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Wesleyan Student Will Survive OD "Against All Odds": Family


A Wesleyan University student who remains hospitalized nearly a week after overdosing on MDMA, or "Molly," is slowly recovering, according to a statement from family members.

"It is difficult to put into words how deeply grateful we are for the generous outpouring of love and support that we have received over the last few days," the student's family said in a statement Friday. "We are profoundly grateful to the teams at Hartford Hospital that went above and beyond to save our child's life. Thankfully, against all odds, our child will survive this terrible ordeal."

The student, who has not been publicly identified, was critically injured after overdosing last weekend and remains at Hartford Hospital.

"We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to the Wesleyan community — the administrators, faculty, and students — for their concern and support. And we are thankful as well for the expert work of the Middletown Police Department," the family added.

Ten of the student's peers also received medical treatment. After being rushed to Middlesex Hospital on Sunday, two were airlifted to Hartford Hospital and two more were transferred by ambulance, officials said.

Only one student is still in the hospital.

Four of their peers were arrested on drug charges earlier this week, accused of selling the MDMA that sickened them.

Eric Lonergan, 21; Andrew Olson, 20; Zachary Kramer, 21; and Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20, were immediately suspended from the school.

Olson is the founder and co-president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Wesleyan. According to the warrants for their arrest, Kramer, Lonergan and Nabik are known as drug dealers among their peers.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Wolcott Man Outfits Igloo With Wood Stove and Bar


When winter just won't let up, there's only one thing to do – build an igloo.

If you're Wolcott resident James Waugh, you make it 6 feet tall, string holiday lights, set up a wood stove and carve out a bar.

"When I said some people never grow up... he told me better than sitting on [the] sofa," said his sister, Katie Waugh, who over some photos.

We have to admit, we're impressed.

And with more snow in the forecast, it looks like James' igloo is going nowhere fast.

Send your winter weather photos to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.

Photo Credit: James Waugh

Silver Alert Canceled for 91-Year-Old From Trumbull


Police have canceled a Silver Alert issued Friday night for a 91-year-old man from Trumbull.

Donald Murray, 91, was reported missing Friday. Police said he may have been driving a blue 2008 Lincoln Continental with Connecticut license plates MAXM.

He stands 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. Murray has white hair and blue eyes.

The Silver Alert was canceled Friday night.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

54-Year-Old Man Hit by Car While Crossing Street in Seymour


A 54-year-old man was seriously hurt when he was struck by a car while crossing the street in Seymour on Friday evening, according to police.

Police said the man was walking westbound on New Haven Road/Route 67 around 6:45 p.m., pushing a grocery carriage he often uses to help carry his personal belongings.

He began crossing the street by the Webster Bank at 15 New Haven Road when he was struck by a car driving eastbound, according to police.

The man was rushed to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. The driver, a 63-year-old Seymour resident, was shaken up but not hurt, police said.

Part of New Haven Road was closed to traffic while police responded to the scene.

Investigators are working to determine whether poor lighting conditions, snow and ice or the victim's clothing played a part in the crash.

Anyone with information is urged to call Seymour police at 203-881-7600.

Photo Credit: Seymour Police Department

Crews Respond to House Fire in Vernon


Emergency crews responded to a house fire at 6 Davis Avenue in Vernon, according to emergency dispatchers.

Dispatchers said authorities received a report of smoke coming from the house.

Firefighters arrived on scene around 10:30 p.m.

The fire was still burning at 1 a.m., according to Tolland Dispatch.

The building was deemed a total loss and there were no known injuries.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske

Police Chief Booked on Solicitation


Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Dania Beach Friday, officials said.

Mayor Oliver Gilbert confirmed the arrest and said Johnson was fired immediately.

Jail records showed Johnson, 53, was being held on $300 bond. It was unknown if he has an attorney.

According to a Broward Sheriff's Office arrest report, deputies were conducting an undercover operation targeting solicitation of prostitution at a Dania Beach hotel when Johnson was arrested.

Authorities had placed an escort ad on backpage.com and two detectives were posing as prostitutes at the hotel, the affidavit said.

Johnson had called the number on the ad and arranged to pay $100 for 30 minutes with two prostitutes, the report said.

When Johnson arrived at the hotel room, he was let in and handed over the $100, the report said. He had two condoms in his pocket when he was arrested, the report said.

A news release from the department said Assistant Chief Antonio Brooklen will serve as interim chief.

"We remain committed to excellence and integrity on every level," the department said in the release. "We will not allow Mr. Johnson's bad judgment to reflect negatively on the hardworking officers of the City of Miami Gardens and the residents they serve on a daily basis."

The department came under fire earlier this month following the officer-involved shooting of 25-year-old Lavall Hall.

Johnson said Hall attacked two officers with a broom handle and was shot twice with a Taser before he was fatally shot by an officer.

Hall's family has been critical of police in the wake of the shooting, holding a vigil and protest and demanding more answers in the shooting.

Johnson was named Miami Gardens' Police chief in May 2014 after a long career with the North Miami Police Department. He also served as North Miami's city manager from 2011 to 2014.

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office

15 Tons of Pot Worth $19M Seized


More than 15 tons of marijuana hidden in a mattress shipment was seized at the Otay Mesa cargo port of entry — the largest narcotics bust in the history of that border crossing and the second largest seizure at any crossing nationwide.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers made the find as they inspected a truck claiming to carry mattresses and cushions on Thursday evening.

The officer inspecting it referred it to an x-ray exam, where an anomaly was detected.

As the truck was docked for a more intense examination, a CBP officer raised the trailer's door and found plastic-wrapped packages, stacked floor to ceiling and front to back, filling nearly the entire truck. Just a few mattresses were stacked along the wall at the other end.

Officers tallied the find, which came to 1,296 packages containing about 31,598 pounds of marijuana. That load has an estimated street value of about $18.96 million.

The driver, a 46-year-old Mexican citizen with a valid border crossing card, was turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. The tractor-trailer, cargo shipment and drugs were all seized by CBP officers.

The Otay Mesa cargo port of entry saw its last record-breaking bust in 2003 when 19,999 pounds of marijuana was discovered. The largest seizure ever recorded by CBP officers was 35,265 pounds of marijuana at the Calexico East port of entry in 2013.

Photo Credit: CBP

Roof of Ice Rink Collapses


A youth hockey team escaped without injury when the roof of the Metropolis Rink in Canton, Massachusetts, collapsed under the weight of snow Saturday morning, the town's police department confirmed.

The Canton Police Department Chief told NECN the Norwood youth hockey team was inside the rink when the roof come down around 7:15 a.m., however, everyone escaped without injury. Parents and workers also escaped.

The rear third of the building came down, and air pressure blew out the front portion, according to police. 

This comes as over 100 inches of snow fell in parts of New England within one month, causing a roof collapse epidemic. More than 160 roofs have collapsed in Massachusetts alone.

The rink, which is owned by the state and leased by the town, is located on Route 138 at Washington Street. State inspectors and the Canton Building Commissioner will evaluate the building.

Photo Credit: Canton Police Department

Ex-Knick Anthony Mason Dies at 48


Anthony Mason, one of the Knicks’ most popular players of the 1990s who had one All-Star season during a 13-year pro career, has died following a massive heart attack, the team said Saturday. He was 48.

According to multiple reports and league sources, Mason had been fighting for his life after undergoing multiple surgeries over the last few days. Veteran NBA writer Peter Vescey broke the news Wednesday about Mason.

The Springfield Gardens, Queens, native was a bruising power forward with a no-nonsense demeanor on the court, and he had a fan-pleasing blue-collar work ethic. He came up from the minor leagues and also played overseas before finally making the NBA.

Mason won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award in 1994-95, a season after helping the Knicks reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 1973. The Knicks lost to the Rockets in seven games.

On Saturday, Anthony Mason Jr. issued a statement following his dad's death.

"Overnight New York City and the world lost a legend, a friend, a brother - but more than anything our father. ... As you all would expect our father - Big Mase - put up an incredible fight, dealing with a severe heart issue," he said.

"Pops we've got to let you know we love you and know you'll always be with us," Anthony Mason Jr. said.

Figures from Mason's past took to Twitter to express their grief.

"We gonna miss u brother," tweeted Charles Oakley. 

"A great athlete and true gentleman. He will be missed," wrote the Rev. Al Sharpton..

When Don Nelson succeeded Pat Riley in 1995-96 as the Knicks' head coach, Mason was at the center of a full-blown controversy. Nelson decided to make Mason the focal point of the Knicks’ attack, going away from perennial All-Star and the face of the franchise, Patrick Ewing. Nelson’s move was unpopular with Ewing and other Knicks and led to his removal as head coach only 59 games into his first and only season in New York.

“For Nelson to do that was amazing," former Knicks great Bernard King told NBC 4 New York. “Patrick was still a dominant player in the league at that time. While Anthony was a very good player for the Knicks, Patrick was still one of the best players in the league."

Mason was later traded to Charlotte in the famous Larry Johnson deal that helped key the Knicks’ success in the late 1990’s, culminating with a trip to the NBA Finals in 1999, where the Knicks lost to the Spurs. That was the first of Tim Duncan's five title teams.

Mason later played for Riley in Miami, becoming an All-Star in 2001 as an injury replacement for Grant Hill.

-- Mitch Lawrence contributed to this report.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Homeowners Hospitalized in Vernon House Fire


Homeowners of a house that caught fire in Vernon early Saturday morning were hospitalized.

A fire broke out at 18 Burke Avenue early Saturday morning before 4 a.m. The homeowners were transported to the hospital and the extent of their injuries are unknown. The identities of the people injured have not been released.

Vernon firefighters also responded to a fire the night before at 6 Davis Avenue at about 10:30 p.m. Firefighters received a report that smoke was coming from a house. The fire was still burning at 1 a.m., according to Tolland Dispatch. The building was deemed a total loss and there were no known injuries.

8 Displaced After House Fire


Two families are displaced after a fire at a Waterbury home Saturday afternoon.

Firefighters responded to 1639 Thomaston Avenue.

Eight people from two families are displaced.

The fire is under control and crews were getting ready to clear the scene at 3:31 p.m.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images

State Rep Apologizes for DUI Arrest


An Enfield state representative released a statement apologizing Saturday after he said he was arrested early Saturday morning on drunken driving charges in Windsor Locks.

State Rep. David Alexander (D-Enfield) released a statement to NBC Connecticut on Saturday acknowledging that hew "was arrested by the Windsor Locks Police on suspicion of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol."

"I take full responsibility for my actions and I am deeply sorry for what has transpired," Alexander said in the statement. "I intend to get the necessary help to overcome my struggles with alcohol. I will do all I can to regain the trust of my constituents and redouble my efforts to fight for their priorities in the General Assembly."

Alexander represents Enfield in the 58th assembly district, according to his website. 

State Rep. Brendan Sharkey, speaker of the House, released a statement Saturday stating that he's "still gathering details about the incident, but it is certainly serious enough to warrant Rep Alexander's removal from his leadership responsibilities as vice-chair of the Government Administration & Elections Committee."

"I trust that David understands his responsibilities to his family, his constituents, and himself, and will be taking the appropriate steps to address this matter," Sharkey.

Police have not released information on the arrest Alexander referenced at this time.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Photo Credit: Connecticut House Democrats

Union Outraged Over Reassignment of State Police Spokesman


The Connecticut State Police Captains and Lieutenants Union released a statement expressing outrage that longtime state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance has been reassigned to join the State Police Traffic Services Division and are calling on the state police commissioner to reconsider.

The union wrote in the statement that it's "disappointed with the actions that the state police commissioner has taken against a well respected and decorated veteran of over 40 years of the Connecticut State Police."

"He (Vance) is the most senior trooper within our agency, an agency that he loves and has served for most of his life," the union said in the statement. "For reasons unknown, Lt. Paul Vance is being transferred from his current position as the state police public information officer. He is in good health and has not requested this change in assignment at this time and this is not the result of a disciplinary issue. Additionally he has been told that he has done an outstanding job in his position which causes us to wonder why someone would be moved for doing a good job."

The union criticized State Police Commissioner Dora B. Shriro's management style and said that the "manner in which Lt. Vance was removed was inappropriate and the actions of his removal indicates a disrespect for State Police Commanders."

"We maintain that Lt. Vance has done his job well and we can’t help but believe that the commissioners actions in this matter are reflective of her limited understanding of leadership in the public safety field in general and Law Enforcement specifically," the union said. " As a union, we are disappointed with Commissioner Schriro’s potential decision to remove and transfer Lt. Vance out of the public information office and would ask that she reconsider her decision.”

The union went on to emphasize that "the importance of the exchange of information between law enforcement and the citizens of Connecticut is of paramount importance and Paul Vance has been that person to solely represent our agency for over 16 years."

Vance began as the public information officer for the state police under former Gov. William O'Neill's administration and has served many governors, according to the union.

"The union sees no reason nor are we aware of anything that would have been a just cause transfer of Lt. Vance," the union stated. "Lt. Vance has garnered the trust of the citizens of Connecticut and has been a voice of calm when significant public safety issues arise. The relationship that he has with our states citizens, elected officials, judicial system and more importantly, the media has been one of trust, accommodation and professionalism. His concern for the victims of crimes is evident in the press releases and statements that he submits, always keeping public safety at the forefront."

The union touted Vance's professionalism and service, also noting that "he has obtained international acclaim" after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School two years ago in providing "accurate information to the nation as well as the Newtown community during such a sad time." The union said that Vance "helped keep a calm over the community and provided an air of trust and answers for so many that were seeking it on that fateful day."

"The importance of having a relationship with the media ensures that the essential and accurate information concerning events is clearly stated in a timely and accurate manner to the public, our customers whom we are sworn to protect," the union said. "Lt. Vance has received statewide recognition from many media outlets as well as national recognition from CNN for the way he handled criminal and public safety events that occurred in the State of Connecticut."

No replacement has been announced to serve as the new state police public information officer.

Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection spokesman Scott DeVico said the change will happen on or around March 20. He could not give a reason for Vance's reassignment.

The Big Freeze: February 2015 by the Numbers


February 2015 was brutal. The bone-numbing, punishing cold shattered records in the Northeast, making February the coldest month since reliable records were first kept in some places.

Some areas recorded the most days of zero or below temperatures. Adding to the misery were multiple winter storms that buried Boston under piles of snow.

While the first day of March will be blustery, with and another snowstorm expected to hit Sunday evening, the end is surely near.

Weather Services International predicts that March, April and May should all be warmer than normal in the Northeast.

Take a look at the frigid February by the numbers:

6.2 degrees: The average temperature in Bangor, Maine, according to the National Weather Service. That's about 15 degrees below normal and easily beats the old record of 8.4 degrees, from January 1994.

9.2 degrees: The average temperature in Syracuse, New York, which shattered by 3 degrees the old record set in February 1934. That makes February 2015 the coldest month ever for Syracuse.

18.8 degrees: The average temperature in Boston, making February the second-coldest month on record. The city spent over 500 hours without breaking 32 degrees.

24.1 degrees: The average temperature in New York City. That’s some 11 degrees below the average of 35 for February, according the National Weather Service. Those numbers make the month the coldest recorded February in New York City since 1934, when the average temperature in Central Park was 19.9 degrees. February 2015 is tied with February of 1895 for the third-coldest observed in New York City.

102 inches: The amount of snow Boston received this winter, most of it in February. It’s just 5.6 inches shy of the snowiest winter on record, according to the National Weather Service. Another storm, however, is expected to hit Sunday, dumping 6 inches in some areas, according to the New England Cable News.

150: The number of structures in Massachusetts where roofs have collapsed because of the snow loads this winter, according to state officials, The Associated Press reported. On Sunday, a youth hockey team escaped without injury when part of a snow-weighted roof at a Canton, Massachusetts, skating rink collapsed.

Photo Credit: AP

UConn Wins Conference Title on Senior Day


Senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 21 points in her final home game to lead top-ranked UConn to an 87-24 rout of Memphis as the Huskies secured their second straight regular-season championship in the American Athletic Conference for Senior Day.

Breanna Stewart added 20 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies (28-1, 17-0 American) who have not lost a conference game since the inception of the AAC at the start of last season.

Ariel Hearn had seven points on 3-of-20 shooting to lead Memphis (13-15, 7-10 American), which made just 11 of its 57 shots from the field.

Mosqueda-Lewis hit eight of her 11 shots and had five 3-pointers. Her second, part of UConn's opening 10-2 run, pushed her past the 2,000-point plateau in her career.

The Huskies used a 31-0 first-half run, sparked by senior Kiah Stokes 300th career blocked shot, to put the game away.

Photo Credit: AP

One Dead, Two Hospitalized After Middletown Fire


One woman has died and another is in the hospital after an early morning house fire gutted a home in Middletown.

According to officials, the fire department was called to 309 Barbara Road just after 2 a.m. Saturday morning.

At the time, three adults-- one male and two females--were home. The man walked out of the house on his own and one woman was found in the bedroom. They were hospitalized with burns and cardiac problems. The other female was pronounced dead at the scene. Their identities have not been released at this time.

When fire crews arrived, the home was fully engulfed in flames. It took nearly 40 minutes to get the fire under control, but later the hot spots rekindled.

"It took a little while, probably about forty minutes," said Middletown Fire Chief Robert Kronenberger." It was all exterior attack with what we were presented. Once we rescued the two people we did nothing interior. Everything was from the outside."

Fire officials said a wood insert was used in the fireplace to heat the home.

Dane Johnson couldn't help but tear up as he stared at what's left of the home owned by a friend he's known since childhood. The fire left a gap between what's left of the home and what used to be an attached garage.

"I'm just shocked. I can't believe this even happened," Johnson said. "....They're outgoing, they're caring. They'll take the shirts off their backs for you. That's just the type of people they are. If this happened to any one of us, they would be here to help us rebuild, and that's just the type of people they are."

The couple living at the home was well-liked by neighbors.

"They were great people. They always helped you out. Snowblowed your drive way if you needed it. They were great people," neighbor David Beit said.

Neighbor Virginia LaWbaida said she saw the lights and "noticed all the flame coming from the fireplace."

"You couldn't find anyone better than these people," LaWbaida said. "I thank God to have people like that around me."

Fire officials say that the couple living in the home had a friend staying over. They also have a child who resides there but was not home at the time of the fire. 

The state fire marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire. Investigators obtained a warrant to gain access to the home and were inside late Saturday morning investigating.

Police Seek Driver in Newington Fatal Hit-and-Run


Police are seeking the driver of a car involved in a fatal hit-and-run that killed a 51-year-old New Britain woman on Friday night in Newington and possibly another crash in town.

Sonya Atkins died at an area hospital due to injuries sustained in a car accident she was involved in near the intersection of Willard Avenue and Robbins Avenue in Newington Friday night. Newington police responded to the crash at 8:12 p.m.

The driver of the other car involved in the accident,  a red/maroon 1997 Ford F-150 pickup truck, ran from the scene, police said. Police are still searching for the driver, whose identity is unknown.

The Ford had a temporary registration plate in the back window and may have been involved in another crash in the Puerto Vallarta parking lot at 2385 Berlin Turnpike in Newington, police said.

Witnesses of the crash told police that the driver was a man wearing a backwards baseball hat, but did not have further details on what the person looked like.

Police ask anyone with information to call the department at 860-666-8445.

Photo Credit: Newington Police Department

"How to Get to Sesame Street"


The year was 1992. The first President Bush was still in office. Roger Clemens, still the Red Sox' ace, had not yet "misremembered" anything. The Big Dig had broken ground one year earlier - perhaps it had already made out-of-state visitors a bit weary of Boston's infrastructure.

It was in that year that the Boston Herald photographed Bert and Ernie, in town for "Sesame Street Live" at the Boston Garden. With their car pulled over, the duo were seen apparently asking Boston Police Officer Keith Dalrymple for directions.

Fast-forward 23 years. Boston Police shared that piece of history Saturday, noting that Dalrymple, now a lieutenant, remains with the department.

"This report was brought to you by Kermit the Frog (formerly of Sesame Street News, now free-lancing for BPDNews.com), the letter C, and the number 5," Boston Police stated.

Photo Credit: Boston Herald/Arthur Pollock

Missing Swedish Teen Found in NY


A Swedish teen with Asperger's was found safe early Sunday and reuinted with his father nearly a day after he went missing in New York City, police said.

Marcus Kerttu, 15, was scheduled to depart the city Saturday, but instead his family was waiting for word of his whereabouts.

He was last seen Friday evening shortly before 8 p.m. at a McDonald's on Canal Street, police said. He was described as 5 feet 8 inches tall and 120 pounds, wearing blue jeans, black sneakers, black coat and a black hat.

Photo Credit: NYPD

FIRST Robotics Teams Compete in 'Recycle Rush' District Qualifiers


The second district event qualifiers for the NE FIRST Robotics Competition kicked off Saturday morning at Wilby High School in Waterbury.

The 34 teams participating in the competition have designed and programmed their robots in less than two months. The two-day event began Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8 a.m. and will run until Sunday, March 1 at 5 p.m. This weekend marks the second of 10 district qualifying events in the region of New England.

This year’s competition is a recycling-themed game, titled “RECYCLE RUSH," involving "two Alliances of three robots each," according to the news release. 

"Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter," according to a news release.

The next and final New England district qualifying competition will be at Hartford High School on March 28 and 29.

Winners will advance to the NE FIRST New England Championship at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts April 9 to 11. Winners at the regional level will move onto the FIRST World Competition April 22 to 25 in St. Louis, Missouri April 22 to 25.

The public is invited to attend at no cost.

The following teams are competing at this weekend's district qualifier:

• Techno-Nuts – Berlin, CT
• Aces High- Windsor Locks, CT
• The CyberKnights- Southington, CT
• GU S Robotics- Meriden CT
• GaelHawks- Shelton, CT
• TechnoTicks- Old Lyme, CT
• Black Magic Robotics- Watertown, CT
• RoboSquad- New Haven, CT
• MachaRams- Cheshire, CT
• Team MAX- Wolcott, CT
• The DiscoTechs- Brookfield, CT
• The Uberbots- Avon, CT
• The Dragons- Hartford, CT
• The Panther Project- Southbury/Middlebury, CT
• Apple Pj, Robotics- Guilford, CT
• Titanium Tomahawks- Glastonbury, CT
• Team Beta- Woodbury, CT
• Cyber Rams- Stamford, CT
• Mechanical Mustangs- Clifton, NJ
• Operation PEACCE- Bristol, CT
• Sim City- Simsbury, CT
The Nuts and Bolts of Fury- Waterbury, CT
• Hard Botties- Bridgeport, CT
• Tech Tigers- Middletown, CT
• Junkyard Battalion- New Britain, CT
• Robot Unicorn Attack- Providence, RI
• Northwestern Robotics Gearheads (“NRG)- Winchester, CT
• Full Metal Falcons Robotics- Middletown, CT
• Barlow RobAutics0 Redding, CT
• Sintian Robotics- Hamden, CT
• Digital Devils Robo- Hamden, CT
• Wirecats- Simsbury, CT
• Valley Regional Robotics- Deep River, CT

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