(ALTOONA, Iowa) — One person is dead and three more have been hospitalized after a raft overturned on a water ride at an amusement park.
The incident occurred at approximately 7:35 p.m. on Saturday, July 3, at Adventureland Park in Altoona, Iowa — part of the Des Moines metropolitan area — when a boat on the Raging River ride overturned with six riders on it, according to a statement from Adventureland Park.
The overturned raft caused critical injuries to three people and left one with minor injuries, the statement continued.
“Altoona Fire and Police were on property and responded immediately,” said Adventureland Park in their initial statement on Saturday night. “We want to thank them as well as Des Moines, Ankeny, Bondurant, Pleasant Hill and Delaware Township Emergency Services for their fast response … Our thoughts are with the affected families at this time.”
Adventureland Park said the ride had been inspected the day before and “was found to be in good working order” at the time of the accident. The Raging River ride will now remain closed for a more thorough inspection.
Adventureland Park released a second statement on Sunday night after they learned of the passing of one of the injured riders.
“Adventureland is saddened to learn of the passing of one Guest involved in the Raging River accident on the evening of 7/3/21,” the park’s second statement said. “This investigation is ongoing and the ride remains closed. Adventureland is working closely with both the State and local authorities, and would like to thank them again for their efforts. At this time, we ask for your thoughts and prayers for the Guest and their family, as well as for our team members who were onsite.”
There have been no additional updates on the conditions of the other three survivors since the initial statement.
This, however, is reportedly not the first fatal accident to have taken place in connection with the Raging River ride at Adventureland Park.
According to the Des Moines Register, 68-year-old Adventureland Park employee, Steve Booher, reportedly died in 2016 while he was working on the ride as he was helping riders get out of the Raging River rafts at the end of the ride but fell onto the conveyor belt and suffered a fractured skull along with a major brain injury. Booher died four days later.
Iowa’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration subsequently fined the theme park $4,500 following Booher’s death, according to the Des Moines Register — the maximum the agency could assess for that type of violation.
The circumstances that led up to Saturday’s incident are currently unclear and the investigation is ongoing and the ride will remain closed during that time.
(WASHINGTON) — Emerging from the White House to “Hail to the Chief,” President Joe Biden addressed the largest event of his administration to declare: “All across this nation we can say America is coming back together.”
“This year, the Fourth of July is a day of special celebration. For we are emerging from the darkness of years. A year pandemic and isolation. A year of pain, fear and heartbreaking loss. Just think back to where this nation was a year ago. Think back to where you were a year ago. And think about how far we’ve come,” Biden said to applause from the crowd of 1,000 military families and essential workers.
Throughout his remarks, Biden sought to draw a sharp contrast between where the country was a year ago, and today, praising the American people for helping to get the virus under control by rolling up their sleeves to get their vaccination shots — though the nation missed his goal of having 70% of Americans vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 4.
While Biden used soaring rhetoric to celebrate the country’s success so far, he stressed the fight is not over, referencing the delta variants of the virus that have concerned medical experts, as cases spike in areas with low vaccination rates.
“Thanks to our heroic vaccine effort, we’ve gained the upper hand against this virus. We can live our lives, our kids can go back to school, our economy is roaring back. Don’t get me wrong. Covid-19 has not been vanquished. We all know powerful variants have emerged like the Delta variant,” Biden said.
“But the best defense against these variants is to get vaccinated. My fellow Americans, it’s the most patriotic thing you can do. So please, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated. Do it. Do it now. For yourself, for your loved ones, for your community, and for your country. You know, that is how we’ll stay ahead of these variants and protect the hard-won progress we’ve made,” the president continued.
“We never again want to be where we were a year ago today,” he added, with a wagging finger. “So today, while the virus hasn’t been vanquished, we know this: It no longer controls our lives. It no longer paralyzes our nation. And it is within our power to make sure it never does again.”
Pulling a card from his pocket, Biden struck a somber tone as he read the total number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths to date — 603,018 people lost their lives to the virus — and paid tribute.
“Each of them meant the world to someone they left behind. And those of you who have been through all this, know that to heal, you have to remember. We have to remember them. And we will. We commit to always remember them. That’s what we’ll do,” he said.
While partisan divisions have also caused a split in the vaccination views, Biden sought to pitch a message of unity, urging the country to come together to continue to get a handle on the virus and get back on track.
“You know, history tells us, when we stand together, when we unite in common cause, when we see ourselves not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans, then there is simply no limit to what we can achieve. None. Today we see the results of the unity of purpose. The unity of purpose we are forging — we’re our nation,” Biden said.
“For together we’re beating the virus,” he continued. “Together we’re breathing life into our economy. Together we will rescue our people from division and despair. But together we must do it. Over the past year, we’ve lived through some of our darkest days. Now I truly believe, I give my word, we are about to see our bright future.”
Earlier Sunday, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff paid a visit to some firefighters in Los Angeles, along with Congressman Ted Lieu and his wife, Betty.
“Let’s take a minute to also reflect on what you all did during that last year and a half to keep pushing and you didn’t stop. You didn’t have the ability to stay at home. You were there to serve. So it’s an important day to also reflect on — on the good, right? And the fight, and our commitment to it. So thank you all,” she said.
The group visited Los Angeles Fire Department Station 19 in Brentwood, California, and both Harris and Emhoff noted that it is their neighborhood station.
“It’s personal to us,” Emhoff said. “This is our neighborhood station, so thank you for everything you do for our neighborhood, our neighbors. I know we’ve been evacuated a couple of times, and you guys were ready to protect our family. And we really appreciate it.”
(WASHINGTON) — As the president looked to celebrate the country’s reopening following pandemic lockdowns, there was a reopening earlier Sunday just outside the White House: The sidewalks there are now open to foot and bike traffic.
“The portion of Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House sidewalk between 15th and 17th Streets NW has been reopened to foot and bicycle traffic. The Secret Service is committed to facilitating public access to Pennsylvania Avenue as well as protecting the safety of the public and agency protectees,” a Secret Service spokesperson told ABC News in a statement.
The spokesperson cautioned that the area will have to temporarily close again later this summer for a National Park Service paving project that will require Pennsylvania Avenue and adjacent areas to be closed.
This area was one of many that was closed to the public amid protests last summer following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Lafayette Square, the park north of the White House, quietly reopened in May after almost a year of being closed to the public.
(NEW YORK) — Carrie Schweitzer has been a waitress since she was 12.
Now 50, she said back then employers didn’t check, so she lied and told them she was 17.
“I was 13 years old the very first time I had my backside pinched to get an extra tip,” Schweitzer told ABC News.
She’s been in the service industry most of her life, and most of her life the federal minimum wage for tipped workers has been $2.13 an hour. Where Schweitzer works now, in Philadelphia, she gets $2.83 an hour, still far below the $7.25 an hour mandated for other jobs. If she doesn’t earn the base minimum wage through tips, restaurants are legally mandated to pay the rest — although some do not.
In fact, the Labor Department did a two-year investigation of 9,000 restaurants nationwide and found that 84% of restaurants committed some type of violation. But one in nine restaurants violated the law by specifically committing a tipping infraction.
“If I was able to get a full-time wage, I would not have to jump through hoops and do embarrassing things for a tip,” Schweitzer said. “I wouldn’t have to put up with a man calling me ‘baby doll’ or ‘baby girl.'”
“But I’m a waitress,” she added, “so I’m there to be harassed.”
Like over four million Americans, Schweitzer earns most of her income from tips. But despite working more than 40 hours a week, her salary is low enough to qualify for food stamps and state-provided health insurance.
“Working full time and having to accept welfare makes me feel like I’m an unappreciated person,” she said. “There is no excuse for a woman — her entire lifetime — having to put up with verbal abuse and having to put up with sexual abuse just to get a tip to make a living.”
It’s a big reason why she’s pushing for a $15 minimum wage and ending the currently accepted subminimum wage offered to tipped workers.
The Fight for $15, a movement dedicated to raising the federal minimum wage, was a key talking point during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
But in the months since Democrats have gained control of Washington, their attempts to raise the minimum wage have sputtered. Attempts to include a minimum-wage hike in the COVID relief package failed. The Biden administration did what it could, raising the minimum wage for federal workers to $15 an hour.
“The minimum wage itself is woefully inadequate,” Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., told ABC News. “There’s no county in the United States where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.”
Scott, who introduced the Raise the Wage bill in the House, also emphasized that it would eliminate the subminimum wage.
“So the idea,” he said, “is to have everybody make at least the minimum wage as their base salary — and if they make tips over and above that, that’s fine.”
While some Republicans believe the minimum wage should gradually increase over time, others have said they fear that raising it could lead to job loss, higher prices or force small businesses to close.
But in 30 states and the District of Columbia, lawmakers have stepped in and passed a minimum wage above the $7.25 federal mandate.
When it comes to restaurants, though, margins are already slim and overhead costs are high.
At Virtue, an upscale Southern restaurant in Chicago, Erick Williams said that most of his waitstaff can make at least $50,000 a year.
Recently, the city of Chicago raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour and its subminimum wage to $9 an hour, the latter a win for restauranteurs like Williams.
“No business can sustain higher costs and lower profitability and remain in business,” he told ABC News.
But he also acknowledged that the current policy won’t solve the issues facing so many Americans like Schweitzer and more needs to be done.
“I imagine we would identify restaurants that are not bad actors, that are not earning their wages on the backs of their servers and allowing women to be subjected to abuse at tables,” he said. “I think those are the ones that need to be regulated differently.”
As the Fight for $15 continues, Scott told ABC News that debate on the House floor isn’t over and that Republicans still haven’t offered any concrete alternatives.
“They didn’t offer any,” said Scott, adding that they perhaps could “support something less, and then maybe we can negotiate something in the middle. But we haven’t — they haven’t — passed anything yet.”
Meanwhile, Schweitzer will continue working full time and receiving government assistance just to make ends meet.
“When I hear a lawmaker say that he does not want to raise the minimum wage,” Schweitzer said, “he is telling me he does not care about 50% of America. That’s it. He does not care about us.”
Rapper D Smoke has seen a massive amount of success since winning Netflix’s competition series Rhythm + Flow in 2019. After wowing judges — Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and T.I. — he released his Black Habitsdebut, which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album last year.
As he prepares his sophomore album, D Smoke says he doesn’t feel pressure to release another Grammy-nominated project.
“The only pressure is the pressure to dig deep and go back into yourself and create something that’s honest…dope and…new,” he tells ABC Audio. “So that’s the only pressure, but that pressure is immense enough, because [my team and I] plan on and take pride in being different.”
The Inglewood, California, artist says his forthcoming album somewhat reflects his recent single “I’m Alive,” featuring rising singer Asia Fuqua. The song is featured in Infinite, a new film from director Antoine Fuqua, who is Asia’s father.
“‘I’m Alive’ is in some ways…similar to what we’re putting out. I wouldn’t say sonically, but in the sense that it’s one of those concepts that challenged me to dig deep and talk about something that’s conceptual,” D Smoke explains. “The movie is very conceptual, abstract, and beautiful in that way. So I always try to approach my life and the stories I want to tell in the music as somewhat of a movie.”
(SURFSIDE, Fla.) — Search and rescue crews looking for 121 people at the partially collapsed South Florida condominium remained in a holding pattern Sunday afternoon as demolition crews prepared to bring down the rest of the structurally compromised building.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters Sunday morning that she didn’t have a definitive timetable as to when the demolition would begin as crews ae still were doing preliminary work on the site. Search crews suspended efforts Saturday and won’t resume until after the demolition.
“As both the governor and I made clear, our top priority is that the building come down as soon as possible, no matter what time that occurs, and as safely as possible,” Levine Cava said.
The partial collapse occurred around 1:15 a.m. on June 24 at the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small, beachside town of Surfside, about 6 miles north of Miami Beach.
Approximately 55 of the oceanfront complex’s 136 units were destroyed, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah. Since then, hundreds of first responders have been carefully combing through debris in hopes of finding survivors.
As of Sunday, the death toll has risen to 24 people.
A letter from the board of directors of Champlain Towers East, obtained by ABC News, told residents on Sunday that they didn’t know when the other building would come down but “the most common estimate is sometime early evening today.”
The board advised residents to evacuate as soon as possible to avoid traffic.
Levine Cava said other residents nearby wouldn’t need to evacuate but were urged to stay indoors, close their windows and turn off their air conditioners to keep out dust from the demolition.
She said the demolition will be in the form of an “energetic felling,” which “uses small, strategically placed detonations and relies on the force of gravity to bring the building down in place, right on this footprint.”
Search and rescue teams will continue with their operations, “very shortly after the demolition,” Levine Cava added.
The mayor also noted that the all of the crews are working to get as much work done before Tropical Storm Elsa arrives.
Preparations are now being made for Elsa, which weakened from a hurricane in the morning and is expected to come near southern Florida on Monday, into Tuesday. A cover has been placed on the part of the debris field that is closest to the building, Cava said.
On Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for several counties in anticipation of Elsa. Heat, humidity, heavy rain, strong winds and lightning storms also have made the conditions difficult for rescuers, periodically forcing them to pause their round-the-clock efforts in recent days.
On Friday, two more bodies were found in the wreckage as crews search the area of the collapse, officials said. Two more bodies were recovered overnight, officials announced Saturday.
Two bodies were discovered Thursday evening, including that of a 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter, according to Levine Cava. The firefighter was not part of the crew that discovered the girl’s body.
“It goes without saying that every night since this last Wednesday has been immensely difficult,” Levine Cava said during a press briefing in Surfside on Friday morning. “But last night was uniquely different. It was truly different and more difficult for our first responders.”
Meanwhile, 191 people who were living or staying in the condominium at the time of the disaster have been accounted for and are safe, according to Levine Cava, who has stressed that the figures are “very fluid” and “continue to change.”
The number of those accounted for has gone up as detectives continue to audit the list of people reported missing, a development that Levine Cava called “very good news.”
However, no survivors have been discovered in the rubble of the building since the morning it partially collapsed, and the hope that more people would be found alive appeared to be fading Friday.
Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said rescue workers are “emotional” after the discovery of a first responder’s own daughter, which “takes a toll.” But he said that won’t stop them from continuing to search for those who are still missing.
“I just was hoping that we would have some survivors,” Cominsky said at a press briefing on Friday morning.
Speaking on the signing the emergency order to demolish the remainder of the building earlier this week, Levine Cava said the move will “help us move quickly.”
The structure was cleared by crews last week, and all search and rescue resources have since been shifted to focusing on the pile of rubble. But the two sites are side-by-side and the remaining building has posed challenges for the rescuers trying to locate any survivors or human remains in the wreckage.
“Given our ongoing safety concerns about the integrity of the building, we’re continuing to restrict access to the collapse zone,” Levine Cava said during a press briefing in Surfside on Thursday evening.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Surfside on Thursday to meet with officials, first responders, search and rescue teams, as well as families of the victims. Recalling the 1972 car accident that killed his first wife and 1-year-old daughter as well as badly injuring his two sons, the president told reporters: “It’s bad enough to lose somebody but the hard part, the really hard part, is to not know whether they’ll survive or not.”
The cause of the partial collapse to a building that has withstood decades of hurricanes remains unknown and is under investigation.
Built in the 1980s, the Champlain Towers South was up for its 40-year recertification and had been undergoing roof work — with more renovations planned — when it partially collapsed, according to officials.
A structural field survey report from October 2018, which was among hundreds of pages of public documents released by the town of Surfside late Sunday, said the waterproofing below the condominium’s pool deck and entrance drive was failing and causing “major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas.”
A slew of lawsuits against the Champlain Towers South Condo Association have already been filed on behalf of survivors and victims, alleging the partial collapse could have been avoided and that the association knew or should have known about the structural damage. A spokesperson for the association told ABC News they cannot comment on pending litigation but that their “focus remains on caring for our friends and neighbors during this difficult time.”
The association’s board released a statement Friday saying its surviving members “have concluded that, in the best interest of all concerned parties, an independent Receiver should be appointed to oversee the legal and claims process.”
“We know that answers will take time as part of a comprehensive investigation,” the statement continued, “and we will continue to work with city, state, local, and federal officials in their rescue efforts, and to understand the causes of this tragedy.”
In the wake of the Surfside building collapse, the city of North Miami Beach ordered that another condominium close immediately amid safety concerns connected to the 40-year recertification process, officials said.
The Crestview Towers Condominium is “structurally and electrically unsafe,” based on the review of a recertification report submitted Friday, city officials said in a statement.
“The city of North Miami Beach has taken the steps that we recommended to review to make sure that the recertification process was being done in a timely basis. And as I understand it, as a result of that audit, they found a building that had not been recertified, and when the information came in, they took some steps,” Levine Cava said Friday evening.
Some 300 residents have to evacuate, according to ABC Miami affiliate WPLG, while a full structural assessment is conducted.
The 156-unit condo was built in 1972.
ABC News’ Will Gretsky, Meredith Deliso, Marlene Lenthang and Morgan Windsor contributed to this report.
(WASHINGTON) — The lead White House COVID-19 response coordinator acknowledged Sunday that younger Americans feel less vulnerable to COVID-19, making them less likely to get vaccinated.
“Younger particularly those in their 20s, have felt less vulnerable to the disease and, therefore, less eager to get shots. They were made eligible later so they have not been eligible as long and we continue to see hundreds of thousands of young people vaccinated each week,” Jeff Zients told ABC “This Week” Co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
“If you are vaccinated, you’re protected. And if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not protected. And that’s particularly important for everyone, including young people, in light of delta variant,” Zients added.
However, in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, among those not vaccinated, 74% said they probably or definitely won’t get a shot, which is up from 55% in April.
The high percentage of unvaccinated people who do not want to get a shot is raising concerns that vaccine rates could remain stagnant as the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 spreads across the country. It’s estimated that the delta variant was found in approximately 26% of new coronavirus cases in the U.S.
“Our polls even show that 74% of those people will probably not or definitely won’t get a shot. So what does it mean for getting rid of the virus nationwide? Will it continue to be with us indefinitely?” Raddatz asked.
“We are seeing increases in cases in those areas in the country where there’s lower vaccination rates. So, it’s really important that people get vaccinated,” Zients responded. “The good news is confidence in the vaccine — those saying they’re willing to get vaccinated — has increased across time as more and more people know people who’ve been vaccinated and can see the benefits of being vaccinated.”
This type of encouragement might be working for some, including 20-year-old Ally Kirk of West Virginia, who told Martha Raddatz earlier this week she changed her mind and decided to get vaccinated.
“A lot of my friends started getting it. My parents were vaccinated. I felt a lot more comfortable with it. I did some research on my own. And I felt that it was time for me to get it. I was ready. I’m ready to move past COVID and get on with life back to normal,” Kirk told Raddatz.
“We do have a lot to celebrate,” Zients said Sunday. “We are much further along than I think anyone anticipated in this fight against the pandemic,” adding that 90% of adults 65 or older have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
But Raddatz pressed Zients for a more direct answer on the impact the unvaccinated will have on the nation’s fight to end the pandemic.
“But what does it mean for the nation if we have all these unvaccinated people who say they’re just not going to get it?” Raddatz asked.
“Well, we are — we are vaccinating millions of Americans each week. And we’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to continue to drive up the vaccination rate and we’re optimistic that more and more people will get vaccinated,” Zients responded.
As the Biden administration has officially fallen short of its goal to fully immunize 160 million Americans and to ensure 70% of adults get at least one shot by the Fourth of July, Raddatz also asked Zients about the mixed messaging of President Joe Biden preparing to host more than 1,000 first responders at the White House for Independence Day.
“I assume they’re taking precautions. But is having large crowds gather really the right message right now?” Raddatz asked.
“The event at the White House is being done in the right way. It’s an outdoor event with testing and screening. Vaccinated people are not wearing masks. Unvaccinated people masked,” Zients responded. “That said, we are doubling down on our efforts. Across the summer months, we will vaccinate millions more people because you need to get vaccinated to be protected against the Delta variant, and against this disease overall.”
(WASHINGTON) — A man has been arrested after allegedly crashing his car just outside the Washington Monument, missing several people who were walking around the landmark Saturday night, police said.
No pedestrians were injured during the incident, which took place around 7:23 p.m., the United States Park Police said in a statement.
Officers responded to the scene and found the SUV, which was covered in signs and had an American flag hanging from its passenger-side door, crashed into the security barrier at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue.
The unidentified driver suffered minor injuries and was arrested at the scene, the police said. The suspect was charged with attempted assault with a dangerous weapon (automobile) and is awaiting a court appearance as of Sunday morning.
No motive has been revealed, and the investigation is ongoing, police said.
The incident took place about 24 hours before crowds were expected to gather at the National Mall for Fourth of July celebrations.