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Hiker Falls Just After Proposing


An experienced hiker a friend called a "bad ass rock climber" fell to his death in Yosemite National Park, just hours after proposing to his girlfriend during an earlier climb.

Brad Parker's girlfriend, Jainee Dial, had accepted his marriage proposal Saturday after the couple reached the top of Cathedral Peak.

His father, Bill Parker, said his son told him it that was "the happiest day of his life,'' the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported Tuesday.

Later in the day, the couple separated as Parker went on a solo climb of nearby Matthes Crest, a ridge of upturned rock about three miles from Cathedral Peak.

But Parker never returned to his new fiancee.

Other climbers witnessed Parker fall about 5:45 p.m., Yosemite Park Ranger Kari Cobb said. Parker, 36, had gone climbing alone and without ropes and fell on an established route, Cobb said.

Park rangers hiked in and located Parker's body. Parker's death was the second climbing death in Yosemite this year, which Cobb noted was the  typical annual average.

A resident of Sebastopol, California, Parker appeared on a cover of California Climber magazine in 2012. He also worked as a yoga instructor and was an avid surfer and mountain biker. He also enjoyed backpacking and fly fishing trips in the Sierra Nevada with his father and good friend that he considered a brother, Mat.

"He was the nucleus of a community of adventurous people out here," Parker's longtime friend Jerry Dodrill, 41, a photographer, told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday. He and Parker have climbed Matthes Crest – the spot where Parker asked Dial to be his wife –  on several occasions. The two also scaled a wall near the Moab desert in Utah last May. Dodrill snapped the camera from above, capturing Parker climbing in jeans and gloves. A huge smile was plastered on Parker's face.

"He was a bad ass rock climber and surfer," Dodrill added. "And he did it all with grace and dignity."

Dodrill said he and Parker were scheduled to climb on the High Sierra this weekend. Instead, Dodrill will attend one of several memorials for his friend Saturday.

He told NBC Bay Area that Parker had been dating Dial, a yoga instructor and digital media producer, for a little more than a year.

Dodrill took several pictures of Parker rock climbing, as well as a portrait of Parker and Dial on Dial's phone that she posted on her Facebook page late Monday. In the photo, a bare-chested Parker dangles his arm over Dial's shoulders, huge white smiles on both of their faces. Dodrill captured the two again last August walking arm in arm on Driftwood Beach in Jenner, California.

Friends were posting messages to Dial after her fiance's death, remembering Parker as one of the "best people" they had ever known.

Parker's father told the Press Democrat he thinks fatigue from the climb up Cathedral Peak and the run his son made to Matthes Crest may have been a factor in the fall.

"We're all so stunned," Bill Parker told the newspaper. "What happened is so unbelievable."

About 150 people attended an impromptu vigil for Parker Monday night in Sebastapol, Dodrill said. The climber's father said some family and friends planned to hike to the Cathedral Peak area Tuesday.

"It's the only closure we're able to get,'' Bill Parker told the newspaper.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Jerry Dodrill

Apple Store Opening at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor


Attention, iPhone users and Mac lovers: A new Apple Store will open its doors for the first time at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor this weekend.

The grand opening will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. at 501 Evergreen Walk.

Free T-shirts will be available to the first 1,000 customers, according to an email from the company. Workshops and training sessions will also be open to the public Saturday on a first-come-first-served basis.

The new store will offer Apple products and provide technical support at the Genius Bar.

Apple Stores are also located in West Hartford, New Haven, Danbury, Greenwich and Stamford.

Photo Credit: AP

Almond, Peanut Butter Recalled


Peanut and almond butters sold at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and other grocers are being voluntarily recalled because of possible salmonella contamination.

There have been reports of four illnesses that may be related to the nut butters, a unit of Hain Celestial Group Inc. said.

They were sold under the brand names Arrowhead Mills Peanut Butters, MaraNatha Almond Butters and Peanut Butters, and private label brands for Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Kroger and Safeway.

They were sold in Canada, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates as well as the U.S.

The company said it learned of the contamination risk after routine FDA testing.

The Food and Drug Administration said it does not know how many jars of nut butters were recalled. The company would not comment.

"Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems," the FDA has said.

"Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses," it added.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Murder Charges in Marine Wife Death


Murder charges were filed Tuesday morning against the man prosecutors believe killed the 19-year-old wife of a fellow Marine and disposed of her body in a 14-story abandoned mine in a remote Southern California desert.

Christopher Brandon Lee, 23, is charged in the murder of Erin Corwin. Investigators have said they were having an affair and that Corwin may have been pregnant with Lee's baby.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos also filed a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait against Lee, an allegation that could set the stage for prosecutors to seek the death penalty. They have not yet decided whether to do so.

"The decision regarding which penalty will be sought will be made after a full review of the facts and evidence in the case," Ramos said in a statement.

Lee was arrested Sunday in Alaska, a day after police located Corwin's remains in mine shaft.

Corwin's cause of death has not been disclosed, but an arrest warrant released Tuesday said .22-caliber "fired cartridge casings and pieces of rebar" were found at the scene.

"The head stamp on the fired cartridge was consistent with head stamps on .22-caliber casings recovered from Lee's vehicle and Lee's residence," the warrant stated.

The warrant also said Lee admitted to conducting Internet searching about how to dispose of a human body.

Corwin was last seen leaving her Twentynine Palms home on June 28. She told her husband she was headed to Joshua Tree National Park to look for hiking trails, authorities said.

Her husband, Marine Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, reported her missing the next day. Erin Corwin’s car was found in Twentynine Palms two days after she disappeared.

Corwin, 19, had a possible secret relationship with 24-year-old then-Marine Cpl. Christopher Lee, both Lee's neighbor and Corwin's friend told investigators, according to a court documents.

Lee lived next door to Corwin and her husband, with his wife and family. Investigators said in a search warrant that Lee and Corwin had begun having an affair in February, and that she may have been three months pregnant with his baby. Investigators believe that may have been a motive for her murder.

Volunteers spent nearly eight weeks combing 300 acres of remote desert nearby before a special team with the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Department found Corwin’s body in a 140-foot deep abandoned mine shaft just outside of Joshua Tree National Park, officials said Monday.

Lee appeared in court in Alaska Tuesday afternoon for an initial hearing. He did not waive his right to an extradition hearing, officials said.

It could be four to six weeks before Lee arrives in SoCal, Ramos said.

"Once again, we are faced with a terrible crime that shows absolutely no regard for the value of human life,” Ramos said. "Make no mistake that this office will fight to see that justice is carried out for our victim and her family."

Lawmakers Urge Childproofing of Liquid Nicotine


Connecticut lawmakers are calling for legislation that would require manufacturers to use child-proof bottles for liquid nicotine.

“Liquid nicotine can poison a child, can do near lethal damage to children,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is pushing for changes alongside Rep. Elizabeth Esty.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has received more than 1,500 reports of liquid nicotine exposure nationally, including 18 calls since 2011 in Connecticut.

“One teaspoon on the skin, one teaspoon touched the eye, one teaspoon ingested, is enough to poison a child,” said Esty.

However, some people wonder if liquid nicotine is being singled out. According to the National Capital Poison Center, personal care products and cleaning substances top the list of most common poisons for children.

“E-cigarette juice doesn't even crack the top 25 for what children are getting poisoned by, not even close. All the cleaning products and anything in a house for years and years, children have been poisoned by,” said Szabo.

Szabo isn't against the childproofing mandate. However, he says some of the responsibility has to be put on the parents to keep it out of kids hands.

“Anything you leave in the reach of a child is going to be explored,” said Szabo.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Shelton Man Arrested After Threatening Priest: Police


A 48-year-old Shelton man is facing charges after threatening a priest outside a Bridgeport church Tuesday afternoon, according to police.

Police said the suspect, Mike Karolkowski, was involved in a disturbance with a priest around 3 p.m. Tuesday at the St. Augustine Cathedral on Washington Avenue in Bridgeport.

The priest told officers Karolkowski had been acting erratically and said Karolkowski threatened him when asked to leave the church.

Police said there was no physical altercation between the two.

Suspicious 3-Alarm Fire Tears Through Bridgeport Factory


A suspicious three-alarm blaze broke out Tuesday morning at the old Remington Arms Factory on Barnum Avenue in Bridgeport and firefighters expect to battle the flames into the night.

Video from the state Department of Transportation cameras showed fire coming through the roof of the building and heavy smoke billowing through the air.

Sixty firefighters were called to the scene, including crews from Fairfield, Stratford and Milford, and have been attacking the blaze from the outside for fear of the ceiling or walls collapsing, according to Deputy Fire Chief Robert Petrucelli.

One firefighter sustained minor injuries. 

In addition to the factory fire, firefighters also extinguished a blaze that ignited the attic of an apartment building on Helen Street, across from the factory.

Officials are investigating the possiblity that something from the factory may have blown across the street and caused the flames to spread.

Isaac Morales, who lives two blocks from the complex on Barnum Avenue, said he noticed people outside the buildings this morning. 

"I didn't think anything of it," he said. "They should [have torn] that place down years ago."

There have been at least three fires at the old factory complex since 2010. All three have happened during the month of August.

In December 2013, demolition began on the site to make way for new developments, which could include a train station, according to reports at the time.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation Cameras

Bank Robbery Suspects Charged After Chase, Crash


Two New Haven men accused of robbing a Westport bank were arrested after leading officers on a car chase, colliding with at least two other cars after driving the wrong way on the Meritt Parkway and running into the woods Tuesday morning, according to police.

Carmello K. Dekane, 30, and Jermaine Cowan, 35, are each charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and two counts of fourth-degree larceny out of Westport. Dekane, who police say was driving the getaway car, is also charged with engaging police in a pursuit.

They’re accused of robbing the TD Bank at 1111 Post Road East around 10 a.m. Tuesday. Officers spotted the suspects driving eastbound on Post Road near Compo Road shortly after the robbery. Police tried to pull them over, but the car didn’t stop.

Police said Dekane led officers on a car chase and drove the wrong way onto the Merritt Parkway at Wilton Road. There the getaway car collided with a Toyota RAV4 and the suspects got out and ran into the woods.

Officers chased the men and arrested Dekane off the side of the highway. State police and officers from Norwalk, Wilton and New Canaan helped track down Cowan and arrest him about 25 minutes later, police said.

Dekane is facing additional charges from state police in connection with the crash, including reckless driving, driving the wrong way on a highway, driving without a license, evading police and driving an unregistered car, among others.

Both suspects are being held at Westport police on $85,000 bonds. They’ll appear in court Aug. 27.

Dekane was also given a $5,000 non-surety bond from state police and will answer to those charges Aug. 20 in Norwalk.

Photo Credit: Westport Police Department

Charges Dropped for Man Who Filed Police Brutality Complaint


A judge has thrown out criminal charges against a Windsor man amid ongoing controversy over whether Enfield police used excessive force in arresting him.

Mark Maher appeared before Judge Howard Scheinblum in Enfield Superior Court Tuesday morning on charges of assaulting an officer and resisting arrest.

The charges stemmed from an April incident that was caught on tape at the Enfield boat launch, where Maher was spending time with friends.

During the brief hearing, Scheinblum dismissed the charges at the request of Maher’s defense attorney, Edward Joy.

Prosecutors did not object.

“I expected them to dismiss the charges and I’m glad that they did,” said Maher outside the courthouse. “I was brutalized by the Enfield police. I was assaulted.”

Joy said Maher was not at fault and was simply "in the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong officers.”

It comes after one of Maher’s attorneys released video of the incident that was captured by a police cruiser's dashboard camera.

Rather than handcuffing Maher and placing him in a cruiser, the video appears to show officers forcing Maher to the ground. Officer Matthew Worden then apparently punches Maher at least twice as two other officers hold him down.

“I did not do anything to warrant or deserve what was done to me that night. I have the scar above my eye for the rest of my life because of what was done to me,” said Maher.

After the incident, Maher filed a brutality complaint with Enfield police and is now planning to file a civil lawsuit, according to documents filed with the town.

Enfield police tried to bring criminal charges against Worden for the incident but prosecutors declined to sign the arrest warrant application.

Worden remains on paid administrative leave as the internal affairs investigation against him continues, according to Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza.

Police have received at least a dozen other complaints against Worden in the past, ranging from rudeness to the use of excessive force, Sferrazza said. Several other complaints are pending.

Photo Credit: Enfield Police Department

Hartford Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile


Hartford officials are urging city residents to take precautions when spending time outside after mosquitoes found at Keney Park tested positive for West Nile Virus.

According to the mayor's office, mosquitoes trapped Aug. 12 at the park on Tower Avenue are carrying the disease.

A statement from Mayor Pedro Segarra's office says the risk of contracting West Nile Virus is generally rare but increases during periods of warmer weather.

City residents are urged to take the following precautions when spending time outdoors:

  • Use bug spray containing DEEP, Picaridin, lemon of eucalyptus oil
  • Wear shoes, socks and long, tightly-woven clothing, especially at dawn and dusk
  • Remove standing water around your home
  • Drill holes in containers kept outdoors, such as those used for recycling
  • Clean clogged roof gutters
  • Store water-collecting objects upside down (such as wading pools and wheelbarrows)
  • Regularly change water in bird baths
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools and cover pools not in use
  • Make sure door and window screens are tight fitting
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outside

Mosquitoes in Stratford and East Haven have also tested positive for the virus.

More information on the West Nile Virus is available through the Hartford Department of Health and Human Services, the state Department of Public Health Epidemiology Program, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, state Department of Environmental Protection and Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Easton Mom Leaves 4-Year-Old Alone in Motel Room: Police


An Easton mom is facing charges after police say she left her 4-year-old daughter in a Fairfield motel room while going to confront her estranged husband.

According to police, Brittany Hacker, 24, left her daughter alone Monday evening at the Fairfield Motor Inn on Post Road. Her husband called police and asked them to check on the girl after Hacker showed up at his home in Easton.

She was arrested and charged with risk of injury to a minor and leaving a child unsupervised. Police also notified the Department of Children and Families.

Hacker’s bond was set at $25,000. She was due in court today.

Photo Credit: Fairfield Police Department

Police, Firefighters Respond to Bristol Crash


Police and firefighters are responding to a crash at Route 6/Farmington Avenue and Vincent Road in Bristol.

There has been no word on injuries. A desk sergeant said the intersection has not been closed to traffic.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Tyler Jankoski

Sandy Wedding Photo Mystery Solved


A New Jersey couple about to celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary has been reunited with their lost wedding photos, just one day after NBC 4 New York aired a report about a Staten Island couple who found the pictures while cleaning up after Sandy.

Dominic and Patricia Guinta found the 53 black and white wedding photos while starting the process of remodeling their garage after Sandy flooded their Seaford Street home. They reached out to NBC 4 New York in the hopes of locating the owners.

On Tuesday, Patricia Kearns' daughter called her to say she was watching NBC 4 New York's morning news show "Today in New York" and saw her parents' wedding pictures flash across the screen.

Kearns was speechless.

"I saw the pictures, and it was just amazing," she said. "I broke down crying, because we don't have most of our pictures."

NBC 4 New York delivered the photos to Kearns and her husband Paul in their Teaneck, New Jersey, home Tuesday.

"I can't believe this," she said. "I'm just overwhelmed."

The couple, who are celebrating their anniversary next month, were overwhelmed with emotion as they shared memories of their wedding with their granddaughters.

Patricia Guinta had guessed the photos were taken in Brooklyn, where she grew up. Sure enough, the wedding had taken place in the borough where Patricia Kearns also grew up.

"That's in Brooklyn, honey," she said to her granddaughter as she pointed to a photo. "That's where Nonni lived, that's where she was brought up."

As for how the photos wound up on Staten Island, the ringbearer in the photos is a nephew of Kearns -- and a neighbor of the Guintas. Derrick lives on Neptune Street, just a few blocks away from the Guintas' Seafoam Street home.

"I think they probably floated out of his house," said Patricia Kearns.

Now the pictures are back where they belong.

"I'm gonna be sitting here for the rest of the day and probably tomorrow, looking at my pictures," said Patricia Kearns.

As for the strangers who worked so hard to get the precious wedding photos back to her, Patricia Kearns said, "I just want to give them a hug and tell them how much I appreciate what they did."

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

Water Company Worker Attacked After Crash: MDC


Police are searching for the people who attacked a Metropolitan District Commission worker following a minor crash with a water company truck in Hartford on Tuesday, according to the agency.

A spokesperson for the MDC said the truck driver was attacked by a group of people after crashing on Tower Avenue Tuesday morning. The driver was taken to the hospital for treatment.

One woman was arrested in connection with the assault, but police are still looking for the other people involved.

Authorities have not released any information on the driver’s condition. It’s not clear if anyone else was injured in the crash.

Greenwich Teen Assaulted, Abducted By Boyfriend: Police


A 26-year-old New York man has been charged with kidnapping, rape and strangulation after abducting a 19-year-old Greenwich woman with whom he had been in a relationship, according to the Port Chester Patch.

Greenwich police said they were notified of the incident, which transpired Friday, Aug. 15, on Sunday.

Police said the victim and suspect had been arguing via phone and text message throughout the day before the man showed up at her house in the Riverside section of Greenwich and assaulted and abducted her.

The Port Chester Patch identifies the suspect as 26-year-old Johanny Chavez, of New York. According to the Patch, Chavez took the victim to New York and was arrested there. He’s charged with second-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape and second-degree strangulation.

Greenwich police said no charges have been filed in Connecticut.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Man Seriously Injured After Jumping Out of Car: Police


A 24-year-old Farmington man has been seriously injured after jumping out of the backseat of a car on Route 71/Hartford Road in New Britain early Tuesday afternoon, according to police.

Officials said it happened near 590 Hartford Road shortly after 1 p.m. Police initially reported that a pedestrian had been struck by a Ford Explorer in the area.

Police said the victim was taken to the hospital for treatment of serious injuries and is listed in stable condition.

The northbound side of the road was closed, along with the exit 30 off-ramp from Route 9 northbound, while authorities investigated the crash.

The roads have since reopened.

Police have not identified the victim by name. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Air Conditioner Catches Fire at North Haven Hotel


Hotel guests were evacuated from a Best Western in North Haven when an air conditioning unit caught fire Tuesday evening, according to the fire department.

North Haven firefighters responded to the hotel on Washington Avenue around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. A first-floor air conditioner had caught fire and smoke had begun to fill rooms on the first and second floor, fire officials said.

The fire had been snuffed out and guests were allowed back to their rooms within about an hour, according to the fire department.

The Fire Marshal's office is investigating to determine the cause of the fire.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske

New "Hope" For Abandoned Chihuahua


She's become a bit of a mascot for Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control, but just a couple weeks ago, the future seemed grim for Hope the Chihuahua.

As Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk headed in to work one morning, he arrived to find the frightened older Chihuahua tied to a pipe outside the shelter, her owners nowhere to be found.

"She was in a lot of pain," Yuchniuk explained. "We took her in. We tried to get her cleaned up."

Yuchniuk took pictures that show Hope's nails soovergrown they'd curled around and cut through the pads of her paws so she could barely walk. The problems continued with tumors, rotted teeth and bad skin.

After trimming her nails and giving her a bath, Yuchniuk turned to Facebook wanting to know who was responsible for the Chihuaha's condition. Instead of answers, he found hope – the dog's namesake.

"If I didn't have the support of the public, she honestly wouldn't have gotten that medical attention that she needed," said Yuchniuk.

Thousands of Facebook users commented on his post, leaving words of support and sending in donations. With the help of Goodfriends Veterinary Clinic, the pup's mounting health problems were solved.

"Her veterinary care and her health needs have been neglected for some time, but they weren't insurmountable," said Dr. Mark Beebe of Goodfriends Veterinary Clinic.

Now, thanks to the help of a concerned community, the six-pound Chihuahua who was once abandoned is on her way to a loving new home.

"She gave us all hope – hope that she would turn around and pull through, and I think she has hope for a good future," said Yuchniuk.

The shelter says they've already narrowed down the list of adoption candidates. If all goes according to plan, Hope will go home with her new family at the end of the week.

The shelter exists almost entirely on donations. If you'd like to donate you can make checks payable to the Town of Waterford and send them to the following address:

41 Avery Lane
Waterford, CT 06385

Photo Credit: Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control

Two Injured in Tractor Trailer Rollover Crash


Two people were injured in a tractor trailer crash that closed multiple lanes on Interstate 91 in Wethersfield and delayed traffic Tuesday night. 

A tractor trailer rolled over on I-91 South between Exits 24 and 25 late evening.

Two people inside the truck sustained minor injuries.

The left and center lanes were closed on the southbound side and the left lane of the northbound side was shut down between exits 24 and 25 for several hours, according to State Police.

The crash has since been cleared, but crews are working on repairing a guardrail damaged in the accident.

State Police have not released further information, but more details will be provided when they become available.

Compton OKs AR-15s for School Cops


Some Compton residents are concerned about a policy passed by the school board last month that allows some campus police officers to purchase semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and carry them in the trunk of their patrol cars while on duty.

According to the policy proposal presented to the board, allowing officers to have the rifles could be a "more effective means to protect the students, staff, community, and police personnel in high risk and/or dangerous situations."

"These kids don’t deserve reactive measures, but protective measures," said Francisco Orozco, a recent graduate of Dominguez High School and founder of the Compton Democratic Club.

Orozco said the ability of the police to carry the high-powered weapons represents a needless escalation of force.

Supporters of the proposal say the standard police handgun is not capable of piercing soft body armor and are only accurate up to 25 feet. They say in an active shooter scenario, the standard issue weapon might not be enough to stop the threat to students and staff.

"This is our objective -- save lives, bottom line," Compton Unified Police Chief William Wu told NBC4's Media Partner KPCC.

Orozco said the examples of school shootings used by the Compton school police chief to convince the board to approve the measure were inapplicable to the district’s schools.

"The school board just ate everything up," Orozco said. "We think that the decision was made too quickly and completely without discussion."

Officers that apply to have the weapon must meet a number of criteria, including being with the department for at least three years and participating in at least 16 hours of training courses.

While individual officers are responsible for the purchase and maintenance of the rifle, which costs about $1,000, the Compton Unified School District is required to shoulder the cost of ammunition and training courses.

The Compton School Police Officers Association on Facebook defended the policy, citing the training and proficiency requirements for officers who have the rifles.

The association also pointed to other school district police forces who have passed similar measures including the Baldwin Park Unified School District Police Department, the Los Angeles Unified School Police Department and Fontana Unified School District police.

"We need to make sure we have the proper firepower as some of the suspects who may be carrying assault rifles," said Chief Jill Poe of the Baldwin Park School Police Department.

In October 2013, a child at an elementary school in Chino fired an AR-15 rifle mounted on a police motorbike, wounding three students.

NBC4's Kathy Vara contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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