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Stun Gun Bill Awaits Gov. Malloy's Approval


Fourteen people have been killed by stun guns in the state since 2005, according to the Connecticut branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

In an effort to prevent that number from growing, legislators have put forth a bill requiring Connecticut police departments to track their officers’ stun gun usage.

“It will be the first law in the country to mandate that police track and report Taser firings,” David McGuire, staff attorney for the ACLU.

According to McGuire, the reports will include things like the amount of times a person was subdued by a stun gun, the race and gender of the person the device was used on and the mode which was used to stun them.

“This will give the legislature and the public an idea of how Tasers are being used in Connecticut,” McGuire said.

Cromwell Police Chief Anthony Salvatore sees no problem with the new law and says he is already keeping track for his department.

“I can’t speak for the state, but I know a lot of chiefs do. In Cromwell we track our use of force,” he said.

The bill has passed in the state House and Senate and now awaits Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s signature.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Construction Worker Dies in Windsor Accident


A construction worker was killed in an excavator accident while on the job in Windsor on Friday, and the owner of King Construction said the victim was his son.

Danny King, 51, was crushed between a backhoe and trench box while inside the trench, his father, John King, owner of the Bloomfield construction company, said Friday.

It happened around 1:30 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Prospect Hill Road and Poquonock Avenue in Windsor.

According to MDC, King Construction was a private contractor working with the state Department of Transportation to install a replacement water line there.

"I heard sirens and fire engines, and I looked out the window and down the street, and I saw what looked like an ambulance," said Esther Dlugokinsi, who lives nearby.

Officers at the scene administered medical aid, but all efforts to save Danny King failed. He was transported the hospital and pronounced dead, according to a Windsor police source.

John King said his construction company has been in business for 50 years and there's never been an accident like this one.

A close friend of the victim who stopped by the construction site Friday night described Danny King as a good person and hard worker who lost his only daughter in a car accident a few years ago on Mother's Day.

John King said the family is leaning on their faith and garnering support from their minister.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration and South Windsor police are conducting investigations. MDC said an inspector was on site at the time of the accident.

Representatives from the DOT did not return a request for comment Friday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Arrest in Sandy Hook Sign Thefts


A Virginia man accused of stealing two signs from parks honoring victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and calling a victim’s family to say the Newtown shooting was a hoax has been arrested, police said Friday.

Andrew David Truelove, 28, was arrested in Herndon, Virginia, with the help of police in Connecticut.

Truelove is accused of stealing a memorial sign for 7-year-old Grace McDonnell from a park in Mystic, Connecticut, and another for 7-year-old Chase Kowalski from a park in Mantoloking, New Jersey. Both signs were stolen about a month ago.

After allegedly stealing the sign from the park honoring McDonnell, he called the slain girl's mother to say her daughter "never existed" and that the shooting was a hoax, according to one of the playground's supporters.

Herndon police told NBC Washington that Truelove may be a conspiracy theorist who believes that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged to trigger stricter gun laws. He is banned from a school property in Herndon, according to police.

"It's hard to explain the 'why,' because from our perspective it doesn't appear rational, that type of thought process," Herndon Police chief Maggie DeBoard told NBC Washington. "We know Sandy Hook occurred, obviously there are a lot of victims in that case. So I can't explain the 'why.'"

Police searched a room Truelove rented at a home outside Washington and found the two stolen signs. Truelove has been charged with possession of stolen property and is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

Police say blogger and reporter Chez Pazienza of The Daily Banter  helped to track down the suspect. Pazienza wrote an open letter asking the thief to come forward, and he received a response, including photographs of the signs in a living room.

"I was really angry and I wanted to see this person go down for this," Pazienza told NBC Connecticut in a Skype interview Friday. "I wasn't just going to let it go."

Truelove's father, Alan, says that his son didn't steal the signs.

"They're chasing the wrong fella," Alan Truelove told NBC Washington. "So police have this investigation completely wrong."

Police in Virginia said grand larceny charges in Connecticut and New Jersey are pending. Investigators may upgrade his charges to felonies, NBC Washington reported.

The arrest comes after Connecticut police contacted Virginia authorities with a possible address for a suspect, police said. Police from Stonington, Connecticut, will travel to Virginia to get the sign for the park in Mystic next week.

New Tool to Fight Heroin Overdose in Connecticut


Connecticut emergency officials are gaining new access to a tool used to combat heroin overdoses.

The law, which goes into effect Oct. 1, could save lives. It allows police departments to carry a drug that can reverse the effects of heroin.

"We've had heroin overdoses we want to stop the loss of life," said State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance, adding that the best way to protect these lives is by using Narcan. "This is an opiate reversal drug that's been shown to reverse the effects of opium related illegal drugs."

State police are on board with a bill passed by the general assembly that grants immunity to anyone who administers the antidote Naloxone or Narcan. Vance says they're not trying to take the place of EMTs.

"Looking at some of the rural communities it may be extremely advantageous for first responders and law enforcement to have this reversal drug available," Vance added.

The Valley Substance Abuse Action Council, which works on reducing substance abuse and promoting good mental health among young people, says there's "virtually little side effects and within 30-90 minutes the drug would wear out after being given to someone."

According to director Pamela Mautte, "there really isn't a lot of concern."

The concern among law enforcement was injecting others with needles but now there's an approved nasal spray. It's been a concern nationwide and here in Connecticut as in the case of an East Windsor student who died of a heroin overdose.

"There's opiate overdoses that happen every day in the state of Connecticut," said Shawn Lang, director of public policy for AIDS Connecticut.

Lang and other members of the organization believe the more accessibility to Narcan, the better.

"It should also be available for family members because very often they know somebody in their family who has an opiate addiction whether it's heroin or things like oxycodone," Lang added.

State police tell us there's still a lot of training and policy surrounding Narcan before it can be used by law enforcement in the field.

Photo Credit: AP

New Haven Assault Leaves Man in Critical Condition


A 66-year-old New Haven man is in critical condition after two men knocked him unconscious in the city Friday night, sending Francisco Ray into cardiac arrest, according to police.

Authorities rushed to a bus stop on Chapel Street near Orange Street around 8 p.m. Friday. Police said two men assaulted Ray and fled the scene on a single bicycle.

Ray suffered a heart attack and was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he's in critical condition and on life support, according to police.

Police identified Todd Traver, 32, and Christopher Laugne, 30, both of Waterbury, as suspects and charged the men with first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault.

Authorities are continuing to investigate.

Two Shot, Another Injured in Two Separate Hartford Shootings


Hartford police are investigating after two people were shot  and one injured in two separate shootings in the city.

Two people were transported to St. Francis Hospital after a Friday night shooting at the intersection of Garden St. and Greenfield St. around 11 p.m.

According to police, one person was shot in the arm while another was injured when a bullet struck a car and shattered the glass.

Hours later, police responded to the block of 2300 Main St. after they received reports of a shooting.

There they discovered a man who had been shot in the leg a few streets over and discovered in that location.

The victim was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Guard Accused of Punching Student


Oakland High School students have started a petition in support of a staff member accused of handcuffing, punching and dumping a student with cerebral palsy out of his wheelchair.

According to a letter sent out to parents by school principal Matin Abdel-Qawi, the staff member -- named in an official complaint as security officer Marchell Mitchell -- has been arrested and charged with injuring a child, a felony. He was fired May 19, the same day as the incident.

Mitchell was arraigned last week and pleaded not guilty, according to the Alameda County District Attorney's office.

On Friday, some students started a petition in support of Mitchell, who was caught on video hitting the student in a wheelchair. Mitchell claims the student provoked him by spitting on his face at one point during the incident.

Students taped flyers to themselves, which read: "Spitting is a crime, you provoked this ... Spit on me get yo a** beat."

The Oakland Unified School District has released a video of the incident. According to the probable cause document filed in court, the student, 17-year-old  Francisco Martinez, has cerebral palsy and can't use his legs. Martinez said Friday that he's still traumatized by what happened last week.

"All I'm asking for is justice," he said. "It affects my studies because everybody is just watching."

Abdel-Qawi said that around 9 a.m. on May 19, two school security officers were urging students to go to class. But some of the students, including one in a wheelchair, continued to linger in the hallway.

When one of the security officers approached the student in the wheelchair and ordered him to move toward his next class, the student either refused or was slow to do so, Abdel-Qawi said.

The officer then proceeded to take the student’s chair by its handles and wheel him to class, at which point the student objected and attempted to slap away the security officer’s hands, Abdel-Qawi said.

The security officer handcuffed the student and continued to roll him toward class when the student turned around and spat on the officer’s face.

The security officer allegedly struck the student several times before dumping him from his wheelchair onto the floor face down.

Another security officer intervened to restrain his partner. A staff member arrived at the scene moments later and notified Oakland School Police, who detained the security officer and launched an investigation that included interviews with students, teachers and administration.

The student was transported to a hospital with injuries. He has since returned to school.

"We consider this behavior completely unacceptable, harmful to our school and community, and traumatic to our students and families," Abdel-Qawi said in his letter.

Police are still investigating the case but there was enough information to conclude that criminal behavior took place, resulting in the arrest of the officer by Oakland School Police for child abuse, Abdel-Qawi said.

Abdel-Qawi said that he had called a staff meeting on May 20 to respond to the incident. Oakland Unified’s legal office and Oakland School Police are also reviewing policies and training procedures related to school security officers, he said.

The school district is reviewing the surveillance video to determine whether other guards responded poorly to the incident as well.

The next court dates are scheduled for June 16 for pre-trial and July 11 for a preliminary hearing.

Additional reporting and photo of student protest by NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez.

Photo Credit: Oakland Unified School District

51 Dogs Found in Dead Man's Home


The death of a man in his Hialeah home Friday left Miami-Dade County Animal Services with more than 50 small to medium sized dogs in need of adoption.

Hialeah Police responded to a call of a man passing away from natural causes Friday morning at a home on the 5900 block of East 6th Avenue. When police arrived, they found the body of a man along with his elderly parents and roughly 51 dogs in the home.

Police said the family loved animals and would pick up stray dogs from the street to try to help them. Hialeah Police said both parents appeared to be suffering from dementia and the dogs were taken by animal control to be put up for adoption.

Both parents were taken to Palmetto General Hospital for further evaluation.

The dogs are at Miami-Dade County Animal Services at 7401 NW 74 Street in Miami. The shelter waived all adoption fees for the dogs. The dogs are available this weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

Falcon Chicks Nest in NYC


Eleven peregrine falcon chicks are now fledging in nests high atop three city bridges. 

Officials from the city Department of Environmental Protection recently banded the birds as part of a state nesting program that gives the falcons, nearly wiped out in New York during the 60s, homes atop the Verrazano-Narrows, Throgs Neck and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial bridges.   They also photographed the newest falcons.

On the Marine Parkway bridge the nest box is poised 215 feet in the air. The Throgs Neck box is 360 feet above ground and the Verrazano-Narrows box offers a view from 693 feet.   The urban falcons like to nest in bridges because their height offers a good vantage for hunting prey.

 “We frequently have to go to the top of the towers for maintenance work but we are very respectful of the falcons during nesting season and while the chicks are learning to fly,” said Verrazano-Narrows Maintenance Superintendent Daniel Fortunato. “The mama bird in particular is very protective so for the safety of our employees and the birds, we do our best to keep out of their way.”

 Photos: MTA







Photo Credit: MTA

70 Fruit Trees Coming to Hartford


 Why buy it if you can pick it fresh, and free?

Hartford’s north end is getting some 70 fruit-bearing trees this summer, courtesy of a joint venture including the City, T.D. Bank, and Hartford-based Knox Inc., a company whose stated mission includes using horticulture as a catalyst for community engagement.

Knox spokesman Ryan O’Halloran points out, “If you think about it, 200 years ago Hartford was a forest.”

Of course, as the city grew up something happened to a lot of that forest along the way, but the program “Trees for Hartford Neighborhoods” is doing something else to bring some of it back.

It all started Saturday morning at Cabot Street Community Garden, a space where a residential building stood among others of its kind. With muscle from T.D. Bank volunteers, the first four trees went into the ground.

“We mostly have pears and peaches here. They actually have little fruit buds on the already,” explains O’Halloran, “so they’ll probably – within two or three years – I mean, they’ll be fully fruit-producing trees.”

Indeed those buds are visible, a sign that neighbor Jose Davila, who tends his own plot in the garden, will eventually have some fruit to complement the lettuce and other vegetables he’s growing.

“They are expensive at the store, so, you know, if we can grow our own, that’s good,” Davila told NBC Connecticut with a smile.

Like others on hand for the tree planting, he’s excited by the beauty, cleaner air, and of course the fruit that the trees will provide, but he adds that the trees will nourish the neighborhood in at least one other way.

“It’s a good thing because over here we don’t have too many community things to do, and that brings the community together,” he predicts.

The four trees at Cabot Street were followed by two more just a few blocks away, near Sigourney Street. T.D. Bank, which is helping to fund the project, says it seeks to plant enough trees in many locales to represent and replace the amount of paper it uses.

“It’s about sustaining the look and feel of the environment, enhancing pride within the community, and really a great opportunity to partner together with other organizations, to work together with the community to make that happen,” spokesman Timothy Taylor said.

Fresh and free fruit, beautiful trees, a little less carbon in the air, and a boost to a community. Sounds like an equation to make neighborhoods a little less mean, and a lot more green.

Photo Credit: DSAX

Bank Robbery in West Haven


West Haven police are investigating a Saturday afternoon bank robbery.

Police were called to the Webster Bank, 584 Campbell Ave. around 11:30 a.m.

According to bank employees, a white male walked into the bank, implied he had a weapon and told the teller to put the money on the counter.

The man is described as approximately 40 years old and 5’9”. He was wearing faded or light colored jeans, a blue mechanics jacket, glasses and a black hat.

He fled carrying a red and white shopping bag and was last seen heading north on Campbell Ave.

Anyone with any information is asked to call West Have Police at 203-937-3900.

LifeStar Responds to Killingworth Crash


State police and LifeStar responded to a crash in the area of 66 Schnoore Road in Killingworth around 11:30 a.m. Saturday, according to police and the helicopter service.

It's not clear how many vehicles were involved or how many people were injured.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Google Maps

55-Year-Old Soldier Graduates From Basic Combat Training


Sgt. 1st Class John Taffe may be 55 years old, but he definitely doesn’t act his age.

That’s because Taffe may possibly be the oldest person to graduate from basic combat training – tackling sit-ups, push-ups and barbed-wire low crawls like any other young soldier in his class.

A resident of Alameda, California, Taffe graduated from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Thursday after a demanding 2 1/2-month training. He’s a former sailor, having served 14 years with the U.S. Navy before being released from active duty in 1991.

Taffe’s age almost stopped him from enlisting in the Army, but he made the cut-off, getting in 36 hours before his 55th birthday, when a waiver would have been required.

“My son told me, ‘I hope they crush you.’ My daughter was more concerned,” Taffe said of his family’s reaction to his decision to re-enlist. “My plan is to serve until I’m 62.”

“For John to come back at his age, it says a lot about his character,” said Shatara Seymour, chief of public affairs at Fort Leonard Wood.

Taffe is back in the Bay Area Friday, where he will join the Army Reserve and go back to his job as a logistics management specialist for the Department of Homeland Security.

Right after he finished a night crawl while live shots were fired over his head, NBC Bay Area caught up with Taffe to ask him what boot camp felt like at age 55.

When was the exact moment you realized that you wanted to return to the Military?
"After 9/11 I really felt compelled to rejoin the military, but the organization I worked for was not supportive of the idea. It wasn't until almost 14 years later that the opportunity presented itself again while I was exploring other positions within the government. At this time my only choice was the U.S. Army due to my age."

What inspired you to return?
"Serving as a military member is the most unique way to pay it forward for those you love, those you honor, and those who have been lost and couldn't return home. It is the most honorable way for an individual to serve his or her country."

How did your family react?
"A degree of shock at first, but when they saw my commitment and drive to making it a reality, they knew it was the right decision."

How did you prepare yourself?
"I consulted with my doctor, completely changed my diet and eating habits, ramped up my exercise routine, running further and faster almost every day, joined a Cross Fit gym and rode to work every day on my bicycle."

How did others in boot camp react when they saw you training? How do they react now?
"Older people would come up to me and ask my age, and tell me they couldn't/wouldn't dream of doing what I was doing. The younger ones wanted to know if I was human or if I had discovered the fountain of youth. They all say I am an inspiration to them now and that if you get your mind and body right you can achieve anything"

You mentioned culture change and how younger soldiers have a different attitude now. Can you elaborate?
"The military they perceive is like a video game, when in fact it is very far from it. It requires real effort, both physical and mental strength to win in battle. You can't win by how well you can manipulate a game controller."

What is boot camp like?
"Up at 04:00, shave, conduct physical training for about 1.5 hours until breakfast, then it's off to the ranges to conduct live fire training with our weapon. MRE for lunch, continue training until 17-18:00, dinner, back to training after dinner until final formation at 20:30. Then shower, laundry, letter writing and bed by 21:00. Up again for a one hour watch detail between 21:00 - 04:00."

What was the hardest part of your training?
"The physical stuff wasn’t so hard, it was almost too easy. The mental part was hard – just trying to cope with the different things."

Did you feel like quitting at any point?
"At first I did question my thought process that brought me here. I will never accept defeat, I will never quit, just like the lines of the Soldier’s Creed I learned here in the first couple of weeks."

What do you plan to do next?
"Go home to my family and job."

Photographs courtesy of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Photo Credit: Photo: Melissa Buckley, Fort Leonard Wood Guidon

6 Injured in East Hampton Crash Involving USPS Truck


Six people have been injured, including two young children and a postal worker, in a three-vehicle collision in East Hampton, according to police at the scene.

It happened Saturday afternoon near the intersection of Young Street/Route 196 and Carriage Drive in East Hampton.

According to police, a U.S. Postal Service truck was heading southbound on Young Street when a red Ford pickup struck it from behind, sending the postal truck into oncoming traffic.

A third car driving northbound on Young Street hit the mail truck head on and traveled down an embankment, police said.

Firefighters said the postal worker had to be extricated from the truck and was airlifted to the hospital via LifeStar helicopter.

Ambulances transported five other people, two of whom were children, to an area hospital for treatment. Their conditions are unknown, but no fatalities have been reported, police said.

Part of Young Street is shut down while authorities investigate the crash and work to clear the scene. An accident reconstruction team is on site.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Person Falls 80 Feet From Cellphone Tower in Old Saybrook


Emergency responders are heading to Ingham Hill Road in Old Saybrook, where a person fell 80 feet from a cellphone tower Saturday afternoon, according to police.

Police said LifeStar has been requested. The condition of the victim is unclear, but police said they believe the person is conscious.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Daughter, One Other Arrested in Death of DC Nurse


The Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of two suspects in the homicide death of a D.C. nurse, including the arrest of the victim’s daughter.

Sheriff Roger L. Harris said Christina Brown, 25, and Alaina Mercer, 25, both of King George County, were arrested Friday evening and charged with felony conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Nancy Mercer. Alaina Mercer is the daughter of the victim. 

The suspects are being held in the Rappahannock Regional Jail without bond.

Nancy Mercer was found dead after she didn’t show up for work at MedStar Washington Hospital Center on May 18. Police have not released a motive in the death.


Marriage Equality for Illinois


Same-sex couples in Illinois will soon be able to legally wed.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation last year allowing same-sex marriage in Illinois, and the law takes effect June 1.

The day marks the first day all of 102 counties in Illinois can issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples and couples with civil unions can convert to marriage.

Several Illinois counties have already been issuing marriage licenses after a federal court ruling in February, however, many consider Sunday a historical day for the state.

“Today is a special day and I thank everyone who worked so hard to pass marriage equality and put Illinois on right side of history,” Quinn said in a statement. “All couples across Illinois can now receive the rights and protections under the sacred vow of marriage. The Land of Lincoln has always been a place to embrace all people and today we stand as an example for the rest of the nation.”

Cook County Clerk David Orr said he has already issued nearly 1,600 marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the last three months, though officials said the office will not be open Sunday and will resume issuing marriage licenses Monday.

Wedding planners said the industry is seeing a major boost as excitement over marriage equality booms.

“We’ve seen a huge uptick already,” said Tracy Baim, owner of Keith House in Chicago’s South Loop. “Really it’s a pent up demand. We have people together 30-40 years that never had a chance to get married.”

Baim says she’s seen about a 20-percent increase in her bookings and economists predict big money in Illinois thanks to a same-sex wedding boom.

“Between 50 and 100 million dollars in economy for all things associated with weddings whether that’s hotels or the booking, the venue, the flower, the bakeries,” Baim said.

Wedding planners point out that many of the same-sex couples set to hear wedding bells are older, established couples with money to spend on the occasion.

At luxury hotel JW Marriott in the Loop, a new sales package includes “Jeff and Jeff”—the first gay couple to get married at the venue last year.

The package includes an elegant array of food and the venue has even planned for cake toppers with two men or two women.

“We wanted to make sure when couples came they had something that spoke to them,” said Miranda Thomas with the JW Marriott Hotel. “They’re not trying to fit in to a segment they don’t belong.”

Illinois' health insurance marketplace is allowing gay and lesbian couples to enroll for private coverage.

Get Covered Illinois announced it will open up special enrollment periods for gay couples.

Married same-sex couples and their children can enroll as a family and may qualify for financial help.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to offer the same coverage to people in same-sex marriages as they do to opposite-sex spouses.

Under the law, marriage is a qualifying life event that makes people eligible for a special enrollment period. The period lasts two months in the state's marketplace and one month under an employer's marketplace plan.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

Firefighters Help Pull Man From Housatonic River


Firefighters helped pull a man in his 40s out of the Housatonic River in Shelton after he fell off an inner tube and suffered a cardiac issue in the water Saturday afternoon, according to Shelton Asst. Fire Chief Paul Wilson.

Wilson said the man fell near a steep section of the riverbank and firefighters pulled him ashore in the area of 55 Riverdale Avenue.

Details of the man's medical condition are unclear. Wilson said he was taken to the hospital for an evaluation.

No additional information was immediately available.

Missing Woman Found in Cheshire


Police have found 30-year-old Jessica Lynn Foster, who went missing after walking away from a residential group home Saturday afternoon and suffers hallucinations, police said.

According to police, Foster let the home at 35 Faiwood Drive in Cheshire around 3:15 p.m. Saturday and was missing until almost 8 p.m.

Police said she was found safely in the woods nearby.

Foster was wearing white shorts, a white-and-blue shirt with anchors printed on it and a blue jacket. when she disappeared.

She stands 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 150-175 pounds. Police said oster has brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information is urged to call Cheshire police at 203-271-5500.

Photo Credit: Cheshire Police Department

Aquanauts to Stream 31-Day Journey


It's a challenge very few have undertaken: Discovering the mysteries that lie under water. Less than 5 percent of our oceans have been explored.

On Sunday, a team of ocean explorers will dive in, just off Key Largo as part of Mission 31. At the helm, a man for whom adventure runs in the family.

"It's hard to turn your back on the ocean, once you have been immersed in it, because it's such a fantastic world," said Fabien Cousteau, the first grandson of famed underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Like his grandfather, Fabien Cousteau is an ocean explorer and documentary filmmaker. He will pay homage to a mission his grandfather led nearly 50 years ago in the Red Sea. Ocean explorers then spent 30 days living in an underwater village. Now a new generation of aquanauts will do so for 31 days.

"It's freedom, to me its my home," he said.

That home will be the Aquarius, an 81 ton living reef. It is 63 feet below water. The world's only underwater research lab. The space is the size of a school bus, so the crew will be in tight quarters. It includes six bunk beds and a mini-kitchen. It even comes equipped with air-conditioning, but not a whole lot more.

"It won't really set in until you sit down that first night, that galley window and you look outside and see all these fish swimming around. I'm living underwater right now. This is really cool experience," said Florida International University PHD candidate Andrew Shantz.

He has taken part in a shorter mission. That one was 7 days. But opportunity to do what he'll do in June is rare. His team will spend most of its time conducting research on the impact of climate change and the impact pollutants like plastic have on marine life. He'll have very little downtime, and little space to indulge in it.

"I have my headphones to bring down, three books," he said. "Everything else will be work space."

While so much has changed in the time the senior Cousteau led his underwater mission, many things are similar like the way food, electronic equipment and towels are delivered to Aquarius. Divers use pressurized painting pots. One thing Fabien's father did not have is WiFi.

"Being able to do Twitter chats, and Facebook posts and Instagram, to be able to share this experience is something my grandfather was never able to do," Cousteau said.

Their adventures will be streaming live on Mission-31.com. Through Skype in the Classroom sessions, students from across the globe will be able to vicariously join the explorers.

It's a mission that honors a legacy of connecting human beings to the vast unknown under water.

"My grandfather used to say, 'If one person for whatever reason has a chance to lead an extraordinary life, he or she has no right to keep it to themselves,'" Cousteau said.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida
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