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UConn to Host Arizona St. in NIT


There will be no from-outta-nowhere run through the conference and NCAA Tournaments this year. Ryan Boatright, who carried the Huskies for much of the season, was just 1 of 12 from the floor in the AAC title game and SMU won by eight.

Everyone knew going in that UConn would have to win the AAC tournament to get into the Big Dance.

“I was just off, just off night for me,” Boatright said, via SNY.com. “Missed a few shots, tried to get to the rim, didn’t get to the foul line, them didn’t go my way. But I’m a man though, I can take it, I can take it on the chest. I’m going to move on and keep working.”

So while there will be no storybook finishes like the ones we saw from Shabazz Napier and Kemba Walker, there is s consolation prize in the truest sense of the word: The Huskies will play in the NIT. Specifically, they'll host Arizona St. on Wednesday.

This will be UConn's 13th NIT appearance, but their first since 2010.

"It's postseason play," coach Kevin Ollie said. "You lose, you go home. That's what you get out of it. It's experience. As a man, you grow up, you have experiences and your mama whup you and you go back and you learn from it. Just like everything in life, you got postseason. There's no next day. So these guys are learning from it. If it's NIT or NCAA, they going to learn from it and they going to come back better from it. I am still coaching them the way I coach them. They still going to play the way they going to play."

And Boatright, like he does every time he steps on the court, has every intention of winning the whole thing.

"It's UConn. This is Connecticut," he said, "and no matter what we're playing in or what we're doing, we win games, we win championships. Whether it's the NCAA Tournament or the NIT, we're going in to win it."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Teen Forced to Undergo Chemotherapy Testifies in Court


A teenager taken into Connecticut state custody and forced to undergo chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma testified in court on Monday in hopes of leaving the hospital to finish her treatments.

Seventeen-year-old Windsor Locks resident Cassandra C., who remains away from home under the care of the state, never wanted chemotherapy. She pushed back, missing doctor's appointments and running away from home, but lost in court and was forced to continue treatment.

Cassandra has since gone into remission but has two more rounds of treatment, which she's expected to finish within the next two or three months.

The teen now says she is willing to go along with chemotherapy but wants to be reunited with her mother and finish the treatment plan at home.

She testified in court Monday through video conference from the hospital. Neither attorneys nor Cassandra's mother, Jackie Fortin, would comment much on court proceedings, but the teen's lawyer, Josh Michtom, praised the teen's testimony.

"I think she did great. I mean, she's a smart kid, and she's a competent witness on top of that," Michtom said outside the courthouse.

No television cameras were allowed inside the courtroom.

According to doctors at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, where Cassandra is staying, the teen has an 85 percent chance of survival with chemotherapy.

Cassandra has not been home since the second week of December. She has limited contact with her mother and has not been allowed to speak with Fortin since early January, per DCF orders.

DCF officials said in a statement in January that they were exploring options for Cassandra to live in a specialized group home when she was released from the hospital.

"It's DCF's obligation to reunite the family, and so we continue to be confronted with DCF's opinion that all of that statutory stuff really doesn't matter," said attorney Michael Taylor, who is representing Fortin.

The state's highest court reviewed the case under an emergency appeal filed by attorneys representing Cassandra and her mother, taking up an issue previously decided by several other states – whether some minors are mature enough to make decisions about their own bodies.

The judges ultimately decided that Cassandra is not mature and will continue to receive chemotherapy. She turns 18 in September, a year after her cancer diagnosis.

"Our sole focus is on Cassandra's recovery and on following the treatment plan that the doctors have determined will save her life," DCF said in a statement. "As difficult as this has been for Cassandra and her family, we are all very happy that Cassandra has done so well under their medical care and treatment."

Photo Credit: Jackie Fortin

Man Shot With Stun Gun in Branford Dies


State police are investigating the death of a 41-year-old Branford man who police used a stun gun on while investigating a disturbance at his home on Sunday night.

David Werblow, 41, of 134 Burban Dr. in Branford, was leaving his house when Branford police arrived at 7:45 p.m. on Sunday to investigate a report of a disturbance at his residence, police said.

Police asked Werblow, who was walking down the street, to stop, but he kept going and  tried to get into several cars driving by, according to police.

Responding officers waved drivers to keep going rather than stop for Werblow, but then he got into a parked car on Burban Drive, police said. It's unclear who the car belonged to and whether it was his.

Weblow ignored police requests for him to get out of the car, so a Branford officer used a stun gun on him, according to police.

As officers got Werblow out of the car and handcuffed him, they noticed he was in "medical distress," so EMS crews were called to take him to Yale-New Haven Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The office of the chief medical examiner will examine the body to determine the cause of Weblow's death and the manner in which he died, state police said. It's undetermined at this time if the stun gun was a factor.

Branford Chief Kevin Halloran and the New Haven state's attorney's office called upon the State Police Central District Major Crime Squad to investigate the use of force in the stun gun incident, per protocol, police said.

“We take every use of force by our Officers very seriously; especially those that result in injury or, in those unusual cases, a loss of life," Halloran said. "We realize that Conducted Electronic Weapons (Taser) are classified as a less than lethal weapon; however also realize their use can result in death and do not deploy them indiscriminately.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut released the following statement upon getting word on the Branford case.

“While we do not have any details on the incident in Branford, the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut believes this episode reinforces the need for oversight mechanisms associated with Tasers. Stun guns have been linked to the deaths of people throughout Connecticut and we simply don’t have the tools to ensure their use was called for under the circumstances," David McGuire, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, said in a statement. "Taser-cams should be required to verify as conclusively as possible that the use of a stun gun was absolutely necessary. The ACLU of Connecticut will be seeking any available video and documentary evidence on the incident as well as other accounts of what happened.”

Police haven't released any information how many officers were involved in the incident or the identities of the police at the scene.

State police continue to investigate the call that resulted in Werblow's death.

Neighbors home at the time of the incident reported a chaotic scene.

"I was actually at work and I got a call from my boyfriend and my daughter, saying that there was some guy on the ground in the driveway," Allison Spinazzola said.

Photo Credit: Alison Spinazzola

School Bus Stuck on Ice in East Hartford


A school bus carrying children got stuck on ice on Highview Street and Concord Street in East Hartford.

Police said they were able to get the students and driver off the bus and they are waiting for another bus to arrive to get the students to school.

A tow truck responded to remove the truck and town vehicles will de-ice the road.

There do not appear to be any injuries.

It's not clear what school the students are heading to.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Georgia State Coach Injures Leg in Post-Game Celebration


George State’s head coach may have ruptured his Achilles tendon after celebrating his team’s thrilling victory in the Sun Belt Conference tournament championship, where his son shot the winning free throws.

Ron Hunter was embracing his son, R.J. Hunter, and jumping up and down when he injured his left leg, NBC Sports reported. A picture showed the coach on the ground, hugging his son moments after the win.

His son had scored the winning free throws with 21.6 seconds left to lift the Panthers to a 38-36 win over Georgia Southern.

After being helped off the court, Hunter returned on crutches for the team’s celebration and trophy presentation and cut down the net.

Hunter told ESPN that he suffered an Achilles tear years ago and felt the same pain during this celebration.

“I knew when I came down that I had done it (again), but instead of stopping right there, I wanted to go celebrate with my team,” he told ESPN. “More importantly I wanted to go celebrate with my son. You don’t get many opportunities like that.”

After the game, Hunter sent out a series of tweets insisting that the injury won't hamper his joy over the victory.

Georgia State will play Baylor in the NCAA tournament.

Hunter will wait until after the tournament to get surgery on his Achilles, NBC Sports reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Woman Escapes Kidnapping at Hands of Ex: Cops


East Haven police have arrested a man accused of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s home, kidnapping her, assaulting her and choking her. She summoned help after escaping from the car at a local pharmacy, police said.

Police responded to Rite Aid, at 588 Main Street, at 9:55 a.m. on Sunday, to investigate a domestic disturbance and met with the victim, who told them that her ex-boyfriend, Michael Santillo, had kidnapped her and might be heading back to her home to get the car he’d left there, police said.

The victim went on to tell police that Santillo had broken into her home, attacked her and forced her to drive to the pharmacy to obtain narcotics.

Armed with the description of car Santillo was driving, East Haven police noticed it on Main Street and tried to stop the vehicle, but Santillo led police on a 100-mile per hour chase on Interstate 95 North until authorities called the pursuit off in Guilford.

At that point, police broadcast Santillo’s description and Madison police spotted someone matching his description on Overbrook Road in town and took him into custody.

Santillo was then brought to the East Haven Police Department and has been charged with home invasion, first-degree kidnapping, strangulation in the second degree, assault in the second degree, burglary in the first degree, criminal attempt to possess narcotics, interfering with a police officer, breach of peace in the second degree, reckless driving and failure to bring a motor vehicle to a complete stop.

He was held on a $1 million bond and will be arraigned today.

Photo Credit: East Haven Police

Police Charge Man, 25, in 2012 Murder


New Haven police have arrested a 25-year-old man in connection to a murder that happened almost exactly three years ago.

Vincent "Guns Ayala, of New Haven, is facing murder charges in the March 17, 2012 murder of Thomas "T.J." Mozell.

Mozell, a Hillhouse High School gradudate, was 19 years old when he was shot to death in the head at Munson and County streets in New Haven. Police found his body in his parked Land rover and believe he was targeted.

New Haven police secured an arrest warrant for Ayala and found him when he was taken into custody on separate charges of violating his probation and removing an ankle monitor.

New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman said that his detectives will never forget T.J. as a child of the city of New Haven, who he said is "gone, but never forgotten." The case was "long and complicated" and detectives have been working for three years on solving it, all the while keeping in touch with the family, Esserman said.

"I want to acknowledge New Haven detectives who work to bring justice to families and don't go home and don't forget," he said.

His mother, Kim Mozell attended a prayer vigil in 2013 organized by the Mothers Demand Action non-profit with other families affected by gun violence in efforts to curb violence in New Haven.

"I'm still upset about the situation," Kim Mozell said then as she still grieved the loss of her son. "My son was murdered, gunned down in the streets of New Haven."

On Monday, she and family members stood beside New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman as he briefed the press on the arrest. 

"I just want to thank the New Haven Police Department and everyone who was involved in helping my son's murder," Kim Mozell said amid tears. "Although this is a joyous day, it's also a sad day because it's reopening wounds. I just want to thank God for helping the police department to solve this."

Barbara Fair, a cousin to the Mozell family,  thanked everyone who helped to bring some closure to the case, noting there is no complete closure for the family members who are still mourning losing T.J. A member from the family who spoke said the fatal shooting left them "broken" and called to prevent future murders starting with the conditions youth in New Haven are living in at home.

"They're not monsters. They're experiencing life differently than some of us do and we have to work on that," Fair said.

Police charged Ayala with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, criminal possession o fa firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit and are holding him on a $1 million bond.

The Department of Corrections and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in New Haven assisted in the investigation.

Ayala is a convicted felon, according to police.

Photo Credit: Silver Alert

Silver Alert Canceled for 80-Year-Old Meriden Man


State police have canceled a Silver Alert for an 80-year-old Meriden man reported missing Sunday.

Jorge Sanchez was last seen walking in the northbound direction on Broad Street by Washington Middle School in Manchester around 3 p.m. yesterday. Police said Sanchez was found safe.

He was wearing a plaid button-down shirt, khaki pants, tan boots, a beige jacket and a gray knit hat. Sanchez has brown eyes and is 5-foot-8, bald and weighs 140 pounds, police said.

He has gone missing before and was last found in downtown New Haven.

Police canceled the Silver Alert for Sanchez on Monday evening.

Photo Credit: Silver Alert

Car Fire Extends to House in Bridgeport


A car fire has extended to a house on Pearl Harbor Street in Bridgeport, according to the Twitter account for the Bridgeport Fire Department.

Firefighters are urging people to stay away from the area.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Car Flips While Driver Lights Cigarette: Cops


A 24-year-old man was treated for minor injuries after his car rolled over on South Main Street in West Hartford while he was lighting a cigarette late Monday morning, according to police.

Police said David Dehaas, 24, of West Hartford, told officers he was distracted while lighting a cigarette when he drove off the road near the Rockledge Golf Course and struck a utility pole shortly after 11:30 a.m. Monday.

Dehaas' Toyota Camry flipped over onto its roof. Dehaas, who was wearing a seatbelt, managed to crawl out of the car and was taken to St. Francis Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, according to police.

The collision snapped an Eversource Energy utility pole about 5 feet from its base and had to be replaced, police said. Dehaas' car was heavily damaged and had to be towed from the scene.

South Main Street was closed while authorities responded to the scene.

Police are still investigating the crash. No charges have been filed.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Ex-49er McDonald Sues Woman


Taking an offensive stance, former 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald filed a lawsuit on Monday, saying that he’s been unfairly caught up in a national firestorm about the NFL and domestic violence that simply isn’t true.

“She is wrong,” Ray McDonald’s mother, LaBrina McDonald, said by phone Monday. “He’s been victimized. She has lied on him. This is bigger than football. This is his freedom.”

McDonald’s attorneys, Steve DeFilippis and Stephen Picone of San Jose, argue in court papers filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court that McDonald and a woman he met at the Willow Den bar had consensual sex “several times” both during the December night in question, and the day afterward.

That story contradicts a police narrative from the woman’s point of view where she stated she had been drinking and injured her head after a fall by the pool and couldn’t remember having sex with McDonald on Dec. 14.

A police officer wrote in a search warrant affadavit that there was probable cause to arrest McDonald for “rape by intoxication.” The suit names the woman, but NBC Bay Area is not because it has not been made clear whether she was indeed a victim of sexual abuse or not.

McDonald has not yet been charged with any crime, though his NFL agent has reportedly sent a note throughout the league that the 30-year-old will not face any criminal penalties. The Santa Clara County District Attorney has not made any decision public yet.

49er General Manager Trent Baalke released McDonald three months ago for “poor decision making” and so far, he has not been hired by any other team. Though his house went up for sale for $2.9 million in San Jose, his mother said he has not sold it.

The lawsuit claims defamation and libel, as the lawyers allege the woman, whom McDonald hadn’t met until that night, marred his good name and cast him in a "false light." The suit also alleges intentional interference with prospective economic relations and asks for "general damages" and loss of earnings in addition to punitive damages.

“What it essentially amounts to is false statements were made about Mr. McDonald,” DeFilippis said on Monday, which caused him to be cast in a “false light ...  that essentially is hurting his reputation and and ability to play football.”

DeFilippis added that because there has been no formal action, “in the eyes of NFL teams, the unresolved threat of charges being filed against him, even though factually unfounded, continues to present a roadblock to this remarkable athlete being able to move forward in his career."

McDonald should not be penalized, his lawyers argue, because the woman was "flirtatious" and "fully cognizant" about what was going on. When she called McDonald the next day, the suit alleges, "at no time did she accuse him of "any impropriety or appear to be upset or scared." Some of the sexual acts were recorded on McDonald's home security cameras.

The lawsuit also highlights the national conversation regarding the NFL’s stance regarding domestic violence, specifically noting Ray Rice, who as a  Baltimore Raven was caught on video punching his fiancé in an elevator and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings for hitting his son. And the suit alleges that McDonald was unfairly caught up in this web, when he “had done nothing wrong.”

in August, McDonald was also arrested and accused of domestic violence against his then pregnant girlfriend. But prosecutors did not charge him then, citing insufficient evidence.

Legal analyst Steven Clark told NBC Bay Area that McDonald’s legal team has an uphill battle to climb, and he doubted if the case would ever see a trial. That’s because police reports are privileged, or protected, material, which means that information cannot constitute libel, he said. 

“You can’t sue for reporting crimes to police,” he said.

Also, by McDonald suing, Clark said, the football player is opening himself up to being questioned and investigated himself. But that doesn't seem to be the main issue, Clark said.

“I think what he wants is a finding that he's not guilty of raping anybody,” Clark said. “That makes him more marketable to the NFL.  That's probably the point of it."

NBC Bay Area's Stephanie Chuang contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty

Oprah to Auction Art Collection


Oprah Winfrey will auction off more than 500 personal belongings from her Water Tower Place condo that she put on the market last July, with the items set to go on sale April 25.

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers announced the sale on Monday, with the proceeds going to The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation.

“Oprah’s acumen as a media icon and businesswoman has been an inspiration for millions,” Leslie Hindman Auctioneers said in a statement on their website. “Perhaps even more inspiring is her dedication to altruistic endeavors, built on the foundation of sharing her success to better the lives of others.”

Oprah will be parting with more than 500 items from her personal collection including English, French and Continental furniture and decorative arts, paintings, prints, drawings, porcelain, crystal, silver, memorabilia, clothing and accessories.

“On a more personal level, I have long revered Ms. Winfrey as a collector,” said Leslie Hindman, founder of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. "I once met with Ms. Winfrey in 2003, and we discussed my perspectives and advice regarding collecting. It was immediately evident that she had extensive market knowledge and had made it a priority to form relationships with dealers, collectors and industry contacts to make informed decisions regarding acquisitions.”

The pieces will be available to preview at exhibitions beginning on April 16. Bidding will begin on April 25.

Photo Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Man to be Sentenced in Assault of New Britain Officer


The man accused of hitting New Britain Police Officer Brett Morgan with a stolen car and dragging him 100 feet last January will learn his fate Thursday.

Jaheem Snype has pleaded guilty to first-degree assault despite his initial "not guilty" pleas. He'll be sentenced Thursday in New Britain Superior Court.

Snype was originally charged with assault on a public safety officer, first-degree assault and attempted murder.

Authorities said Snype drove into Morgan on Jan. 19, 2014, while the officer was answering a call to investigate the stolen car report at North and Willow streets in New Britain. Two New Britain High School students who were in the car told police Snype drove directly at the officer.

One told police, "she last saw the officer on the hood of the vehicle crying and screaming for Jaheem to stop but Jaheem would not stop," according to court records.

Snype’s half brother, Frankie Gonzalez, was charged with hindering prosecution for helping to hide Snype. Police found the brothers close to the Canadian border in Barton, Vermont, following a massive manhunt.

Morgan was seriously hurt during the incident. After several hours-long surgeries and intensive rehabilitation therapy, he was able to go home for outpatient therapy.

Death of Woman in Bristol Car Fire Deemed Suspicious


Police said the death of a woman whose body was found in a burning car in Bristol on Monday has been deemed suspicious.

Firefighters responded to Farrell Avenue around 10:42 a.m. Monday after the deputy chief noticed some smoke in the air while he was out on the road, according to Bristol Fire Chief Jay Kolakoski.

The deputy chief followed the smoke to the source and arrived to find the car consumed by flames. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and law enforcement officials found a woman's body in the car, according to police.

The victim has not been identified and police said investigators are treating the death as suspicious.

Fire marshals from the state and Bristol Fire Department are investigation, along with the Bristol Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division. Anyone with information is urged to call Bristol police at 860-584-3000.



Stafford Elementary Teacher Charged With Sex Assault


A Stafford Elementary School teacher has been charged with sexual assault after inappropriately touching a 10-year-old student over a period of several months and screaming at another to "go kill himself," according to the warrant for his arrest.

Todd Kelliher, 53, of Monson, Massachusetts, was placed on administrative leave Jan. 23 after half a dozen students came forward to describe the allegations against him.

He was ordered to stay off school property and refrain from contacting students, Stafford Supt. Patricia Collin said in a letter to parents and guardians Monday.

Kelliher is accused of repeatedly touching a 10-year-old girl's back, thigh and buttocks, sometimes up to five times per day, according to the arrest warrant. Other students in Kelliher's class told school officials the inappropriate touching would happen in front of at least 20 classmates while the girl was standing at Kelliher's desk.

"It makes me feel very uncomfortable," the girl told police, adding that she was "afraid he was going to touch her private area," according to the warrant.

Students also said Kelliher yelled at the class and accused them of being ungrateful.

When going over a 10-year-old boy's progress report, Kelliher allegedly shouted, "Why don't you just kill yourself?"

Classmates told police Kelliher said it loud enough for the rest of the class to hear, according to the arrest warrant.

It's not the first time Kelliher has been accused of inappropriate conduct in the classroom.

Former Staffordville School principal Hank Skala told police allegations surfaced that Kelliher was "always patting" the buttocks of a first-grader when he worked at the school in 2002.

School officials reached out to police and the state Department of Children and Families after placing Kelliher on administrative leave in January.

“Clearly, any allegation of inappropriate interaction with minors causes concerns about the safety of the children in our school community,” Stafford Supt. Patricia Collin wrote in a letter to parents Monday after learning of Kelliher's arrest.

Collin added that all school employees must undergo background checks before being hired.

Kelliher has been charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to a minor and disorderly conduct. He was released on $10,000 bond following a court appearance Monday. Kelliher is due back before a judge April 8.

There was no answer at the door of his Massachusetts home on Monday.

Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity Loses Recognition at UConn


A fourth fraternity has lost recognition at the University of Connecticut after hazing members and holding parties while on probation for harassing women from a historically black sorority, according to a spokesperson for the university.

UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said Pi Kappa Alpha hazed members and held two parties in November, with alcohol available to underage students, while the fraternity was on probation following an incident in September.

PIKE held one of the parties two days after being was placed on probation, according to Reitz.

Reitz said the fraternity was sanctioned following an incident the night of Sept. 29-30, when PIKE members feuded with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. over the school's "spirit rock," which organizations can spray paint.

PIKE had painted the rock in support of a member who was "facing a critical medical crisis." AKA wanted to paint over it to honor the anniversary of their charter, and the two organizations clashed.

Reitz said AKA members called police twice that night to report that PIKE was bullying and intimidating them. PIKE was subsequently placed on probation through the end of the academic year.

But just two days later, the fraternity held a party, violating the student code and terms of its probation, according to Reitz. PIKE held a second party a week later.

The fraternity is also accused of hazing and engaging in "conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person," according to a letter from the university notifying PIKE of its loss of recognition.

University officials said the fraternity did nothing to "meaningfully prevent such deleterious behavior or address... unhealthy aspects of the organization's culture."

PIKE's loss of recognition took effect March 13 and will last through May 5, 2019. The fraternity has until March 20 to appeal the decision.

The university is still investigating the spirit rock incident and is expected to make a decision by the end of the academic year.

PIKE is the fourth fraternity and seventh Greek organization to be sanctioned this year.

Fraternities Sigma Chi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon have also lost recognition at UConn, along with sororities Delta Zeta, Delta Gamma and Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Kappa Sigma, a fraternity, has been placed on probation for alleged alcohol violations and can appeal the suspension on or before March 20, according to Reitz.

"Fraternities, sororities, and other organizations play a vital and valuable role in the life of a great university – but UConn will not accept endangering behavior or flouting of the rules by anyone, under any circumstances," Reitz said in a statement Monday.

PIKE national headquarters has not returned a request for comment. AKA declined to comment on the incident.

According to the UConn PIKE website, the Iota Chi chapter was founded in Storrs in February 1994 and had 90 active members prior to losing recognition.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Jessica Tommaselli

DMV Closed This Week in Hamden, Old Saybrook


The Department of Motor Vehicles branches in Hamden and Old Saybrook are closed Tuesday through Friday for customer service and computer system upgrades.

The offices will reopen Saturday at 8 a.m. and will resume their normal weekday schedules Tuesday, March 24, according to a press release from the DMV.

Customers are encouraged to visit offices in Norwich, Bridgeport, Wethersfield and Waterbury during the upgrades, or renew their licenses and identity cards at AAA locations in the area.

Some learner's permit test appointments may be held as scheduled during the closures. Check the DMV website to see if your test date will be affected by the service upgrades.

The DMV is warning customers to expect delays at other branches as customers from Hamden and Old Saybrook seek service elsewhere. Residents are encouraged to use AAA whenever possible, or renew vehicle registrations by mail or online.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Deadly Pacific Cyclone Hits Home for West Hartford Family


They may be half a world away, but the devastation wrought by Cyclone Pam weighs heavy on the hearts of a West Hartford pastor and his family.

Their son, Brad Jones, has worked as a missionary in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu for the past six years. He was there when fierce winds ravaged communities, killing at least two dozen and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

“He said when he went outside, it looked like a nuclear bomb had dropped, that houses were gone, trees were down,” described his father, Pastor Gary Jones, of the Farmington Avenue Baptist Church in West Hartford. “I could only talk with him for a few minutes because of electrical problems.”

The younger Jones, who grew up in Connecticut, hunkered down in the national’s hard-hit capital of Port Vila. He and his family are safe, but unable to make the 150-mile return trip to the hut where they live.

“They are very primitive. The people still have witch doctors in the tribes,” Gary Jones explained. “The one side is where people live, the other side is agriculture, because there are a lot of tsunamis that come through there.”

Though he takes comfort in the knowledge his loved ones are alive, Gary Jones said he’s eager for the reassurance of another phone call from his son.

“They call them cyclones over there, but this would be akin to a Category 5 hurricane here in the States, which is quite vicious,” he said.

The storm damaged or destroyed 90 percent of the building in the nation's capital, according to Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale, who said Cyclone Pam is forcing his country to start over.

Cops Lift Car Blocking Procession


Emotions were running high outside the Palestra Sunday afternoon after the funeral service for Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson III.

As Springfield Township Corporal Shawn Hart looked at the solemn expressions in the crowd, he noticed a look of anxiety on the face of one police official. Corporal Hart quickly realized the reason for the concern. Officer Wilson’s funeral procession was about to begin and a car with no owner in sight was blocking the route.

“I watched him for a couple minutes, walked down, talked to him and asked him if it needed to be moved,” Hart said. “He’s like, ‘yeah, it has to be moved. I got a tow coming but I don’t know if it’s gonna make it here in time.’”

After waiting a few more minutes, Corporal Hart and more than a dozen other officers took action as the procession started.

They gathered around the car and began to lift. 

“We just moved the car,” Hart said.

“I just asked some guys in line for a hand. They came over and we moved it to the side. The procession was able to get past and that was it. After the procession came by he [the car’s owner] jumped in his car and moved it out of the way before the hearse came down.”

The funeral procession eventually brought Officer Wilson’s body to his final resting place at Fernwood Cemetery in Lansdowne. 

Hart isn't sure how many other officers joined in or what departments they were a part of. All he knows is that they stepped in to help, no questions asked.

“There were so many,” Hart said. “They just came over, grabbed a piece of the car and they moved it. I don’t even know where they were from.”

Hart had no idea the moment was captured on camera and subsequently shared on social media. Yet those officers weren’t looking for any recognition, they were simply performing their duty to the fullest in honor of a man who gave his life in order to do the same.

Photo Credit: David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer

Building Collapses After Truck Snags Power Lines


Ten feet of brick crumbled from a building on West Main Street in Willimantic late Monday evening when a box truck snagged on overhead wires, ripping down the building's facade.

Willimantic police said the owner of Couto Auto Sales was parking a tractor-trailer in the company lot at 1535 Main Street around 6:50 p.m. when the truck became entangled in low-hanging power lines.

"As the truck pushed forward, some of the facade broke away and that's when we had the collision," explained Willimantic police spokesman Cpl. Stanley Parizo.

The wire, which ran from the Couto Auto building to an Eversource utility pole, came down and brought part of the building with it.

No one was hurt, but the historic building sustained heavy damage. Footage from the scene shows a gaping hole in the facade.

"The damage is significant. The insurance adjuster will have to come out. He's going to have to put up some tarp," Parizo said. "He's going to have to tarp this for now, but I think the whole business will have to be redone."

Matt Vertefeuille, spokesperson for the city of Windham, said the building dates back to the 1940s.

"It's three generations that own this business and it's sad to see damage done to a historic building," he said. "It's pretty dramatic when you see it."

Emergency crews cut electricity to the area and blocked off a section of West Main Street while they worked to make repairs and clear the scene. The road was shut down for about 90 minutes and reopened around 9:10 p.m., according to police.

Vertefeuille described the incident as a "best-case scenario" since no one was hurt and the structure is still standing. Police said they don't expect to file charges.

"He's a little shaky and a little upset with himself," Vertefeuille said of the business owner.

Nonetheless, Couto Auto Sales plans to open as scheduled tomorrow.

Photo Credit: Matthew Vertefeuille
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