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Slain Teen's Life Celebrated 1 Year Since Stabbing

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Marking one year since a Milford teen was stabbed to death in her high school, friends and family gathered to celebrate her life on Saturday.

The event, called Peace, Love, and Music from Maren, showcased some of Maren Sanchez’s favorite high school activities. There was a 5K run, a street art exhibit featuring some of her own works and musical acts throughout the day at Jonathan Law High School.

Purple balloons dotted the softball field and many people wore the color, which was Sanchez’s favorite.

The school’s principal, Fran Thompson, said in the days after Sanchez’s death the community rallied around the school.

So, this was a way to give back to the city. There were also food trucks, a raffle and 18 inflatables.

The day was less about mourning a loss and more about celebrating what Maren loved.

“I think it’s just clearly evident the impact she made on Milford, and Milford rallied together for her. She’s a great girl,” said former classmate Gabrielle Verdura.

Chloe Soto’s older sister was Sanchez’s best friend.

“It was very hard on all of us,” Soto said of finding out that a fellow classmate had stabbed Sanchez in the school’s hallway hours before her junior prom.

Many of her friends said her death was still too difficult for them to talk about.

An avid artist, Maren didn’t limit herself, also participating in academics and athletics outside of class.

“She was a photographer, she was a singer, she was a manager of the swim team and the softball team,” said Thompson. "The thing I remember most about Maren was just how kind she was. She was the type of person who transcended all areas."

Many spoke of Sanchez’s personality.

“She always had a smile on her face. Always,” said Verdura.

“She opened up to us and welcomed us, and she was really funny and nice even though they were all upper classmen,” added Colleen Goodwin, a freshman who took drama with Sanchez.

Friends said the outpouring of support Saturday was a testament to how much Maren was liked.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

NJ Woman Among More Than 3,500 Dead in Nepal Earthquake

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Marisa Eve Girawong, a physician's assistant from Edison, New Jersey, was among the more than 3,500 killed in an avalanche at a Mount Everest base camp, according to a mountaineering company.

Seattle-based Madison Mountaineering's website described Girawong as an emergency room physician's assistant who was serving as the team's camp doctor. She was an avid rock climber and mountaineer who was pursuing an advanced degree in mountain medicine, the site said.

"She is loved by all of us in base camp and a great addition to our team and helped us tremendously," Garrett Madison said in a satellite phone dispatch from the mountain. "She will be missed greatly. We're very sorry for her loss."

East Orange General Hospital, where Girawong worked previously as a physician's assistant, issued a statement mourning her loss.

In New York City, members of the Nepali community were grieving for the thousands of people killed in their homeland.

Luna Ranjit, a staffer at the Adhikaar Nepali Center in Queens, said she felt somewhat at a loss.

"It's sort of a sense of helplessness to be so far away. I wish I could be there with my friends and family and do something about it," she said.

Ranjit said she hopes that even from so far away she can help connect people to resources and bring attention to the tragedy.

An estimated 40,000 Nepali immigrants live in the New York City area. Many were planning to gather for a prayer vigil Sunday.

If you are looking for a loved one or have information on someone who may have been a victim, click here.

NY Daily News Truck Driver Dies

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A 24-year-old driver for the Daily News was killed Sunday morning when his delivery truck collided with a green outer-borough taxi in Brooklyn, police said. 

The accident happened around 5:45 a.m. at the intersection of Nostrand and Flushing Avenues in Williamsburg.

Dash cam video taken from a car not involved in the accident shows the Daily News truck approach the intersection at a yellow light before it collides with the taxi.

The collision was so violent that it sent the Daily News truck toppling over.

When police arrived they found the driver, identified as Jonathan Long of Brooklyn, unconscious and suffering from traumatic injuries.

Long was taken to Woodhull Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

“The Daily News offers Mr. Long's family its deepest sympathies,” a company spokeswoman wrote in an email. 

A 58-year-old passenger in the truck was also taken to Woodhull Hospital. He is listed in stable condition.

Delivery truck drivers often don't wear seat belts and drive with their doors open, as they're continuously hopping in and out of their trucks.

The 26-year-old taxi driver was treated at the scene. His taxi license has been suspended just two weeks after he started driving a taxi, the Taxi and Limousine Commission said. 

Police are still investigating what caused the accident.

No arrests have been made.


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Who Were the Americans Killed in the Everest Avalanche?

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As the first group of survivors from Saturday’s earthquake-triggered avalanche on Mount Everest were flown to Nepal's capital, the U.S. State Department confirmed that three Americans were among the 17 people killed in the disaster.

Filmmaker Tom Taplin, Google executive Dan Fredinburg, and camp doctor Marisa Eve Girawong all died in the avalanche. Here’s more about their lives:

______________________________________________________________

Google issued a statement Saturday confirming the death of executive Dan Fredinburg who was the head of privacy for innovation lab Google[x].

Fredinburg had been scaling the mountain for the past three weeks with three other Google employees through U.K.-based tour company Jagged Globe, according to NBC News. The three were found safe, according to Google.

"Sadly, we lost one of our own in this tragedy," the statement read. "Dan Fredinburg a longtime member of the Privacy organization in Mountain View, was in Nepal with three other Googlers, hiking Mount Everest. He has passed away. The other three Googlers with him are safe and we are working to get them home quickly."

Actress Sophia Bush, who Fredinburg dated from 2013 and 2014, expressed her sadness over his passing on social media.

"Today I find myself attempting to pick up the pieces of my heart that have broken into such tiny shards, I'll likely never find them all," the actress said in a statement on Twitter and Instagram. "He was one of my favorite human beings on Earth.”

______________________________________________________________

Marisa Eve Girawong, from Edison, N.J., was described as an emergency room physician assistant. A Seattle-based mountaineering company said she was serving as a camp doctor for its team on the mountain when she was killed in the avalanche.

She was an avid rock climber and mountaineer who was pursuing an advanced degree in mountain medicine, Madison Mountaineering said in a statement. She attended school in Chicago and had successfully reached the summits of Mt. Washington and Mt. Rainier.

"Our hearts are broken," the company said in a statement.

______________________________________________________________

Tom Taplin, 61, was a Denver-born filmmaker working on a documentary about the Mount Everest base camp at the time of the avalanche, NBC affiliate KUSA reported.

His wife, Cory Freyer, told NBC News he was a photographer, filmmaker and mountaineer, and had written a book about his experiences climbing South America's tallest peak, Aconcagua, in the early 1990s.

She also said that it was on that trip that Taplin broke his arm after falling into a crevasse. However, he was able to pull himself to a place where he was reached by other mountaineers, she added. He was able to successfully climbed the mountain the next year, she said.

"It sounds trite, but he died doing what he loved doing," Cory Freyer told NBC News.




Photo Credit: Madison Mountaineering, Cory Freyer, Getty Images
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Run for Today: Run for Babies Benefits March of Dimes

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More than 5,000 walkers and 200 runners were expected at Rentschler Field Sunday for the Run for Babies to benefit the March of Dimes.

It's the second year March of Dimes has added a 5-kilometer run to the event.

As part of the Run for Today partnership with The Today Show, NBC Connecticut Traffic Reporter Heidi Voight, our TV personalities and station staff ran in the 5K, which was followed by the walk.

The event benefits the mission of the March of Dimes, which is to give all babies healthy start at life.

Earlier this week, NBC Connecticut introduced you to one family from Manchester whose baby was born four months premature. Kaleb Mason is 3 years old now and was there leading his own team in the walk portion of the event.

The run kicked off at 8:30 a.m. and the walk stepped off at 10 a.m. with more than 5,000 walkers.
 



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

I-95 Car Fire May Have Been Result of Police Chase: State Police

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A car fire early Sunday morning on Interstate 95 south in Bridgeport may have been the result of a police chase out of Stratford, according to state police.

The car caught fire just before 2 a.m. on the southbound side of the highway between exits 28 and 29.

Stratford police were not immediately available for comment because they responded to the scene on the Merritt Parkway after at least two crashes.

No further information was immediately available.

Rollover Crash on I-91 in Rocky Hill

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Crews are on scene at a rollover crash on Interstate 91 at exit 23 in Rocky Hill.

There is no word on injuries.

No lanes are closed at this time, but it is causing traffic delays.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Car Fire on I-91 in Wallingford

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A car caught fire on Interstate 91 southbound in Wallingford, closing the highway early Sunday morning.

The car fire happened near exit 14.

No one was injured.



Photo Credit: Getty Images

College Network End Classes for 16K

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Roughly 16,000 students enrolled in a chain of troubled for-profit colleges are no longer able to take classes after the schools' parent company, Corinthian Colleges, Inc., announced Sunday it is ceasing all of its operations.

The Orange County-based school network has not yet made arrangements with other schools to find "continuing educational opportunities" at its 28 remaining campuses, which are closing effective Monday, the school said.

CCI added that it would rely on the help of regulatory agencies and partner institutions to place students enrolled at Heald College campuses in California, Hawaii and Oregon, as well as Everest and WyoTech schools in California, Arizona and New York.

“Now we're going have to make a mad dash to find another option. For some of us this was our last resort," said Krisa Mata, a student who said she took out loans to attend CCI's Everest College in Reseda.

"It's the first thing I saw on my phone when I woke up. I have no idea what I'm gonna do now," she said.

The announcement occurs less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of Education said it was fining the institution $30 million over misrepresentation. The department contends that Corinthian has not addressed allegations of falsifying job placement data and altering grades and attendance records, The Associated Press reported.

The school was unable to sell off all its schools under a deal with the U.S. Department of Education, it said in a statement, though it has sold 56.

"Largely as a result of recent state and federal regulatory actions, we were unable to complete a sale, and our only option was to close our schools," CEO Jack Massimino wrote in a letter to students posted on the school's website. 

California Attorney General Kamala Harris sued Corinthian in 2013 for allegedly misrepresenting how many of its graduates were placed in jobs in actions she called “unconscionable” and “predatory." She also alleged that the chain advertised that it offered classes it did not.

It agreed the next year to sell 85 campuses and close a dozen more in an agreement with the Department of Education, which was closely monitoring school data, according to information submitted to a federal regulatory agency.

Corinthian was one of the country's largest for-profit educational institutions, according to the AP. It collapsed last summer amid a cash shortage and fraud allegations.
 



Photo Credit: AP

Free Pretzel Challenge on National Pretzel Day

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Pretzelmaker is offering free pretzels in honor of National Pretzel Day on Sunday, but only with this twist.

You have to recite a tongue twister to get one.

The challenge is offered at Pretzelmaker locations in the Meriden Square Mall, the Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester and the Westfarms Mall in Farmington.



Photo Credit: AP

Gunshot Victim Buys Water While Wounded: PD

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A man who was shot in Hartford overnight walked into a gas station on Capitol Avenue to buy water while he was wounded.

The cashier at the Shell gas station at 335 Capitol Avenue told police that a man with a gunshot wound to the neck asked for help opening a water bottle he bought from the store.

The cashier told him to go to the hospital.

No further information was immediately available and the name of the gunshot victim hasn't been released.

The circumstances of the shooting are unknown.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

State Police Seek Somers Armed Robber

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State police are looking for an armed robber who robbed a gas station convenience store in Somers just after midnight Sunday morning.

A man wielding a handgun demanded money at gunpoint from a clerk at the Sunoco Xtra Mart at 169 Main Street in Somers. State police received a 911 call at about 12:29 a.m.

The clerk was not hurt in the armed robbery and the man with the gun ran from the store.

He is described as a 30-year-old who is 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds and who has salt and pepper scruffy facial hair and sunglasses, state police said.

State police ask anyone with information to call detectives at the Troop C barracks in Tolland at 860-896-3200 or 860-896-3230. Calls will remain confidential.



Photo Credit: State Police

Family Displaced After Fire in Prospect

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A family is displaced tonight after fire ripped through their home in Prospect Sunday.

According to Bill Lauber, Volunteer Fire Department of Prospect Assistant Chief, the  fire broke out in the back porch area of the home at 4 Old Schoolhouse Road around 4:30 p.m. A neighbor saw the flames and warned the residents to evacuate.

When fire crews arrived on scene all three occupants and their dog were out safe, and heavy fire was showing from the back of the building. The fire department rescued one cat and was able to knock down the fire. Another cat is still unaccounted for.

Lauber says one firefighter was treated for nausea at the scene. There were no other reported injuries. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the fire marshal.

The Bethany and Cheshire fire departments to the scene to assist and Naugatuck provided station coverage.  The road was shut down while crews worked but has since reopened.
 



Photo Credit: Mike McGee/ @mcgee_mike

I-95 South Reopens After Crash

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Interstate 95 south has reopened in Old Lyme after a serious crash near near exit 71.

LifeStar was called and then canceled.

No further information was immediately available.



Photo Credit: DOT

Chinese Restaurant Delivery Driver Robbed at Gunpoint

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A Chinese restaurant delivery driver was robbed at gunpoint late Saturday night.

A man approached the restaurant employee and asked for a lighter and then ordered the delivery driver out of the vehicle as he wielded a black handgun, according to police. A white SUV pulled up and two accomplices got out, police said.

The man was taken to Keney Park near The Pond House. The robbers took the delivery driver's wallet, digital camera and two cell phones and fled the scene.

Police are looking for the three robbers. No arrests have been made at this time.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Dog Helps Officers Make Two Narcotics Arrests

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Two men were arrested on narcotics charges after a police dog detected drugs during a motor vehicle stop in Putnam.

Robert MaCkiernan and Jamie Field were both arrested on drug charges.

Putnam police dog Aron alerted police to the presence of narcotics in a car officers pulled over that the two individuals were in.

Police found $5,000 in cash, heroin, suboxone and synthetic mairjuana in the car. Officers seized the vehicle and plan to "file papers for asset forfeiture for the involved property," police said in a news release. 

MaCkiernan was charged with failure to display a front plate, possession of narcotics and possession of a controlled substance. He also had an outstanding warrant in his name for unrelated domestic violence charges, so he was booked on those charges.

Field was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of narcotics and possession of narcotics with intent to sell.

MaCkiernan was held on a $5,000 bond and Field was held in lieu of a $25,000 bond.

Both are scheduled to appear in Danielson Superior Court on April 27.

Police ask residents to report any illegal narcotic activity to the Putnam Police Department at 860-928-6565.



Photo Credit: Putnam Police Department

Local Nepalese Hold Vigil for Quake Victims

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For many Connecticut residents, Nepal might seem to be a world away, but most of the nearly 1,500 natives of Nepal now living here have a connection to this disaster.

In West Hartford on Sunday, dozens of people from the Nepalese community came together and lit candles to outline the image of a country, which is hurting.

“We are gathered here today to show our respect and to show our condolences to all the victims of the earthquake in Nepal yesterday,” Zenith Rai, of West Hartford, said.

The Nepalese Association of Connecticut organized the vigil.

Almost everyone who attended the vigil was affected by the disaster, whether they lost a loved one in Nepal or knew someone whose home was damaged.

Some, including a nurse, are vowing to head there to help.

“What happened in my country is so devastating but I’m willing to go to my country, give my hands to them,” Pramila Subedi, of Windsor Locks, said.

Many are still waiting to hear if their relatives are OK.

This weekend, they held a moment of silence for all the victims, offered prayers for their homeland, and made plans to do what they can to help.

“I’m going to see if I can get some fundraising at my school to donate money to them so they can get, so they can rebuild. their houses,” Anuj Dahal, of West Hartford, said.

The full scope of the damage is still not clear and rescue work has been difficult with nearly 100 earthquakes and aftershocks.
 



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Had 18 lbs of Pot at Airport

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A leaky suitcase led to the arrest of a New York man who is accused of attempting to board a flight at Laguardia Airport with several pounds of marijuana and a few ounces of crack cocaine in his baggage.

Airport screeners contacted Port Authority police at about 11 a.m. Saturday after noticing liquid leaking from a checked bag that emitted an odor of marijuana, investigators said Sunday.

After finding marijuana inside the bag, police traced it to Kelvin Smith, 55, of the Bronx, who was waiting for a flight at a US Airways gate, investigators said. Police learned that Smith had checked in an additional bag and found that it contained more marijuana wrapped in plastic and 2.8 ounces of crack cocaine.

Smith's two bags contained 18 pounds of marijuana, investigators said.

Smith was charged with first-degree criminal possession of marijuana and second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, police said. It was unclear whether he had retained an attorney who could comment on the charges.

Court records indicate that Smith has 41 prior convictions for drug offenses, investigators said. 

Raw Video: Truck Goes Up in Flames

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A huge ball of flames engulfed a gasoline tanker truck on a freeway outside of Los Angeles on Sunday, sending black plumes of smoke into the air that could be seen for miles and causing a traffic nightmare.

The double-tanker truck was hauling 8,800 gallons of gas on the southbound 710 Freeway when it jackknifed near the Florence Avenue exit in Bell and exploded in flames, California Highway Patrol officials said.

Dozens of firefighters arrived just after 3:30 p.m. to battle the huge fire, which could be seen as far as downtown Los Angeles.

Crews managed to extinguish the flames about an hour later. No injuries were immediately reported.

The driver escaped the crash with minor bumps and bruises, fire officials said. A passenger in the truck was also OK.

"(The driver) heard a loud pop. He looked in his rearview mirror and he noticed that the rear trailer had overturned," said CHP Officer Juan Galvan.

Northbound lanes of the 710 Freeway reopened about 9:30 p.m. after an hours-long closure that backed up traffic for miles.

Southbound lanes were expected to remain closed through mid-Monday morning, CHP officials said.

Crews were working to clean up what was left of the charred tanker and Caltrans officials were assessing the severity of the damage to the road.

The cause of the crash was unclear. CHP officials said no other vehicles were involved in the wreck.

NBC4's Kate Larsen contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: KNBC

9-Year-Old Attempts Aerial Record

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A 9-year-old girl from Orange County, Califronia, was head over heels Saturday as she attempted to break a world record for most consecutive aerials.

Ollivia Nguyen completed 42 of the handless cartwheels on a mat in an Anaheim gym in front of a cheering crowd and a Guinness World Record camera, according to her mother.

"In the beginning it feels easy because I have a lot of oxygen but at the end my breathing kind of gets heavy," Nguyen said in a practice before the record attempt.

Nguyen practiced for over six months to accomplish the feat, said her current coach, Sarah Eshom.

"We've worked on different techniques," Eshom said, "and once we found the technique that best fit her we started building up the numbers. We went from 10 to 20 to 30 and then now she's doing 40 consecutive with no problem."

The current record for “Most Consecutive Aerials-Breakdance,” is six, Anthony Yodice, a spokesman for Guinness World Records North America Inc., told the OC Register.

The idea of Nguyen breaking the record came from a conversation her mother, Nicholle Aguilar, had with another of Nguyen's coaches.

"(He) said, 'You know I think that she can really do this,'" Aguilar said. "He kind of put this in her heart or the inspiration in her heart."

The attempt was recorded and sent to Guinness World Record officials to verify the two-and-a-half minute video, according to the OC Register. Two certified gymnast instructors and a notary were present at the event.

"I believe in her and I knew she could do it, so we pursued it," Aguilar said at the pre-record attempt practice.



Photo Credit: Kevin Dahlgren
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