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Tourist, 21, on NYC Family Vacation Vanishes After Getting Lost in Bronx


The NYPD is working with the French Embassy to find a 21-year-old tourist who went missing in the city while he was on vacation with his family, authorities said Friday.

Arthur Astie had been in the city for about a week with his parents and sister before he went missing May 4 in the Bronx, police said. Authorities say the man, whose nickname is Ubu, was trying to catch a train to Harlem, where his family was staying, but hopped on the wrong train and got lost in the Bronx.

He was last seen heading back underground to try to get on the right train, authorities say.

Astie has no known friends in New York and speaks very poor English, police said. He's described as being about 5 feet 9 inches tall with blue eyes and a slim build.

Police released a photo of the man (above). Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the NYPD. 

Photo Credit: Handout

"White Lives Matter" Fliers Dropped Outside Westport Homes


Westport is the latest shoreline town to find "White Lives Matter" fliers dropped outside homes.

It's the third instance in two weeks. Residents of East Haven and Milford also noticed the racially charged leaflets, which first showed up amid violent unrest in Baltimore over the police-custody death of Freddie Gray.

Although it's not clear who is behind them, the fliers in all three towns look identical: "#White Lives Matter" is printed in large black font on a white sheet of paper. The fliers are enclosed in plastic bags and weighed down with rocks.

The phrase appears to be in response to the slogan "Black Lives Matter," which has gained support after the killings of black men by police officers in places like Ferguson, New York City and Baltimore.

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe described his town as "open and welcoming" but condemned the fliers.

"I am deeply concerned and disappointed that statements like this have found their way to Westport homes. This kind of racial ugliness has no place anywhere, and certainly not in Westport," he said in a statement Friday. "This past year has reminded us that our nation still needs to deal with some serious racial issues, and now we know that Westport is not immune. I have asked TEAM Westport to work with the Interfaith Clergy, the Board of Education and the appropriate Town agencies, to lead our community's response to these outrageous statements and, more importantly, the behaviors and beliefs that underpin them."

Community members said they plan to join religious leaders and others to lead a response to what they see as outrageous statements.

"I think they’re horrible. I mean I don’t think any lives matter over others. I think all lives matter," said Westport resident Denise Torve.

Residents said it's also a reminder that the nation, including Westport, still has work to do when it comes to racial issues.

"I understand the 'Black Lives Matter' viewpoint because black lives do seem to be under a little bit more threat, and as a grandmother of a black grandson I am very conscientious of that," said Torve.

All the fliers appeared to have been collected and removed by Friday afternoon.

Photo Credit: www.danwoog06880.com

Garbage Truck Driver Killed in Crash With Tree in Brooklyn


A garbage truck driver is dead after the truck veered off the road and collided with a tree in Brooklyn, Connecticut, late Friday morning, according to state police.

State police said Jared Pechie, 32, of Danielson, was driving a Willimantic Waste Company truck on Prince Hill Road near the intersection with Gorman Road around 11:15 a.m. when the truck left the roadway.

Pechie was driving down a hill and was traveling at a slow rate of speed, according to police.

The truck crashed head-on into a tree and Pechie suffered fatal injuries, police said.

Authorities are investigating the crash.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Arrest in Missing Teen Death


A man is in custody in connection with the death of a teen whose charred body was found behind a shopping center in Sweetwater, Florida, in October 2014, and police say the suspect had known the victim for several years before she died.

On Thursday, Sweetwater police arrested 66-year-old Armando Botell, of Miami. He's charged with second degree murder with a deadly weapon.  according to an arrest report.

Investigators revealed that Botell had an "intimate" relationship with Romina Fernandez, 17, and had been selling drugs, including Xanax, to the girl since she was 15-years-old. Botell also had nude photos of Fernandez on his phone, according to the report.

"Today is a very special day because for many months we are always thinking about..." said Marcella Fernandez, Romina's aunt.

According to Miami-Dade Police Department investigators, a 9-1-1 call was issued on October 11th, 2014 reporting a fire behind a shopping center at the corner of Flagler Street and Southwest 114th Street in Sweetwater.

When crews arrived to extinguish the fire, they found the body of a woman burned beyond recognition. Through dental records, medical examiners later identified the victim as Fernandez of Sweetwater. The teen had been reported missing earlier that same day.

An autopsy ruled the cause of death to be a homicide.

The report further reveals that Botell developed a "stalking" relationship with the victim, to the point that police say Botell was "obsessed" with the victim.

"He was stalking her, he actually paid another witness that came forward... he paid to follow her, to watch her so obviously that shows the obsession that he had with this young lady," said Lt. John Jenkins of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Botell also reportedly confessed to a witness that he was physically abusive toward Fernandez.

According to the report, phone records reveal that Botell and Fernandez met at her Sweetwater home in the early morning hours the day before her death.

Investigators say both Fernandez and Botell's cell phones were pinging from the same tower near Fernandez's house until 5 p.m. on the day she died. At 5 p.m., Fernandez's phone was turned off.

Botell's phone also turned off just shortly after 5 p.m., then came back on approximately three hours after Fernandez's body was discovered.

Surveillance footage from the shopping plaza showed Botell's silver Mercedes SUV dumping Fernandez's body and igniting it on fire. That same vehicle was also seen parked outside Botell's home.

Botell provided two separate statements to investigators in February and May of 2015. His account of the events of the night and his relationship with Fernandez were contradicted by cellular tower records and witness testimony.

Following his arrest Thursday, Botell was transported to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
He has a prior conviction for murder in 1980 where he served 15 years in prison.

Botell made an appearance in court Friday afternoon where he was ordered held without bond. It is not known of Botell has hired an attorney.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade County Corrections & Rehabilitation

Family of Murdered Woman Hopes for Answers This Mother's Day


While many of people will be spending this Mother’s Day with the women who raised them, some families won’t have the chance to – including one from Waterbury who's still holding out hope that police will find their loved one's killer.

The family of Mary Jane Menard placed flowers and ballons that read, "Love you, Mom" along with a note that says, "thinking of you always" behind the New Britain strip mall where Menard's remains were found.

She went missing on a trip to buy cigarettes in 2003, and her remains were found in 2007 along with those of two other women who disappeared around the same time. Police have been investigating ever since.

"People go missing and they leave behind this loss. You can’t even explain the loss," said Menard's sister, Anna Santiago.

She says the days haven’t gotten any easier since her sister’s remains were uncovered.

"I thought she may have gotten into some trouble, but now that we found her remains, now I have to think in my head that she was killed brutally," said Menard's daughter Tiffany.

Police have identified the two other bodies found behind the strip mall as those of Diane Cusack and Joyvaline Martinez. Investigators found more remains just last month but haven't said whether they belong to a fourth person or one of the women already identified.

Family members hope the new developments will bring them closer to closure.

"We don’t know, but we are hoping to have answers for all three of our families," Santiago explained.

Photo Credit: Family Photo

South Windsor Sinkhole Repairs Delayed


Public works crews are continuing to repair a sinkhole on Main Street in South Windsor but said it will take longer than expected to fix.

The hole was originally about 15 feet in diameter but has now opened up to about 30 feet, which means an extra week of repairs for the city’s public works crew. Repairs were supposed to take about five days.

"They noticed some other areas where the road clearly was continuing to fail so as a result of that they had to start excavating, figure out exactly what’s going on," explained South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed.

The sinkhole opened up last Friday. Public works officials believe it was caused by a cracked culvert about 25 feet underground.

Since the pipes carry sewage, temporary pipes have been installed.

"This here is carrying sewage down from one manhole to the next manhole," Reed said, pointing out the pipes that run several blocks along Main Street. "These pipes go right into the hole and dump the sewage back into the sewer main and it continues its trek down to the sewage treatment plant."

Drivers trying to get to Main Street are urged to take Straughn Road or Route 5 until the street opens up again.

Democrats Propose Tax on Veterinarian Visits


Included in the more than $2 billion in revenues proposed by Democrats in the General Assembly is a new sales tax to be imposed at veterinarian offices across Connecticut.

The facilities and physicians that treat household pets and other animals, like golf courses and dry cleaners, have exemptions from charging the sales tax under state law.

"Our biggest concern is that a lot of pets are going go without a lot of missed care. It’s going to fall on the owners who are in this economy already falling on hard times," said Dr. Kristin Haviar, a veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of Rocky Hill.

Haviar worries that some animals could miss important vaccinations for rabies and other ailments, which she says presents a public health risk.

But, according to Connecticut House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, looking at tax proposals for things like veterinarians are easy targets but really small peanuts in the grand scheme of a two-year, nearly $40 billion budget.

“It’s really the bigger picture," said Sharkey, a Democrat from Hamden. "We’re restructuring the tax system to help working families. Lowering property taxes and we’re not asking them to contribute to the cost of this. We’re actually asking them to support this budget because it’s good for working families."

Senate Bill 1 would overhaul the system of property taxes that cities and towns have relied on for decades. Included in the measure is a statewide property tax that would replace local mill rates that residents currently pay. Sharkey and other Democrats contend that the annual savings from that measure alone outweigh what taxpayers will be charged in sales taxes.

"That’s one of the arguments to be made," said Sharkey. "Yup, there will be sales tax imposed on some things that aren’t currently, but compared to the savings that you’re going to get by your car tax dropping by hundreds of dollars per year, in most cases, that’s a trade off I think most tax payers will understand and accept."

Sharkey also pointed out that the proposal includes tax hikes on Connecticut residents making more than $1 million per year.

The General Assembly's Appropriations Committee has already approved a budget that depends on the new revenues.

Republicans in the legislature will hold a meeting Monday at the Capitol for the public to weigh in on the proposed tax and spending increases that have come from Democrats.

House and Senate GOP leaders unveiled their own budget proposal last month that didn't include any tax increases and covered a budget gap by asking for concessions from labor unions that represent state employees.

The budget included more than $1 billion in spending built in from a tax hike that Gov. Dannel Malloy signed into law several years ago.

Malloy has been quoted saying that the tax proposals go "too far" in his mind.

June 3 is the last day of the legislative session which is the deadline to approve a balanced budget.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Health Care Rates on Access Health CT May Go Up


Four major health care providers that offer plans on Connecticut's health insurance marketplace have filed for rate increases for the upcoming open enrollment period that begins Nov. 1, 2015.

The proposals filed would not affect plans purchased for the 2015 coverage year.

The following increases have been proposed: 2 percent for ConnectiCare, 6.7 percent for Anthem, 12.4 percent for United Healthcare and 13.96 percent for Healthy CT.

Actuaries with the Connecticut Department of Insurance will review the proposals before final decisions are made some time in August.

"They can accept them as they are, they can reduce them or they can deny them outright," said Gerard O'Sullivan, the department's director of consumer affairs. "All of this has to do with the costs that occur from health treatment."

All four providers cited increased medical costs as the reason for the proposals. A change under the Affordable Care Act also cuts the amount insurance providers can get reimbursed from the federal government for some procedures.

The government currently reimburses providers 70 percent for procedures costing between $45,000 and $250,000, but the lower threshold will increase to $90,000, which means more health care companies have to pay for pricier procedures.

O'Sullivan described the Affordable Care Act as a "whole new world" in the way insurance providers interact with customers.

According to Access Health, the increased premium could affect customers' eligibility to receive federal subsidies to help them pay for coverage, especially if the individual's income stays the same.

O'Sullivan urged customers to compare prices against plans to find a cheaper alternative if it turns out that they will have to pay more for coverage.

"They do have options," O'Sullivan said. "During the open enrollment period, they can shop around and they can talk to agents and they can go on the exchange, Access Health CT and see what makes the most sense for them."

In the meantime, customers can log onto ct.gov/cid and click on the "health insurance rate filing" to weigh in on the rate hike proposed for their specific plan.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

"Nothing Scarier": Torrington Mom Loses Home to Fire


Three Torrington families are looking for new places to live after fire raced through their multi-family home late Thursday night.

One of the women left homeless said her family lost almost everything when flames spread from her second-floor apartment on Roosevelt Avenue.

"To wake up with a fire and having your kids in there, I don’t think there’s anything scarier," said the mother of twin 7-year-old boys.

She said fire alarms jolted them from their sleep and they found flames raging in the kitchen. Even with the help of neighbors, she couldn’t stop the fire and was concerned for the safety of her boys.

"Any mom will walk through fire for her kids and they got out safely and that’s all I cared about," she said.

Firefighters said all 11 people and their pets escaped, including one family’s service dog.

While the damage to the outside of the building appears minimal, firefighters said the second and third floors were seriously damaged and no one can live here for a while.

The cause is under investigation, but the Torrington woman says it appears to have started near her stove, which was not being used at the time.

Now she’s thankful for the help of neighbors, firefighters and the Red Cross, which is putting them up in temporary housing.

"I’m okay with it though because we all escaped uninjured essentially. So, the only thing we’ve lost is just some stuff and that doesn’t matter," she said.

Men Stole Frozen Shrimp From Cromwell Market: Cops


 Cromwell police arrested two men accused of stealing a cart full of frozen shrimp from a local supermarket on Wednesday afternoon.

Police said Michael Naud, 26, and Gino Rizzo, 20, both of Middletown, stolen the frozen shellfish from the Stop & Shop on West St.

The Middletown Press reports that Rizzo was standing by the door with a shopping cart filled with shrimp  and Naud was going through the aisles with a shopping basket that was also filled with frozen shrimp, Lamontagne said.

Both men are due in court on May 19.

Photo Credit: Cromwell Police

Wethersfield Elementary Student Followed Home From School


Police patrolled the area of Webb Elementary School in Wethersfield on Friday afternoon after a student reported being followed home the day before, according to the superintendent.

Supt. Michael Emmett said the student told a parent he had been followed home Thursday afternoon. The school district notified police, who are investigating alongside the district security director.

Emmett said the person did not attempt to make verbal or physical contact with the child.

As a precaution, police increased their presence at the school on Willow Street during dismissal Friday afternoon. All school community members were notified of the incident and all district principals have been briefed, according to Emmett.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Drunken Driver Caused Crash Involving Pedestrian


A driver has been charged with operating under the influence after hitting a parked car on Main Street in East Hartford and pushing the vehicle into a pedestrian Friday night, according to police.

It happened around 8:30 p.m. in the area of 153 Main Street. Police said the pedestrian was briefly pinned under the parked car but was conscious and alert at the scene. The person, an adult man, was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

NBC Connecticut crews at the scene said a red Chevrolet Camaro and a pickup truck appeared to have been involved in the crash. The Camaro, which was stopped along a curb, sustained damage to the back bumper and left tail light. The truck came to rest on a sidewalk and was towed.

The driver involved, who has not been publicly identified, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

89-Year-Old Man Reported Missing From West Hartford


Police have issued a Silver Alert for an 89-year-old man reported missing from West Hartford.

Charles W. Britcher was last seen Friday. Police said he was wearing tan pants, a blue shirt, blue shoes and possibly glasses at the time.

He stands 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs 140 pounds and has white hair and brown eyes.

Britcher may be driving a white 2009 Hyundai Accent with license plates 382-DSK.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call West Hartford police at 860-523-5203.

Photo Credit: West Hartford Police Department

Military Bases Tighten Security Amid Terror Concerns


Military bases across the country are tightening security amid a fresh wave of terrorism concerns – among them, the submarine base in Groton.

"I'm not at liberty to talk about certain reports," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. "There are heightened threats that come and go, and we may be in one of them right now.?

Military installations around the U.S. have heightened security just days after two Americans were shot and killed as they allegedly prepared to attack an event in Texas depicting cartoon pictures of the prophet Muhammed. Experts say ISIS may have inspired the men.

The "Class Bravo" threat is said to be mid-level, indicating "an increased or more predictable threat of terrorist activity" and demanding "an increas in ID checks and vehicle searches."

Civilians who live and work near Subase New London feel the ripple effect.

"I mean it's definitely concerning, especially you living around the area, we got the Coast Guard, got the Navy base. It's scary, you know, we live close by. Anything could happen at any time," said New London resident Oriel Hayer.

Ray Fusconi of Groton has a unique perspective. Until two years ago, he owned a dry cleaning shop directly across from the base. He noted that the most conspicuous security changes have happened since 9/11.

"I have no fear. I served in World War II, I have no fear, but I respect it, I respect the high-security," said Fusconi.

This latest security increase is not the result of a specific threat from ISIS, but the FBI says after the Texas incident, it's more concerned than ever about home-grown ISIS sympathizers and their recruitment via social media.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Prom Dress Drama: Students Say Crackdown Comes Too Late


There's drama over the dress code at Shelton High School. With just one week until prom night, students and parents are saying it's too late for the school principal to crack down on dresses they've already paid for.

Students said the warning came over the intercom during morning announcements on Friday. School headmaster Dr. Beth Smith allegedly told the students what kind of dresses they will not be allowed to wear.

"Everybody was like freaking out in my class," said Samantha Bucherati, a senior whose dress was deemed inappropriate. School officials said they have flagged about half a dozen dresses.

Bucherati described Smith as "more strict" and said her message about prom attire is "just out of control."

According to students, Smith said backless dresses or those with slits or cut-outs would not be allowed.

Many of the students said they paid for their dresses weeks ago.

"Everyone’s so mad and everyone’s already bought their prom dress and spent hundreds of dollars," said Shelton High School student Jennifer Peebles.

Parents said they're upset about the timing of the crackdown.

“If she had a problem with this, she should have addressed it two or three months ago, not a week before, said Bucherati's mother, Leisha Verdi.

Though Smith did not respond to NBC Connecticut's request for comment, the Shelton Supt. Freeman Burr issued a statement that said, in part:

"The decision was made by the Headmaster to reiterate, once again, the appropriate prom dress guidelines."

Freedman said school administrators relayed the rules to students several months ago and this week's announcement was meant to serve as a reminder about those rules.

"She’s going for another alteration tomorrow," said Verdi. "I can’t return this dress."

The superintendent said that even those six or seven girls whose dresses have been deemed "inappropriate" will be able to have that decision reviewed as soon as Monday.

They may be able to alter their clothing to allow their dresses to be worn to the prom.

Photo Credit: Submitted

Philly Duck Boat Hits, Kills Woman


A Ride the Ducks boat full of passengers hit and killed a woman — who witnesses say was distracted by an iPad — as she crossed the street with her husband in Philadelphia's Chinatown neighborhood Friday afternoon.

The accident occurred at 11th and Arch around 5:20 p.m. and passengers — including young children — were forced to remain in the vehicle for nearly an hour after police covered the 68-year-old woman's body with a bright yellow tarp. She died of massive head injuries.

The woman and her husband were visiting the city from Texas, police said.

Ride the Ducks takes riders from the streets of Philadelphia into the water on sightseeing tours. The duck boat had a green light, according to police. Accident investigators plan to get a clearer picture of what happened from surveillance video and interviews with those nearby when the collision happened.

"She was looking at her iPad while crossing the street," said one woman who witnessed the incident, but asked not to be identified. "She got clipped by the duck boat originally and instead of stepping back, she held out her hand as if to say stop."

Joseph Kist, another witness, said the woman had her back to the vehicle when she was hit.

"She didn't know what was coming by," he said.

Ride the Ducks is the same company which operated a boat that stalled in the Delaware River and was run down by a barge in 2010, sending two Hungarian students to their deaths.

The organization and tugboat company, K-Sea Transportation, agreed to pay $15 million dollars in 2012 to the families of those victims as part of a settlement. A $2 million fund was set up for the 18 surviving passengers.

Dramatic video released just days before the trial showed the duck boat being run over by the barge. The video revealed the deckhand on the Duck boat was texting shortly before the accident. Government investigators also determined Matthew Devlin, the pilot of the tug which was guiding the barge through the river, was also on his phone and distracted by a family member's illness.

Devlin pleaded guilty to misconduct of a ship operator causing death and was sentenced to a year in prison plus three years probation.

Attorney Bob Mongeluzzi, who represented victims and their families in the fatal Delaware River crash, said Friday the duck boat's design may make driving on land challenging.

"The design of the duck boat itself makes it extremely difficult to operate on land because it is cumbersome and the visibility for the operator is hampered because he has a large bow of the boat extended in front of him," he said.

In a statement about Friday's incident, Ride the Ducks offered thoughts and prayers to the victim's family and said they were cooperating with authorities.

"We will provide counseling for those affected by the accident and offer support wherever possible," the statement read in part.

Photo Credit: NBC10

Girl: My iPhone Caught Fire


Roselly Rolon got her daughter, Alexis, an Apple iPhone 5C for peace of mind in case of an emergency. But the Northeast Philadelphia mother never expected the smartphone to be the source of trouble.

On Friday morning, however, the family claims just that happened. As the 12-year-old walked to school, she said the popular smartphone caught fire in the pocket of her pants.

"All I saw was smoke coming out and then it was my phone. So I threw it on the ground — my butt was, like, burning," the girl recalled.

Alexis heard a cracking sound coming from the phone before it caught fire, but she didn't realize anything was wrong until the smoke began to rise, she said.

"I took it out ... and I threw it on the ground and started stomping out the fire," she said.

The white phone's case was left disfigured, the metal charred and rippled. The device burned through the back pocket of Alexis' jeans and left the girl with second-degree burns, doctors at Nazareth Hospital determined.

"We depend on these phones. And the same phone that I'm depending on is gonna burn my daughter," Roselly Rolon, the girl's mother, said angrily. "Thank God it wasn't her face."

The girl said the phone had been problem-free before Friday's fire and that she charged it normally Thursday night.

Apple told NBC10 they can't comment because the Rolons haven't contacted them directly about the incident. The family says their attorney is reaching out to the tech giant.

This isn't the first time an iPhone owner claimed their phone combusted. A middle schooler in Maine suffered 2nd degree burns in January 2014 after she said her iPhone 5C caught fire in her pocket. An Arizona man also suffered similar burns after he said an iPhone 6 went up in flames in his pocket last October.

Despite the pain inflicted by the device, Alexis isn't shying away from the smartphone. "I like the iPhone, but I don't want that one anymore. I want a different one," she said.

Photo Credit: NBC10

Truck Taken With Calif. Kids Inside


A woman allegedly stole a pickup truck with three children inside before dropping them off at a restaurant and leading police on a high-speed chase over 80 miles across Los Angeles County, police said.

The chase began after 9 p.m. when the woman stole the truck from an Auto Zone in Apple Valley. The children were inside, officials said. The woman dropped them off at Tom's restaurant in Victorville.

"They were just scared," said Crystal Gonzalez, who works at the restaurant and called police to help them. "They were crying. They were asking where their dad was."

The kids told Gonzalez that their dad told them to stay in the car while he went into a Home Depot for five minutes. That's when the woman jumped into the truck and took off with them inside, saying she knew their father and it was going to be OK.

Gonzalez said the children — two boys and a girl, about 5 and 6 years old — could only describe the suspect as wearing a hoodie. After dropping them off, the suspect led police on a chase for more than an hour, weaving in and out of traffic over several freeways at speeds up to 100 mph.

The chase ended on a residential street at 10:17 p.m. as the pickup truck was driven towards two Whittier Police Department vehicles and came to a stop.

It was not immediately clear if the suspect had a defense attorney.

Air Quality Warning in Effect


Officials have issued an air quality alert for northern Connecticut as temperatures jump into the 80s and ozone pollution increases.

The alert specifically applies to residents of northern Fairfield, northern New Haven, Litchfield, Hartford and Tolland counties, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

"It's our first air quality alert for the season," said air quality meteorologist Michael Geigert.

Ozone pollution increases on hot, sunny days, which can also bring high levels of fine particulate matter.

DEEP officials said high levels of ozone can cause breathing problems in children and adults with respiratory diseases such as asthma and in senior citizens. Healthy, active adults and children can also be affected by ozone.

The state issued 17 air quality warnings last year.

"In general, they've been going down year to year, but it's hard to say what this summer will bring," Geigert said.

Officials recommend taking the following measures to help minimize air pollution when levels are high:

  • Conserve electricity by setting air conditioners to 78 degrees
  • Wait until 8 p.m. after the temperature drops to use energy-intensive appliances such as washing machines, dryers and dishwashers
  • Telecommute, carpool or use public transit to cut down on the number of cars on the road
  • Don't idle a car when you don't have to, and wait until after dark to fill your gas tank

Race in the Park Benefits Breast Cancer Awareness


Saturday, a sea of pink welcomed runners to Walnut Hill park in New Britain.

Their goal was to cross the finish line and raise money for breast cancer research.

Race in the Park is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Connecticut Breast Health Initiative, which says it won't stop running towards its goal of finding a cure.

“There’s 23 different types of breast cancer and they’re working on five or six particular types of breast cancer. Their research over at the UConn Medical Center is very close to finding a cure,” said Rick Buckley, who sits on the board of the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative.

He said doctors have told the organization that a cure for certain types of breast cancer could come in five years.

The initiative has awarded nearly three-million-dollars to Connecticut hospitals researching breast cancer. They hoped to raise another $700,000 through Saturday's race.

Not only focused on finding a cure, the race was also an opportunity for survivors to check-in with each other.

“I’m a 22-year breast cancer survivor. I just put my 22nd ribbon on my hat,” said Marsha Goldstein of Newington.

“I’m actually going through breast cancer right now,” said Rachel Correa of New Britain. “Coming here, seeing everyone else has given me a lot of strength, and hope, and courage.”

“I’m one of the lucky ones. I have 19 ribbons. I look to have 25 like the person sitting next to me. The person on the other side of me, she may only have two ribbons, but I say to her, you have hope. Look at me,” added Judy Donofrio, also of New Britain.

It’s that support that helps Mary Gotlibowsk, a five-year breast cancer survivor, have an upbeat outlook on her future.

“They are my hope, I know by their success that I can never ever give up,” she explained.

Whether there to inspire, find support, or fight, the thousands crossing the finish line said they were doing it together, one step at a time.


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