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SkyWest Plane Returns to Service After Emergency


Unable to determine what made passengers sick aboard a SkyWest flight from Chicago to Hartford, Connecticut, that made an emergency landing on Wednesday, the airline is returning the aircraft to service.

Police and fire officials, along with SkyWest maintenance crews, checked over the plane and could find nothing wrong after 14 people reported feeling ill and three lost consciousness, according to the airline.

"It's done a complete top-to-bottom evaluation to make sure there is no kind of a cabin pressure issue. Everything's coming back negative, so at the moment the airline is stumped," said NBC News reporter Tom Costello.

The first passenger lost consciousness late Wednesday morning about an hour into the flight from O'Hare to Bradley International Airport.

The pilot, initially concerned there may have been a pressurization problem, descended to 10,000 feet where air pressure outside is bearable, before making an emergency landing in Buffalo, New York.

"The captain had said all the symptoms led him to believe it was a lack of cabin pressure, so he dropped us down real quick," said Dave Barkley, passenger from South Bend, Indiana, after he finally reached Bradley about seven hours late.

Barkley said the turbulence on the approach to Buffalo was rougher than the descent of 27,000 feet over seven minutes.

"That descent was rapid, certainly, and probably you wouldn't want to do that too often. You scare people, especially after some of the things that have happened," said former Pan American pilot Ed Spellacy. "But no, I don't think that's an excessive rate of descent."

He said a typical emergency descent of that distance would take just two minutes.

Passengers reported feeling better on the ground in Buffalo. One person aboard the aircraft said some 30 passengers received oxygen after landing at the airport. According to SkyWest officials, no passengers went to the hospital.

Photo Credit: NBC Newschannel

Stage Collapses at Ind. High School


More than a dozen students were reported hurt, two of them critically, after a stage collapsed during a rock concert Thursday night at a suburban Indianapolis high school.

Students were performing "American Pie," a rock concert, when the stage went down inside the Westfield High School auditorium in Westfield, Indiana, Indiana State Police told NBC station WTHR.

Lead singer Nicole Gruszka had stepped forward to go into the audience just moments before.

"Literally a second later, the orchestra pit just collapsed in on itself," she said. 

Gruszka said the students had practiced the scene several times on the stage before the performance. 

"We've closed the show like that all three years that we've done it. We rehearsed that at dress rehearsal. There were never any issues with that exact process," she said. "We thought the worst thing that could happen was someone would miss their cue and not end up on stage."

Sara Camden, a woman whose son was performing, said she'd seen students practice on the stage numerous times but wasn't aware of any structural problems. Her son was not among the injured.

Video Camden posted to Twitter showed several students jumping on the stage portion that ultimately fell. 

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook, who visited several students in area hospitals, said the injured students are expected to be OK.

"I said, 'You kids must have been really rocking,' and they said 'Yes, we were having a great time,'" Cook said. "It was the last piece of music, and they rocked."

Cook noted that the incident was concerning.

"The word stage collapse has a special connotation in Indiana, so I was very concerned when I heard it first," he said. 

Seven people were killed and scores more injured in a stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair back in August 2011 as fans were awaiting the start of a Sugarland concert.

Westfield High School's principal, Stacy McGuire, tweeted after Thursday's incident that she was grateful for the first responders and thanked them "for taking care of our kids."

McGuire wrote that the school "will get through this together by taking good care of each other."

"The spirit of 'American Pie' is all about family," she wrote. 

Candy From China Makes Weston Students Sick


Nine students and two school staff members in Weston, Connecticut, went to the hospital Thursday after eating candy brought back from a high school trip to China and reporting "a tingling in the mouth," according to the superintendent.

Supt. Colleen Palmer said the candy was shared Thursday among middle school students and staff. She explained in an email to parents that "some of the individuals experienced some discomfort" after eating the candy.

Palmer said the school nurse informed her of the illnesses around 1 p.m. Thursday. 

"It was reported to me as a tingling in the mouth initially," she explained in an interview.

All 11 students and staff were taken to the hospital as a precaution. Palmer said in an update email Thursday evening that everyone had been sent home and was feeling better.

"We are all relieved that our students and staff are safe and sound this evening. However, the events of today remind us that in our global society it is important to understand that the trustworthiness of every product we encounter may differ from that which we buy around the corner at our local stores," Palmer wrote in the follow-up email.

She said police will analyze the candy "as the very final safety check."

"I think it was shared with good will and innocence and unfortunately, it had a negative aftermath," Palmer told NBC Connecticut on Thursday night.

School officials are urging parents whose children have obtained the candy to contact the school and Weston Police Department.

Photo Credit: Weston Public Schools

Woman Stole Dying NYC Fashion Exec's Identity: Police


A woman stole a New York City fashion executive's identity, withdrawing thousands of dollars from her bank account and opening credit cards in her name as she was dying in the hospital, state police and relatives say. 

State Police say the woman pictured in the bank surveillance images fraudulently withdrew $9,200 from Kate Sullivan's account from Chase branches at Commack and Freeport on Long Island, and then opened several store cards in New Haven, Connecticut, to make nearly $4,000 in merchandise purchases. 

A woman identifying herself as Sullivan's sister posted the suspect's photos on her Facebook page, detailing how she uncovered the alleged fraud a week before Sullivan died last September.  

"When Kate was in the ICU I answered her phone, it was the bank manager in Long Island," Sarah Sullivan wrote. "He said a woman came in with a fake ID as Kate, and when he questioned her, she ran out." 

Because the suspect had already withdrawn money at another branch, the family moved immediately to shut down all of Kate Sullivan's accounts. 

"A few weeks after the funeral, I got Kate's mail and there were all these new store credit cards and bills, they had already been maxed," wrote Sarah Sullivan. "Somehow she had her Social Security number, address, last four digits of bank # and copied signature from her license." 

"I've had to fax death certificates and affidavits to all of the creditors and fly in to meet with the police and lots of other stuff I didn't need to deal with while I'm mourning my sister's death," she said. 

Kate Sullivan, 50, was a marketing executive who had worked for fashions designers like Kimora Lee Simmons and Diane von Furstenerg before her death from lung cancer on Sept. 28, Newsday reports. She lived in the Financial District. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact State Police Troop L at 631-756-3393. 

Woman's Body Found in East Haddam Reservoir


Authorities are investigating after a woman's body turned up in the Upper Moodus Reservoir in East Haddam on Thursday afternoon, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

State police and DEEP Environmental Conservation officers are investigating at the intersection of East Haddam Colchester Turnpike and Beebe Road.

Police have characterized the death as untimely, and DEEP officials said the person, believed to be a woman, may have been the victim of a boating accident.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Philly Officer Shot


A drug suspect said he didn't "want to have to do this" before opening fire on a Philadelphia Police bicycle officer in West Philadelphia Thursday night, said Philadelphia Police.

Officer Daniel Kostick and his partner approached a man inside a white van in the area of Wilton Street and Girard Avenue around 10:15 p.m. suspecting possible narcotics violations, said police.

The man then backed up and took off. Kostick caught up to the suspect around 51st and Master streets.

Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross explained what happened next: "They're having a brief discussion... the male turns to him and says, 'I don't want to have to do this' and then he fires at Officer Kostick. Kostick returns fire, striking the male."

Originally police said Officer Daniel Kostick was hit in the thigh but they later clarified that the officer was hit in the right arm.

After the shooting, fellow officers rushed Kostick to Presbyterian Hospital in University City, where the married father of two was listed in stable condition, said police.

Ross said Kostick, an eight-year veteran assigned to the 19th District, was in "good spirits."

"He's very lucky given the circumstances," said Ross.

Police later found the suspect in an alley behind the 5000 block of Master Street.

As SkyForce10 hovered overhead, officers could be seen putting a man into a police van. It wasn't clear that person's role in the shooting.

The suspect was rushed to Hahnemann Hospital. Police didn't reveal his condition.

Investigators recovered a gun at the scene, said Ross.

Photo Credit: SkyForce10

Freeze Warnings in Effect Amid Chilly Temperatures


Freeze warnings are in effect for seven of the state's eight counties amid chilly temperatures and watches are in effect until Saturday morning.

The warnings took effect overnight into Friday in every county but Litchfield after snow showers and even some sleet and hail moved through parts of the state on Thursday afternoon and into the evening in an unseasonable burst of winter weather.

The air is about 15-20 degrees colder than usual this time of year, Chief First Alert Meteorologist Brad Field said on Thursday.

The National Weather Service is urging residents to cover outdoor plants to protect them from the cold.

We'll see a bit of a warm up going into the weekend. Today will be windy with temperatures in the lower 50s, while Saturday and Sunday will be 60 degrees with some cloud cover.

Send your weather photos to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.

Photo Credit: Marc
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Elderly Woman, 2 Sons Burned in Condo Fire


Two men suffered burns trying to save their elderly mother when her Ridgefield condo caught fire Thursday evening, according to the fire department.

Now all three are in the hospital, and officials can only hope the woman survives.

Firefighters said the woman, believed to be in her 70s, was trapped on the top floor of her two-story condo on Cook Close as flames engulfed the unit. Her sons, in their 30s or 40s, suffered burns trying to rescue her before emergency crews arrived.

"It was futile. The flames were pretty intense. The firemen were able to knock the fire down first because they couldn't even get in to her," said Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi. "The sons did make a valiant effort trying to get to Mom."

All three were taken to Danbury Hospital for treatment, according to the fire department.

Fire officials said one man – who suffered burns on his head, hands and arms – was more seriously hurt than the other. There has been no official word on their mother's condition, but Marconi said she seemed to be in bad shape.

"We're hoping for the best and saying a prayer, and her sons are at the hospital with her right now," said Marconi. "We're just praying that she makes it."

Marconi said the family's condo is uninhabitable.

The town fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Car Hits Pole in East Hartford


 A car hit a pole on Long Hill Drive, at Burnside Avenue, and the road is closed so the pole can be repaired, officials said.

Wires were brought down in the crash.

Man Shot in Leg in Hartford


Hartford police are investigating after a man was shot in the leg overnight.

The victim is at Hartford Hospital and is expected to be OK, according to police.

Investigators are trying to determine where the shooting happened.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

81-Year-Old Man Dead in Apparent Drowning


An 81-year-old man is dead after an apparent drowning in the Willimantic River in Stafford Springs on Thursday evening, according to state police.

At 6:07 p.m., state police responded to the river, near the Town of Stafford Commuter Lot at 24 River Road, and determined that Jacob Wytas, 81, had been fishing along the bank near Town of Stafford Commuter Lot and fell into the water.

He was later found dead and state police are investigating.

They ask anyone who saw Wytas or was in contact with him between 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday to call Troop C at 860-896-3200 ext. 8045.

Several Crashes Cause Traffic Nightmare in Hartford


Several crashes are causing a nightmare of a commute in the Hartford area on Friday morning, causing congestion on three of the four major arteries in the city. 

There are heavy delays on Interstate 91 north after a truck rollover in Hartford. The scene has cleared, but there are residual delays to Middletown. 

State police said a car and truck crashed in the area of exit 27, or Brainard Road, and the truck rolled over. Three lanes have been closed, causing backups for miles. 

Traffic on Interstate 84 East is stop-and-go between Hartford and Farmington after a three-car crash near exit 48. Two lanes are blocked. 

Another two-car crash has closed the center lane of I-84 West at exit 58 in East Hartford and traffic is backed up to Manchester.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

20 Pounds of Marijuana Found in New Milford


Police and federal agents captured a fugitive wanted in Illinois in the Gaylordsville community of Milford on Wednesday and found 20 pounds of marijuana while searching the house.

Jeremiah Clement, 37, was wanted on a federal warrant for conspiracy to distribute marijuana, according to a news release from New Milford Police.

He was taken into custody at 173 Kent Road in Gaylordsville and police said they found the marijuana, a handgun and more than $20,000 while searching the home after obtaining a warrant.

K-9 units, federal agents and New Milford Police were all involved in the case. 

Investigators also checked a home on Park Lane Road.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Stunning Photos from the Hubble Space Telescope


In the 25 years since NASA scientists sent the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit, the telescope has delivered a peek into the workings of the universe.

Photo Credit: AP

DOT Worker Thrown From Truck on I-91 in Hartford


A state Department of Transportation worker was thrown from the back of a work truck and down an embankment during a crash on Interstate 91 northbound in Hartford on Friday morning, according to state police.

Police said the DOT truck was parked in the shoulder of the road, placing the last cone for a survey project, when another driver swerved for some unknown reason, hit the back of the DOT truck in the area of exit 27 for Brainard Road, and the truck rolled over.

Glenn Gove, 53, of Wethersfield, was thrown from the bed of the DOT truck, over the rail and down the embankment, according to the news release from police.

Gove, the driver of the DOT truck, Ray Romano, 51, of South Windsor; and the driver of the other car, a 24-year-old Meriden resident; were taken to Hartford Hospital.

State police said neither of their injuries is serious.

No charges are listed.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Bison Herd Shot After Stampeding Through Upstate NY Towns


A herd of bison that stampeded through a string of upstate New York towns on Friday after it somehow got loose from a farm near Albany, has been shot.

The 15 creatures, two calves among them, traipsed through several backyards, trampled a fence and even crossed the New York State Thruway as they headed south, local NBC affiliate WNYT reported.

The animals had escaped from Gem Farms in Schodack, and authorities said all had been shot at Schodock Island State Park — a last resort, authorities told WNYT, since they would rather corral the beasts.

The bison were shot by people working for the family that owns the herd, according to WNYT. The son of the bison's owner told the station his family has been trying to corral loose bison for years, with little success.

Authorities were warning locals not to approach the animals, which can weigh more than 1,000 pounds.

"Stay away. Just stay away from them," Bethlehem Police Lt. Thomas Heffernan said. "They’re large, unpredictable animals."

Statue of Liberty Reopens After Bomb Scare


The Statue of Liberty reopened Saturday after a security scare forced thousands of tourists off Liberty Island on Friday.

The island was deemed safe Friday afternoon, about 90 minutes after the attraction was evacuated over a phoned-in bomb threat and reports of a suspicious package, authorities said.

The popular tourist attraction remained closed the rest of Friday.

Tourists were ferried off of the island after parks police patrolling with dogs near a locker area picked up the scent of a suspicious package shortly before 1 p.m., sources say. Around that same time, sources say, someone phoned in a bomb threat to the statue. 

The NYPD's bomb squad was called to the scene and authorities conducted a security sweep of the area. An all-clear was issued at about 2:30 p.m.

The scare set off a massive evacuation effort, and Statue Cruises said it transported 2,700 people from the island. Some had to leave behind their belongings during the evacuation; Statue Cruises said it will work with the National Park Service to return them to their owners. 

Several passengers who were ferried to Battery Park told NBC 4 New York they weren't told why they had to leave. Others had to stay on ferries during the investigation.

"We were all sitting in the boat, no one would tell us anything," one passenger said.

Visitors tweeted photos of long lines at a pier on Liberty Island. Many said the evacuation from Liberty Island was orderly but nerve-racking.

"It was past frustration -- it was nerve-wracking because you never know," said one visitor. "Did somebody decide to do something to the Statue of Liberty?" 

Liberty Island will reopen to the public Saturday. Ferry ticket holders who were held back can contact Statue Cruises to rebook or receive a refund. 

Photo Credit: @flyingtigers/Twitter
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Witness Says Officer Punched Teen Before Struggle


 A student who witnessed an altercation outside a Hartford Burger King that left a police officer with injuries and led to charges for a 17-year-old boy said there is more to the story and claims the police officer punched the teen.

Keylee Scott, of Hartford, said she was there during the struggle on Tuesday night at on Main Street, at a spot where police said teens are known to loiter.

A 17-year-old high school student facing charges, including assaulting an officer and inciting a riot, and he is accused of nearly causing Police Officer Roberto Maldonado to lose consciousness. 

Several witnesses recorded the struggle between the officer and teen, but Scott said there is another side and the officer told the group of teens to leave the restaurant even though they were waiting for food.

“He said, ‘You need to come outside before I drag you outside,” Scott said.

Her friend argued with the police officer to stay and things escalated from there, she said.

Video that surfaced shows the officer take the teen outside and, seconds later, the teen had the officer in a chokehold.

Scott says what matters happened in the seconds before and does not show up on the video.

“And that’s when he dragged him outside and hit him twice in the head,” Scott said.

Hartford Police had no comment beyond what they said soon after the incident happened, stressing that there have been no reports of police brutality or excessive force.

“If you look at the raw uncut, you can see how potentially dangerous (the) situation it is for everybody involved,” Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said.

The department has launched an internal investigation into the incident and said they are asking witnesses to come forward.

That is why Scott is sharing her side with officers today.

“I felt like he tried to calm down the cop because he was dragging him and punching him in the face. What else can you do? You’re not just going to sit there and take the hit,” she said.

The officer, a 16-year veteran on the force, has not been charged aand has since recovered from his injuries.

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25 Years of Stunning Hubble Space Photos


In the 25 years since NASA scientists sent the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit, the telescope has delivered a peek into the workings of the universe, with images of galaxies and stellar nurseries sparkling in the light of massive stars. 

To celebrate the anniversary, which takes place April 24, 2015, NASA released a Hubble photograph of Constellation Carina that shows purple, orange and red swirling light. 

"Hubble has fundamentally changed our human understanding of our universe and our place in it," NASA's science mission chief John Grunsfeld told a crowd at the photos' release at the Newseum in Washington. "Hubble inspires the world.”

Over 25 years, the 350-mile high telescope captured over 38,000 celestial objects, The Associated Press reported. Who knew gas and dust could be so awe-inspiring? 

Photo Credit: AP
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Funeral Saturday for Teen Killed in New Haven


Family and friends will pay their final respects on Saturday to a 16-year-old New Haven boy and standout baseball player who was shot and killed over the weekend in front of his home.

Jericho Scott was killed early Sunday as he was leaning into a Volkswagen hatchback outside his house on Exchange Street near Blatchley Avenue when someone opened fire into the car.

according to his family, and police are searching for the killer and urging anyone with information to come forward.

During his short life, Scott made a name for himself as a talented baseball player and had a room full of trophies.

His mother, Nicole Scott, said Jericho started making headlines on the baseball field when he was 9 years old, throwing pitches so fast that other Little League teams refused to play against him.

His obituary mentions not only his talents in baseball, but also his infectious smile tendency to be an outgoing jokester. 

"No parent deserves to bury their child, no parent," said his father, Leroy Scott. "You shouldn't have to bury your child."

Scott was a junior at Wilbur Cross High School, where grief counselors were available this week to provide support to students affected by their classmate's death.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with this child's family, his friends and with the entire school district community," New Haven Supt. Garth Harries said in a statement. "While the complex circumstances surrounding the loss of this child leave us deeply saddened and perplexed, we stand resolved to find ways to bring an end to these acts of violence among our city youth, and engage all students on positive paths for their future."

As family prepares for the funeral, police are searching for leads in the case.

“We are beyond frustrated, knowing that there were people out there, knowing there had to have been people, perhaps dozens of people who witnessed this, and who aren't coming forward,” Officer Dave Hartman, of the New Haven Police Department said.

Calling hours are Friday, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., at Ebenezer Chapel, at 50 Dwight Street in New Haven. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. at the chapel.

Photo Credit: Family Photo
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