National
Subscribe To This Feed

Missouri State Highway Patrol(ST. LOUIS) -- A St. Louis ballet dancer was mysteriously found dead in a rural Missouri lake after police spotted her car abandoned nearby, authorities said.

The body of Raffaella Stroik, 23, was found Wednesday morning in Mark Twain Lake by a private pilot who was circling the area to help search for her, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.

The state park, in rural Monroe County, is about 130 miles away from St. Louis.

There's no evidence of foul play, authorities said at a news conference.

It was not clear why Stroik was in Monroe County, authorities said, adding that her family is "shocked" by her death.

The investigation began when a state park ranger found Stroik's car on Monday in the boat ramp parking lot, the state highway patrol said.

A trooper checked again Tuesday morning and found the car still in the lot, authorities said.

Investigators determined Stroik was missing, and her family and friends assisted authorities in the search.

Stroik was last seen Monday morning at a Whole Foods in Town and Country, just outside of St. Louis, authorities said.

She is a South Bend, Indiana, native who joined the Saint Louis Ballet Company in 2017, according to the company's website.

An autopsy will determine her cause of death.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(PARADISE, Calif.) -- A Paradise, California, couple made a harrowing escape from the deadly Camp Fire with their four young children, describing it as driving "through hell."

When the blaze neared, Michelle and Daniel Simmons piled their kids -- ages 8, 7, 2 and 1 -- into their car to flee for their lives.

They grabbed their wedding rings, a stuffed animal and a blanket.

"It was so hot and so hard to breathe," Michelle Simmons told ABC News. The children "were really scared. They kept asking a lot of questions."

"There was a woman on the side of the road running with her baby. I just replay the image over and over. She was barefoot," she said. "I think the worst part for me, personally, was seeing the community, seeing everybody panicking."

Daniel Simmons described it as "traumatic," adding, "There were a couple moments where I didn't think we were gonna get out."

It took them about two hours to get out of Paradise as Michelle Simmons' hometown burned around them.

Once they reached safety, Michelle Simmons said she took the kids out of the car, hugged them and cried, feeling overwhelmed with thanks that they were OK but sadness that they'd never have their home back.

The family is together and safe, with the exception of two of their cats who remain missing.

"We drove through hell but we're lucky," Daniel Simmons said. "There's so many other people who went through worse."

At least 48 people have died in the Northern California Camp Fire, now the the deadliest on record in the state. The blaze has burned over 130,000 acres and nearly demolished the town of Paradise.

Michell and Daniel Simmons' home is one of the many in the town now burned to the ground.

Daniel Simmons said his employer has been extremely supportive, providing them with a hotel room and rental car. But they said many of their neighbors are not as lucky.

"I can see people staying and sleeping in their cars," Michelle Simmons said. "Everyone's homes are destroyed. These people need so much help."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Cities along the East Coast are bracing for the first snowfall of the season this week.

A storm is set to develop in the Gulf Coast Wednesday and track along the East Coast on Thursday and Friday, bringing rain, freezing rain, flooding, snow and sleet throughout the South and the Northeast.

The storm will gather strength Wednesday night in the eastern Gulf Coast and then bring heavy rain to Georgia and Tennessee. The Ohio Valley is expected to see snow and ice.

The storm will then move near the Southeast coast on Thursday morning, bringing heavy rain to Georgia and the Carolinas, as well as potentially dangerous flooding.

Snow, rain and freezing rain are possible further inland in the southern Appalachian Mountains and into the Ohio Valley.

By Thursday afternoon, snow is expected across the mid-Atlantic and up the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to New York City. Several hours of heavy snow are possible before the powder melts into sleet and rain.

Washington, Philadelphia and New York City are all forecasted to receive around 1 inch of snow.

Inland areas including Pennsylvania, western New York, the Hudson Valley and New England will stay cold enough for snow, sleet and freezing rain to continue.

Boston will see 1 to 2 inches of snow, but areas west of the city could see closer to 3 inches or more.

Some areas in the Northeast and Appalachia may see more than 6 inches of snow.

But for upstate New York, the snowy season has already begun. A lake effect snow band blew through the Albany area overnight, causing snow squalls.

The National Weather Service urged residents to be mindful on the road.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Santa Ana Police Department(SANTA ANA, Calif.) -- Police in California are seeking the public’s assistance to find a woman accused of attacking a McDonald’s manager in Santa Ana -- allegedly over an insufficient amount of ketchup packets.

The attacker entered the McDonald’s restaurant from an employee back door on Oct. 27 at about 11 p.m. and asked for ketchup, according to a statement from Santa Ana police.

“When the store manager said she could not be in the building, the suspect became combative,” a police official said in a statement. “The suspect pushed, punched, and choked the victim.”

The video released by police on Nov. 13 shows a woman wearing a light pink T-shirt and dark grey pants choking and slamming the manager’s head against a soda machine in kitchen area.

Other employee quickly rushed to assist the manager in trying to pull the woman off the alleged victim.

"The manager tells her, 'I'll be glad to help you, you just need to go up front,' and for whatever reason she took it upon herself to assault the manager," Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV.

In a stunning moment in the video, one of the fast food restaurant employees manning a drive-thru window gets physically involved in the dispute, as the now three-person tussle veers out of camera, and then can be seen darting to the drive-thru window to return change to a customer before rejoining the brawl.

The attack ceased after one of the employees went and alerted a man in a gray hoodie sweatshirt, who can be seen escorting the suspect from the restaurant through the back door.

"There is no reason that any employee at any business should be assaulted by a patron, much less over not getting enough ketchup," said Bertagna.

McDonald’s owner operator Larry Kaplan, said in a statement that his restaurant is cooperating with the police to find the suspect.

“Our biggest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and customers at our restaurants,” Kaplan said. “We are fully cooperating with the Santa Ana Police department’s investigation.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Xinhua/Zhao Hanrong via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday declared a public health emergency in California, where at least 50 people have died from multiple wildfires ravaging the state.

"We are working closely with state health authorities and monitoring the needs of healthcare facilities to provide whatever they may need to save lives and protect health," Azar said in a statement. "This declaration will help ensure that Americans who are threatened by these dangerous wildfires and who rely on Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program have continuous access to the care they need."

Two massive blazes burning at opposite ends of the state have forced the evacuation of at least two hospitals and eight other health care facilities. A smoke advisory was issued for portions of Los Angeles County amid concerns that smoke from the fires could present a "significant health threat" for people with asthma and other lung conditions, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thousands of exhausted firefighters battling the Camp Fire in Northern California and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California appeared to be getting a handle on the two massive blazes. But authorities continued to find more bodies amid the scorched destruction.

At least 50 people have been found dead from the fires, which have laid waste to more than 9,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Meanwhile, officials have warned of howling winds that could spawn more monster blazes with the slightest spark.

There's a new extreme fire danger in San Diego County, where wind gusts of up to 86 mph were recorded early Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

The blustery condition prompted red flag warnings for the San Diego area, signaling extreme fire danger through at least Wednesday, officials said.

Some schools in San Diego County were closed Tuesday, and San Diego Gas & Electric took the precautionary measure of shutting off electricity in some fire-prone areas of the county to avoid new blazes, officials said.

Firefighters, with the help of out-of-state fire crews, were showing progress in their twin battles to subdue the widely-destructive blazes that have blackened a combined acreage larger than the size of New York City.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Xinhua/Zhao Hanrong via Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Phil Powell was more than 163 miles from the massive blaze burning in Northern California and about 350 miles from one ravaging the southern part of the state, yet he and scores of other people walking around San Francisco this week were wearing masks to protect their lungs from smoky conditions.

"I can feel it in my throat and a lot of people have said they've had headaches," Powell told ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco, adding that he had plenty of N95 industrial masks left over from the fires that ravaged Northern Californa's Wine County in Napa and Sonoma counties in October 2017.

Cities throughout California that are far from the flames of the Woolsey Fire in the south and the Camp Fire in the north, the deadliest and most destructive in state history, are feeling the effects of the smoke, officials said.

On Tuesday, numerous school districts nearly 200 miles from the Camp Fire, including those in Santa Rosa, canceled classes due to bad air and smoke conditions.

The University of California Davis, which is about 100 miles from the Camp Fire, also called off classes "due to poor air quality as a result of the Butte County fires," the school said in a tweet. It advised employees who normally work outdoors to limit their activities.

"Unfortunately, smoke from the fire continues to blanket all nine counties of the Bay Area, which is why we have called the mandatory Winter Spare the Air Alert through Friday," Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air District, said in a statement referring to the advisory for people not to use their fireplaces and to carpool or take public transportation to cut down on air pollution.

"Any additional smoke from Bay Area chimneys could push the region into an even higher unhealthy air quality level, which puts us all in jeopardy," Broadbent said.

The Woosley and Camp fires both started on Thursday and quickly spread, destroying more than 7,000 home and burning more than 345-square-miles of land combined. The larger fire, Camp Fire, caused 48 deaths and is now ranked the deadliest and most destructive in state history.

AirNow.gov, a state website that charts air quality throughout California, showed numerous cities far from the fires experiencing unhealthy air quality.

According to the AirNow chart, good air quality is anything under a reading of 50, meaning air pollution is causing little effect. Moderate air quality is a reading of 50 to 100, while bad air quality is any measurement of 100 to 200 and anything higher is considered very unhealthy or hazardous.

Oakland, which is more than 160 miles from the Camp Fire, had a reading of 164 on Tuesday, while San Francisco had a reading of 167.

Oxnard in Ventura County, which is about 30 miles of the epicenter of Woolsey Fire, had the worst air in the state outside the fire zone Tuesday with a hazardous reading of 392 while Gridley, about 30 miles from the Camp Fire, had a reading hazardous reading of 250.

"I've lived in the Bay Area for over 35 years and except for the Oakland Hills fires and Napa fires, I can't remember consistent smoke like this," Troy Blanchard of Oakland told KGO.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Franciso was clouded in smoke. On Sunday, fans attending the Oakland Raiders football game not only sported the home team's silver and black colors, many also donned protective masks.

"It feels eerie and worrisome and the sun looks really funny and the moon as well," Beth Gorelick of San Francisco told KGO. "I feel really bad for the people in Paradise."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two weeks after the deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, the FBI released it's 2017 hate crimes statistics which revealed a 17 percent increase in incidents since 2016.

In 2017 there were 8,493 victims and 6,307 known offenders. By comparison there were 7,509 victims and 5,727 known offenders in 2016, according to the data. It's also worth noting that more law enforcement agencies participated in reporting hate crime statistics in 2017.

"This report is a call to action -- and we will heed that call," Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a statement. "The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes."

In 2016 there were 6,036 single-bias incidents, or occurrences where the perpetrator has one bias against a community or group. By comparison, in 2017, there were 7,106 single-bias incidents reported.

According to the FBI, "58.1 percent were motivated by a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias, 22.0 percent were prompted by religious bias, 15.9 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias and 1.7 percent were motivated by gender-identity bias."

"I am particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes -- which were already the most common religious hate crimes in the United States -- that is well documented in this report," Whitaker said in his statement.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Ohio Attorney General(SOUTH WEBSTER, Ohio) -- Ohio authorities have made four arrests in connection with the murder of eight family members who were fatally shot "execution style" in 2016.

All four arrested belong to the same family from South Webster, Ohio, and were charged "with planning and carrying out the murders," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced in a press release.

The suspects were identified as George "Billy" Wagner III, 47; Angela Wagner, 48; George Wagner IV, 27; and Edward "Jake" Wagner, 26. They were taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, and are characterized as a husband, wife and their two sons, DeWine said.

Each is charged with eight counts of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications, DeWine told reporters. It's unclear whether the suspects had retained defense attorneys.

The victims who were killed were Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife Dana Manley Rhoden, 37; their three children, Hanna May Rhoden, 19; Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; and Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20. Frankie Rhoden's finacee, Hannah "Hazel Gilley," 20, was also killed, along with the brother and cousin of Christopher Rhoden Sr., Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and Gary Rhoden, 38, respectively.

Seven of the family members were discovered dead on April 22, 2016, in three separate homes along the same road in Peebles, a small village about 70 miles east of Cincinnati, while the eighth victim was found nearby in Piketon, according to officials. Many appeared to have been shot in their sleep, and one of the women was found lying in bed with a 4-day-old baby.

"All eight victims were killed in cold blood," DeWine said. "They were shot in their own homes. They were brutally and viciously executed."

The 4-day-old was one of three children, along with a 6-month old and a 3-year-old, that were found unharmed at the three crime scenes, police said.

DeWine accused the Wagners of spending months carefully planning the murder of the victims, who he characterized as friends of theirs. The Wagners "studied the victims' habits and routines. They knew the layouts of their homes. They knew where they slept," DeWine said.

"The killers knew the territory and meticulously planned these horrendous murders," DeWine said.

The suspects allegedly purchased ammunition, a magazine clip, brass catchers and a bug detector in preparation for the crimes, authorities said.

Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader described the crime scenes as something he'll never be able to un-see.

"Images of the houses, the bodies, the scenes, I can never erase them," he told reporters Tuesday. "Even 20 years of law enforcement experience cannot prepare you fully for a day like that."

The Wagners allegedly tampered with evidence after the murders were carried out, including cameras, a silencer, shell casings, parts of a home security system and the victims' cellphones, DeWine said. They face additional charges, including, conspiracy, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with evidence, unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance, aggravated burglary for allegedly breaking into the homes to carry out the murders, unauthorized use of property, obstruction of justice, interception of wire, oral or electronic communications and forgery for allegedly forging child custody documents, DeWine said.

While DeWine did not discuss the motive of the murders, he said the custody of a young child "plays a role in this case."

"They did this quickly, coldy, calmly and very carefully, but not carefully enough," Reader said.

Jake Wagner is also charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for allegedly having sexual contact with Hanna May Rhoden when she was 15 years old and he was 20 years old, DeWine said. Jake Wagner is the father of Hanna May Rhoden's older daughter, who was staying with the Wagners on the night the homicides took place, DeWine said.

The mothers of both Angela Wagner and Billy Wagner, Rita Newcomb, 65, and Fredericka Wagner, 76, respectively, are also facing felony charges of obstructing justice and perjury for allegedly misleading authorities over the course of the investigation, DeWine said. Newcomb is also charged with forgery.

All of the suspects were arrested without incident, Reader said. Billy Wagner was arrested in Kentucky, while Angela was arrested at her home, he said. Their two sons were arrested during a traffic stop, while their mothers were arrested at their homes as well.

The family members are currently being housed in separate facilities, Reader said.

Authorities had enough to charge the Wagners after discovering "the last piece of significant physical evidence" on Oct. 30 and completed an examination of the evidence on Nov. 7, DeWine said. The indictments were filed after authorities "confirmed the existence of a homemade firearm suppressor believed to have been built by the suspects," DeWine said.

DeWine described the newest evidence as the final piece of a "thousand-piece puzzle," adding that he believes the killers have been caught and that no one else was involved in the murders.

Since the arrest, investigators have followed up on more than 1,100 tips, conducted 550 interviews, tested more than 700 pieces of evidence and served more than 200 subpoenas, search warrants and court orders, DeWine said.

Investigators also traveled "thousands of miles to 10 separate states," including Alaska, where the Wagner family had moved before coming back to Pike County last spring, DeWine said.

Some of the crime scenes had "marijuana commercial grow operations," DeWine, who is now the governor-elect, said last year.

The case featured an "undercurrent of drugs," but drugs were not necessarily the motive, DeWine said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(BARABOO, Wis.) -- A Wisconsin school district and local police are investigating a photo of a group of mostly white high school boys giving what appears to be the Nazi salute after it drew strong backlash on social media.

The image of students in the Baraboo School District was posted on the @GoBaraboo parody account on Sunday.

The tweet has since been taken down, but police and school officials promised to investigate. The photo in question is from last spring, according to District Superintendent Lori Mueller.

"The school district is investigating this situation and is working with parents, staff and local authorities," Mueller said in a statement to students and parents. "If the gesture is what it appears to be, the district will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to address the issue."

In a separate tweet posted on Monday, Mueller wrote, "The photo posted under the hashtag is not reflective of the educational values and beliefs of the School District of Baraboo."

Baraboo police also tweeted that they are assisting the district's investigation since being made aware of a "controversial photo of a group of high school students."

The photo drew widespread disapproval, including from Wisconsin Gov.-elect Tony Evers and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland.

"This is why every single day we work hard to educate. We need to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising. Auschwitz with its gas chambers was at the very end of the long process of normalizing and accommodating hatred," the Auschwitz Memorial tweeted.

Not all the students in the photo participated in the gesture. Jordan Blue, a student in the top right of the photo whose arms remain at his sides, said in a statement that the photo was taken as students gathered at the Sauk County Courthouse for professional prom photos and that he "couldn't leave the photo as it was taken within five seconds."

“The photographer told us to raise our hands kind of in a way, and I knew at that point that some my classmates are very immature," he said in a separate interview. "So didn’t want to do that, and I saw what was happening and I felt so upset.”

Jonathan Schieber, a senior who appears in the photo, told ABC News there was no discussion of any racist aspect to the photo when it was taken. It was only after the photo garnered social media attention over the weekend that he started to hear about it.

Schieber, who is black, was singled out due to his race, though he had both arms at his side in the photo.

"Somebody had made a meme or something, saying, 'We even got the black kid to throw it up,'" Schieber told ABC News. "I couldn't go nowhere without people being like, 'Are you that kid from the picture?' Everybody was sharing it, talking about racial profiling. I went to school on Monday and people were trying to take pictures with me -- you're going viral, all that stuff."

"I left school because I was not having it," he added.

Wheel Memories posted thumbnails of several photos from the shoot on its website in the spring, including the one in question. The photos have since been removed and the agency wrote on its site in a message that it blames "jerks" and online negativity.

"It is too bad that there are those in society who can and do take the time to be jerks; knowingly and willingly to be jerks! The internet can be a wonderful tool but for some there is an overwhelming urge to destroy. The destruction may not be physical but instead it can be bullying that is intellectual or emotional," the photo agency wrote on its website.

"To anyone that was hurt I sincerely apologize," the agency said. "To those who have harmed them, we as society often ignore them I have chosen not to do that. YOU ARE JERKS! Grow up! Be kind, Be gentle, Be civil!"

ABC News has reached out to several other students in the photo who were identified through social media.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Courtesy Jeff Hill (BUTTE COUNTY, Calif.) -- A Northern California man who lost his home to the Camp Fire helped rescue a mule he found stuck in a swimming pool, surrounded by the remnants of homes that burned down in the blaze.

Jeff Hill, 29, told ABC News that he returned to Butte County, the community where wildfires destroyed more than 7,000 structures, on Sunday to check on a friend's father who had not evacuated. When he got there, he found that the home was one of the few spared by the Camp Fire.

"We expected to find the remains of his dad," Hill said. "The house was still standing, and his dad made it out alive."

As Hill and a friend walked up to the home, they noticed a mule pacing back and forth. They went over to the animal to see if it was OK and make sure it hadn't been burned when they saw another mule lying in the pool in the backyard.

The mule, who was trapped in the pool cover, looked as if she had given up and "had the look of defeat in her eyes," Hill said.

"There’s no telling how long she was there but she was shivering uncontrollably and ultimately lost her fight," he wrote on Facebook. "She was all caught up in the pool cover but her being suspended by it prevented her from drowning."

When Hill and his friend, fellow Butte County resident Geoff Shelden, cut the straps of the pool cover, the mule was so exhausted that she went under water. The two men then floated her to the shallow end of the pool so she could stand up, put a chain around her neck and walked her up the stairs, Hill said.

The mule shook off the water, stood "shoulder-to-shoulder" with her rescuers and appeared to thank them.

"She came up and put her head in between us, let us love on her a little bit as a thank you," Hill said.

The mule then turned to walk away, but shot one last glance toward them.

"As she was walking away, she looked back at us one more time," Hill said. "I felt it was reassurance, saying, 'I'm OK,' and 'Thank you.'"

The Butte County community has rallied together in the wake of the devastation wrought by the Camp Fire, Hill said.

Hill's childhood home in Paradise, California, was completely wiped out by the inferno. He had lived there a total of about 20 years, having moved back a couple of years ago after his parents renovated it.

The home's central fireplace is the only structure still standing, before and after photos show.

Hill was at work at the Paradise Irrigation District on Thursday when the fire began.

"I saw the huge plume of smoke. We were all looking at it," he said. "We were thinking, 'Oh gosh. That's really close to us.'"

Hill said the sky got "darker and darker" as the fire neared and smoke filled the sky. Once alerts detailing the rapid spread of the fire began going out, he rushed home to grab as many possessions as he could.

When he got home, he saw field behind his home was on fire. It took just 10 minutes for the embers to reach his yard, he said.

Hill, a father to two sons, ages 2 and 4, with another child on the way, grabbed many of his children's mementos, his Rottweiler-Labrador retriever named Tara and got out.

"The only thing that was on my mind was kids," he said. "Anything that I can grab kid-related, anything that could never be replaced."

As Hill was driving away, he saw his front yard catch fire, he said.

Hill’s law enforcement friends told him later that his house was destroyed.

"The entire town of Paradise is virtually gone," said Hill, who has lived there his whole life. "The infrastructure is completely lost."

He said he felt "numb" when he returned to his home on Saturday to find nothing there.

"I wanted to cry," he said. "There's just so much going on and so much devastation that I just kind of stood there in silence and just kind of stared for a while."

However, his entire family made it out safe, although they now have "nothing" in the aftermath of the fire, he said.

Hill, who is currently staying with his father in Chico, about 15 miles west of Paradise, has created a GoFundMe campaign called "Family home lost to Camp Fire."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(PARADISE, Calif.) -- When Norma Weldon, a blind, 90-year-old woman, refused to evacuate her home as the deadly Camp Fire neared, her son, Brad Weldon, stayed behind to fight off the blaze.

Miraculously, their Paradise, Calif., home is now one of the very few still left standing.  

When the fire roared into the neighborhood, Brad Weldon said he had just minutes to prepare water and hoses.

"The wind was coming this way ... 60 mile-an-hour winds. It was coming straight at us," Brad Weldon told ABC News. "We both hit the ground and started watering ourselves down because we were going to cook."

Houses then went up in flames, one after another after another.

What he described as a "fire tornado" started churning, but then the powerful winds pushed "the fire away from us."

"I believe that was the angels," he said.

At least 42 people have died in the Camp Fire, now the the deadliest on record in the state. The blaze nearly demolished the town of Paradise.

"I walked a mile and a half and saw four houses," Brad Weldon said. "Everybody I know lost everything."

"I feel fortunate, almost guilty, because I don’t know if I was brave enough or stupid enough, but we stayed and fought it," he said. "And mom wouldn’t have left even if I wanted her to."

"Where would I go? I don't know anywhere," his mother, Norma Weldon, told ABC News. "There's a heavenly father up there that loves all of us and he will take care of all of us."

With so many of his neighbors suddenly homeless, Brad Waldson said he'll open his home to those in need. "All my loved ones know that if they need me, I’m here. ... I’ll turn this into a tent city," he said. "They’re all welcome."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(PARADISE, Calif.) -- When the sky turned pitch black and the electricity went out, Melissa Schuster got into her car with her 89-year-old mother, her husband who was recovering from surgery, and her two cats and fled their home in Paradise, Calif., thinking they would eventually return.

"People think of fires as moving along the ground and catching this tree and that tree, and then that house or whatever," Schuster, a Paradise town council member, said in an interview on ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. "That isn't what happened here. This was a firestorm. So the wind was picking up large pieces of debris and starting fires all over town wherever it happened to land."

Schuster had evacuated her home during the Humboldt fire that swept through Butte County in 2008, destroying 87 homes and burning 23,344 acres. But after three days, most residents of Paradise were back in their houses.

This time it was different. The firestorm that struck the Sierra foothills community on Thursday destroyed nearly the entire town, including Schuster’s home. She said it gave Paradise the dubious distinction of being the only place in America where the entire town council is currently homeless.

"Our entire five-member council is homeless," Schuster said. "All of our houses have been destroyed."

She described a harrowing escape on the two-lane road leading out of the burning town, which quickly became clogged with cars.

While stuck in the traffic jam, Schuster said she "put on my council hat" and began trying to direct vehicles.

"I tried to get them to do contraflow, with both lanes going out of town," she said.

Then she got a call from her son, saying his wife and children were stuck in another traffic jam and that their car was on fire.

"Of course, for my husband and I, the thought of losing our daughter-in-law and grandchildren hit us very very hard," she said.

She said that after six agonizing hours, they received word that their daughter-in-law and grandchildren had made it out of harm's way.

Schuster said that while she and most residents of Paradise are looking at a long recovery, the immediate danger is far from over.

"The entire community of Paradise is a toxic wasteland right now," she said, holding back tears. "In addition to that, and this is the hardest part for me to even talk about, the number of fatalities is [among] things that we don't know at this moment and that's something that has to be determined before people can move back in."

On Monday night, Butte County Sheriff's Officials announced that 13 additional bodies were discovered in the Camp Fire zone, including 10 in Paradise, bringing the total number of people killed by the blaze to 42 and making it the deadliest wildland inferno in the state's history.

"We have crews, we have teams -- you know, coroner teams -- that have to go house to house and vehicle to vehicle," Schuster said. "There are 6,400 homes that were burnt. That's a lot of homes they have to go through to ensure that there are no human remains there, not to mention the hundreds of vehicles that are burned out and just strewn all over the roads. And beyond that, it's just dangerous. It's toxic and it's dangerous."

Asked if Paradise will be rebuilt, Schuster emphatically said, "Yes! Yes, yes, yes!"

"We are in this horrible, horrible tragedy. We will come out of this horrible tragedy ... together," Schuster said. "We will rebuild our homes, we will rebuild our town stronger, better, safer and more beautiful than ever. We will do that. Paradise: together, strong."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J.) -- A car crashed into a Social Security building in New Jersey Tuesday morning, seriously injuring two people, according to local police.

The accident in Egg Harbor Township, near Atlantic City, appeared to be accidental, the Egg Harbor Township Police Department said.

This story is developing. Please check back for more updates.


Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(MALIBU, Calif.) -- Thousands of firefighters are fighting deadly blazes tearing through the Golden State.

Over a dozen states have sent crews to help with the Camp Fire in Northern California and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California.

At least 42 people have died in the Camp Fire, now the the deadliest on record in the state. Authorities have requested search teams, portable morgue units, cadaver dogs and a DNA system to expedite the identification process.

Here is a closer look at the fires by the numbers:

Camp Fire


-- Started on Nov. 8 in Butte County in Northern California

-- 42 people have died, making the Camp Fire the deadliest in California’s history

-- 125,000 acres burned

-- 30 percent contained as of Tuesday morning

-- destroyed over 7,100 structures

-- threatening 15,500 structures

-- 52,000 people evacuated

-- over 1,500 calls requesting welfare checks

-- 3 firefighters injured

Woolsey Fire


-- Started on Nov. 8 in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties in Southern California

-- 2 people dead

-- burned over 96,000 acres

-- 35 percent contained as of Tuesday morning

-- destroyed 435 structures

-- threatening 57,000 structures

-- 149,000 people ordered to evacuate

-- 3,500 students at Pepperdine University in Malibu were ordered to shelter in place

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Authorities in Illinois continue to investigate the police shooting of a security guard who was trying to stop an active shooter at a nightclub in Illinois when he was fatally wounded.

A little after 4 a.m. Sunday, Robbins police asked for additional departments to assist its officers in responding to a call about a shooting at Manny's Blue Room Bar in Robbins, Illinois, according to Midlothian police.

Midlothian police said two of its officers had responded to the bar to help Robbins police. When officers arrived, Midlothian police said, they learned that there were several gunshot victims inside the bar.

"A Midlothian officer encountered a subject with a gun and was involved in an officer-involved shooting," Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney said in a statement released hours after the shooting.

The person shot by the officer was later pronounced dead at a hospital, Delaney said.

Midlothian police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified the deceased as 26-year-old Jemel Roberson.

Delaney told ABC News on Tuesday that Roberson was the establishment's security guard.

"Our hearts go out to Jemel and his family and we are devastated by this incident," Delaney told ABC News. "We have learned a lot about Jemel over the last two days and he was [a] great man that was doing his best to stop an active shooter that evening."

At least four people were shot including Roberson, ABC News affiliate WLS-TV in Chicago said.

"He had somebody on the ground, with his knee in his back, with his gun on him, like 'Don't move,'" Adam Harris told a CBS affiliate. "Everybody was screaming out 'Security!' He was a security guard."

The status of the officer involved in the shooting was unknown.

Roberson was an organist at local churches including New Spiritual Light Baptist Church, according to WLS-TV.

"How in the world does the security guard get shot by police?" Pastor Walter Turner of New Spiritual Light Baptist Church said in an interview with WLS-TV. "A young man that was literally just doing his job and now he's gone."

A lawyer for the Roberson family has filed a wrongful-death civil lawsuit against the as yet unidentified officer and the village of Midlothian.

"This is a young man who was trying to do the right thing in life. He wanted to apply to the Chicago PD from what I was told. His mother did not want him working night-club security but he enjoyed it," said Gregory Kulis, the attorney for Jemel Roberson's mother, Beatrice Roberson.

The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force is investigating the police shooting, which is the Midlothian Police Department's policy, according to Delaney.

The Cook County Sheriff's Police and Robbins Police Department were investigating the "criminal aspect," Delaney said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Hound Poll
When is it proper to decorate for Christmas?
Add a Comment
(Fields are Optional)

Your email address is never published.