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Roof Avalanche Buries 5 in Snow


An avalanche from an ice rink's roof buried five people in snow Wednesday evening in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and sent two of them to the hospital.

The five were walking on a pathway between the Simoni Ice Rink and a softball field when the snow fell on them, police say.

Four of them managed to climb out of the snow, but there was so much snow that one other person couldn't.

Police and fire officials responded and managed to dislodge the fifth person.

One person was taken to the hospital with neck and shoulder pain, while the other was taken as a precaution.

Inspectors remained at the scene to examine the building's structural state.

Dan Delongchamp said he know something was wrong when he rode by the ice rink, so he immediately turned his bike around.

He said he quickly realized people were trapped as people shouted for help from the snow, so he began to dig.

"I was reaching through the snow, trying to probe and find something and I felt like a soft, it was a jacket," he said.

After about 10 minutes, he found the man awake and breathing.

Delongchamp, a landscape architect by day, says his instincts just kicked in to help.

"You can't wait for somebody to get on the scene before you start digging," he said.

Police Arrest Man Who Fired Shot Into Hamden Bedroom


Police have arrested the man accused of opening fire on Wilmot Road in Hamden and sending a bullet into a woman's bedroom late last month.

Kajon Sweat-Bruce, 22, of Hamden, turned himself in to police on Tuesday. Police said Sweat-Bruce fired a bullet that pierced the homeowner's bedroom wall around 12:30 p.m. Jan. 28. No one was hurt.

Sweat-Bruce was charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm, first-degree reckless endangerment, false statement and tampering with evidence.

He was released after posting $1,000 bond and is due in court March 3.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police Department

Dog Dies in Shelton Trailer Fire


Flames tore through a converted trailer home in Shelton on Wednesday evening, killing a dog that was locked inside a crate while the owners were away, according to fire officials.

Shelton Asst. Fire Chief Daryl Osiecki said firefighters were called to 143 Indian Well Road around 8 p.m. and arrived to find flames had consumed 50 percent of the trailer.

It took firefighters a total of 15 minutes to put out the flames, an effort that was hindered by show-covered fire hydrants, according to Osiecki.

The home is a loss and the residents have arranged to stay with family members.

Osiecki is reminding residents to dig out fire hydrants after fresh snow falls.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Superbug Threatens UCLA Patients


Medical equipment tainted with a deadly "superbug" may have contributed to the deaths of two patients at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center, and dozens of other patients may have been infected with the drug-resistant bacteria as well, officials said Wednesday.

UCLA Health System officials said 179 patients had been notified about the exposure, which took place between October 2014 and January 2015.

The patients were treated for digestive ailments ranging from gallstones to cancers. Doctors used a minimally invasive technique that requires a scope being placed down a patient’s throat.

An internal investigation at the Westwood hospital revealed that the antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) may have been transmitted during a procedure, officials said.

A total of seven patients were confirmed to be infected.

"CRE, the superbug, lives in the gut. If it gets into the bloodstream, it can kill up to 50 percent of people because it's mutated, it's now resistant," said NBC4’s Dr. Bruce Hensel.

UCLA officials said the scopes had been sterilized according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

"The two scopes involved with the infection were immediately removed and UCLA is now utilizing a decontamination process that goes above and beyond the manufacturer and national standards," officials said in a statement.

Free home testing kits were offered to the patients who may have been infected.

A similar CRE outbreak occurred among at least 32 patients at Seattle's Virginia Mason Medical Center between 2012 and 2014, NBC News reported.

The manufacturers of the duodenoscopes under scrutiny are reportedly working with the FDA regarding these reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hartford Shooting May be Linked to Robbery: Cops


Police said a person was grazed in the head by a bullet during a shooting at 125 Franklin Avenue in Hartford Wednesday evening.

The victim is in stable condition at Hartford Hospital, according to Hartford police spokesman Deputy Chief Brian Foley, who added that the shooting may have been linked to a robbery.

Major Crimes detectives are investigating.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pedestrian Struck by Car in Glastonbury


A pedestrian was rushed to Hartford Hospital on Wednesday evening after being struck by a car on Glastonbury Boulevard in Glastonbury, according to police.

Police said the collision happened around 6 p.m. in the area of 40 Glastonbury Boulevard, near the Somerset Square shopping center.

Emergency crews treated the victim at the scene and brought the person to Hartford Hospital, police said. The victim has not been publicly identified and the person's condition is unknown.

Police said the car stayed at the scene and the driver is cooperating with investigators. Members of the Metro Traffic Services accident construction team are investigating.

Glastonbury Boulevard was shut down following the crash but has since reopened.

Anyone with information or who witnessed the crash is urged to call Glastonbury police Officer Bryan Verillo at 860-633-8301.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Neighbors Rescue Homeless NYC Dog


An adorable, homeless shepherd mix that has been wandering between two Manhattan parks for about a decade was rescued earlier this week by residents concerned the pup wouldn't survive the frigid temperatures.

The dog was taken to the BluePearl Veterinary Partners specialty and emergency hospital in Manhattan Monday. Veterinarians, who nicknamed the pup Charlie, said he was lethargic and dull when he first arrived but has shown some signs of improvement over the last two days.

Charlie -- or Ricky, as some people who live near his choice parks fondly call him -- had been living between Highbridge Park in Washington Heights and Inwood Hill Park in Inwood for 10 years, the residents who rescued him told veterinarians. His age is not known.

They had tried to capture him in the past, but he always escaped. This week, with temperatures hovering near 0 degrees, a group of neighbors managed to coax him into a van so they could take him to a hospital.

Neighbor Tina Ilmet, who is assuming responsibility for his care, said the pooch has become a local institution.

“Everybody knows him, but he’s a feral dog,” Ilmet said. “If you tried to approach him, he’d run away. I’ve been working with him for quite a while, so he finally got to the point where he would recognize me and wag his tail.”

Ilmet and her neighbors have set up a GoFundMe site to raise money for Charlie's care. By 5 p.m. Wednesday, it was nearly halfway to its goal of $5,000. According to the GoFundMe page, Charlie once had family to roam around with but all those pups were trapped years ago.

"He no longer has his pack, he's a slow old man now, and was not going to make it in this extreme cold," the page says, adding that the wind chill made it feel like 22 degrees below 0 the night he was rescued. "He is a handsome mutt that was never dangerous. This stoic old boy needs some help with vet bills."

Cassandra Williams, a board-certified veterinary neurologist overseeing Charlie's care at BluePearl, said doctors are awaiting results of a spinal tap before determining his next treatment steps. His blood is being screened for infectious diseases and he's being kept in isolation because it's not clear if he's been vaccinated.

Photo Credit: Handout

NJ Woman 1-Way Mars Trip Finalist


When Cassandra Morphy travels to work from her home in Jersey City to her office in Keasby, it's a 23-mile, 30-minute commute -- but if she gets her dream job, her commute from work to her new home will take her 225 million miles and eight months to complete.

Morphy, a data analyst, is one of 100 finalists out of 200,000 applicants in the running for a trip to colonize Mars, sponsored by Dutch non-profit group Mars One. 

"I think I first wanted to go to Mars when I read 'Red Mars' when I was like 14 or so," she said. "It sounds like the most amazing place to go." 

Mars One plans to send 24 astronauts to Mars starting in the year 2025. In extremely harsh conditions, the astronauts would build a permanent settlement.

The big drawback: it's a one-way ticket to Mars, and there's no way to ever leave. 

Morphy said she's not scared by the idea of going to Mars forever, and in fact it's part of the reason she signed up.

"That's kind of the whole point, getting there and colonizing the planet," she said. 

"My head's always been in the clouds, so the next step is to go into the space," she added. 

After conducting interviews and physicals, Mars One has whittled down the group of finalists to 100. Long Island resident Nick Buccheri was one of the thousands disappointed to learn he didn't make the cut.

"I've had nothing but Mars on my mind for an entire year, so it's a big disappointment," he said. 

Mars One still hasn't even started unmanned missions to Mars yet, and many are skeptical they'll ever get off the ground. But Morphy is optimistic and is ready to start her training, hoping she'll make the final cut and the chance to make history.

"I'm excited, hopeful. I'm really looking forward to going forward with this," she said.

Body Found After Teen Swept to Sea


A male body was found Wednesday on rocks in Laguna Beach, about a mile south of where a teenager was swept off rocks and into the surf on Feb. 8.

Lifeguards and Orange County Sheriff's deputies recovered the body from the Three Arches Bay area after a resident along the beach spotted the body about 4 p.m., Laguna Beach police Sgt. Tim Kleiser said.

Using a jet ski, Orange County sheriff's harbor patrol ferried the body to a boat and took it back to the sheriff's station in Dana Point, Orange County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said.

"It sounds like the body is in poor condition so it may take several days to confirm the identity," Hallock said.

Anthony Parnell, 18, was visiting from Nevada when he was knocked by a powerful wave into the ocean south of Thousand Steps Beach. Rescue crews called off the search for Parnell on Thursday.

Photo Credit: Yarnell Family

Snow, Ice Cause Structural Damage at Senior Housing Center


Crumbling ceilings and soaked carpets are just some of the problems tenants at a Waterbury senior housing complex are facing during a cold and snowy winter.

Inside Barbara Shappy's unit at the Valley Mall Manor senior housing complex in Waterbury, a large hole sits in the middle of the kitchen ceiling. Shappy said water leaked through the roof, creating a mess.

"I was getting ready to go to bed and all of a sudden the thing cracked open and it just came down," Shappy said.

In the next building, water drips from Art Capaldo's ceiling. He placed a bucket underneath to catch the leak, but even so, the carpet in his living room is soaked.

"I'm concerned for my health, breathing, because it's moldy all the time," said Capaldo.

The two tenants said there have been problems with the roofs at the complex for years.

"The fixes have been like Band-Aids and it's disconcerting," said Capaldo.

The city health department is now requiring the building owner, TLK Properties out of New Jersey, to remove snow and ice from the roofs and place tarps on them. Building management will also have to vacuum out the water from Capaldo's unit and replace the carpet.

Health inspector Dave Lanese said the owners are cooperating.

"They want to work with us," he said.

Lanese said permanent repairs inside and outside the units will take place in the spring and could include new roofs.

"We're going to have them evaluate it by a licensed roofer and then find out what exactly has to be done and require them to do that," said Lanese.

TLK Properties spokesperson Simcha Podolsky said the company plans to make lasting repairs once winter ends.

"We're trying to address it as best as we can. We're getting clobbered with snow. It's impossible to fix it now. Everyone's health and safety is our No. 1 priority," said Podolsky.

Tenants said they hope the owners make good on their promises of permanent repairs.

"I'm hoping for them to repair it the proper way, get a new roof up there," said Shappy.

The company said it has spent thousands of dollars on roof repairs at the complex in the last year; however, city officials said the work wasn't done properly.

The snow should be removed from the roofs and tarps put up within the next two days.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Attacked While Selling Golden Teeth


A 30-year-old Hartford man was attacked when he went to an apartment in the city on Wednesday night to sell what police described as golden-fitted teeth, police said.

Police responded to 125 Franklin Avenue at 7:11 p.m. to investigate what came in as a report of a person having been shot on the first floor, but an evaluation at the hospital would later reveal that the victim had been robbed and hit with an object, not shot, police said.

Before finding the victim, officers searched the apartment and saw a handgun, a small shotgun and what appeared to be narcotics, police said in a news release.

When police found the victim on the third floor, he said he’d gone to the apartment to sell ”gold fitted teeth” to a man known as "Chinks," but the man and another man who was in the hallway attacked and robbed him.

The attackers ran out the front of the building and the victim ran to the third floor and asked for help, police said.

During the attack, the victim heard a loud "bang," felt pain in his head and thought he’d been shot, police said, but medical staff at the hospital determined the victim was struck with an object and not shot.

Major Crimes responded to the scene, took over the investigation and police have arrested Kyron Alexander, 19, Christopher Williams, 21, and Malik Slater, 18, and charged them with first-degree robbery and firearm charges.

Authorities said they seized a sawed-off shotgun, a small automatic handgun, cell phones and clothing belonging to the victim as well as four bundles of heroin.

Police identified Gregory Tavarez, 18, as the resident of the apartment and he was charged with possession of narcotics.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Dozens of Firefighters Battle Westport Blaze


Snow and ice created a challenge to battling a blaze in Westport on Wednesday night and the fire department is urging residents to clear fire hydrants.

The Westport Fire Department was responding to 12 Weathervane Hill at 7:33 p.m. on Wednesday after receiving an automatic fire alarm from the home when a 911 call came in from within the residence, reporting fire, so the residents were told to evacuate and wait in the front yard for firefighters.

Fire was burning on the first floor when firefighters arrived, but snow and ice prevented firefighters from getting close, so they had to stretch 850 feet of hose from the closest fire hydrant to attack the fire.

Once the hose was in place, crews were able to quickly extinguish the fire.

Officials said 42 firefighters and officers responded to the fire and the scene was cleared as of 10:36 p.m. The Westport fire marshal’s office is now investigating.

All the residents got out of the house on their own and went to a neighbor’s home.

The Westport Fire Department is urging residents to clear fire hydrants of snow so they can get to them in case of emergency.

Photo Credit: Westport Fire Department

Car Parked on Wrong Side of Street Blocks School Bus


A school bus is stuck in Hartford because a car is parked on the wrong side of a street that has been narrowed by snow piles, according to police.

The bus is stuck in the area of 75 Whitmore Street and a tow truck was called in to tow the car parked on the wrong side, according to police.

Police were called and the students will be taken to school as soon as the car is removed.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Fire Destroys 2nd Floor of Guilford Home


Fire destroyed the second floor of a Guilford home on Thursday morning.

Officials said fire broke out on the second floor of 285 Old Whitfield Street this morning.

No injuries are reported and firefighters are monitoring the home for hot spots.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Woman Hit and Killed Outside Her Canterbury Home


A 38-year-old Canterbury woman is dead after being hit by a car outside her home on Wednesday night.

Police said Kelly Gersh, 38, of Water Street in Canterbury was on foot in front of her home when she was hit by a Toyota Corolla at 6:28 p.m.

Gersh was transported to William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, where she was pronounced dead.

The driver was not hurt, police said. State police are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

FDA Warning: Traces of Peanuts Found in Cumin


Hundreds of products are being pulled from store shelves after traces of peanut were found in cumin spice — a life-threatening danger to some people with peanut allergies.

The recall has been ongoing since December, as more retailers identify products that contain the cumin. The Food and Drug Administration is now warning all people with peanut allergies to avoid cumin and products that contain cumin.

While such large allergy-related recalls are rare, undeclared allergens like peanuts are the leading cause of food recalls in the United States. That can be very unsettling to people who are keeping a close watch on what they or their children eat, since food allergies can be a matter of life or death.

"You might do all of the things you are supposed to do and read the label, but there could still be undeclared allergens," says Dr. Michael Pistiner, a Boston-based pediatric allergist. "It's challenging to know that and still feel comfortable."

Pistiner says he sees the recalls as low-risk, since often the amount of the undeclared allergen is very small. "But the highest risk is to our comfort," he says.

According to the group Food Allergy Research and Education, or FARE, 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 1 in 13 children. Eight foods account for more than 90 percent of the allergies — peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.

Since 2006, those allergens are required by law to be listed on food packages if they are ingredients. The law is less clear when it comes to cross- contamination, however — companies aren't required to list on the label if peanuts or another allergen are processed in the same facility or on the same equipment.

Little is known about how many people may have reactions to allergens that accidentally make their way into food. Those reactions are hard to track — much harder than a pathogen like salmonella, for instance, which can be identified in a person's stool and traced directly to the same strains in a food manufacturing facility or on a farm.

The FDA said it had 428 reports of "adverse events" related to undeclared allergens between January 2012 and December 2014, including reports of three deaths. The agency would not release any detailed information on those reports, which are made by consumers and can't always be confirmed by the agency.

The agency said it has had at least seven reports from consumers related to the cumin recall. Hundreds of products have been recalled since December, from spice mixes to black beans to meats with marinades that include cumin. The spice is often used in Tex-Mex and Indian dishes. The FDA declined to provide any further details on how it happened or what company added peanuts or peanut residue to its cumin spice.

The FDA said packaged foods may not have enough of the affected cumin to trigger a reaction — but those who are sensitive should be careful just in case. Some products may not actually list cumin, but list "spices" instead.

Multiple recalls have spanned a two-month period. The first was on Dec. 26, when Texas-based Adams Foods recalled several of its cumin spices. On Feb. 9, the retailer Whole Foods recalled more than 100 products that potentially contained the cumin. Last Friday, Goya Foods recalled some brands of its black beans and black bean soup. Several other foods have been pulled off store shelves as well.

FARE, the allergy group, routinely notifies its members of what recalls are out there so they can keep track. And the group is pushing the FDA to ensure that allergens are treated as importantly as pathogens like salmonella and E. coli when the agency issues final food safety rules later this year.

"Requiring food processors and manufacturers to identify potential allergen hazards and develop plans to avoid those hazards is critical," the group told the FDA in comments on the rule.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Man Arrested After Putting Hand Down 4-Year-Old's Pants: Cops


A 43-year-old Enfield man is facing sexual assault charges after an off-duty Department of Children and Families employee caught him putting his hand down the pants of a 4-year-old girl at a Manchester restaurant, according to police.

Manchester police spokesman Capt. Christopher Davis said the DCF worker was sitting at a table nearby when Jeffrey Car put his hands down the child's pants at Bertucci's in the Buckland Hills mall. The worker followed Carr out of the restaurant, jotted down his license plate number and called police.

Investigators tracked Carr to a home in Manchester, where he first denied the allegations but later told police his fingers were cold, according to Davis.

Carr was arrested Friday and charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. He was released from custody after posting $25,000 bond and is due in court March 2.

Photo Credit: Manchester Police Department

Private School Teacher in Kent Accused of Threatening Student


A teacher at a private school in Kent has been arrested, accused of threatening a 17-year-old student.

State police said they received a complaint on Feb. 3 that Loren Sanborn, 33, a teacher at the South Kent School, verbally threatened a student at the school.

School officials said in a statement that there was an incident at the school on Feb. 2 and they referred the matter to Connecticut State Police after reviewing the circumstances.

"Please be assured that the School has taken, and will continue to take, appropriate actions to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone on campus," a statement from the school says.

Sanborn turned himself in to police on Thursday morning and has been charged with threatening and second-degree breach of peace.

No additional details of his alleged threat are available.

The South Kent School is a private college preparatory school for boy in grades nine through 12.

The Web site for the school lists one teacher named Loren Sanborn and says he works in the math department.

Sanborn was released on a $1,000 cash bond and is due in Bantam Court on March 2.

Police Receive Calls Reporting Possible Earthquake in Plainfield


After more than a month of no seismic activity in eastern Connecticut, Plainfield police received two calls around 8 a.m. reporting possible earthquakes.

Nothing is showing up in the U.S. Geological Survey Web site and dispatchers said this was "nothing like" the number of calls they received last month.

In January, police were flooded with calls on 12 different occasions reporting earthquakes.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Route 7 North Reopens in Brookfield


Route 7 North has reopened after an earlier rollover crash near exit 11 in Brookfield.

A detour was set up to Route 202 to exist 12 and one viewer reported having been stopped for 30 minutes.

The road had reopened as of 10:25 a.m.

Photo Credit: Bethany Mihaly
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