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Man Robbed While Cutting Through Bristol Park


Police are looking for two men who robbed another man as he was cutting through a Bristol park to get home on Tuesday night.

The victim, a 20-year-old man, told police he got off the bus at Main Street and Riverside Avenue at 11:20 p.m. and was cutting through Brackett Park to get to Landry Street when two men approached him, demanded his money and his cell phone and threatened to beat him if he didn’t turn them over, police said.

The victim gave the men the items they demanded, then ran home, police said.

Which direction the robbers ran in is not clear.

One was clean shaven, around 6-feet tall and weighs around 170 pounds. The other is also clean shaven, around 5-feet-10 and 200 pounds.

Neither man showed a weapon or indicated they had one, said police, who have not identified any suspects.

Firefighters Extinguish Boat Fire at Branford Yacht Club


Firefighters doused flames that broke out on a boat at Indian Neck Yacht Club on Indian Neck Avenue  Wednesday morning in Branford.

The Branford Fire Department was called out to the yacht club at 87 Harding Avenue at 9:10 a.m. and officials said the fire was under control in 15 minutes.

No one was working on the boat, which was supposed to be launched today, when fire broke out and no one was hurt, according to the fire department.

The Branford Fire Department is waiting for the water level to recede before they can investigate.

A boat nearby was also damaged by the heat.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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WATCH: Videos Capture Amtrak Crash's Harrowing Aftermath


Passengers' and witnesses' cameras caught the harrowing moments after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 200 more.

Video shot by passengers shows people helping each other crawl off the derailed train, lying on its side, and first responders helping injured victims into ambulances. In another clip, passengers push open a door. "Go, go, go, go," they tell each other.

Watch footage of the train crash's aftermath in the players above and below.

Photo Credit: AP
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I-84 Rock Blasting in Waterbury Will Cause Periodic Brief Closures


Interstate 84 east in Waterbury will be closed periodically over the next few months during rock blasting as part of a $300 million highway widening project.

On Wednesday, crews were rock blasting the stretch of the highway near exit 23.

The rock blasting will happen between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays over the next couple of months during the long-term highway widening project. The rock blasting bursts only span a short period of time, so that doesn't mean the highway will be shut down for that entire window on those days and it could be a matter of minutes.

The project began back in April and will create a third lane in each direction on the section of I-84 between Washington Street and Pierpont Road.

The entire project is expected to span five years. DOT officials plan on keeping all lanes open during rush hour to minimize traffic.

Photo Credit: DOT

Police Recognize Boy for Returning Missing Wallet


When an 8-year-old Waterford boy found a missing wallet containing hundreds of dollars and the owner’s personal property, he did the right thing and local police are applauding him for providing a good example of what to do in a similar situation.

Giovanni Facchini found a wallet on Route 1 that contained several items, credit cards, and $355, police said.

At first, he and his dad tried to find the owner on their own, but they weren’t able to, so they brought the wallet to police on Wednesday morning.

Police said on Wednesday afternoon that they have located the owner of the wallet, but the person has not yet come in to claim it.

“We talked with Giovanni about what a good job he did, and how much his gesture means to the person that lost the wallet,” police said on their Facebook page. “Great job Giovanni, we love that Waterford is filled with good kids like you!”

Photo Credit: Waterford Police
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Hearse Stops for Coffee, Leaves Vet


Two former funeral home employees are out of a job after they stopped for coffee at a Dunkin' Donuts, leaving a hearse carrying the flag-draped coffin of an Army veteran in the parking lot.

NBC affiliate WFLA reports that the body of Lt. Col. Jesse Coleman was on its way from Veterans Funeral Care in Clearwater to a funeral service Tuesday morning. The two employees stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts in New Port Richey around 8:50 a.m.

Rob Carpenter, who was headed into the Dunkin' Donuts that morning, did a double take when he saw the hearse. Carpenter's own father served in the military, so he decided to confront the drivers.

"I'm like, 'Is this really a body in here?' and he says, 'Yes,' and I said, 'So you have a dead soldier in the back of your hearse and you're stopping to get coffee?' And he didn't say anything," WFLA reports.

Carpenter decided to pull out his cell phone and take a video and photos of the hearse. He passed them along to local group, Veteran's Warriors.

Lauren Price, the head of Veteran Warriors, posted the photo on Facebook and it went viral.

"None of our brothers or sisters deserve to be an afterthought," Price told WFLA. "And if it's an imposition to transfer one of our brothers or sisters to their final rest, then the person who's doing that transporting should be in a different business."

Funeral home director Jim Rudolph said the employees were in violation of strict company protocol which dictates that drivers take the body straight from the funeral home to the service with no stops.

Rudolph said that only in the case of an emergency, which this was not, one of the drivers must remain with the body, and the curtains must be closed in the back to conceal the coffin from outside viewers.

He told WFLA that the men are brothers in their 70's who have worked for the funeral home for several years with stellar employee history. He adds that the men are actually sons of veterans themselves.

Rudolph said he considered suspending the long time employees, but ultimately decided it was necessary to terminate them both. He said both men were "heartbroken."

"They were good employees and didn't want to go out like this," Rudolph said. "In this business, you can't have a redo, if you tarnish someone's memory."

He says Coleman's family, however, was surprisingly forgiving and didn't want the men to lose their jobs, even praising their work at the funeral.

The family says Coleman, who died at age 84, served one tour in Korea, two in Vietnam, and was the recipient of numerous medals from the military, including two Bronze Star Medals and two Army Commendation Medals.

Plans have been made to bury Coleman at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Photo Credit: Rob Carpenter/WFLA
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McD's to Trim Drive-Through Menu


You may no longer be able to peruse all of McDonald's menu items when ordering at the drive-through.

In a Monday webcast with franchisees, McDonald's executives unveiled plans to display only the fast-food giant's top-selling items on their drive-through menu boards, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The company hopes the new cut-back menus will speed up the ordering process with customers and in turn improve their quality of service, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Although they plan to display much fewer items in the revamped drive-through offerings, they will be adding more to their "mid-price" tier of dishes — those in the $1.50 to $3 range.

The Journal reports that the move towards a simplified drive-through menu has been a long-awaited one for McDonald’s franchisees, who have for years complained that customers typically always choose from either the high-end or low-end items because they don’t have enough mid-tier meals to select from – and those premium items eat up a lot more manpower to make.

The franchisees hope the additional mid-price dishes and smaller menu will reduce the overall time spent creating some of the premium items such as the snack wraps and complex McCafe espresso drinks.

The plans are the latest move from new CEO Steve Easterbrook who has been given the undertaking of helming a massive turnaround plan after months of rapidly declining global sales.

Crews Put Out Brush Fire in New Hartford


Firefighters from several departments extinguished a brush fire on Hayward Road, at Hayward Orchard, in New Hartford, according to fire officials.

A 20-by-20 square foot area of brush in the orchard burned, but did not spread to any structure

No one was injured.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning because of high fire danger for today.
The danger is high because of the lack of significant rain over the last few weeks.

The red flag warning is in effect from noon until 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Suspect With Hammer Shot by Police


The hammer-wielding suspect believed to have attacked four strangers within a span of six hours in Manhattan earlier this week was shot in midtown Wednesday after attacking an NYPD officer with the weapon on the street, authorities said, and the chilling altercation was caught on video.

The suspect, an image of whom had been captured by surveillance cameras and released by police Tuesday, was shot near West 37th Street and Eighth Avenue around 10 a.m. Authorities identified him as 30-year-old David Baril, whose last known address was in the Bronx; he has a history of mental illness, including paranoia and schizophrenia, and a lengthy criminal record.

Dramatic video of the confrontation shows the uniformed officers approach the suspect, wearing a hood and mask, from across the street. The suspect lunges at 27-year-old officer Lauren O'Rourke with a hammer, claw side facing out. He chases O'Rourke into the middle of the road and repeatedly hits her over the head with the hammer as she falls to the ground. Officer Geraldo Casaigne, 36, follows his colleague and the suspect into the street, weapon drawn, and fires.

Casaigne fired four shots at Baril, and the suspect was hit at least three times -- in the head, arm and torso, NYPD Deputy Chief Will Aubry said at a news briefing Wednesday. Police and multiple sources initially said Baril was dead, though police later said he was taken to Bellevue Hospital in extremely critical condition. He underwent surgery there and remained in critical condition later Wednesday.

O'Rourke, who has been assigned to Midtown South since 2009, and Casaigne, assigned to the same precinct since 2003, were in the area responding to a call about an unrelated assault when they recognized Baril from the surveillance images obtained Tuesday and followed him, Aubry said. Aubry said at some point the suspect apparently realized he was being followed, and attacked the cops.

A white-claw hammer similar to the one described in the series of attacks Monday was recovered at the scene. Aubry said investigators looking into Baril's history spotted a photo that appeared to be of the same hammer on his Facebook page in May 2014. The hammer in that photo was bloody.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said O'Rourke was treated at a hospital for abrasions to her upper shoulder area; she underwent a CAT scan at the request of doctors concerned about any potential injuries from the hammer. Bratton said authorities were awaiting the results of that test. Casaigne was not injured in the fray; he was taken to a hospital for evaluation as a precaution.

Both officers were expected to be released from the hospital later Wednesday.

"These officers acted professionally and heroically this morning," Bratton said, adding that Casaigne likely saved O'Rourke's life.

Authorities had been looking for Baril after identifying him Tuesday through facial recognition, an NYPD source said. The suspect has eight prior arrests, including for assault, weapons possession and drug possession, police said. One of the attacks involved an assault on a police officer; in another, he jumped a counter at a fast-food restaurant. Baril voluntarily left a mental health facility in December and has had no recent address, authorities said.

Police believe Baril has been living in parks and subways since he left the facility, and frequented the area near Union Square, where he allegedly attacked two women with a hammer in separate ambushes within minutes of each other Monday. NBC 4 New York first reported Tuesday that authorities believed he was behind two similar attacks that occurred in Manhattan earlier that day.

All four victims were attacked in Manhattan within a span of five hours, police said. The first, around 1:45 p.m., involved a 20-year-old man in Herald Square; Baril yelled profanities at the man before hitting him with the hammer, then ran off, Aubry said. The victim refused medical attention.

About three hours later, police say the same suspect swung a hammer at the head of a 34-year-old woman in Madison Square Park, near 27th Street and Madison Avenue.

The attacks near Union Square unfolded in a span of 10 minutes between 7:36 p.m. and 7:46 p.m. One of those victims, a 28-year-old woman, was sitting on a bench in the park when she saw the suspect looking at her, police said. When she made eye contact, he took a silver hammer out of his bag and struck her, according to police. 

The other woman attacked in that short time span, who is 33, was walking on West 17th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues when the stranger approached her from behind and hit her in the back of the head with the hammer, police said.

The woman on West 17th Street was taken to a hospital with a scalp injury, authorities said. Both women attacked near Union Square were treated at Lenox Hill Hospital and released Monday.

The NYPD said it was working with the district attorney's office to determine what charges should be filed against Baril. Authorities said he has not been linked to additional attacks at this time, but they ask that anyone who feels they may have been victimized by him to contact police.

Nick Cearley, who said he was on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 37th Street at the time of the shooting Wednesday, said he heard gunshots and ran for cover. In an email, he called the experience "one of the scariest and terrifying mornings in NYC to date."

Thomas Vasicak was walking by Eighth Avenue when he saw the suspect go after the female NYPD officer; he heard shots ring out and "got out of the way" because he didn't know what was happening. Bystanders screamed and pointed toward the bloodied suspect on the pavement.

"I heard the shots and I saw the guy go down. I saw the guy go down and they're screaming, 'That's the guy with the hammer,'" Vasicak said.

Other witnesses said they abandoned their coffees at bodegas and left their partially-eaten breakfasts in diners as they fled the sound of gunshots.

Anina Boise, who saw the suspect on the ground after he was shot, found the situation unsettling.

"When I heard the story I was scared about it because I'm in Union Square all the time, and I had no idea he was in my neighborhood where I work," she said.

Baril's most recent address in the Bronx has no phone number. 

Amtrak Train Derailment Survivor Accounts


Passengers aboard Amtrak train 188 described a normal commute before Tuesday night's derailment in Philadelphia that turned chaotic.

Six people were killed and more than 200 treated for injuries at area hospitals after seven cars derailed in Philadelphia's Port Richmond section, officials said. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter described the scene as "an absolute disastrous mess."

Here are survivor accounts from passengers who were aboard the train:

"It Looked Like We Were Going to Flip"

“We were going along nice and smooth, and then all of a sudden we were on our side," passenger Don Kelleher told NBC Philadelphia hours after the accident. "Then it looked like we were going to flip, but we never flipped. We went on the side and then back off the side. And then we came to a halt."

"People Were Bleeding From Their Head"

Max Helfman, 19, of Watchung, New Jersey, had been riding the train with his mother when the crash occurred. Helfman said they were in the last car of the train when they suddenly felt it shake, and then the car flipped over.

"People were thrown to the ground," Helfman said. "Chairs inside the train became unscrewed and suitcases were falling on people. My mother flew into me and I literally had to catch her. People were bleeding from their head. It was awful."

"I Realized That Nothing Good Was Going to Happen Here"

Jeff Kutler, who was sitting in the train's quiet car, was heading from Washington, D.C., to his home in New York. He said his first indication of trouble was when the car started tipping to the right.

"And after a couple of seconds, or maybe it was a half a second, I realized that nothing good was going to happen here," Kutler said. "This train was tipping over." After the accident, Kutler was rushed to the hospital.

"It Was Terrifying and Awful"

New York Observer reporter Jillian Jorgensen told The Associated Press in an email that she was also seated in the quiet car and that the train was going "fast enough for me to be worried" when it began a hard bank to the right.

When the train derailed, the lights went out, and Jorgensen was thrown from her seat and she "flew across the train.” She said she landed landed underneath seats.

"It was terrifying and awful, and as it was happening it just did not feel like the kind of thing you could walk away from, so I feel very lucky," Jorgensen said.

"People Just Started Asking, 'How Do We Get Off the Train?'"

NBC Nightly News producer Janelle Richards told NBC New York she heard a loud crash around 9:20 p.m. She said people flew up in the air and there was a lot of "jerking back and forth."

She said the train "started to fill with smoke and I looked to my left and there was a woman in the aisle with blood coming down her face. And after a second, myself and other people just started asking, 'How do we get off the train? How do we get off the train?'"

"I Walked Off as if, Like, I Was in a Movie"

Another passenger, Daniel Wetrin, told the AP he was among more than a dozen people who were transported to a nearby elementary school after the incident.

"I think the fact that I walked off (the train) kind of made it even more surreal because a lot of people didn't walk off," Wetrin said. "I walked off as if, like, I was in a movie. There were people standing around, people with bloody faces. There were people, chairs, tables mangled about in the compartment ... power cables all buckled down as you stepped off the train."

"There Were Some Pretty Banged-Up People"

Patrick Murphy, a former congressman from Pennsylvania's 8th District and an Iraq War veteran, was in the cafe car when the train crashed.

"There were some pretty banged-up people," Murphy said. "One guy next to me was passed out. We kicked out the window in the top of the train car and helped get everyone out."

"The Whole Thing Is Like a Pile of Metal"

AP manager Paul Cheung was watching Netflix when "the train started to decelerate, like someone had slammed the brake."

He said he saw passengers trying to escape through the windows of cars tipped on their sides. "The front of the train is really mangled," he said. "It's a complete wreck. The whole thing is like a pile of metal."

Photo Credit: AP
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Traffic Getting by on Route 10 in Farmington


Traffic is getting by on Route 10 in Farmington after a car hit a pole on Wednesday morning and landed on its roof.

The road has been closed from Meadow Road to Tunxis Street in Farmington, but alternating lanes are now getting by.

It's not clear if anyone was injured, but the crash brought down the pole, causing damage, as well as wires.

Seek an alternate route for your commute if you normally head this way until the road has reopened.

No further information was available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crews Put Out Fire at Vacant New Haven Home


A fire broke out at a vacant house on Button Street in New Haven late Wednesday morning.

Crews responded to 87-89 Button Street and discovered a fire in the basement, according to New Haven Battalion Chief Tom Neville. It's unclear whether the fire started on the outside or the inside of the home, he said.

No one was home at the time of the fire, but Neville said it looks like someone may have been living at the address illegally on the third floor.

The fire marshal is investigating the fire and the cause is unknown.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

2 Firefighters Transported from Manchester Fire


Two firefighters were transported from an attic fire that has closed Main Street in Manchester.

The road is closed between Washington and Woodland streets in Manchester because of a fire at the house at 168 Main Street house and it is expected to be closed at least until 2 p.m.

The Family Barber Hair Salon is also located at the address, below the residence.

Firefighters responded after receiving a report of fire at 11:40 a.m. It's not clear how many people were home when the fire started, but no residents were injured. The fire started in the attic.

The home in uninhabitable until further notice.

Firefighters from four stations responded.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

1 Dies After East Hartford Rollover Crash


A Hartford man died in a serious one-car rollover in East Hartford Wednesday morning.

Alexander Rowland, 31, of Hartford, was thrown from the car he was driving in the crash and died of his injuries after an ambulance took him to Hartford Hospital.

Rowland was traveling eastbound on Route 2 in a 2009 Nissan Altima when he lost control of the car at about 4:31 a.m. Wednesday, veered off the right side of the road and hit a wire rope guardrail. The car flipped over multiple times down an embankment and landed just before exit 5C on  at the ramp to Maple Street, state police said.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 5:06 a.m.

An accident reconstruction team responded and state police notified his family.

The onramp and the right lane of Route 2 East were closed as crews responded, but the scene has since cleared.

Rowland wasn't wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, according to state police.

State police ask anyone with information on the crash to contact Trooper Hudson at the Troop H barracks in Hartford at 860-534-1000.

Photo Credit: NBCConnectcut.com

2 Colleges Going Smoke-Free


Two University of New Haven campuses are going smoke-free effective next month and Southern Connecticut State University is going tobacco-free in August.

UNH will prohibit smoking on its West Haven and Orange campuses starting June 1.The tobacco ban at SCSU, which will prohibit smoking, e-cigarettes, and tobacco use outside and inside, starts Aug. 25, according to SCSU President Mary A. Papazian.

“We have a policy that represents the best ideas from many in our campus community -- a policy that will help to ensure that Southern’s campus has a healthy environment in which to live, work and learn for our students, faculty and staff,” Papazian said. “It reflects our mission to foster a safe, healthy and respectful environment on campus.”

The university formed a Tobacco-Free Subcommittee after receiving a letter from U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Connecticut) encouraging the school to join the national Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2012.

"Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States with cigarette smoking causing more than 480,000 deaths annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)," SCSU said in a press release.

At a kick-off ceremony for the UNH initiative, cake will be served and there will also be a cigarette-shaped piñata.

More than 1,000 colleges nationwide are smoke-free.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Identify 2 More Victims of Serial Killer


New Britain police have identified two more victims of the serial killer who they say buried at least seven bodies behind a shopping center in the city.

Police said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that the bodies of Danny Lee Whistnant and Nilsa Arizmendi are among the four most recently discovered. Authorities identified Melanie Camilini as another victim earlier this week, leaving only one body unidentified.

"The office of the chief medical examiner and the state forensic lab are working as I speak to ensure the speedy identification of the remains they still have," New Britain State's Attorney Brian Preleski said during the press conference. "This investigation is moving forward and each additional victim identified opens new investigatory avenues to us."

Investigators previously named three other victims – Diane Cusack, 55, Mary Jane Menard, 40, and Joyvaline Martinez, 24 – after a hunter stumbled upon the first set of remains behind the plaza at 593 Hartford Road in 2007.

Multiple sources have told NBC Connecticut the suspected serial killer is 45-year-old William Devin Howell, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence in connection with Arizmendi's death. Howell was initially charged with her murder but pleaded down to manslaughter under the Alford doctrine.

All six of the victims police have identified disappeared in 2003. Whistnant, 44, of New Britain, was last seen June 25, 2003, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. The Charley Project reports that Whistnant was known to "dress and live as a woman" and also went by the name Janice Roberts.

Arizmendi, 33, of Wethersfield, vanished exactly one month later, on July 25, 2003, after getting into a 1983 Ford Econoline van registered to Howell's girlfriend, Dorothy Holcomb. Arizmendi's blood was later found in the back cabin, according to court documents.

"Devin, Nilsa and her boyfriend of 20 years had associated with one another in the past. Prior to this night, Nilsa had maintained regular contact with her family, including her children and her mother. Since July of 2003, none of them have heard from Nilsa," Preleski explained.

Preleski said Wethersfield police attempted to interview Howell at Holcomb's New Britain home on Nov. 12, 2003.

"Although those detectives could see Mr. Howell through a window, Ms. Holcomb denied he was there. This was the first time Mr. Howell could have known that police wanted to talk to him concerning the disappearance of Nilsa Arizmendi. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Howell left Connecticut," Preleski said.

Investigators confiscated the Ford Econoline van in North Carolina in April 2004 and took Howell into custody in Virginia in May 2005, according to Preleski. He has been in custody ever since.

Although authorities previously said they believe a single person is responsible for the deaths of all seven victims, they stopped short of calling Howell a suspect on Wednesday.

"He's been convicted of killing Nilsa and that's it as far as any conclusions can be made at this time," Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane said during the press conference Wednesday.

Although they have not publicly named Howell, investigators have said that the suspected serial killer is no longer a threat to the public.

Photo Credit: New Britain Police Department

Amtrak Funding Long a Target in Washington


The cause of Tuesday night’s deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia is still under investigation, but funding for the national passenger railroad has long been a source of friction amid complaints of aging infrastructure and unprofitable routes.

From Amtrak's beginnings in 1971 as a for-profit company, it has been under pressure to make money. Republicans have repeatedly promised to end its subsidies, and have tried to privatize the profitable Northeast Corridor — the busy line that Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 was traveling on Tuesday when it derailed.

David Gunn, a former Amtrak president, said that designating the railroad as a for-profit entity was never reasonable.

"The whole idea was they were going to just gently lower the passenger train into a grave," he said.

Hours after seven people were killed and 200 hospitalized in the Tuesday night crash, the House Appropriations Committee began Wednesday considering a transportation and housing bill that would slash $251 million from Amtrak's budget for next year, leaving it with $1.1 billion. An amendment to fully fund Amtrak failed along party lines.

"Every day, tens of thousands of passengers travel our nation's railways on Amtrak — a majority of those along the Northeast Corridor where yesterday's tragic accident occurred," said Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah, who represents Philadelphia. "These riders deserve safe, secure, and modern infrastructure."

But Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky said that the Republicans, who are in the majority, are hamstrung by automatic spending cuts.

President Obama had asked for almost $2.5 billion for capital investments in tracks, tunnels and bridges, $400 million of it for construction along the railroad's Northeast Corridor.

The Appropriations Committee's budget falls far short of the amount the House had authorized in March in longterm funding for the railroad -- $1.7 billion a year over four years for Amtrak, just above the $1.4 billion the often beleaguered railroad now receives. The money must be appropriated before it goes to Amtrak.

The last longterm funding plan was approved by Congress in 2008, to run through 2013.

Even the earlier $1.7 billion amount disappointed rail proponents who had hoped for more money for repairs and upgrades. Conservatives, meanwhile, wanted to end all subsidies. The White House supported passage of the bill, which then moved to the Senate. But in a statement the White House said that while it would improve service, it did not address safety. 

The head of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department, Ed Wytkind, told The Associated Press that the $1.7 billion failed to provide money to replace 100-year-old tunnels on the railroad’s Northeast Corridor between Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., and to make other improvements.

The earlier House bill did separate the Northeast Corridor service from other long-distance routes and allow Amtrak to reinvest its profits in the popular route to improve service. Those profits are now used to help subsidize the 15 unprofitable routes elsewhere in the country.

Amtrak carried 11.4 million passengers on the Northeast Corridor in the fiscal year ending in September 2013, making it the busiest railroad in the country. More than 2,200 trains operate on some portion of the route each day.

Across the country, the railroad had a total of 31.6 million passengers that year, the largest total in its history, according to the railroad.

Amtrak has struggled since it was created in 1970 with the passage of the Rail Passenger Service Act. It began service in May 1971 with a total of 21 routes.

Gunn, who was fired by Amtrak's board of directors in 2005, said the railroad was formed to relieve freight lines of the obligation of having to carry passengers.

"Amtrak was not set up with a vision that there should be a high-speed or an inter-city passenger network," he said. "It was set up to help the freight railroads get rid of a deficit.

From the start Amtrak was operating against federally subsidized highways, he said. Even the Northeast Corridor would not be profitable if it had to cover both its operating costs and capital improvements, he said.

"You don't have a policy on the part of the federal government," he said. "It hasn't figured out what role it wants passenger rail to play."

Photo Credit: AP

Worker Struck and Killed by Garbage Truck: Police


An employee of a Danbury trash and recycling company was killed when he was hit by a garbage truck on Wednesday morning, according to police.

Police said they responded to Winter Bros., at 307 White St., at 6:48 a.m. on Wednesday to investigate after a garbage truck and a worker motor vehicle collided, police said.

Marcio DaSilva, 58, of Danbury, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other person was in an All American Waste garbage truck, according to police.

Occupational Safety & Health Administration was notified and responded.
Police are investigating the crash and ask witnesses or anyone with information to call Officer Lance Brevard at 203-797-2156.

Office Manager Embezzled $176K from Oil Company: Officials


The office manager for a Greenwich oil company has pleaded guilty to embezzling $176,000 from the company.

Michelle Crawford, 33, of Greenwich, pleaded guilty in Hartford federal court on Wednesday to one count of wire fraud stemming, according to United States Attorney Deirdre Daly.

Crawford worked as the office manager for the New England Oil Company, located in Greenwich, and had access to the bank accounts, credit cards and the company’s payment system, according to court records and statements made in court.

Between May 2011 and May 2014, she embezzled $176,735 by making unauthorized withdrawals and by using company funds to pay personal expenses, which were disguised as legitimate business expenses, officials said.

Crawford is scheduled to be sentenced on July 29 and faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

The U.S. Secret Service, Greenwich Police and the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force investigated.

Crews Responded to Minor Brush Fire in East Granby


Crews responded to a minor brush fire under power lines that run along Wynding Hills Road in East Granby, according to the East Granby Fire Department.

No injuries or damage are reported.

The cause of the fire is not known.

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