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Steady Stream of Lava Visible From Space

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Photo by Andrew Hara/Getty Images(PAHOA, Hawaii) — Lava has rolled nearly 300 feet closer towards a main road on the Big Island of Hawaii and there is no indication that it is going to stop.

The spread of the lava and the smoke coming off the volcanic liquid can be seen from space, and NASA released images showing its destructive path.

The lava is oozing forward at about 10 yards per hour near Pahoa Village Road and is headed in a northeastern direction. The flow is now 240 yards from the road, officials said.

Residents in the down slope of the lava flow path have been given an evacuation advisory and those with respiratory issues have been warned to stay indoors.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Eric Frein Manhunt Hopes Deflated by Balloon’s Failure

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Pennsylvania Dept of Transportation(CANADENSIS, Pa.) — A giant helium balloon sent to Pennsylvania to aid in the manhunt for accused cop killer Eric Frein was returned after just one day, police said.

The unmanned balloon came from Ohio and was supposed to be quieter than a helicopter and provide similar technology to aviation equipment being used in the search, but at a lower cost, police said. But it was returned just a day later, police said on Wednesday.

“Due to the tree canopy and rugged terrain of our search area the balloon was not as helpful as everyone hoped it would be,” said Trooper Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Police.

The balloon was the latest tactic police employed in the ongoing search for Frein, accused of killing one state trooper and injuring another when he allegedly ambushed the Blooming Grove police barracks on Sept. 12.

Police believe he’s been hiding in the woods for nearly seven weeks.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Vanished Broncos Fan ‘Decided to Go for a Walk,’ Police Say

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Tia Bakke(DENVER) — A Colorado man who vanished at a Denver Broncos game, then turned up more than 100 miles away five days later, told police he “had his fill of football and decided to go for a walk,” according to a police statement.

Paul Kitterman, 53, was “medically sound” when they found him in a K-Mart parking lot Tuesday, the Pueblo, Colorado Police Department said.

“He wanted to walk ‘somewhere warmer,’” the Pueblo police statement read. “Kitterman mentioned sleeping in treed areas and in bushes during his journey to Pueblo and even mentioned disposing of his Broncos hat as he did not want to be recognized.”

Kitterman’s friend Tia Bakke and stepson Jarod Tonneson, who both attended the Thursday game with him, told ABC News that his disappearance remains a mystery to them.

“Right now we are still unsure what happened to Paul. We know he is very tired. We are not certain of what has happened but we know Paul had some sort of breakdown. We are moving forward and taking all of the appropriate steps to help Paul,” Bakke and Tonneson said in a statement.

Pueblo police had a department chaplain find him a room once they identified him because he said he was tired and they called relatives to pick him up.

“He was speaking and answering questions intelligibly that were asked of him,” the statement read.

Kitterman’s relatives earlier thanked the public for its help but did not explain his disappearance.

“The family is happy to report Paul has been found and they are now with him and he is safe,” relatives wrote in a statement posted on a Facebook page dedicated to Kitterman’s case.

“We know there are many questions that some of you may have but for the time being we are asking that you respect [their] privacy as they have been through a lot,” the family statement read. “We love all of you and we will never forget your kindness, compassion, and your willingness to help us find Paul.”

Denver Police said Kitterman, a construction worker from Kremmling, Colorado, was found in Pueblo, Colorado, on Tuesday. He was unharmed and “no foul play was suspected,” police said, revealing few other details and deferring questions to Kitterman’s family.

Kitterman’s friend Tia Bakke, who was at the game on Thursday, said that he did not have his cellphone or any credit cards with him at the time he disappeared, bringing only about $50 cash to the game.

Before he was found, Kitterman was last seen at the game on Thursday around halftime when he told his stepson that he was going to meet Bakke and another friend who were sitting in a different section.

Bakke said that he appeared to be in a good mood when while at Sports Authority Stadium, and he said that it was “awesome” to experience his first Broncos game in person.

“He would never bail on his son or anyone, so by Friday night we knew something was really, really, wrong,” Bakke told ABC News.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Rocket Explosion Probers to Begin Sifting Through Debris

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

NASA(WALLOPS ISLAND, Va.) — Officials will begin investigating Wednesday, trying to figure out what went wrong with a failed rocket launch that resulted in a fireball over Wallops Island, Virginia.

The rocket started going awry six seconds into the flight when “a vehicle anomaly” was detected, Orbital Sciences Corp said. The range safety officer sent a self-destruct command 14 seconds later.

“This shows how difficult and maddening this business really is,” Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said in a news conference.

This launch was the third of eight International Space Station cargo resupply missions under NASA’s $1.9 billion contract with Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Virginia. Orbital provides the launch vehicle and cargo spacecraft and NASA runs the range operations.

The rocket and payload were worth $200 million and it’s not known how much damage was done to the launch facility, officials said.

The Antares rocket was carrying 4,483 pounds of equipment to the station including 1,360 pounds of food. The rocket held a Cyngus cargo logistics spacecraft that was to have orbited above the Earth and was set to dock with the ISS on Nov. 2. Orbital Sciences had said this was the first use of its upgraded Castor 30XL second stage motor, which enables greater lift capacity.

Officials asked residents of the area to call in any launch debris they find and not to touch any of it.

“It is far too early to know the details of what happened,” Frank Culbertson, Orbital’s general manager of its Advanced Programs Group, said in a statement. “We will conduct a thorough investigation immediately to determine the cause of this failure and what steps can be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident. As soon as we understand the cause we will begin the necessary work to return to flight to support our customers and the nation’s space program.”

Also destroyed in the explosion were experiments being sent to the space station by high school students from schools in Houston, Texas, and Ocean City, New Jersey.

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NASA said the space station crew has sufficient supplies, and a Russian cargo ship blasted off successfully Wednesday morning from Kazakhstan and is headed toward the space station.

The launch was initially supposed to happen Monday, but was delayed after a sailboat entered the hazard zone early in the launch count, NASA reported. The “hazard area” for the launch of the Antares is about 1,400 square miles off the coast of Wallops Island along the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Nurse Kaci Hickox ‘Will Go to Court’ over Maine Ebola Quarantine Rule

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(FORT KENT, Maine) — Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was quarantined at a New Jersey hospital despite exhibiting no Ebola symptoms after arriving from West Africa, will take legal action against the state of Maine if officials do not lift the 21-day home quarantine restrictions by Thursday morning.

“I will go to court to attain my freedom,” Hickox told Good Morning America Wednesday via Skype from her home in Fort Kent, Maine. “I have been completely asymptomatic since I’ve been here. I feel absolutely great.”

Hickox, 29, arrived at her home Monday after spending the weekend quarantined in an outdoor isolation tent at University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey.

The Doctors Without Borders nurse was checked by officials at Newark Liberty International Airport Friday after arriving from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. Hickox says she believes the temperature that officials said prompted her detainment in the hospital isolation tent was incorrect.

“I believe that the forehead scanner used to take that temperature was completely inaccurate,” Hickox said. “I didn’t take any anti-fever medicines while at the airport and when I arrived in the isolation facility they took my temperature by an oral thermometer and it was completely normal.”

“You don’t get rid of a fever without taking something within a couple of hours so I think we need to discuss also the instrumentation that officials are using,” she said.

When Hickox arrived in Maine, the state’s governor ordered her to abide by that state’s policy that health care workers who arrive from West Africa remain under a 21-day home quarantine, with their condition actively monitored.

“I remain really concerned by these mandatory quarantine policies for aid workers,” Hickox said Wednesday. “I think we’re just only adding to the stigmatization that, again, is not based on science or evidence.”

Hickox’s attorney, Steven Hyman, says his client, who last treated an Ebola patient on Oct. 21, does not meet the threshold for quarantine.

“The standard is, does Kaci have an infectious disease or agent? Is she harboring an infection?” Hyman said Wednesday on GMA. “The answer is no. Medically, there is no basis to quarantine Kaci at this point in time.”

Hickox says she does not understand the public’s concern over health care workers arriving back home in the United States.

“I think we really have to stick to the facts and the science and I think we also need to look historically,” Hickox said. “I haven’t seen any science that says this is a huge risk and I have seen science that says self-monitoring works.

“Self-monitoring is a humane, understandable, prudent solution,” she said.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Controversial Guardrail Nearly 4x More Likely Involved In Fatal Accident, Study Says

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A university study has concluded that the redesigned version of a controversial but widely-used guardrail system places motorists at a higher risk of serious injury and fatality on America’s highways than its previous version.

The study, first reported by ABC News last month before it was finalized, was conducted by the University of Alabama-Birmingham and examined serious and fatal accidents in Missouri and Ohio.

“To date…in both states, it was found that the ET-Plus placed motorists at a higher level of risk of both serious and fatal injuries relative to its predecessor, the ET-2000,” reads the final version of the report, obtained by ABC News Tuesday. “The overall trend for [both] states included in the analysis shows that the ET-Plus is 1.45 times more likely to be involved in a severe injury than the ET-2000. More poignantly however, the ET-Plus is 3.95 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than the ET-2000.”

The ET-Plus System, produced by Trinity Industries starting nearly a decade ago, was the subject of an ABC News 20/20 investigation in September that looked into allegations from crash victims that the guardrail can malfunction when struck from the front by their vehicles. Rather than ribboning out and absorbing the impact as designed, the guardrails “locked up” and speared straight through the cars, severing the motorists’ limbs in some cases.

According to an internal email obtained by ABC News, a company official estimated one particular change – reducing a piece of metal in the guardrail end terminal from five inches to four – would save the company $2 per guardrail, or $50,000 per year.

Last week, a jury in Texas found that Trinity Industries had defrauded the government by altering the guardrail end terminal design back in 2005 and failing to disclose all of the changes to federal officials as required. Trinity, which plans to appeal the decision, was ordered to pay $175 million in damages – an amount that is expected to triple by statutory mandate.

The UAB study was sponsored by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and The Safety Institute, a non-profit advocacy organization. Missouri was one of the first states to ban the use of the ET-Plus guardrail last month, citing concerns that the system “is not performing as intended and could pose the risk of malfunctioning.”

Sixteen states have now said they have decided to halt installation of the guardrail system, including Trinity’s home state of Texas.

“I think states that aren’t taking action are looking at this a little differently now than they were maybe even a couple weeks ago,” said Sean Kane, founder of The Safety Institute, one of the study’s sponsors.

On Monday, Virginia became the first state to say it’s planning to physically remove the end terminals from its highways after the company didn’t meet a deadline to submit crash test plans to the state. A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Transportation told ABC News there is no finalized timeline to remove the end terminals, and should Trinity provide data proving the ET-Plus meets safety criteria, it will reconsider the recall.

Trinity Industries told ABC News in a statement that it is “moving expeditiously to initiate” crash tests that had been previously requested by the state.

Late last week Trinity announced it would no longer sell the ET-Plus until additional testing that also has been requested by the FHWA has been completed.

Trinity has previously called the accuracy of the UAB study “troubling as it uses statistically unsound methodology.” The company also said the sample data used is not representative of the installations that exist in Missouri or the U.S. today and point to a conflict of interest in the team that authored the study. A representative for Trinity declined to comment further on Tuesday.

Trinity told ABC News for its original report that it has a “high degree of confidence in the performance and integrity” of the ET-Plus system and noted that the FHWA had repeatedly approved its use on highways after being alerted of the design changes in 2012.

Kane says he hopes the study is the first of many to come of the controversial guardrail.

“What we’re hoping to do is inspire other states to do similar analysis, inspire the federal government to do other analysis,” he said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Shooting Outside NC Courthouse Leaves Two Wounded

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, N.C.) — A shooting outside a North Carolina courthouse on Tuesday left two people seriously wounded.

According to the Nashville Police Department, the incident took place at the Nash County Courthouse just after 11 a.m. One suspect is in custody and a manhunt is underway for another.

“We’ve been able to identify the possible suspects and this is an active ongoing investigation,” Nash County Sheriff Dick Jenkins said.

“We believe that it was not a random act,” Jenkins added, without providing any further details.

The two victims — both adult males — sustained multiple gunshot wounds. One was shot in the shoulder and the other has a wound in his right hand and two wounds in his left leg.

“They are in stable condition. They have serious wounds, but they’re apparently non-life threatening,” said Nash Health Care Public Relations Director Jeff Hedgepeth.

Both victims were airlifted to Greenville, North Carolina for further treatment.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Details on One World Trade Center’s Observation Deck Released

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Port Authority New York/New Jersey(NEW YORK) — The operators of the highly anticipated observation deck at the top of New York’s One World Trade Center have released new details about pricing and what visitors will experience when it opens in the spring of 2015.

One World Observatory will span 120,000 square feet over three floors, providing visitors with panoramic views of New York City and the surrounding region.

After taking elevators to the building’s 102nd floor, visitors will watch a two-minute video presentation combing bird’s-eye imagery and time-lapse shots of New York City.

The main observatory space on the 100th floor features an interactive skyline “concierge” to help find city landmarks and neighborhoods from 1,250 feet in the air. That level will also feature a Sky Portal, where visitors can step onto a 14-foot-wide circular disc in the floor for a live view in high-definition of city streets below.

One World Observatory will also feature three unique dining areas, including a seated dining area, a café, and a bar.

Admission tickets go on sale in early 2015, with tickets ranging in cost between $32 for adults, $30 for seniors over age 65, and $26 for children ages 6-12.

The Observatory will offer complimentary admission tickets to 9/11 family members and 9/11 rescue and recovery workers. Special discounts will be also offered to active and retired members of the U.S. military.

One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the U.S., opens on Monday, Nov. 3, when media giant Conde Nast formally moves in.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Officials Comb Surveillance Video for Trace of Vanished Broncos Fan

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Tia Bakke(DENVER) — Authorities are combing through hours of surveillance footage from Thursday’s Denver Broncos-San Diego Chargers game and seeking people who may have seen Paul Kitterman after the 53-year-old father went missing during halftime.

Kitterman seemed to be happy and behaving normally, his companions said, and told them that the experience of going to his first Broncos home game was “awesome.” Soon afterwards, he vanished.

“We searched the stadium we have been going to hospitals,” said his stepson, Jarod Tonneson, who went with him to the game. “We have just been all over the place.”

Court records revealed that Kitterman had a history of relatively minor motor vehicle citations over more than a decade, though more recent legal troubles involved a bank and the Colorado Department of Revenue.

His friend, Tia Bakke, who went with him to the Broncos game, said she knew he had money problems, but doubted that would have been reason for him to vanish at the game.

“If he wanted to leave town because of money problems, he would have come home, gotten all of his money and left,” she told ABC News.

Denver police said that they were still actively investigating the missing persons case. Foul play was not being considered because “there’s nothing to suggest it at this point,” police spokesperson Sonny Jackson told ABC News Tuesday.

“We’re being open-minded about the investigation,” he said.

“With 70,000 people and cameras all over the stadium, you would see something if a violent crime occurred,” Jackson told ABC News on Monday.

Kitterman was sitting with Tonneson after going to the game with Bakke and another friend, who were sitting in a different section. He was last seen when he left to go meet those friends during halftime.

Kitterman, a construction worker and ranch hand from Kremmling, Colorado, did not have his cellphone or any credit cards — and only had about $50 cash — when he went to the game, Bakke told ABC News.

“He would never bail on his son, or anyone so by Friday night, we knew something was really, really, wrong,” Bakke told ABC News.

Police were not actively searching on foot for Kitterman because they were not sure if a crime occurred.

Much of the search has been put in the hands of friends passing out fliers and officials at Sports Authority Field, who were digging through the game surveillance footage.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Crusin In Cruces

Unstoppable Lava Flow Reaches Hawaiian Town

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(PAHOA, Hawaii) — A stream of molten lava has oozed into a small Hawaiian town, covering the yard of the house closest to the volcano, Hawaii County officials reported Tuesday.

The lava flow has been edging its way towards Pahoa on Hawaii’s Big Island for weeks with authorities and residents powerless to halt or divert it.

The final number of Kilauea residents affected has not been released, but it is expected to be dozens.

The lava is advancing at about 10 to 15 yards per hour, making it far slower than one might expect from a Hollywood version of the nightmare scenario, but it is moving at a steady pace.

One major road has been closed to everyone except residents. Teams of scientists are among the few allowed close to the flow so that they can provide reports from the burning front line.

The lava is blistering hot, burying streets and covering trees. Residents in the scenic town of Pahoa on Hawaii’s Big Island were forced to flee, powerless to stop the approaching river of lava.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” resident Theresa Zendejas said. “It’s really scary.”

The lava has been spewing from the Kilauea volcano since it erupted in June. The lava flow has traveled 12 miles since then, at times speeding up erratically, recently fanning out to cover more ground.

Officials say there is no way to stop the lava, but they’re working to protect power poles from burning and to create detours in case the main road is affected — which would cut off access for thousands of people. Hawaii officials are making arrangements for those living in the lava’s path.

Beyond being buried by dozens of feet of hardened black rock, structures could also catch fire by being near the 2,000-degree lava.

Since Kilauea’s current eruption began in 1983, unstoppable lava flows have added 500 new acres to the island and destroyed at least 181 homes, a visitor center, a church and a community center, according the National Park Service.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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