<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - National & International News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:45:53 -0700 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:45:53 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Workers Balk at Market Basket Hires]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:43:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP418236453329.jpg

Whether it's for real or just a psychological warfare stunt by the new Market Basket leadership is far from clear, but full-page newspaper ads by the supermarket chain's co-CEOs promoting a three-day job fair for replacement workers provoked a range of reactions Thursday from protesting workers.

"Good luck trying to fill all our jobs! They don't know what we do in there," said Linda Kulis, who works in accounts receivable in the Tewksbury, Massachusetts, headquarters.

"I just started laughing and said, 'This is a joke,'" said Mike Feather, an 18-year company veteran who works in its New Bedford store.

"They've fired people, they've tried to scare people, and I think that's more of what this is: Scare tactics," said Chris Dick, director of the Salem, New Hampshire, Market Basket.

They're among thousands of Market Basket employees who have been protesting for two weeks and urging customers to boycott the 71 stores until Arthur T. Demoulas, fired June 23, is reinstated as CEO.

In the ad, new co-CEOs Jim Gooch and Felicia Thornton said the first two days of the job fair, to be held in Andover, will be for current employees looking to apply for higher-up positions.

"I don't think there will be any Market Basket associates that are going to be willing to step up and work for this regime," Dick said.

Thornton and Gooch released a statement defending the job fair In a statement shortly before 5 p.m.

"We have said several times that we hope sincerely that we do not discharge any employees. We want our associates back," they said. "We are focused solely on getting Market Basket stores back up and running for our customers and, importantly, for the many local vendors that rely on Market Basket to make their own businesses successful for the sake of their employees."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Comic-Con Cosplayer Not Assaulted: Police]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:19:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDCC-Preview-18.jpg

A teen Comic-Con cosplayer initially thought to have been brutally assaulted is now believed to have suffered her head injuries in a fall, police said Thursday.

Harbor police said in a news release issued Thursday afternoon that the 17-year-old Riverside County girl in town for Comic-Con was not the victim of a sexual assault or beating, as earlier thought, but rather suffered head injuries after falling six feet.

Police said the girl was climbing a gate at the Marriot Hotel after an altercation with an older man. That’s when she fell and was found at 1 a.m. Sunday near the pool at the hotel on Harbor Drive, near the San Diego Convention Center.

Since the incident, police have had difficulty piecing together the circumstances because the girl did not remember what happened. She was under the influence of drugs, police said.

The case attracted widespread online attention – first by bloggers questioning whether an assault of the girl was a hoax – and then by mainstream media, including national news outlets. Photos of her dressed as a Roger Rabbit cosplayer, or dressed in character, were widely circulated online.

Harbor police said because of this widespread attention they investigated the case extensively, including reviewing footage from multiple surveillance cameras and by questioning Comic-Con attendees.

“Her injuries and physical evidence at the scene were consistent with a fall,” the news release said.

The girl suffered several brain bleeds and is still recovering, her family has said.

A 29-year-old man, Justin Kalior, whom the girl got into a fight with before her fall, was arrested on unrelated allegations of having sexual contact with a minor and providing her alcohol. He will not face any other charges, police said.

Photo Credit: Garrett Ng]]>
<![CDATA[CT Mom of Hot Car Boy Urges Caution]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:23:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ben+seitz+ridgefield.jpg

The mother of a Ridgefield boy who died after being left in a hot car has started a blog to raise awareness of heatstroke in children and help others avoid the tragedy she suffered.

Lindsay Rogers-Seitz told the Associated Press that she forgives her husband for leaving 15-month-old Benjamin in the car while he went to work at Owl Technologies on July 7, resulting in the child’s death.

The boy’s father, Kyle Seitz, said he forgot to bring him to daycare before going to work and was extremely distraught after bringing Benjamin to the hospital, Rogers-Seitz said.

“The profound grief and trauma that we were going through was something we could never verbalize,” Rogers-Seitz explained. “How do I live the rest of my life? Do I just break down right now in hysterics, and just not live?”

She decided to channel her grief into activism, and now the couple is spreading the word about hyperthermia in children.

“One night we were sitting together and [Kyle Seitz] said, ‘You know, Lindsay, I just can’t let another family feel this pain,’” Rogers-Seitz recalled.

Rogers-Seitz sprang into action, creating a Web site, titled “The Gift of Ben,” to share her son’s story and help educate other parents.

“A week after the tragic death of my 15-month-old son on July 7, 2014, I began researching – everything and anything – and thinking,” Rogers- Seitz writes.

It was a timely decision – today is National Heatstroke Prevention Day.

“The Gift of Ben” presents facts and figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including frightening statistics about the prevalence of heat stroke in children.

According to the NHTSA, hyperthermia is the leading cause of non-crash-related death in children under the age of 15. Rogers-Seitz says 111 children have died in hot cars over the past three years.

“This isn’t an anomaly,” Rogers-Seitz said. “It’s something that has been happening.”

She proposed roundtable talks to generate conversation and explore “ideas of how we can potentially move forward and work together and find solutions,” including conversations with car seat companies, child safety advocates, academics, health and medical professionals and other families who have been affected.

Rogers-Seitz said one of the biggest mistakes parents can make is to believe it will never happen to them. She admitted she doesn’t know yet how to find a solution, but the first step is to talk about it.

“I challenge manufacturers, agencies and politicians to get together with other interested parties, including victims and psychologists, and let's figure this out,” she wrote.

In the meantime, she said, make a habit of double checking your car before you walk away, and place valuable items in the back seat with your child. Teach kids that cars are not for playing and store keys out of their reach. Ask your child’s school or daycare to call right away if he or she doesn’t show up on time.

Rogers-Seitz also launched a blog Wednesday – a more delicate and personal forum.

“Lying in bed last night, I began realizing what an integral role the press has in deciding what ‘the story’ will be. The truth is that there is a bigger picture out there – an ongoing political and intellectual debate about the history of these effort to elicit change and how to go about it in the future,” she wrote in her first post.

“I ask that we move beyond the sensationalization of the events of July 7th to deal with the real issues at hand – that will continue to affect hundreds of more children in the future if nothing is done," she added.

Rogers-Seitz is standing by her husband of 12 years and said the two are taking comfort in each other’s support.

“We can deal with it together, and we’re finding peace in that,” Rogers-Seitz said.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Rogers-Seitz ]]>
<![CDATA[5 Things to Know About New House GOP Leader McCarthy]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:14:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/450883992.jpg

House Republicans are getting a new second-in-command this week, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy takes over for outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The California native was selected for the position in June, after Cantor was handed a surprising defeat by a little-known GOP challenger in Virgnia's primary election.

The promotion puts the 49-year-old McCarthy, who has quickly risen through the leadership ranks during his four terms in Congress, next in line to potentially succeed House Speaker John Boehner.

Here are five things you may not know about the new majority leader:

He got his (lucky) start in sandwiches.

A young McCarthy used a $5,000 lottery prize to start his own business, opening a sandwich shop called Kevin O's Deli at age 19. The shop he has descibed as "Subway before there was Subway," offered "fresh Dutch Krunch white rolls every day," and sandwiches "hot upon request," according to The Orange County Register. McCarthy says he used the profits from later selling that deli to finance his college education. The experience of building a business before hitting 21, he says, helped shape his views on limited government regulations and taxes.

He sees (some of) himself in “House of Cards.”

When Netflix’s popular political drama debuted in 2013, a few things felt a little too familiar to McCarthy, who, like the show’s fictional lead, Rep. Francis Underwood, served as majority whip. That framed whip hanging in Underwood’s office? A spitting image of the one McCarthy received as a gift from Cantor. The scene where Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, tells members “Vote your district, vote your conscience, don't surprise me"? Sounds strikingly like what McCarthy says he tells his own conference. The real-life whip believes those nods came out of a meet-and-greet he had with Spacey before the show started filming. He says the similarities between him and Underwood, a Democrat known for his duplicitous and Machiavellian ways, stop at those superficial references, though. "This one is made professionally about Washington, but it's not Washington," he said of the show during an appearance in Sacramento. "Don't believe what you see in there, but it's intriguing."

He co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the California state Capitol, that is. McCarthy, first elected to represent his home district in Kern County in the state Legislature in 2002, rose to leader of the Assembly’s Republican caucus during his first term. That put him at the bargaining table with then-Gov. Schwarzenegger, who entered office via a 2003 recall election, on state budget negotiations and other major issues facing the Golden State. McCarthy left California's Capitol for the halls of Congress after the 2006 election, when he won the House seat vacated by his own political mentor and former boss, former Republican Rep. Bill Thomas.

He’s an all-star Instagrammer.

McCarthy’s filter-laden Instagram account has attracted more than 12,000 followers to date. While cameos from the likes of Beyonce, Ringo Star and cute dogs don’t hurt, the GOP congressman also uses the social platform to post behind-the-scenes photos from his political and personal life (including frequent “Throwback Thursday” pictures). His social media savvy led BuzzFeed to name him the “best Republican congressman on Instagram” in 2013.


He splits with some GOP conservatives on immigration.

McCarthy hails from one of the nation's bluest states. But the California native hasn’t strayed much from the GOP line in his own time in office, voting with his party 96 percent of the time, according to one Washington Post analysis.  Still, he's split with the more conservative factions of his caucus on at least one key issue seen as a potential factor in Cantor’s primary defeat: immigration reform. Unlike his tea party-aligned colleagues, McCarthy has expressed support for creating a path to legal status for the country’s undocumented immigrants. His campaign for majority leader drew criticism from some conservative commentators, who blasted his backing of immigration reform, Sandy relief funding and a budget compromise. Despite some differences in ideology and style, McCarthy, a skilled networker and social butterfly, has made many friends in Washington, thanks in part to his success in raising cash and building a program to train and support up-and-coming candidates.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Disgruntled Exec Shoots CEO: Cops]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:52:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Lavoie-p1.jpg

The CEO of a Chicago-based company was critically injured in a shooting Thursday morning at his high-rise office in the city's Financial District downtown, police confirmed. Police said the gunman, a recently demoted executive at the company, took his own life.

Police responded to shots fired at 9:50 a.m. at 231 S. LaSalle on the 17th floor, listed as the old Bank of America Trade Operations Building. They found a 54-year-old victim, identified as ArrowStream CEO Steven LaVoie, injured with gunshot wounds to his stomach and his head and the 60-year-old gunman deceased with a gunshot wound to the head.

The shooter was identified by the medical examiner as Anthony DeFrances of Barrington.

"We are deeply saddened and shocked by the events that have occurred today," ArrowStream said in a statement. "Our focus during this tragedy is to ensure the well-being of our ArrowStream family."

"We want to assure our customers that our business continuity plan is in place, and our operations will continue to function normally."

According to a profile on arrowstream.com, LaVoie founded the company, which provides supply chain management solutions for the food service industry, in 2000.

DeFrances is listed on the company's website as ArrowStream's chief technology officer, with the company "virtually since its inception."

LaVoie and DeFrances were lying unresponsive on the floor of an office when police arrived. Supt. Garry McCarthy said the victim is in "grave condition."

Police said the gunman's wounds were self-inflicted. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

"What we have here is a workplace violence issue," McCarthy told reporters. "Apparently there's a technological company on the 17th floor. They've been undergoing a downsizing. They've demoted a number of people."

An employee who had been demoted last week arrived Thursday morning for a one-on-one meeting with the CEO, McCarthy said.

"During the one-on-one, he produced a firearm," McCarthy said. "There apparently was a struggle over the firearm, the CEO was struck twice -- he is in grave condition -- and then the man took his own life."

The incident is being investigated as a possible murder-suicide incident, according to police.

Fire crews arriving to the scene initially were warned that a suspect was still on the floor and still armed, according to radio reports.

Police said the scene was contained at about 10:40 a.m. There was only one gunman involved.

Nearby Ann Taylor and Jos. A. Bank stores locked their doors after reports of the shooting.

Jessica Cazares, who works at nearby Caffe Baci, said she witnessed a chaotic scene outside the building.

"There were people running, afraid," she said, "but we thought it was a movie filming. This time it was a real situation."

Tiffany Baggett, a woman who works in the building, said an alarm went off in the building and everyone was told to stay on their floor of the building. Employees moved to a safer area, she said, away from the glass doors.

"I was just informed as an employee there was a shooting, so we just evacuated our reception area as quickly as possible," Baggett said.

Pedestrians were being held across the street as detectives and police entered the building.

<![CDATA[Firefighters Rescue Dog From Ledge]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:19:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/jersey+city+dog+rescue.jpg

Jersey City firefighters rescued a frightened dog from a second-story ledge on Martin Luther King Drive Thursday afternoon.

Neighbors noticed the dog on the ledge after it climbed out of a window of a second-story apartment, according to animal control officials. The owner wasn't home at the time. 

Video taken by resident Raul Mercado shows one firefighter climbing a ladder and trying to coax the scared dog into his arms. When the animal wouldn't budge, a second firefighter climbed up to help bring it down.

The dog got down safely and wagged his tail as his paws hit the ground and the crowd on the sidewalk clapped and cheered. 

The dog was taken into the care of Jersey City's animal control department. It's not clear whether the owner will face charges.

<![CDATA[What to Know About the Immigration Crisis]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:35:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/450883216.jpg

The news that thousands of unaccompanied children are crossing the U.S. border is just making headlines, but the surge has been happening for months, even years. President Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to tackle the issue, which has become a flashpoint in the debate over immigration.

The number of children has overwhelmed the U.S. immigration system, which faces a backlog of hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, according to The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama says that violent crime is driving migrants north, while Republicans blame Obama’s policies, saying they have given migrants an incentive to come.

Here’s what you should know about the crisis.

How Many Kids Are Trying to Cross the Border Alone

Since October, more than 57,000 children have been caught traversing the U.S.-Mexico border without an adult. That’s more than double the number in 2012 and triple the number in 2011, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Border Patrol was already noticing an increase in children coming up from Central America in the fall of 2011. Most of the apprehended children are between 14 and 18-years-old, according to the Women's Refugee Commission.

Three-fourths of the kids caught since October have traveled over 1,000 miles — by car, train, raft and foot — from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The rest are from neighboring Mexico, according to Border Patrol data.

Making the trek is uncertain and dangerous. Smugglers, or coyotes, charge up to $10,000 for each child, according to The Associated Press. These smugglers may take the children’s money and run, or worse, assault or traffic them. The journey is also physically challenging, with dense forests, dry deserts and rugged mountains along the way. One stretch of land in Texas is referred to as the "killing fields."

Migrant children aren't just traveling to the U.S. All of Central America is seeing an increase. Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize jointly documented a 712 percent increase in the number of people seeking asylum from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, according to the Washington Office on Latin America.

Why They Left Central America

The mass migration is chiefly caused by three things: gang-related violence, poverty and rumors that migrant children will be welcomed to the U.S. if they make it to the border.

Violence. A good portion of the drug trade is now in Central America and plenty of gangs capitalize on this. Incompetent police forces do little to stop them. Children are actively recruited as "foot soldiers" for cartels. These gangs give children an ultimatum: work in the drug trade or face death. Honduras’ homicide rate was 90 killed per 100,000 people in 2012. That’s the worst in the world and six times the global average. Guatemala and El Salvador aren't far behind.

Gangs run rampant in these countries, and many children find themselves in the crossfire. It is not uncommon for children to arrive at hospitals riddled with bullets. Fifty-eight percent of children migrating north are motivated by violent conditions in their home country, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Trust in the police is low in the children's countries of origin. In many places, gangs and police are intertwined. "You never know who is who," several migrant children told the Immigration Policy Center.

Poverty. Nearly two-thirds of the Honduran population lives below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. One in three infants is malnourished, and most kids in rural areas will only get four years of schooling on average. Guatemala's poverty rate is 26 percent. In El Salvador 17 percent of the population is living on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

Rumors. The recent surge may have its roots in rumors that a change in U.S. immigration policy means any child who crosses the border can stay. This is a false belief, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Children who arrived after 2007 are not eligible for deferred deportations or a path to citizenship. A Border Patrol report that was leaked in June says families' misconception that they will obtain "permisos" when they arrive in the U.S. is driving most migration, according to Vox.com. They believe "permisos" means work permit, but it's actually a notice to appear in immigration court.

• Family. Over a third of Central American children who traveled to the U.S. alone were looking to reunite with one or both parents. It is common for relatives to send children north to reunite with family members, who also have questionable legal status, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

What Caused the Crisis

In addition to the violence and poverty in Central America, some have said the U.S. government is at the root of the influx, particularly policies put forth by the last two presidents.

Obama's order. Republicans have blamed the Obama administration for the rumors, saying that poor policy and communication has led migrants to believe they can stay, according to the Los Angeles Times. They say the president has been weak at enforcing border policy and that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was authored by the Obama administration in 2012 and gives some undocumented migrants temporary legal status, has given Central American families a false hope.

Bush's law. A bipartisan law that President George W. Bush signed in 2008, known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, seeks to combat sex trafficking by granting protections to children traveling alone from countries that are not Mexico or Canada. Under the law, unaccompanied children can’t be hastily sent back and are instead allowed an immigration hearing and must be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services. The Obama administration said the law is partly to blame for the crisis, according to The New York Times. The White House and Republicans are both looking for ways to adjust the law's requirements to make it easier for children to be returned to their home countries.

Where the Migrants Arrive and What Happens When They Get Here

The crisis is happening all along the United States’ Southwest border. The greatest number of migrants are entering through southern Texas, where there has been a 178 percent change in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border from 2013 to 2014, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Border patrol agents in Texas are overwhelmed and facilities are brimming with migrant children.

The city of Murrieta, California, made national headlines after protesters blocked buses carrying undocumented children and families to immigration processing facilities in Southern California. Overcrowded facilities in Texas looked to ease the burden by sending some migrants there. About 140 migrants ended up in San Diego.

More recently demonstrators on both sides were out in Oracle, Arizona, waiting for unaccompanied children they thought were about to be transferred to a camp there. The children never arrived though anti-immigration protestors briefly halted a bus carrying other children from a YMCA, according to The Associated Press. The Sycamore Canyon Academy in Oracle told NBC News that it had been asked by the federal government to provide shelter temporarily for a small number of children.

When migrant children are apprehended by Customs and Border Protection they are held in a detention center — usually a sterile place that resembles a warehouse. They will remain there until they are transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement's Division of Children Services (ORR/DCS). These facilities range from group homes to juvenile detention centers that are locked and surrounded by barbed wire.

Children stay at ORR/DCS facilities for an average of 55 days while authorities attempt to locate a parent or guardian. If none can be found, the child remains in DCS custody for the entirety of her immigration case. Ultimately, she will either end up with her parents or foster parents in the U.S. or be sent back to the country she came from.

What's Being Done About the Influx of People

More cash. The White House is asking Congress for more than $3.7 billion to address the wave of migration. Most of that cash would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, while Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection would also get a share. Almost $300 million would go towards efforts to “repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America.” The request must pass both houses of Congress, though, and it's not clear how, or whether, the GOP-led House will vote.

More shelters. Immigration officials are scrambling to find more shelter space for new arrivals. Dallas County in Texas agreed to shelter 2,000 children if the federal government foots the bill. Hospitals and schools no longer in use are among the buildings that could possibly house the children.

Foster care. Organizations and families in parts of Texas and the Southwest are taking up kids, particularly those who have no family in the U.S. or no safe places to return to in their home countries.

Programs in Central America. The Obama administration has earmarked $300 million for programs in Central America to boost the quality of life of people and address the underlying root causes that are driving migration. It hopes to do this by improving economic and security conditions and helping migrants reintegrate into their communities instead of returning north.

Ad campaigns. U.S. officials are trying to counter the flow of migrants with a Spanish-language ad campaign that looks to frighten them from coming in the first place. The ads warn that smugglers are criminals who could subject migrants to violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking or forced labor.

Border security. Some in Congress, especially Republicans, have said the focus should be on strengthening border security. Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a congressional committee that unaccompanied kids should be deported immediately to show the U.S. is serious about enforcement. Advocates for migrants have criticized the Obama administration, saying that future funding should go to ensuring migrant children with legitimate claims of asylum see their day in court, not border security.

What's Next

As protests continue and politicians try to figure out the best way to tackle the crisis, migrant children keep pouring in. The Obama administration expects the number of migrant children arriving in the U.S. to rise to 90,000 by September 2014. While visiting Texas, President Obama urged Congress to approve the $3.7 billion he asked for to help deal with the surge.

A first group of about 40 undocumented immigrants, including children, were returned to Honduras from New Mexico, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The group had been staying at a temporary detention center. Homeland Security officials told NBC News that the flight was just the start of deportations. "We expect additional migrants will be returned to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the coming days and weeks," one official said.

Meanwhile Las Vegas became the latest city to announce that its police department would no longer honor requests from federal officials to detain undocumented immigrants without a court order or arrest warrant. It joins Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark, N.J., and nearly all major urban centers in California.

Officials at the United Nations want many of the people fleeing Central America to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict. This designation would increase pressure on the U.S. and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum, according to The Associated Press.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Inside LA's Vast Water Supply]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:52:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sunset+ucla+sinkhole+repair+water+main+20140731_074101_resized+%288%29.jpg

There are many ways to conceal the signs of age in Los Angeles. But when it comes to the city's water line system, the effects of aging are more difficult to hide.

The massive Sunset Boulevard water main break Tuesday in Westwood illustrated in spectacular style -- geysers of water, a sinkhole, flooding on the UCLA campus -- the risks that come with expansive water line systems installed decades ago.

The failure also led to a familiar "Band-Aid approach" that experts say is common when pipes in an aging system fail.

"In the United States the basic approach to infrastructure is what many people call the Band-Aid approach," said Harvey Gobas, a civil engineer who worked on a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers on California's drinking water systems. "You fix, and it lasts a few more years. Maybe in some cases it will last 10 or 20 more years, but you still don't have a new pipe."

Tuesday afternoon's break occurred at the meeting point under Sunset Boulevard of a 30-inch pipe installed in 1921 and a 36-inch pipe installed in 1956. Pipes typically last 50 to 75 years, and in a city like Los Angeles many -- like the main line trunk that broke near the UCLA campus -- are actually older, said Gobas.

A 2012 report on LA County's water system, also by the American Society of Civil Engineers, rated it as a C overall and a C- for condition. According to the study, the grade was primarily based on the age of the systems and their need for replacement.

Both city officials and infrastructure experts agree that improvements to the city's water pipeline system need to be made, but the improvements cost billions which officials say the city doesn't have.

"A lot of the agencies that really need to be spending money to upgrade their infrastructure just don't have the money," Gobas said.

L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz said if the city was working at 100-year replacement rate fixing the pipe system would cost about $4 billion, a huge increase that would be passed on to ratepayers.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was scheduled to replace 130,000 feet of main line and five large valves in the city's 7,200 mile pipe system, but it said the project has fallen behind schedule. The department said the delay was due in part to budget constraints that caused a $380 million reduction in the previous annual plan.

In response to budget shortfalls, water agencies have implemented piecemeal solutions to patch up, instead of replace, the miles and miles of pipe that run water underground

By Thursday, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power crews had stopped the flow of water to the Westwood site and started the repair process. The break, which sent about 20 million gallons of water onto the UCLA campus and surround area, flooding buildings and parking structures, involved two trunk lines.

"We have two trunk lines involved and where they connected required special fittings," said Jeff Bray, LADWP general superintendent for water distribution. "It isn't where we can just cut out a straight piece of pipe and put in a straight piece, which is a pretty simple repair. This a very complex repair. We're basically having to realign or reroute some of the pipes -- the direction on how they came together before they're going to come together in a different way now."

Los Angeles typically experiences an increase in pipe breaks during winter months, when colder water enters the system. Authorities have not determined what caused Tuesday's rupture.

The flooding created a spectacular mess, but no utility customers were without water. No injuries were reported. The rupture occurred about five years after a 62-inch pipe burst in the San Fernando Valley, sending water into a Studio City neighborhood.

To prioritize what repairs need to be made, the LADWP has an asset management system that includes strategies like periodically examining the water network and sometimes waiting for problems, or leaks, to spring up before fixing them.

Last year, however, the department took the first steps in a proactive approach toward its water infrastructure system. It began a pilot program to replace old pipes with earthquake resistant ones. The pipes, which are developed and used in Japan have no recorded leaks in 40 years of use.

Ellen Hanak, an economist who leads water research at the Public Policy Institute of California, said that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was making investments in its infrastructure both for maintenance and upgrades, as well as in new storage, recycling waste water and capturing storm water.

"So they're doing all of that as well as managing the existing assets that they have, some of which are old," she said. "My understanding is that they have a pretty modern and sophisticated asset management program to try to basically make strategic decisions on what you replace when."

Researchers documented the urban water supply situation around the state in a March report titled, "Paying for Water in California."

"We found in general that the state's urban water suppliers and water agencies were doing a pretty good job in terms of planning for their capital needs and investing in it, if you compare estimates of needs with what their spending," Hanak said. "That doesn't mean that everything is perfect but it does mean we're not seriously off track."

NBC4's Lolita Lopez and Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV, Toni Guinyard]]>
<![CDATA[Zoo Gets Fruit From Flipped Truck]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:25:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/elephant8.jpg

Talk about not letting roadkill go to waste.

The elephants, giraffes and bears at the Oakland Zoo got to nosh on African jackfruit and bananas Wednesday thanks to a overturned big rig that dumped 60,000 pounds of fruit in Livermore near the Altamont Pass earlier in the week.

"The elephants loved it," Brian Deering, president of the nonprofit F.A.I.R. Foundation, told NBC Bay Area. He masterminded the transfer – taking the lightly squished fruit from the side of Interstate Highway 580 and getting about 15,000 pounds of it to the animals at the zoo.

About 35,000 pounds fed humans at the Alameda County Food Bank, and the rest was too badly bruised to be eaten.

The truck is owned by All Seasons Produce in Oakland, which grows fruit in Mexico. Deering knows the owners, who contacted him after the truck tipped early Monday morning to say they didn't want the food to go to waste. He also knows the owners of Save Tow, who schlepped the tropical fruit to the zoo.

Deering's agency, which has roots in Sunnyvale but now is headquarted in Elk Grove, is a nonprofit that connects families in custody battles with material goods, such as cars, dishwashers, computers and food.

Zoo spokeswoman Nicky Mora said there is enough donated fruit for the elephants and bears to dine on all week.

Photo Credit: Erin Harrison/Oakland Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[Drought Spreads in Parched Calif. ]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:47:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/216*120/DROUGHT+MONITOR+JULY29+CA.jpg

Exceptional drought conditions expanded this week to include more than half of California, marking a significant increase over just one week for a state in the middle of a third-consecutive dry year.

The most severe drought rating expanded to more than 58 percent of California, a 22 percent increase over last week's U.S. Drought Monitor report. At the start of the year, no part of the state was under the "exceptional" category. But that figure increased steadily after the state completed its warmest and third-driest winter on record.

The dire appraisal of current conditions comes as new, tougher restrictions on water use take effect across the parched state. Wasting water by overwatering laws, for example, could result in fines of up to $500 a day under the new rules.

"We are in a drought of historic proportions," State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus told The Associated Press earlier this month. "Many urban water users don't realize how bad this drought is. They're not seeing the communities that are actually running out of water. ... They don't see the streams and creeks running dry."

Exceptional drought spread significantly in the northern part of the state over the past week. Previously, the most severe conditions were confined to the a large swath of the Central Coast and Central Valley. The weekly report categorizes drought severity into abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate (D1), Severe (D2), Extreme (D3) and Exceptional (D4).

"Drought indicators point to the fact that conditions are not appreciably better in northern California than in central and southern sections of the state," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report. "In addition, mounting evidence from reservoir levels, river gauges, ground water observations, and socio-economic impacts warrant a further expansion of exceptional drought (D4) into northern California."

Storage in California's 154 intrastate reservoirs -- those that are entirely within the state -- was at 60 percent of the historical average at the end of June. The record low is 41 percent of average, which occurred in June 1977.

The new statewide regulations approved earlier this month by the state water resources board include a $500-per-day fine for residents who waste water. The rules make it illegal for people to hose down driveways and sidewalks, waste water on their lawns or wash vehicles using a hose without a shut-off nozzle.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who declared a statewide drought emergency earlier this year, has asked Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that the new water use rules would go into effect Aug. 1. The regulations took effect July 29.

Photo Credit: US Drought Monitor]]>
<![CDATA[Yee Pleads Not Guilty to RICO Count]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:43:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/07-31-2014-leland-yee.jpg

Suspended state Sen. Leland Yee pleaded not guilty on Thursday – as he did before to previous charges – to the latest racketeering charge, which alone carries a maximum 20-year sentence.

The senator, who is out on $500,000 bond, appeared to be in a good mood in the hallway of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

"I'll talk to my attorney and see where we go from there," Yee told reporters while leaving the courthouse in a charcoal gray suit.

His next court date is scheduled for Aug. 7.

Yee and more than two dozen others were swept up in a wide-reaching federal investigation in late March, first reported by NBC Bay Area, during an FBI raid on Yee’s office.

The San Francisco Democrat is accused of a string of illegal actions in exchange for campaign contributions, including conspiring to mastermind an international arms deal involving machine guns to an undercover FBI agent posing as a mob figure and, as alleged in the most recent indictment, offering his support on legislation for the NFL.

In April, Yee pleaded not guilty to the first set of charges. He is being represented by Curtis Briggs, who said in a previous interview that the government's case is very "weak" against Yee, who is still being paid his annual salary of $90,000.

But on Friday, federal prosecutors added the racketeering count, under the statute known as RICO, to a superseding grand jury indictment. A racketeering conviction carries a possible prison sentence of 20 years or more and huge fines.

That means Yee now faces three additional charges: one count of "conspiracy to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity" and two counts of conspiracy "to obtain property under the color of official right."

The revised indictment alleges that Yee tried to extort "individuals and professional sports teams related to the passage of legislation governing the ability of professional athletes to collect workers compensation for injuries in California."

In 2013, investigators allege that Yee told an undercover FBI agent posing as an Arizona businessman that he should contact an NFL team owner the agent claimed to know and the owner "should contact Yee with an offer to help Yee," because he would be a key vote on the workers compensation bill, according to the indictment.

The undercover agent allegedly asked Yee how much his vote would cost. "Oh no," Yee is accused of having replied. "We gotta drag it out, man. We gotta juice this thing."

The undercover agent offered Yee $60,000 for his vote, the indictment reports, but Yee, after voting for the bill in committee, did not receive a campaign contribution. Yee abstained when the full Senate approved the bill.

The documents do not implicate the NFL.

If convicted on all counts, Yee faces a maximum of 165 years in prison and $2.25 million in penalties.

The revised grand jury indictment now includes 228 charges against 29 defendants.

Two of those high profile defendants have already entered not guilty pleas. They include: Keith Jackson, a former Yee consultant and San Francisco school board president and Chinatown gang leader,  Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow.

Chow's attorney, Tony Serra, said outside U.S. District Court on Wednesday that the government's case is weak, and that the grand jury would indict a "ham sandwich."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[10 Incredible Images of the UCLA Flood]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:40:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/edt-AP731937757829_2.jpg

UCLA's campus became a swimming pool Tuesday after a water main break spilled up to 10 million gallons of water into roads, buildings and parking garages in the area.

Students posted photos and video to social media sites showing chest-high water, flooded cars and water cascading down stairs.

"I was knee-deep in water, I had to take my shoes off even though they still got soaked," student Aaliyah Ricks told NBCLA. "I almost slipped a couple of times."

Check out the most incredible photos of the gyser that punched a 15-foot hole into a street and caused subsequent flooding.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Plows Into CA Sidewalk Cafe]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:23:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/07-31-2014-palo-alto-crash-2.jpg

Six people were injured, two seriously, when a car driven by a 90-year-old man slammed into the outside street seating at the University Cafe in Palo Alto during lunchtime Thursday, police said.

The crash was reported about 12:30 p.m. at 271 University Ave., outside the University Cafe, not far from the Stanford University campus.

Officers responded to the scene after receiving several 911 calls about a car that had driven into a building, injuring several people. Four people sustained minor injuries, including the driver. Two people were hospitalized in serious condition and would require surgery, police said, who added that one of those victims was a pedestrian, the other had been sitting at the cafe.

The elderly driver accidentally drove up onto the curb and struck five people, Palo Alto police officials told reporters. Officers on the scene confirmed the driver's age.

Metal sidewalk cafe tables were seen askew on the sidewalk, but the crumpled 2010 Nissan four-door sedan hadn't actually plowed into the restaurant. Police said the driver was apparently trying to parallel park when he accidentally hit the gas, striking another vehicle before he drove onto the sidewalk, stopping short of the building.

Police said the driver and two other patients with minor injuries were expected to be released from Stanford Hospital sometime Thursday night.

"It was crazy," Elizabeth Johnson, 19, a journalism student at Northwestern University who is interning at a start-up.

She had been in a nearby Apple store when she heard of the crash. When she exited, the area was "full of ambulances and police cars." She said the entire windshield of a four-door silver car had been smashed.

At this point, police said, the driver isn't facing any charges or citations.

The cause of the collision is under investigation. Police said there is no indication that drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash.


Bay City News and NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews and Gonzalo Rojas contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Eight Years After Injury, Technology Gives New Voice to Paralyzed Firefighter]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:07:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/FirefighterLockedIn_1200x675_313634883531.jpg

Former Fargo firefighter Rory Eidsness never expected to lose his ability to communicate with his friends and family. But eight years ago, he had a rare brainstem stroke that left him as a quadriplegic.

Today, the 19-year veteran firefighter uses eye-detecting technology to cope with "locked-in syndrome,” which leaves Eidsness trapped in his own mind; he's able to absorb the world around him, but unable to speak or move.

The new technology, NBC's Fargo/Grand Forks affiliate KVLY reports, scans Eidness eyes as he looks at certain letters to spell out his thoughts and then reads his sentences out loud. While Rory is grateful to have this computer, which didn't exist when he first became a quadriplegic, he said it is still too slow.

"I'm not a very good speller and I have to try to spell my thoughts if I want to share them," Eidness told KVLY.

His wife, Kari Eidness, is happy to see her husband being able to express his thoughts again. She told KVLY that before the newest computer, her husband could only blink for yes or no, forcing family and friends to rely on his facial expressions.

"The technology has been a godsend," she said. "He watched his world a lot. He went into his head because it was so hard to communicate."

Doctors attribute this rare type of stroke to heavy ladder training that may have damaged arteries in his neck. Current Fargo Fire Chief Steve Dirksen, who was not chief during the accident, told KVLY on behalf of the department, "Our hearts go out to Rory."

Dirksen said firefighters follow national training guidelines for safety, noting that he had never heard of Eidness' rare incident being an occupational hazard. While, the department's training techniques have not changed, Dirksen told reporters their outlook on the job has, "The reality is there for all of us that one snap of a finger and your life can change."

While Eidness also did not know of the risks when becoming a firefighter, KVLY reported, but he doesn't regret his time with the department: "What happened to me was a freak thing," he said.

Thinking of his colleagues keeps him motivated during physical therapy, which he does five days a week and water therapy three days a week, KVLY reported. 

"All things considered," he said. "I'm doing pretty good."

<![CDATA[Toddler Falls During Circus]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:28:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AAC+2.jpg

A toddler is in the hospital after tumbling over a railing at the American Airlines Center in Dallas Wednesday night during a performance by the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Officials at the arena said the 2-year-old girl fell from the 200 level as the family got up from their seats during intermission.

Paramedics with Dallas Fire-Rescue were at the arena and were able to provide immediate emergency treatment to the child before she was transported to Children's Medical Center. Her injuries have not been released to the public, but she remains in critical condition.

The child's family released a statement Thursday afternoon through Children's Medical Center:

"We want everyone to know our child is doing well and on the mend, although still being cared for in the ICU. We appreciate the actions of the first responders, both good Samaritans and professionals, who came to our family's aide. We also thank all those who are concerned and have reached out by thought and prayer. We request that everyone please have respect for our privacy at this time."

Officials have provided no further additional information on how or how far the child fell.

David Brown, general manager of the American Airlines Center, released the following statement after the fall:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with a two year old child who was injured in a fall during a performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at American Airlines Center Wednesday evening.  The child's family was leaving their seats on the front row of the 200 level just before intermission when the child fell to the Plaza Level below. Dallas Fire Rescue officers who work at the facility rushed to the child and provided immediate emergency care.  She was transported by ambulance to nearby Children's Medical Center."

Officials with American Airlines Center told NBC 5 Thursday morning that something like this has never happened in the arena and that they do not plan to make any safety changes in response to the accident.

Thursday afternoon, they released a revised statement to include the following few sentences:

"Right now our focus is on the injured child and her family.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and we are doing what we can to help to the family.  We are also reviewing the circumstances of the accident to determine what additional measures may be necessary to insure the safety of our guests."

The circus resumed their performance after intermission Wednesday night.  Other performances scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday will go on as planned.

Falls from stands have resulted in serious injuries and even deaths in recent years.  In 2010, firefighter Tyler Morris was hospitalized after falling 30 feet while trying to catch a foul ball during a Texas Rangers game.  Morris suffered a head injury and a sprained ankle in the fall, but luckily no internal injuries.

In 2011, Brownwood firefighter Lt. Shannon Stone died after a 20-foot fall while reaching for a ball tossed into the stands by Josh Hamilton.

NBC 5's Johnny Archer contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Falling Glass Hurts 3: FDNY]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:31:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/falling+glass+midtown+inset.jpg

Four people were injured when a piece of equipment hit and broke a window of a midtown high-rise where workers were doing renovations Thursday, sending shards of glass plummeting 18 stories to the street below, law enforcement officials say.

The glass fell from a building on West 57th Street near Sixth Avenue shortly before 9 a.m., officials say. A worker on a rolling scaffold lost balance and pushed the scaffold into the plate-glass window, about 5 feet by 7 feet, shattering the window, according to a Department of Buildings spokesman. 

Two women and a man on the street were injured, as was one of the workers, fire officials said.

Broken glass was spotted on the sidewalk as emergency crews tended to the victims. One woman was hit in the head and was taken to the hospital. The other woman and the man refused medical treatment, and the construction worker was treated at the hospital and released.

All of the victims are expected to be OK, officials said.

FDNY Battalion 9 Chief Tom Mara said about a quarter of the several hundred pound window pane fell to the street, likely in pieces. He said crews spent nearly an hour removing loose shards of glass from the window after the accident, and it was fortunate no one on the ground was seriously hurt.

Mara said the window panes on the building are pretty thick and substantial, but "if you hit it just right, this is what happens."

The DOB has issued a violation to the construction company, The Martin Group, for a failure to safeguard the site. 

The immediate area was closed to traffic while authorities investigated.  

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Choked With Rope: Police]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:18:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Woman-Choked.jpg

A man is facing attempted murder charges after he allegedly attacked a woman in broad daylight and tried to strangle her with a rope. 

Corrine McDonald, 29, who lived in Philadelphia for four years but recently moved back to upstate New York, was visiting friends Wednesday afternoon in University City. She was walking along 45th and Larchwood Streets around 1 p.m. to grab a cup of coffee.

As she was walking, police say a man, identified as 33-year-old Andre Taylor, approached her from behind, put a rope around her neck and started to choke her.

"I felt something come around my neck and constrict it," McDonald said. "He had put a rope around my neck and was pulling it with both hands."

Taylor allegedly dragged McDonald into an alleyway. That's when McDonald says she fought back as her adrenaline kicked in.

"I had this moment of fear but there is no option but to fight," McDonald said. "I yelled and he tried to stop me from yelling. He reached out and grabbed me by the throat with his hand because he must have dropped the rope." 

As she struggled with the suspect, two undercover police officers who happened to be on patrol at the time spotted McDonald, ran to her rescue and apprehended Taylor, according to investigators.

Police say that Taylor, who was recently released from prison and was wanted for violating his parole for robbery, is also responsible for another attack earlier this week.

"We do have another job similar to this on Sunday around the same time," said Philadelphia Police Lieutenant John Walker. "We think he may have been in that area just looking for victims."

During the Sunday incident, Taylor allegedly attacked another woman from behind and used her headphones to choke her before fleeing the scene with seven dollars.

McDonald says she's still shaken by the terrifying ordeal but happy that it ended with Taylor's arrest.

"It was a traumatic event," McDonald said. "I'm glad that it happened in a way which means that he was apprehended. Now this man is not on the streets." 

Taylor was taken into custody and charged with attempted murder, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault and other related offenses. Sources close to the investigation tell NBC10 that he confessed to his crimes.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Daughter Charged With Murder]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:09:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Alyssa+Barrett+mug.jpg

The pregnant teen daughter of a United Airlines flight attendant found dead in the trunk of a car in Gary, Indiana, earlier this month has been implicated in her slaying.

Alyssa Barrett, 17, faces charges of murder and robbery resulting in bodily injury in connection with the death of her mother, 54-year-old DeCarol Deloney-Cain.

Barrett's boyfriend, 18-year-old Damarius Wren, was charged with first-degree murder in the case earlier this month.

According to court documents, the killing took place at the victim's Crown Point home on July 3 with Barrett present in the home when Wren attacked her mother.

Wren is accused of placing a pillow case over Deloney-Cain's head and repeatedly smashing her head against a staircase in the basement before stabbing her to death.

According to the Post-Tribune, the mother and daughter had a "fragile" relationship which got worse after Barrett became pregnant earlier this summer.

Both suspects are being held without bail.

Photo Credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Transgender Girl Stabbed on Train]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:34:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/0730-klaiber.jpg

A transgender 15-year-old girl was stabbed in the back aboard a Metro train Wednesday afternoon, D.C. police say.

The attack at the Fort Totten station on the green line going toward Branch Avenue was reported just after 4:30 p.m.

The girl's friends told News4 the suspect, identified as 24-year-old Reginald Anthony Klaiber, came up to the group inside the train and insulted the victim's appearance, asking why she was wearing a wig and commenting on what she was wearing.

According to documents, the victim repeatedly told Klaiber to leave her alone, but he was persistent and asked her, "Are you a boy? Are you a boy? ... Why you be looking like a girl?"

Document say that when the train stopped at Fort Totten station, both the victim and Klaiber got up. That's when documents say Klaiber grabbed her from behind in a bear hug and stabbed her in the back. Documents say one of the victim's friends then sprayed Klaiber with pepper spray. 

The victim and her two friends then ran off the train with Klaiber giving chase, documents say, shouting, "I'm going to [stab you] again!"

Klaiber was apprehended shortly after and charged with assault with deadly weapon. 

Metro Police say the charges include the possibility of enhanced penalties for hate or bias motivation. If convicted, Klaiber could be subject to a 1.5-time enhancement under D.C. law.

According to court records uncovered by News4, Klaiber has a lengthy criminal history that includes previous charges of assault and resisting arrest.

<![CDATA[Gay Church Employee Fired]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 05:53:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Colin-Collette.jpg

The music director of a Illinois church lost his job after getting engaged to be married.

Colin Collette got engaged to his longtime partner in Rome last week. But after announcing his big news, he was fired Monday from the Holy Family Church in the suburb of Inverness.

"He's a little more angry right now at this moment, and understandably so, because I think he's concerned for me. He knows the church is my life," Collette said of his partner, William.

"It's not even as much that this is happening to me, but that Holy Family will never be the same. Holy Family was this Catholic community that was said to be different," he said.

The Archdiocese of Chicago issued a statement saying it was aware of the situation at Holy Family and would not comment on an individual's personnel issues.

"Pastors hire and dismiss all parish personnel and govern according to the teachings of the Church and Archdiocesan policies. This is a matter of personal integrity on their part," the Archdiocese of Chicago said in a statement. "Those that serve as Ministers of the Church, including worship ministers, are expected to conform their lives publicly with the teachings of the Church." 

Collette finds the Archdiocese response troubling because he says his relationship was far from private. He says his partner -- also a Catholic -- has even read scripture at the church.

"Everybody was welcome. That was our hallmark. All are welcome. Well, that's all changed now. That's become a lie," Collette said.

Collette said he wouldn't hesitate to take his job back, but doesn't expect an invitation to return. He says he will return to the church to worship.

<![CDATA["Tip Bombers" Surprise Subway Artists With Cash, Cheers]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:57:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Tip-Bombing-NYC.jpg

A group of do-gooders has started surprising city subway performers with big tips and cheers, swarming their underground performance spots and filling their instrument cases with cash in a practice called “tip bombing.”

Twice this month, groups of people have come out to listen to artists and drop them extra tips in a Facebook-organized act of kindness. Organizers pick a busker to “bomb” and send out a message saying where and when they'll circle the artist and leave the tips.

The practice is similar to a nationwide trend, also called "tip bombing," where diners leave large tips for waitresses at inexpensive restaurants.

Robert Leslie was the first subway artist to get tip bombed. The group surprised him in a lower Manhattan subway station last week. He was tipped $319 in just a few minutes.

“Midway through, I was thinking ‘this is going really well,’” Leslie said in a YouTube video. “But then more and more people kept coming and I was like, ‘Wow, I should play here every day.’ I felt like Jay Z or something.”

On Wednesday, a group surprised an artist known as “Guitaro 5,000” in a subway station in Times Square.

<![CDATA[1 Killed in Parking Lot Plane Crash]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:01:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Plane-Crash-0731_3.jpg

A small plane crashed in the parking lot of a busy San Diego shopping center Wednesday evening, killing one of the two women aboard and wounding the other.

“Problem now. I’m not getting any altitude here,” the pilot was heard on a distress call to Montgomery Field.

The fixed wing single-engine Mooney M20L crashed in a parking lot between Target and the Costco Business Center off Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa, about a mile from the airport, around 5:30 p.m. It landed near parked cars but away from main store entrances.

The 52-year-old pilot and her 78-year-old passenger were taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital with major injuries, according to fire officials. The 78-year-old woman suffered serious burns and died at the hospital. The condition of the pilot has not been released.

Family members told NBC 7 that one of the registered owners of the plane - Devon Logan of Point Loma - was aboard the plane.

Two witnesses who may have been trying to rescue the victims were treated for minor burns, fire officials said. One was taken to the hospital, and the other was treated at the scene. The plane did not hit any people in the parking lot when it crashed.

The Montgomery Field radio tower received a distress call from the aircraft right before the crash. The transciption of the call indicates the pilot knew she was in trouble.

“Problem now. I’m not getting any altitude here,” the pilot says.

“27 mike-pappa, full throttle,” the tower answers.

“I’m full throttle,” the pilot replies.

“27 mike-pappa, turn back to the field if you’re able,” the tower says.

“I’m going down,” responds the pilot.

Witness Gregg Smith was leaving work across the street and was only one block away when he saw and heard the aircraft crash.

“I heard the plane coming – it was a different sound – and I knew they didn’t have enough power to make the lift they needed to do,” Smith told NBC 7.

At that point, Smith said he looked up and saw the plane making a turn. “It missed my building probably by about 10 or 15 feet,” he added.

“I heard the distinctive thud of it hitting one of the light poles in the parking lot, and I heard it crash. The next thing I saw was a bunch of flames and black smoke,” Smith continued.

Helicopter pilot Vince Carter was taking off from Montgomery Field at the time of the crash. Carter told NBC 7 he heard the pilot’s distress call and heard her say her power was going out seconds before the crash.

“This is a miracle and testament to her skill as a pilot. I really hope she comes through everything okay. This could have very easily killed a lot of people,” he said. “You could imagine, just shopping at Target, and a plane comes through the roof full of fuel.”

Carter said the area where the aircraft landed is really the only place where the pilot could have gone without causing a lot of damage.

“When we’re flying, we need air going over the wings at a specific speed to generate lift. Once you lose enough air speed, there’s not enough wind going over the wings to generate lift and you don’t fly any more. As you can see, the plane is in a relatively flat position. It didn’t travel extremely far when it hit the ground, so you can assume that it didn’t have a lot of forward momentum going into this,” he said.

“So what probably happened is that in a loss of power and finding a place to put it down, she stalled it out pretty much perfectly in the only spot she possibly could have,” he continued.

"I don’t know what kind of control they had, but they obviously had enough control to bring it down into an area where they were not going to crash into vehicles or buildings,” San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesperson Lee Swanson said.

A small fire sparked upon impact, but firefighters extinguished it quickly, Swanson said.

Witnesses said several heroic bystanders rushed to the aid of the pilot and her passenger right after the crash, pulling the women from the wreckage.

A Costco employee who witnessed the crash told NBC 7 that the person taken to the hospital with minor burns to his hand is another Costco employee.

The Target store was not evacuated and remained open Wednesday evening. A Target employee said fire crews were assessing the building for damage.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is on scene investigating the cause of the crash. The FAA said the aircraft bounced while attempting to land at nearby Montgomery Field but continued westbound and crashed in the Costco parking lot.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will lead the investigation and likely post a preliminary report of the accident within the next week or two. Still, officials said it typically takes the NTSB months to come up with a probable cause for accidents.

Per protocol, neither agency will release the identities of those involved in the aircraft accident.

San Diego Police Department Sgt. Steve Behrendt said the airplane struck a portion of the Target building before landing.

“It did hit the top of the Target building. There is some debris on the roof of the Target and some in the garden area. Then one of the light poles was taken out by the plane,” Behrendt explains.

NBC 7 spoke with a family member of the pilot at UCSD Medical Center Wednesday night who said the survivor of the crash was in stable condition.

According to FAA records, the aircraft is co-owned but registered to San Diego resident William Logan. The family member confirmed William Logan was not aboard the aircraft.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Man Fined $3K Over Leaky Toilet]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:45:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/120427372.jpg

A city in California is taking the drought very seriously.

The Santa Cruz Water Department slapped a $3,000 fine on a man for a leak caused by a running toilet, NBC affiliate KSBW reported Wednesday.

The man had the leaky toilet for eight days, the station reported.

The man, who was not identified, was able to avoid the hefty penalty by deciding to attend “water school,” a free, one-time class which teaches participants how to manage water at their property, read a water meter, find and fix leaks among other things.

Santa Cruz Water Department conservation manager Toby Goddard told KSBW that the penalty for having a running toilet for eight days ranged between $3,000 to $4,000.

“That's a terrible situation, of course it was eliminated by his attending water school,” he said.

Santa Cruz city officials are cracking down on water wasters, with residents paying more than half a million dollars in fines since the city declared a Stage 3 drought emergency two months ago.

Goddard said most of the fines were rescinded after water wasters attended water school, which is held on Monday nights.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Flood Twice as Bad as Feared]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:52:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/193*120/ucla+flood+water+main+20140730_082724_resized+%286%29.jpg

More than 20 million gallons of water were lost during Tuesday's massive water main break near UCLA, doubling the initial estimate, officials said.

Crews were still shutting off water to the busted pipe under Sunset Boulevard north of the UCLA campus Wednesday afternoon. Repairs weren't even expected to begin until after the water was shut off, said James B. McDaniel, the senior assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's water system.

"This is a very unfortunate incident," he said during an afternoon press conference. "This is one of our bigger ruptures. It is a major event for us."

Hundreds of vehicles are stranded in flooded parking structures and historic Pauley Pavilion's court shows signs of damage after a water main break Tuesday that sent up to 10 million gallons of water gushing onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus for more than three hours.

At a mid-day news conference, school officials said they are waiting for areas to "dry out" before they can provide detailed damage estimates. Campus officials characterized the campus as in a "drying phase" Wednesday after the water removal process continued overnight.

Large blower machines were being used in the historic Pauley Pavilion, Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, JD Morgan Center and John Wooden Center. School officials said Wednesday morning the Pauley Pavilion court showed signs of "expansion and buckling."

The break occurred at the Y-shaped meeting point of a 30-inch pipe installed in 1921 and a 36-inch pipe installed in 1956. Both pipes ruptured and blew open a 25-foot wide, 5-foot deep sinkhole at about 3:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said.

"I can't speculate on what caused the leak at this point," said Jeff Bray, of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. "This repair is at the Y where the 30-inch main comes in at an extreme angle to the 36-inch main. The top of the pipe just lifted up and created an opening in the pipe."

As for repairs and detailed damage assessments, crews must wait until after the closure of two leaks discovered along the pipes. The pipes deliver water to the area at a high velocity from Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir, a body of water about eight miles north of Westwood near the Sepulveda Pass.

"We cannot begin repairs until we get the water completely down," Bray said. "We're looking at an extended period of time."

Repairs are likely to cause traffic problems in the heavily traveled area through Thursday because Sunset Boulevard between Veteran Avenue and Hilgard Avenue will be closed for road work.

Two parking structures and six facilities on the UCLA campus were damaged. UCLA had crews working throughout the night to remove water from those buildings.

"Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.

About 900 cars were inside Parking Lot 4 and Parking Lot 7, the two parking structures affected by the flooding. Officials say because the water may be mixed with toxic chemicals such as oil and gas, the water has to be safely removed and cannot just be pumped out into the street. UCLA is working with private companies to remove the water from the structure, Moore said.

Officials say the cars in the structure will not be accessible until Friday.

"A little less than half are totally submerged," said Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor for UCLA.

Motorists traveling in the area should use Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard or Olympic Boulevard to avoid the road closure.

All UCLA summer camp programming, including recreational activities, were suspended Wednesday, according to campus officials.

NBC4's Samia Khan contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Woman in Black Ends Journey in Va.]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:47:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/10576972_1459879644266591_5771750762694716127_n.jpg

The journey of a woman in black robes has come to an end in Winchester, Virginia -- but her mystery continues.

Several weeks ago a woman dressed in fluttering black robes and veils became a social media phenomenon when she was spotted wandering a highway in Georgia. Initially she was little more than an eerie figure in a handful of photos, but as time went by it became apparent that the woman was on a journey.

Social media lit up in the following weeks with reports that the woman had reached Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and, finally, Virginia.

But that has now come to and end. When she arrived in Winchester Wednesday, dozens of fans were waiting for her. For her safety, police decided to escort her to an undisclosed location.

Police told News4 that she told them she intends to stay put in Winchester and that, although she intends to be a part of the community, she wants to be left alone. They also said her journey is related to faith and religion.

Reuters reported Monday that a man, Raymond Poles, had come forward claiming to be the woman's brother. He said her name was Elizabeth Poles and that she was a 54-year-old Army veteran, a widow and mother of two.

He also said that she was from Motts, Alabama, where she had been receiving treatment at a Veterans Affairs hospital after the deaths of her husband and father. Poles said that he wished she would return and resume treatment.

But police told News4 that the woman said she was from Winchester.

Despite seeking anonymity, the woman has fans across the country. Along her journey she politely declined offers of assistance and it was her determination to cover so much ground that seemed to inspire many.

A Twitter hashtag campaign, using #WomanInBlack, was started and one Facebook user started a page where fans could track her progress.

That user explained the draw of the woman's journey on the Facebook page.

"[The page] was created in hopes of reminding people to open their hearts and become a little less judgmental and more willing to lend a hand to those in need."

<![CDATA[Calif. Standoff Ends, Man Arrested]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:29:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/malibu-pursuit.jpg

A man suspected of getting into a shootout with an off-duty FBI agent during an attempted kidnapping at a gym in the San Fernando Valley on Wednesday was arrested after leading officers on a pursuit into Malibu, investigators said.

Backed by snipers in a helicopter, officers took the gunman into custody about 9 p.m. at Malibu Bluffs Park (map) between Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Road after he bailed from the car and fled down a hillside into heavy brush just south of Pepperdine University.

Before the pursuit, an FBI agent in gym clothes intervened in the attempted abduction at an LA Fitness parking lot on De Soto Avenue in Chatsworth (map), officials said.

"We had an FBI agent who was here on personal business. He witnessed what he believed to be a suspect attempting to kidnap a female victim, and a shooting occurred," said Robert Clark, Los Angeles FBI assistant special agent in charge.

There was exchange of gunfire before the man fled in a car with a woman, officials said.

The man then led officers on a 15-minute pursuit through parts of the San Fernando Valley and into Malibu in a black BMW, at times driving in opposite lanes on Pacific Coast Highway, investigators said.  The windshield appeared to be riddled with bullet holes. Officials said the man had been struck by the gunfire.

The woman was able to get out of the car near Ventura Boulevard and Woodlake Avenue in Woodland Hills. She was taken to the hospital and was expected to be OK.

"It’s extremely fortuitous for her that he was able to intervene," Clark said. "He is trained to respond to violent and felony in progress."

After bailing from the car the man ran, then staggered down a hill, where he curled up on his side and remained there for two hours until SWAT members in protective gear and rifles surrounded him and took him into custody without incident.

The man was placed in the back of an ambulance and transported to a hospital. His condition was not known.

No law enforcement officers were hurt, FBI officials said.

Witnesses said the FBI agent ran after the car as it left the parking lot.

"Next thing I knew I heard shots fired and I was like, freaking out because I've never been that close to gunshots in my life," said witness Liz Cook.

Traffic was jammed on Pacific Coast Highway during the standoff.

A witness who was at a nearby park recalled seeing the man ditching his car and running by her and her child.

"The guy come in and all the cars and I went running for the bushes and I laid on top of my baby," said Kimberly Fuentes. "I looked up and the guy with the gun run past like 10 feet away from us into the bushes, toward the rich people's houses at the beach."

Officers were canvassing the hillside in search of the shooter's gun.

Crime scene tape surrounded the gym as LAPD and FBI investigators worked at the scene.

In all, officials said there were four different crime scenes, including in Chatsworth, Woodland Hills and Malibu. In addition to where the woman left the car, the gunman and law enforcement officers exchanged gunfire at Valley Circle Drive near the 101 Freeway in Woodland Hills.

Robert Kovacik and Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Thousands of Blue Sea Creatures Wash Up on Calif. Beaches]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:47:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/velella.jpg

Social media is teeming with pictures of small bright blue sea creatures washing up all over California beaches, with sightings reported in Humboldt County, Monterey and Ocean Beach.

Despite being described as "strange," "bizarre," "mysterious," and even "aliens," it turns out these creatures have a name.

Marine researchers are calling it Velella velella, a name the Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote sounds "like a nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film."

"Some people call them jellyfish, but they are in fact only distantly related and only superficially similar," said Rich Mooi of the California Academy of Sciences.

The small delicate-looking marine invertibrates are commonly called "by-the-wind sailor." They are 40 to 80 millimeters long as adults and are characterized by a clear, chitinous semicircular sail sticking above water.

Velella can be found floating at the sea surface. They feed on zooplankton and fish and their predators are snails. They generally float offshore but can be blown onshore in large numbers.

Nobody knows for sure why so many are washing up this late in summer.

Although they are related to the Portugese man-o'-war -- notorious for its stinging ability -- Mooi said the creatures are completely harmless to humans, though he doesn't recommend eating them.


Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Pit Bull Survives Fall From Highway]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:11:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dog+mookie.JPG

UPDATE: Owner of Pit Bull Who Survived BQE Plunge Steps Forward

A pit bull is convalescing in a Brooklyn animal hospital after possibly being thrown from a moving car on a New York City highway Tuesday evening and landing on a busy street 25 feet below.

A driver said he couldn't believe what he saw falling from the sky on Meeker Avenue below the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Greenpoint.

"The way he was falling, head over heels down on the pavement, it just made us think we had probably seen a dog being thrown over the barrier," said Jon Ernsberger, whose car was almost hit by the falling dog.

Two bike riders under the span were stunned to come upon the pit bull, crying and struggling to stand. The witnesses called police and took the dog to an animal hospital.

The dog, named Meeker for the avenue where he was discovered, suffered no broken bones but was treated for a collapsed lung and may need surgery to repair a hernia from the impact.

But the pit bull is expected to make a full recovery, according to the veterinarian taking care of him. 

"Your first reaction is obviously anger," said Brett Levitzke of the Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group in Cobble Hill, "followed up quickly by very thankful that this good Samaritan saw it happen and then brought him in. Because without him, Meeker would probably be dead right now."

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Family: Comic-Con Cosplayer Beaten]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:31:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Marriott-San-Diego-Cosplaye.jpg

A Southern California family is heartbroken after a young woman was beaten while in San Diego last weekend to attend Comic-Con 2014 events and parties.

The 17-year-old was hospitalized following an attack and sexual assault on Saturday, July 26 her mother told NBC 7. She suffered several brain bleeds.

Sgt. Todd Rakos with Harbor Police said the teen was found beaten blood near the hotel's pool around 1 a.m.

“It's just so sad, that on her birthday she had one of the most horrific things happen to her,” said mother Jill Weyer.

This was the Riverside County teenager's first time at Comic-Con, her mother said. She traveled to San Diego with a trusted friend who was over the age of 21 and her parents had no reason to be concerned until they lost contact.

“My daughter was great about checking in all day with me with her phone and when I lost contact with her I kept trying to contact her and I knew something was wrong,” she said.

Weyer said her daughter was cosplaying – taking part in the Comic-Con tradition of dressing up in character – when she was attending parties after the convention.

She was dressed as a female version of Roger Rabbit with a bright red wig, bunny ears, white shirt and a red leotard.

That’s relevant because police want anyone who remembers seeing the teen between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. in the hotel to contact them.

Harbor Police said they have arrested 29-year-old Justin Kalior at the Marriot Hotel, on Harbor Drive near the San Diego Convention Center but would not confirm the arrest was connected to the beating of a cosplayer. He was accused of having sexual contact with a minor and providing her alcohol.

The girl's memory is fuzzy about what happened, so police are unable to determine if Kalior was involved in the attack. There may be other suspects, police say.

The arrest was made just after 1 a.m. Sunday, Weyer said.

Weyer said she and her husband want to make sure everyone who may have been involved is caught.

“Somebody knows something and they’re just not saying it. I just want them to come forward. Be brave,” Weyer said.

“I’m just hoping we can find who did this and make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else because no one else should have to go through this.”

The thoughts and prayers from the Comic-Con cosplaying community on social media mean so much to Weyer.

“People I don’t even know have reached out,” she said.

While Weyer was reluctant to give an update on her daughter’s condition, she did say it would be a long recovery process.

Both Comic-Con and the Marriott would not comment on the case.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Toddler Dies in Hot Car: Cops]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 06:28:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/toddler-dies-sylmar.jpg

A 3-year-old boy died Wednesday after becoming trapped in a hot car in Sylmar, police said.

Officers were called about 3:30 p.m. to a home in the 14400 block of West Foothill Boulevard, where the child had climbed into a Toyota Camry and was unable to get out, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The child was taken to a hospital in grave condition, police said. He was later pronounced dead.

Investigators believe the child was playing outside while his parents and 14-year-old brother were napping inside. Police say the boy's parents told detectives they all took a nap around noon. 

It was unclear how the child became locked inside the car. Investigators said the father found him around 3 p.m. in the car parked in the family's front yard and called 911.

It was 88 degrees in Sylmar at noon and 98 degrees by 3 p.m. In a car with the windows up, the temperature is exponentially higher.

No arrests have been made in connection with the boy's death, police said.

"Our investigation will determine if this was an accident or something worse, all we have to go on right now are the statements from the parents," LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon said.

Police said they were interviewing the parents at a relative's home Wednesday night. For now, investigators are treating this incident as an accident and awaiting the coroner's autopsy report to determine the exact cause of death.

"They had several kids running around the yard, they were really nice people and seemed to be really good with their kids," neighbor Kim Kesley said.

This is the 19th hot car death this year in the United States, according to San Francisco State University. 

NBC4's Samia Khan and Kate Larsen contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[McDonald's Ordered to Pay $27M in Deaths of Teens]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:48:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tlmd_mcdonalds1.png

A Central Texas jury on Wednesday ordered McDonald's to pay $27 million in actual damages to the families of two teenagers killed in a car crash while en route to a hospital after a fight outside the fast-food restaurant.

In a statement, McDonald's said it will appeal the verdict.

A release from the attorney representing the families of 18-year-old Denton James Ward of Flower Mound and 19-year-old Lauren Bailey Crisp of Dripping Springs said McDonald's lax security led to their deaths in 2012 in College Station.

The two were with another couple when they stopped at the restaurant. The young men were beaten by a mob in the parking lot. Their girlfriends tried to get them to a hospital but the driver ran a red light and was hit by a pickup, killing Crisp.

The release says evidence at the trial showed police were called more than 20 times to break up fights at the restaurant in the year leading up to the incident. The families believed McDonald's should have provided better security at the restaurant.

Witnesses testified that Ward died in the parking lot after being kicked and stomped on by as many as 20 attackers, according to the release. McDonald's maintained that Ward died in the car wreck that followed, and that the company wasn't responsible for the teens' safety.

One of the attackers was sentenced to 90 days in jail for assaulting Ward's male friend. No other arrests were made.

Police in College Station testified they regularly went to the McDonald's to stop fights and disperse very large crowds in early morning hours on weekends. Despite officers' testimony, two former McDonald's managers working that night at the restaurant told jurors they weren't aware of any problems.

"The night these two kids died, this was a dangerous location, and McDonald's knew it," plaintiff's attorney Chris Hamilton said in the release. "Yet they did nothing to prevent their senseless deaths."

In its statement, McDonald's expressed sympathy for the families of the dead and injured. Nevertheless, "We respectfully disagree with the jury's verdict and will be appealing the decision," the statement concluded.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Flooding: Before and After]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:06:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/UCLA-pavilion-after.jpg

A water main break Tuesday in Los Angeles' Westwood area sent millions of gallons of water gushing onto the campus of UCLA, flooding parking structures, the famed Pauley Pavilion and other buildings.

These photos reveal the extent of the damage with images taken before and after the affected areas. UCLA officials have yet to establish a damage estimate, but several campus buildings and parking structures were flooded after two water mains burst at their meeting point near the campus.

The break sent an estimated 10 million gallons of water onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus.

These photos show Sunset Boulevard before and after the water main break. The break shattered pavement and created a large sinkhole from which a geyser of water sprayed for hours. The before photo is from Google Earth, and the after photo is from KNBC-TV's NewsChopper4:

These photos show UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, which suffered severe flooding as a result of the water main break. The court, home to the UCLA Bruins, showed signs of buckling and expansion after it was under about eight inches of water, campus officials said. The before photo was provided by UCLA; the after photo was shot by the Associated Press:

These photos show the plaza outside the Acosta Center, which was flooded after the water main break. The before photo is from Google Earth; the after photo is from Gadi Schwartz.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ax Goes Through Windshield in Massachusetts]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:55:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Ax+through+windshield+in+Topsfield.jpg

Passengers in a car traveling through Topsfield, Massachusetts, on Wednesday morning had a frightening ordeal when an ax became lodged in their windshield.

They were driving on Route 95 southbound around 11 a.m. when the ax flew off the landscaper's dump truck in front of them and hit their windshield, Massachusetts State Police said in on Facebook

The ax went halfway through the windshield and became lodged there.

Although the person in the passenger seat was shaken up, she was not injured.

Had the driver of the car been speeding, the outcome could have been much worse, police said.

The driver of the truck was cited for a failure to secure cargo.

Police are using the scary incident to warn contractors, or any drivers, to properly secure items they are transporting, including tools, building materials, bicycles, canoes, luggage, furniture and beach chairs.


Photo Credit: Massachusetts State Police]]>
<![CDATA[Mystery of Ship Buried Under World Trade Center Revealed ]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 09:35:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/191*120/ground+zero+buried+ship2.jpg

Remnants of an 18th-century ship found buried in soil 20 feet under the World Trade Center site four years ago have been traced to Colonial-Era Philadelphia, according to a new study.

The 32-foot piece of the vessel was found in July 2010 as bulldozers excavated a parking garage for the future building. At the time, historians said the ship likely dated back to the 1700s, and that it was defunct by the time lower Manhattan's western shoreline covered it up around 1818.

But the mystery of its origins persisted -- until now.

Scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory analyzed the skeletal remains of the ship using dendrochronology, which relies on tree rings to determine dates and chronological order.

In a study published in the journal Tree Ring Research, the scientists say they traced the white oak used in the ship's frame to an old growth forest in the Philadelphia era. The article says the trees were probably cut around 1773, shortly before the Revolutionary War.

Wood sampled from Independence Hall in Philadelphia 20 years ago had growth rings that matched those from the World Trade Center ship, suggesting the wood used in both constructions came from the same area.

Scientists say they believe the ship is a Hudson River Sloop, designed by the Dutch to carry passengers and cargo over shallow, rocky water. The article says it was likely built in Philadelphia, a shipbuilding hub during the Colonial era, and used for 20 to 30 years before sailing to what would become its final stop in lower Manhattan.

Workers and archaeologists had also found a 100-pound anchor in the same area as the ship, but it wasn't clear at the time if it belonged to the ship.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Cleared for Smoke in NYC ]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 04:22:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/lga+plane+evac+july+30.jpg

A plane leaving LaGuardia Airport returned shortly after takeoff and was evacuated after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit, officials say. 

Envoy Air 3340, headed to Knoxville, Tennessee, turned around and made an emergency landing on Runway 22 at about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, according to the FAA.

The passengers were escorted from the Embraer 145 and bused to the terminal.

The runway was closed briefly as officials responded. 

None of the 44 passengers or three crew members were injured, officials say. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[CA Has 1st Openly Gay Governor - For Part of Day]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:39:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/toni+atkins+swearing+in.jpg

For eight or nine hours on Wednesday, California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins will be acting as the state's top chief executive— the first openly gay governor in state history.

That's because this week, the three above her on the state org chart are not in town.

Gov. Jerry Brown is on a trade mission in Mexico this week. As the Washington Post noted, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom filled in for a bit, but is on the East Coast for a Special Olympics event. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg then took over for a while, but he had plans to be in Chicago on Wednesday.

"I feel so grateful," Atkins said in an email on Wednesday forwarded by her spokesman. "I wish my parents could see this. Now I know that may sound hokey to many. But honestly, this is what is going through my mind. If Governor Brown wants a few more days away I'm here for him!"

Atkins spokesman Will Shuck confirmed Atkins will "hold the role of acting governor for approximately one business day, ending this evening on the return of governor." 

Atkins, D-San Diego, is the first openly lesbian leader of either California chamber, succeeding the first openly gay Assembly speaker, John Pérez, a Democrat from Los Angeles.

She shared on her Facebook page that filling in is nothing new: during her time on the San Diego city council, the now 51-year-old Atkins served as acting mayor after other city officials stepped down. She was the first lesbian to hold that position, too.

But Atkins was not focusing on making history due to her sexual orientation on Wednesday. She took the opportunity to highlight her roots -- growing up "in poverty in Virginia" -- and her journey to becoming acting governor for a day.

Atkins, who has focused on funding state universities and advocating for victims of violence and abuse during her time at the Capitol, had a full calendar ahead of her.

But the first act, she tweeted out, was to make sure the temporary first dogs of California - Haley and Joey -  got their morning walk. She shares her pooches with wife, Jennifer LeSar, in the South Park/Golden Hill community of San Diego.


Photo Credit: CA State Assembly]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA's Pauley Pavilion Court May Have to Be Replaced: Officials]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:40:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/ucla+pauley+pavilion+court+water+flood.jpg

The court of the historic Pauley Pavilion at the University of California, Los Angeles may have to be replaced as a result of flooding to the campus, athletic department officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

When asked about replacing the court, Guerrero said, "that's the course of action that we're looking for. No questions about it."

Guerrero said the upcoming Bruin basketball season will not be affected by the recent damage.

Ten million gallons of water gushed onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus Tuesday afternoon, causing the wood floor to buckle - just two years after the indoor arena underwent a multi-million dollar renovation.

"The court is showing signs of buckling and expansion," Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor for UCLA, said Wednesday morning. "Whether we'll be able to get that saved, I don't know."

The break occurred at the Y-shaped meeting point of a 30-inch pipe installed in 1921 and a 36-inch pipe installed in 1956. Both pipes ruptured and blew open a 20-foot wide, 10-foot deep sinkhole in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said.

Water gushed at a rate of 75,000 gallons a minute, damaging UCLA parking structures, buildings and flooding parts of campus. About eight inches of water covered the famed Pauley Pavilion court at one point, but crews had removed most of the water by Wednesday morning.

Ankle-deep water could be seen covering the court’s wooden floorboards Tuesday night. Crews were drying the court Wednesday morning and officials planned to have a better damage estimate later in the day.

"Unfortunately, Pauley Pavilion took quite a bit of water," Chancellor Gene Block said. "It's painful."

The locker rooms also sustained significant flooding, according to the school's athletic department. Water also entered Wooden Center, which houses recreation facilities, and the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses athletic staff and administration offices and UCLA's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Pauley Pavilion opened 49 years ago and is home to many of UCLA’s athletic teams, including the men’s and women’s basketball teams, men’s and women’s volleyball teams and women’s gymnastics. The arena recently underwent a two-year, $136-million dollar renovation and opened the renovated facility in November 2012.

"I'm just wondering how UCLA is going to pay for it, I mean, Pauley looked in really bad shape and they just remodeled it," UCLA student Peter Nauka said.

It is unclear how the flooding will affect the upcoming schedule. The Teen Choice Awards are scheduled for Aug. 10 and the US Volleyball Cup Aug. 16.

Pauley Pavilion can seat approximately 13,800 people.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd and Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: FirstIn]]>
<![CDATA[Kennedy Cousin to Return to Court]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:59:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/michael+skakel+released+bond.jpg

Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel appeared in Stamford Superior Court on Wednesday to face the state's appeal of a ruling nearly a year ago that allowed his release from prison, pending a new trial in the case of the 1975 murder of Greenwich neighbor Martha Moxley.

Skakel said he's been spending as much time with his family as he can. Asked if he was enjoying his time out of prison, he said, "I wouldn't say enjoying."

Last October, after serving more than 11 years in jail for his 2002 conviction in Moxley's murder, a judge ruled that Skakel's former trial attorney failed to adequately represent him in 2002 and granted him a new trial. After posting bail, he walked free from prison last November.

The state is hoping a judge will reverse that decision. If the judge doesn't rule in their favor, Skakel will be granted a new trial. His attorneys are fighting to keep him a free man.

The Greenwich Time reported that Skakel's defense is also filing motions to bar audio tapes Skakel made for a memoir from being used in future court proceedings. The audio tapes were meant as a resource for ghost writer Richard Hoffman to pen Skakel's book, "Dead Man Talking: A Kennedy Cousin Comes Clean," the newspaper reported.

Skakel's attorneys told NBC's Today Show they plan to argue that the tapes, used as evidence in the previous trial, should be inadmissible this time, claiming police illegally seized the tapes from Skakel's ghostwriter and that the audio files have been selectively edited out of context.

Gary Galanis, a family friend of Skakel's, told NBC News that "the implication is that Michael was there confessing to to the crime on this tape. That's not the case at all." The tapes do contain an admission by Skakel to engaging in sexual activity in a tree outside of Moxley's home the night she was murdered. Skakel was 15 years old at the time of the murder.

Skakel's criminal defense attorney, Stephan Seeger told NBC's Ron Mott that he's ready to prove his client is innocent.

"And that's something that the public needs to know. And I think that if the public learns more about the evidence we have especially more approximate evidence that people will start to change their mind about what happened in this case," he said.

During a 10-minute court proceeding Wednesday, the judge ordered the prosecution and defense to compile a list of Skakel's belongings to be returned and ordered all evidence preserved.

Skakel declined to comment on his way out of court.

Moxley's family released the following statement ahead of Skakel's appearance on Wednesday:

"With regard to the hearing, we don't see how a judge could possibly hear the argument when no one knows what the status of the case will be. The state's appeal is just going in at the end of the week. It's our hope that the judge's decision will be overturned and the conviction will be reinstated and that Michael Skakel will go back to jail where he belongs."

<![CDATA[6 Narcotics Officers Stole Half a Million Dollars From Suspects: Feds]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 06:23:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Narcotics-Officer-Arrested.jpg

Federal agents arrested six Philadelphia Police narcotics officers as part of an ongoing corruption probe and accused the group of swiping more than half a million dollars' worth of money, drugs and other items over a period of years.

“Unfortunately, a very small percentage of police officers continue to toss their oath aside and act like the very criminals they have sworn to bring to justice,” said U.S Attorney Zane David Memeger.

The U.S. Attorney's Office unsealed the 26-count indictment Wednesday of the two-year joint investigation between the police department, FBI and U.S. Attorney's office. The officers, who have served anywhere from five to 13 years in the narcotics unit, face allegations of multiple acts of robbery, extortion, kidnapping and drug dealing from February 2006 to November 2012.

The officers under arrest are Perry Betts, 46; Thomas Liciardello, 38; Linwood Norman, 46; Brian Reynolds, 43; John Speiser, 42; and Michael Spicer, 46. The officers were taken into custody without incident early Wednesday morning. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that each officer will be suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss.

"Conduct like this is simply unacceptable, cannot be tolerated and is inexcusable," said Ramsey who noted the shame these allegations bring the officers and entire department.

Prosecutors say that the defendants would routinely rob the occupants of suspected dealers' cars or homes.

"The defendants used their positions of authority to target suspected drug dealers for purposes of stealing cash, personal property and drugs," said Memeger.

The indictment details about 22 separate incidents where the officers broke the law.  In total, prosecutors estimate the officers took more than $500,000 worth of cash, drugs and goods including fancy watches.

Some of the incidents outlined in the indictment includes one where Liciardello, Reynolds and Walker allegedly took $30,000 from an illegally detained suspect then took another $80,000 from the suspect’s home; an incident where Norman allegedly held a man over an 18-story balcony; an incident where Spicer allegedly dangled a man off a 35th-floor balcony in an attempt to swipe $79,000 and a designer suit; and an incident where Norman and Walker allegedly stole and distributed multi-kilogram quantity of cocaine.

Other incidents weren't as violent.

"They literally filed false police reports," Memeger said.

The allegations include declaring they collected less money than they would report.

Ramsey said that the officers tarnished their badges and that the badge numbers will be destroyed.

"I have been a police officer for more than 40 years and this is one of the worst cases of corruption that I have ever heard," Ramsey said.

Sources say agents were led to the officers after they nabbed former narcotics unit veteran Jeffrey Walker in a sting last May.

In that sting, authorities said Walker, while in uniform, planted cocaine in an alleged drug dealer's car, pulled over the man and stole his house keys. He then went to the man's home and stole $15,000, officials said.

Following that investigation, Walker was arrested and six other narcotics officers were pulled from the street. They were eventually moved into different roles in the department as the investigation continued.

Walker pleaded guilty to federal robbery charges and weapons offenses in February.

Memeger wouldn't divulge how much Walker helped in the investigation against his fellow former officers.

The probe has resulted in the overturning of more than 80 drug convictions and the dismissal of hundreds of open cases.

Ramsey said in no way are all narcotic officers dirty but he said the investigation continues into other alleged acts of corruption.

"It was a malignancy that's there and if you don't cut it out it won't go away on its own," said Ramsey.

The indicted officers, who have all pleaded not guilty, will each pay for their own defense.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Comatose Md. Man Dies in Liberia]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:11:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/0729-nathaniel-dennis.jpg

The family of a comatose Maryland man who passed away in Liberia during the ongoing Ebola quarantine is now trying to get his body back to the U.S. for a proper burial.

Nathaniel Dennis, 24, was visiting family in Monrovia, Liberia this month when he suffered multiple seizures July 24. He was hospitalized and had been comatose until his death Wednesday, despite the efforts of his family to bring him to home for treatment.

In an effort to control the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Liberia's president has closed the majority of the country's borders, meaning Dennis' family was unable to transport him to a hospital in Ghana via medical evacuation -- although he had tested negative for Ebola, his family said. 

"At the same time, I'm relieved because I know my brother is no longer suffering," Dennis' brother Norwood Dennis said.

According to a GoFundMe site his family set up, Dennis grew sicker and began to need dialysis and a ventilator -- but the equipment wasn't available at the facility where he was.

"We're all devastated," Dennis' cousin Vannette Tolbert said. "We don't feel like we've been defeated because we tried as hard as we could."

A fundraiser was held in Dennis' honor Wednesday night at Lima Lounge on K Street NW in D.C. His family hopes to raise enough money to help transport his body back to the U.S. for a proper burial -- as of Wednesday night, the family had raised nearly $11,000.

Dennis' mother had traveled to Liberia to be with her son, but was unable to see him due to the quarantine. A medical examiner in Liberia will conduct an autopsy which should shed light on what exactly led to his death.

Dennis graduated from Howard High School and studied at Howard Community College.

<![CDATA[Maryland Woman to Become U.S. Citizen on Her 100th Birthday]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:05:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Donatila+Leticia+Munoz+Orantes+naturalization.JPG

Four generations of family joined Donatila Leticia Munoz Orantes at the Baltimore office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Wednesday, celebrating not only her citizenship, but also her 100th birthday.

“I can’t have a better blessing than having my mother live a hundred years,” her daughter Maria Ward told News4's Kristin Wright Tuesday.

Munoz became the oldest Maryland resident to naturalize since the former Immigration and Naturalization’s immigration services were placed with USCIS in 2003. Why now, after almost three decades in the United States? Munoz told Wright she wants to vote.

The seamstress was born in Nicaragua in 1914 and spent most of her life in El Salvador before joining her daughter in the U.S. in 1987, Wright reported. She helped care for the grandchildren and made clothes for family, including for occasions like first communion, weddings and graduations.

In 1987, naturalization wasn’t an option for Munoz because she doesn’t speak English, a requirement that drops at age 80.

Now, the Germantown resident looks forward to casting her first ballot in November.

<![CDATA[No Strollers, No Kids in Dining Room: NorCal Restaurant Sparks Social Firestorm With Sign]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:45:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/restaurant-sign-JPG.jpg

"No Strollers. No High Chairs. No Booster Chairs."

That’s one of the three not-so-inviting signs hanging prominently at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto in Monterey, California announcing that “Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such, are not allowed in the dining room.”

NBC affiliate KSBW reported that the hanging of the latest sign in the popular restaurant is stirring up a firestorm among parents who feel the signs are ageist. The first two signs were hung two years ago, and a third sign was added last month.

"I think it's ridiculous," tourist Teresa Colombani told KSBW this week.  "I think kids need to know how to behave in restaurants, and if you, don't take them to them, they don't know how to behave and they shouldn't be kept hidden away, so I think it's ridiculous. Kids should be allowed in restaurants."

Daniel Sanchez was one of more than 250 commenters who posted their thoughts at the end of the KSBW web article, saying that his 5-year-old son sat on his knees through the meal since he wasn't given a booster seat. "That said," Sanchez wrote, "we all hated the food. Owners shouldn't bunch all kids into one. (The) owner is obviously a prima dona."

Comments began pouring in on the NBC Bay Area Facebook page, too.

While many are appalled their little tykes can't down a Mexican-style prawn cocktail or slurp a bowl of bouillabaise, there are plenty of others who are siding with restaurant owner, Chris Shake, who said if customers don't like the rules, they can go somewhere else for dinner.

"Fisherman's Grotto is not a place for parents to take their small children," wrote a woman identified as "Kelly." "It is where people want to go when they want a quiet and/or romantic meal."

Fiona64 added: "Exactly. This is not a mac-and-cheese/chicken fingers sort of restaurant."

Shake added that he isn’t backing down, and that his business has never been better.
"If a place has the rules, that's what the rules are," Shake told KSBW. "You go in and abide by the rules or you find a place more suitable for you."

Photo Credit: KSBW]]>