4 people dead after terrible single-vehicle accident splits car in half

ABC News/WLS

(NEW YORK) — Four people have died and two people have been injured in a terrible single-vehicle accident that ended up splitting their car in half.

The incident occurred at approximately 2:24 p.m. on Saturday, July 17, in Hickory Hills, Illinois, when police say a car with six people inside ended up losing control and striking a tree, according to a report from ABC News’ Chicago station WLS-TV.

None of the victims involved in the accident have currently been identified but authorities told WLS that two people died on the scene and two people died after being taken to the hospital following the accident. The condition of the other two people have not yet been disclosed.

Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the accident but an eyewitness told WLS that the aftermath of the accident was shocking.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Joanna Proszek told WLS. “It was bad, tragic. I think they just, like, started flying because there is a hill. So I am thinking they just revved up the engine and they just flew into the tree.”

It is unclear if speed was a factor in the accident but authorities say that the investigation into what caused the crash is ongoing.

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Summer storms batter East Coast, while fires scorch West

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — There were over 170 reports of severe weather in the U.S. on Saturday, the majority of them on the East Coast. Out West, fire alerts range from California to Wyoming and wildfires continue to blaze.

In New Jersey, A 58-mph wind gust was reported at Newark Airport. A 78-mph wind gust was reported just off shore of Cape May.

Quarter-sized hail was reported in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Nearly 4.55 inches of rain fell in Stanton, New Jersey, on Saturday. 3.39 inches of rain was reported near the New York-Connecticut border and nearly 4 inches of rain was reported near Buffalo, New York

New York City now has had 9.11 inches of rain so far for the month of July. The average rainfall for all of July is 4.60 inches. The wettest July on record in New York city is 11.89 inches of rainfall.

Boston has had 8.93 inches of rain so far in July. The wettest July on record in Boston is 11.69 inches.

Hartford, Connecticut, has had 8.40 inches for the month of July. The wettest July on record in Hartford is 11.24 inches.

There are still a handful of flash flood watches across parts of the Northeast Sunday. That is because some of the rain is still moving out and could cause some additional flooding. Some more rain showers will linger in parts of New England through the day Sunday. On Monday, there will still be an isolated chance of a shower, but overall the region will be drier and milder.

Temperatures will drop to comfortable levels in the Northeast for the next 48 hours, before the heat builds back up on Tuesday.

In the West, there are fire alerts from California to Wyoming. In California, monsoon storms could bring dry lightning which could easily start wildfires.

The Bootleg Fire in Oregon is now at 298,662 acres, still 22% contained. The Tamarack Fire in Alpine County, California, which began earlier in July, is now at 21,000 acres. This fire rapidly grew this weekend and there are new evacuation orders for parts of the region.

Excessive heat will continue today in parts of Idaho and Montana. The heat will slide eastward this weekend and give some of the upper Midwest hot temperatures including parts of North Dakota which could be over 100 degrees during the first part of this week.

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Washington Nationals game halted after shooting outside park, fans told to leave

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The Washington Nationals game was called to an abrupt halt on Saturday night after a shooting outside the stadium.

Police said at a late-night press conference that the shooting was an isolated incident and believed to be a shootout between two vehicles.

Earlier, the team had confirmed there was a shooting outside the Third Base Gate at Nationals Park. After initially telling fans to stay in their seats due to an “incident” outside, they were then told to exit the stadium through the Centerfield or Right Field gates.

The game was in the bottom of the sixth inning when fans heard loud pops outside the park. The game was halted as fans were seen heading for the concourse and some even exited the stands onto the field and into the dugouts.

The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department said two people were shot outside the park and there did not appear to be an ongoing threat. Police later said a third person, a woman who was attending the game but was outside the park, was also struck by gunfire.

She is expected to be OK, police said. Two others believed to be involved in the shooting are being questioned at the hospital.

One car involved in the shooting has been recovered and they are looking for the second, authorities said.

The Nationals were losing, 8-4, at the time the game was stopped.

The team said it will pick up the game on Sunday where it left off with a nine-inning game. The game will be part of a doubleheader.

A 6-year-old child was killed in a shooting in Washington, D.C., overnight with officials holding a press conference to announce a $60,000 reward for information into the shooting. Homicides have been on the rise in the city since 2017, according to city crime data.

ABC News’ Sarah Shales contributed to this report.

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7 rescued, 1 missing after Boston Harbor boating accident

ABC

(BOSTON) — Seven people have been rescued and one person is still missing following a boating accident in the Boston Harbor early Saturday.

At about 3 a.m. a center console boat with eight people on board hit a day marker, “causing all 8 to enter the water,” the U.S. Coast Guard stated.

Officials responded to the incident and seven people were recovered, five of them transported by Boston EMS to a hospital, Boston Fire said.

The names and ages of the recovered boaters have not been released.

Now, an inter-agency search is underway for the missing boater.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Massachusetts county first to implement COVID K-9 unit

Bristol County Sheriff’s Office

(BRISTOL COUNTY, Mass.) — The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office in Massachusetts is the first law enforcement agency in the country to implement a K-9 unit with canines able to detect COVID-19.

“Today, festivals are happening, restaurants are full and concert venues are packed,” said Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson in a statement published Thursday. “We’ve made so much progress, and our new COVID-19 detection program is one way the people of Bristol County can stay ahead of the curve.”

Huntah, a 9-month old female black lab, and Duke, a 9-month-old male golden lab/retriever mix, are the two canines that have now joined the Bristol County K-9 unit after completing a COVID-19 detection training program developed by the International Forensic Research Institute at Florida International University.

The program, which uses masks worn by COVID-19 positive patients, kills the virus with an ultraviolet light, leaving the smell of the virus for dogs to detect.

The canines are then trained to sniff out the virus odor, or detect the change in metabolism of a person infected with COVID-19 without the risk of infection, making the program safe for dogs during the training process.

With this training, the dogs are able to detect the coronavirus with over 90% accuracy, Dr. Ken Furton, provost and executive vice president at Florida International University, told ABC Radio’s “Perspective” podcast in February.

“More than nine times out of 10, when the odor is there or a positive mask is there, the dogs alert and they get very few false positives,” Furton said. “So they’re very, very accurate, actually more accurate than even PCR testing in the laboratory.”

According to the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, Huntah and Duke will be used to detect the virus in schools, town buildings, nursing homes and medical facilities. Captain Paul Douglas sees these two new additions to the K-9 unit as a “decontamination tool” to keep these spaces safe against the virus.

“The dogs can detect the COVID odor on a counter or table if it was recently touched by a COVID-positive individual, or even detect the odor on a tissue used by someone with COVID,” Douglas said.

With this detection program developed by scientists, trained dogs will be able to detect all variants of COVID-19, including the delta variant.

“This is all science,” Douglas said during a canine graduation ceremony on Wednesday. “This program was developed by professors, doctors and scientists at FIU, and we couldn’t be more proud or excited to execute it here in Bristol County.”

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Over 55 million Americans at risk for flash flooding this weekend

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Over 55 million Americans are at risk for flash flooding this weekend as severe weather heads toward the Northeast.

Portions of the Northeast are nearly five times wetter than average for July so far. New York and Boston both could approach all-time wettest July before the month’s end.

Tornadoes and damaging winds are also possible in the Northeast today.

A slow moving frontal system is bringing very heavy rain from the central U.S. to the East Coast. Over 3 inches of rain caused flash flooding in the Detroit region on Friday. Over 5 inches of rain was reported in Indiana, nearly 6 inches of rain was reported in Illinois, and over 10 inches of rain was reported in Kansas.

The system is moving east this morning and will bring more heavy rain to parts of the Ohio Valley and ultimately into the Northeast. Severe storms, including the risk for possible tornadoes and damaging winds will be possible from Maryland to New York today, including Philadelphia and New York City.

Flash flood watches are in effect from Indiana to Massachusetts. The rainfall threat across parts of the Northeast is particularly concerning. The region is well above average for rainfall.

New York City has had 8.49 inches of rain so far for the month of July. To put that in context, New York City’s average rainfall for all of July is 4.60 inches. The wettest July on record in New York city is 11.89 inches.

Boston has had 8.92 inches of rain so far in July. Boston currently is having it’s third-wettest July on record. The wettest July on record in Boston is 11.69 inches.

The precipitation forecast for storms Saturday and Sunday shows locally over 3 inches of rain. While not a certainty, it is looking possible, that Northeast cities will be approaching or exceeding their wettest July on record — and that may happen this weekend, in spots.

Flash flooding is a concern. As the ground is very saturated, the heavy rain will likely cause flash flooding very quickly.

Meanwhile, in the West, a heat wave is persisting across parts of the region, but it is not nearly as bad as the last few heat waves have been. In fact, there are only a couple of records being threatened over the next few days.

More concerning is the risk of dry lightning across California and Western Nevada on Sunday night. Dry lightning can quickly start wildfires, that will quickly burn out of control.

Additionally, more monsoon-related flooding will be possible across Arizona and New Mexico.

Here are the updated fire numbers:

Beckwourth Complex Fire
Size: 105,163 acres
70% contained
Near Beckwourth, CA

Bootleg Fire
Size: 273,582 acres
22% contained
Near Beatty, OR

River Fire
9,500 acres
59% contained
Mariposa County, CA

Snake River Complex Fire
102,866 acres
31% contained
Outside of Lewiston, ID

Red Apple Fire
11,111 acres
51% contained
Central Washington

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Puerto Ricans fear blackouts during hurricane season

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(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) — With the peak of hurricane season less than two months away, many Puerto Ricans are concerned about the stability of the island’s electric grid — a problem-plagued system that left millions without power during Hurricane Maria.

After suffering multiple natural disasters in recent years including two hurricanes and thousands of earthquakes, the island’s already troubled electric system has been left damaged, leading to the grid becoming unstable.

“We all have to keep in mind that we have a very fragile electrical grid,” the island’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, told ABC News. Some residents are also concerned about the company that is now running the electric distribution system, LUMA Energy.

LUMA took over the island’s transmission and distribution system on June 1 — the same day hurricane season started.

The system was previously managed by the governmental entity called Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which still manages electric generation.

Pierluisi blamed the current problems with the electric system on PREPA for not maintaining the grid.

“PREPA was not giving adequate maintenance to substations, to the electrical poles, electrical lines and Luma inherited that,” he told ABC News.

LUMA’s 1st month

The privatization of the country’s electric grid was announced three years ago by former Gov. Ricardo Rosello.

LUMA’s contract with the government was announced during his successor, Wanda Vazquez’s administration, but Pierluisi supported it once he took office in January 2021.

While blackouts and power outages weren’t infrequent in some areas of Puerto Rico before LUMA, some residents say conditions have worsened since the new company has been in control.

Sylvia Giansante, a resident in San Juan, said “power outages were not frequent,” but that changed in the last month. But “ever since last month,” she said, “the power goes out every two days.”

Giansante said she has three damaged air conditioning units due to the unstable power system and the frequent blackouts.

In the last month, Puerto Rico has seen multiple power outages and a major blackout caused by an explosion in one of the island’s electric substations. The Monacillo substation, where the explosion occurred, is located in San Juan and is run by LUMA Energy.

Aside from these incidents, thousands on the island have reported ongoing power outages in that time, with some lasting a couple of hours and others up to days.“The week of the explosion, we were without power for five days,” Giansante said.

A local police report said the substation explosion was due to a failure in the electric system. After rumors circulated that the explosion could have been intentionally set, federal authorities responded to the incident.

The FBI said in a statement to ABC News that their position is “one of support in assessing the events and related circumstances to determine if it was the result of an accident or of a criminal act.”

While the FBI’s spokesperson didn’t confirm an investigation they say “the people of Puerto Rico can rest assured that, should evidence of criminal action under our jurisdiction be found, we would pursue it to its fullest extent.”

Many residents in the island have been against LUMA’s takeover since the beginning of the transition process. They oppose the terms of the contract with the government and some are against privatizing the essential service.

Dozens of protests have been reported across the island demanding the cancellation of the contract between Puerto Rico’s government and the company.

Residents concerns amid hurricane season

Karina Claudio-Betancourt lives in a community called Barrio Obrero located in Santurce, Puerto Rico. She says there was a live cable hanging in her street early in June and she called LUMA every day to report the situation.

“In the beginning, we made a lot of calls, and no answers,” Claudio-Betancourt said. “I wrote to them via Twitter and Facebook.”

LUMA’s external affairs adviser, Jose Perez Velez, told ABC News that the delay in responding to calls at the beginning of the month could have been related to a cyberattack the company suffered in their first week which affected their client service.

Once Claudio-Betancourt was able to communicate with LUMA, their response was “we’re working on it, we’re going to refer it to a supervisor, ” she says.

According to the 33-year-old woman it took LUMA three weeks after she made her first claim to address the situation.

With the ongoing hurricane season, residents say they are concerned about the company’s slow response to power outages.

“It’s scary,” Claudio-Betancourt said. “It’s really a situation of life and death to lose electricity, and I don’t see them responding quickly enough.”

An investigation from the Center for Investigative Journalism of Puerto Rico indicated that most of the deaths in Hurricane Maria can be linked to the lack of electricity.

When Hurricane Maria slammed the island in 2017, it knocked out the power and all communications in the entire island. It took nearly a year to restore the electricity to the whole island. The official death toll linked to the storm is 2,975, according to Puerto Rico’s government.

Before hurricane season started this year, the Puerto Rican government held a press conference on May 26 addressing the contingency plan for any potential storm.

In that presser, LUMA’s CEO Wayne Stensby said the company was ready to work alongside the government to deal with any potential natural disaster.

In a public motion with the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, LUMA stated that the company has enough inventory including trucks and employees to deal with a Category 2 storm. A report with more details on an emergency plan was also submitted by LUMA.

“We are ready to put the customers first as our obligations,” Stensby said during the presser on May 26.

But in recent weeks, residents including Claudio-Betancourt said they have been told by employees at the call center that LUMA does not have enough equipment to deal with rural areas in the island.

Claudio-Betancourt has a residence in Las Marias, Puerto Rico located in the center westside of the island. Her residence has been without power for weeks. She called to report the situation, but LUMA was not able to address the complaint, she said.

“They said, ‘We don’t have enough linemen in that area.’ Then I went personally to the offices in San Sebastian, and they said to me, ‘We don’t have the trucks to fix the electricity,'” Claudio-Betancourt told ABC News.

The LUMA representative, Perez Velez, reiterated that the company has the people and the tools to deal with the ongoing outages.

“We are prepared. We have the capacity and the people to handle the necessities in our island. We are going to deal with any possible atmospheric event in the most organized way,” he told ABC News.

Amid the wave of complaints against the new company, Gov. Pierluisi told ABC News his team has been talking to LUMA Energy to make check-ins and demand answers if needed.

“We will be vigilant, we will do the oversight, and there is a good plan in place to handle a disaster,” Pierluisi said.

Although the governor believes that LUMA Energy has more resources compared to when PREPA ran the transmission and distribution of the system, he admitted the company needs more equipment.

“They’re doing alliances as we speak, they’re doing MOUs [memorandum of understanding] with mayors to supplement what they’re doing, and they are also doing alliances with electrical companies and elsewhere in the states to assist them. If God forbid, we get another natural disaster here in Puerto Rico,” the governor added.

Despite LUMA’s declarations and the governor’s words, residents are still skeptical about the island’s electric system stability and the response they could get during a potential emergency.

“Maria was Category 4. What are they going to do if Category 4 comes? Are they going to leave us to die?” Claudio-Betancourt asked.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

6-year-old girl killed, 5 others injured in Washington, DC, shooting

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(WASHINGTON) — Six people were injured and one 6-year-old girl killed in a shooting that took place in Washington, D.C., Friday night.

The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia released a video statement regarding the shooting, which took place shortly after 11 p.m.

Executive Assistant Chief Ashan M. Benedict said police heard shots of gunfire at 2900 Block of Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue, Southeast, and rushed to the scene to find six victims injured: three male adults, two female adults and one child.

The 6-year-old girl was shot and killed at the scene and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital, Benedict said.

The five adults were being treated at area hospitals Friday night with non-life-threatening injuries.

The shooters are unknown, and police are asking for the public’s help in identifying them.

“We’re asking for the public’s assistance to bring these shooters to justice,” Benedict said.

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Gun injuries cost more than $1 billion a year to treat in hospitals: Report

D-Keine

(WASHINGTON) — Gun-inflicted injuries result in more than $1 billion in hospital costs each year and programs like Medicaid end up picking up most of the tab, according to a new report.

The report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office was requested by House and Senate Democrats and sheds a light on the financial devastation gun violence wreaks.

The report found there are about 30,000 hospital stays and 50,000 emergency room visits annually to treat firearm injuries, following an analysis of most recent hospital data available from 2016 and 2017.

Public coverage programs such as Medicaid accounted for more than 60% of the costs of care, the report found.

The report comes as President Joe Biden highlighted skyrocketing gun violence and crime rates and this week touted the ability of cities and states to repurpose COVID-19 relief funding to address the crisis.

Overall, the report found that firearm injuries led to “significant” financial hospital costs.

“While firearm injuries constitute a small proportion of overall hospital costs — less than 1% over the 2-year period we studied — per patient, these injuries are relatively expensive to treat compared with other types of injuries or conditions,” the report stated, citing the average cost of initial treatment for firearm injury patients, whether emergency deaprtment-only or inpatient care, as “more than twice the average cost of treating other patients in the hospital.”

Up to 16% of firearm injury survivors were readmitted at least once to the hospital after initial treatment, and those visits cost an additional $8,000 to $11,000 per patient, the report found.

Gun injury survivors also face hurdles to accessing care after hospital discharge such as insurance coverage, socioeconomic status and provider biases — all of which can affect access to health care more generally, the report said. Some firearm injury survivors may need lifelong care after hospital discharge, the report also stated.

A majority of firearm victims landed in lower-income brackets and the burden of those treatments largely fell on public safety-net programs, according to the report. Over the two-year period studied, more than half of firearm injury patients for both initial emergency department-only and inpatient care visits lived in zip codes with an annual median household income below $44,000.

Firearm injuries also disproportionately impacted the Black community. Although information on race and ethnicity was not available for ED-only visits, patients identified as Black accounted for over half of inpatient stays and costs, the report noted.

“Many firearm injury survivors are from communities of color and are low income. Because of this, they may be more likely than the general population to face access barriers due to systemic inequities that disproportionately affect those groups,” the report said.

Because of “racial bias in the health care system,” providers may not prescribe the “same level” of services to patients from communities of color as they do to white patients; moreover, patients’ mistrust in the health care system which can “stem from negative prior experiences” and a “lack of racial and ethnic diversity of providers within the health care system, among other things,” may hinder patients’ access to care,” the report stated.

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Ten injured, dozens pepper-sprayed in altercation at Los Angeles County jail, authorities say

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(LOS ANGELES) — At least 10 people were injured in an altercation between sheriff’s deputies and inmates at a Southern California jail on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

The disturbance occurred as deputies were conducting security checks at the North County Correctional Facility, one of four jails located within the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. During the checks, a deputy was assaulted by an inmate inside one of the dormitories, prompting “multiple” other inmates to become involved, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which runs the jail.

Additional deputies were called in for back up “to prevent escalation between the inmates and restore order,” the sheriff’s department said. The deputies initially used verbal commands in an effort to get the situation under control but ultimately had to deploy pepper spray on approximately 20 to 25 inmates, according to the sheriff’s department.

Seven deputies and one custody assistant were injured during the incident. The custody assistant and six of the deputies were transported to a local hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Two inmates were also taken to a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, according to the sheriff’s department.

The facility was under lockdown due to the disturbance.

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