he just wants answers.
"We're young senior citizens, we're active people but stuff happens and to not be covered is inconceivable," he said.

Woman Eats 72-Oz. Steak in 3 Mins.


Molly Schuyler's eyes were just as big as her stomach.

The mom of four, who weighs in at 120 pounds, finished a 72-oz. steak in under 3 minutes.

Sayler's Old Country Kitchen in Portland, Ore. holds a steak-eating challenge regularly and has totaled over 2,000 attempts to complete it. Owner Bryan Sayler figured Schuyler would finish within the one-hour time limit but never imagined she would eat a steak that big in her official time of 2 minutes, 48 seconds.

"She just devoured it," he said, noting that she is a member of the Big Eaters Club and is no stranger to big portions. "It looked like she was eating cotton candy instead of a sirloin," he said.

Schuyler, a mother of four from Bellevue, Neb., started eating competitively in 2012 and quickly became rookie of the year. Among her eating accomplishments: Scarfing eight beef patties in one minute, 46 seconds and devouring nine pounds of fried mushrooms in eight minutes.

"(It's) an unexplained phenomenon; I was just born that way," she told Portland's Fox affiliate KPTV. "I started doing this about a year ago, and I guess it's like a stupid human trick."

With about 50 spectators, she strategically waited until the steak cooled down so she could eat it with her hands.

"Most people use a knife and fork and barely get through it," said Sayler. "It was disturbing," he added.

The Guinness World Record for eating a 72-oz. steak is six minutes, 48 seconds.

According to Sayler's Old Country Kitchen's website, whoever manages to finish the steal meal — which includes 10 French fries or a baked potato, as well as two celery sticks, two dill pickles, a slice of bread and a salad — gets it for free.

Schuyler finished her sides at a leisurely pace after consuming her steak.

As for how she felt later, according to Sayler? "I'm fine," she said.

New Haven Family Mourns Death of Son


More than a week after Javier Martinez was gunned down, New Haven Police are still trying to figure out who killed the 18 year old.

"I don't think I can remember one negative thing about him," said his aunt Kathy Sanchez, who insists she's trying to remember all the positive things about her nephew. "He got along with everyone. He loved his bike and loved just having fun."

The slaying of Martinez, who was shot dead as he was walking to a friend's house three days after Christmas,  and other violent crimes were the focus of a meeting Thursday amongst his family, community members and police.

Family members, still trying to wrap their heads around the reality that they've lost him, told NBC Connecticut there was no reason to believe Martinez had any enemies.

"For this to happen to such an innocent person we want it to stop," Sanchez said.

Police said it was a single gunshot that killed Martinez near Russell and Hemingway Streets. His principal at Common Ground High School says Martinez was making strides in the environmental world including getting an exclusive internship with the nature conservancy

"He'll live on through all these people and the work that he's left and people keeping his memory alive but this is definitely a tragedy," said Liz Cox, principal of Common Ground High School.

Neighbors met with police to discuss this tragedy, offer condolences to the Martinez family and figure out ways to curb the senseless violence

"The relationship building I've seen here tonight. We can't lose that momentum," said Alderman Richard Spears, who helped organize the event.

Senator Richard Blumenthal spoke about Martinez' death Thursday on the Senate floor, stating Martinez was someone who was raised by his grandmother and had future aspirations.

"He came back his senior year and was just serious about school, definitely looking at college," Cox said.

Police say they're confident they can find the man or men responsible for this crime.

Martinez would've graduated from high school in June.

Burst of Snow Expected Friday Morning


A light snowfall is expected across the state and will develop during the Friday morning commute.

Snow showers will develop from west to east across Connecticut just prior to or during the AM commute and some towns will be impacted more than others, according to Chief Meteorologist Brad Field.

Snow accumulations will be minor. A coating to 1 inch of snow is expected in the northern hills and could make for slippary road conditions.

Rain showers and snow end midday or early afternoon.

See the full forecast here.

Beer Truck Crash Closed I-84 East in Plainville


Interstate 84 East in Plainville was closed between exits 34 and 33 after a tractor-trailer carrying beer rolled over on the highway, according to State Police. The road has since reopened.

The truck rolled over on Thursday night, closing the road, and traffic from exit 34 was diverted.

The eastbound side of I-84 remained closed until crews from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection finished cleaning diesel fuel that spilled  from the truck.

The driver of the tractor trailer was injured but is expected to be OK.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Ledewitz

Five Injured in Head-On Collision in Montville


Five people were sent to the hospital Thursday night after a head-on collision in Montville.

Fire officials say the incident happened at 7:40 p.m. on Route 32 between Fort Hill Lane and Church Lane.

All five involved in the crash were transported to Backus Hospital in unknown condition.

According to state police, Route 32 remains closed in both directions and is expected to be closed until midnight.

The cause of the crash is being investigated.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

9 H1N1 Flu Deaths in Calif.


Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated in the wake of recent flu-related deaths and a new strain of the H1N1 virus.

So far this season, in the Bay Area, nine cases of swine flu-related deaths have been confirmed by officials:

  • San Francisco County: 1
  • Marin County: 2
  • Sonoma County: 1
  • Alameda County: 1
  • Contra Costa County: 1
  • Santa Clara County: 2
  • San Mateo County: 1

Officials said the H1N1 virus currently spreading is the first new strain in decades -- and has been killing not just the elderly -- as is often seen with the other strains -- but also younger adults and children.

Many of those who died did not have any underlying health risks, officials said.

Alameda County's deputy health officer, Dr. Erica Pan, said she is concerned about people choosing not to get the flu shot becase they feel "it's not safe."

She said health departments get new vaccines each year as a response to the changing flu virus.

MORE: Flu Prevention Tips

While the flu season tends to peak in February, doctors are seeing an influx of patients suffering from flu-like symptoms.

"The fact that we are seeing an increase in flu activity, flu-related hospitalizations and deaths should motivate us to take action now and get a flu shot to prevent the most serious effects of the flu," said Dr. Scott Morrow, Health Officer for San Mateo County.

Regional Medical Center in San Jose has set up a large tent to treat patients with flu symptoms. Doctors said this also helps them keep patients with the symptoms away from other patients.

This is first time the hospital has had to set up the flu tent.

MORE: Riverside County Man Dies of H1NI

1 Killed in New Haven Crash


One person has been killed in a crash on State Street in New Haven early this morning, according to police.

The crash happened off Interstate 91 North at exit 5.

Police said the car was travelling down State Street around 1 a.m. when it somehow lost control.

Four people were in the car. The conditions of the three other people in the vehicle are not known.

The accident reconstruction team responded to the scene.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Cops: Worker Drained Pool on Road, Caused Crashes


Police in Connecticut said a pool company worker drained an in-ground swimming pool onto a road in freezing temperatures and caused several car crashes. He's been arrested.

Norwalk police charged Alfredo Bahena-Benitez, 34, with misdemeanor reckless endangerment on Thursday.

Bahena-Benitez works Swimm Pool and Patio in Darien company and was draining a pool in Westview Lane with a hose and ran the hose to Flax Hill Avenue, police said.

Police said they were called to Flax Hill Road on Thursday morning after a 69-year-old Norwalk woman's car hit a guardrail because the road became icy after Bahena-Benitez emptied the pool.

An SUV another Norwalk woman was driving spun out shortly afterward and was struck by a car. Another vehicle struck the SUV and then hit an oncoming city salt truck. One person was taken to the hospital but no one was seriously hurt.

Bahena-Benitez was charged with one count of second-degree reckless endangerment. Bond was set at $1,000 and he is due in court on Jan. 21. Police said he admitted to draining the pool water into the roadway.

It's not clear whether he has a lawyer, and there is no phone listing for him.

Suspects in Rocky Hill Armed Robbery Identified


Rocky Hill police said they have identified two men suspected of robbing two people at the Forest Park apartment complex in Rocky Hill last night.

Police received a 911 call at 11:27 p.m. on Thursday about an armed robbery at the apartment complex on West Street.

The victims said there were two robbers and the men had at least one gun.

Both men were about 6-feet-tall, wore black or brown jackets and black hats and fled in a black Volvo SUV with Connecticut plate 6AALK5.

Officers saw a car matching that description turn from West Street onto Interstate 91 North and tried to stop the car, but abandoned the pursuit when the car approached Route 2 in Glastonbury, police said.

Police alerted nearby police departments as well as state police. Troopers were able to find the car on the side of Route 2, but it had been abandoned.

Police said they identified the men, with help from the state Department of Parole, but they have not released the names.

The man who had the gun is being held on an unrelated narcotics violation, police said. 

Police said arrest warrants for both suspects are forthcoming.

Photo Credit: NBC10
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