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NYPD Cop’s Chokehold May Not Have Caused Serious Injury to Man’s Throat

NYPD Cop’s Chokehold May Not Have Caused Serious Injury to Man’s Throat

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A man who died after a New York City police officer took him to the ground in a chokehold appeared to have little damage to his neck and trachea, according to preliminary autopsy results, a law enforcement source said, but that may not be enough to keep him from being disciplined or even facing criminal charges.
Eric Garner, who was 6 feet 3 inches tall and about 350 pounds, died Thursday after police struggled to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island, according to the NYPD. Police said he appeared to suffer a heart attack.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo, an 8-year veteran who was seen in a video that has sparked outrage putting Garner in a chokehold, has been placed on “modified assignment,” meaning he was stripped of his badge and gun, pending the outcome of the dual probes by the district attorney and Internal Affairs.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had announced Friday that the cop and his partner were on “desk duty,” but they still had their guns and shields.
A chokehold is a violation of NYPD police, regardless of whether the move causes any damage, but beyond that, prosecutors and police investigators will be looking at whether it caused or contributed to Garner’s death about an hour after he was taken into custody.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office said Sunday it had not reached any finding on Garner’s cause of death.
“At this time, no determination has been made by the Medical Examiner’s office as to the cause and manner of death of Eric Garner,” ME spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said. “The cause and manner of death are pending further studies, and no findings will be released until the investigation is complete. Any other information or suggestion to the contrary is simply not true.”
Official preliminary results could come in the next few days.
Garner was arrested in Staten Island after he was allegedly seen selling “loosie” cigarettes, police said. Garner was known for selling individual cigarettes for 50 cents each in his Staten Island neighborhood.
Police said the cigarettes come from North Carolina and Garner is the end of the supply line. Because the Staten Island man allegedly sold cigarettes to children, the police called the cigarettes a “quality of life” issue in the neighborhood.
Garner’s death has led to outrage, especially after video obtained by the New York Daily News appeared to show that the man was put into a chokehold as he was arrested.
The chokehold is prohibited by NYPD departmental policy.
Mayor Bill De Blasio called the video of the arrest “very troubling” and delayed a planned vacation for a day after hearing about the incident. De Blasio said NYPD internal affairs and the local district attorney were investigating the incident.
The video shows officers approaching Garner, who initially denies that he’s selling loose cigarettes.
“I’m minding my business why don’t you leave me alone,” Garner can be heard saying.
Eventually when police officers move in, Garner appears to not comply and at least five officers wrestle him to the ground as they attempt to handcuff him.
As Garner is being held down, he can be heard telling police that he “can’t breathe.” Eventually when officers realize he is not responsive, they called in an ambulance, which took Garner to a hospital where he died a short time later.
The apparent violence of the arrest led to outrage and the internal investigation. On line, numerous people tweeted #JusticeforEricGarner, calling attention to the deadly incident.
Policeman’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, questioned by ABC News about what constitutes an appropriate use of force, said the public should not rush to judge before the official investigation is concluded.
“At times, when officers are required to make an arrest, they must employ the use of force in order to get compliance from an individual who NYPD policy requires must be rear-cuffed for transport to a precinct,” Lynch said. “Force, by its very nature, is an ugly thing to witness. Taken out of the context of what is happening, necessary force can be misinterpreted to be excessive by those who are not trained in law enforcement procedures.”
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US Military Once Planned on Building Surveillance System on the Moon

US Military Once Planned on Building Surveillance System on the Moon

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The United States military once planned to build a surveillance station on the moon, according to a report code-named “Project Horizon.”
The declassified report– released Sunday on the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s historic moonwalk– outlines the military’s detailed plans to install a moon-to-Earth surveillance system that would have been used for “facilitating communications with and observation of the earth.”
The report that was originally published in 1959 exceeds 100 pages.
Project Horizon also included a proposal to build a moon-based weapons system that would have allowed the military to launch offensives from the moon towards Earth and even into outer space.
The declassified documents also reveal that the military attempted to investigate the effects of detonating a nuclear weapon on and in the vicinity of the moon.
Although no such detonation occurred, the report tries to speculate the effects nuclear radiation would have had on alien lifeforms.
Another declassified report called “The Kidnapping of the Lunik” details how American operatives stole and later returned a Soviet space capsule called the Lunik during a Soviet exhibition tour in order to gather intelligence on Soviet space capability.
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Prisoners Hospitalized After Roof Collapses at Texas Jail

Prisoners Hospitalized After Roof Collapses at Texas Jail

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — Over one dozen prisoners were hospitalized after part of a jail in Texas collapsed Saturday.
When portions of the roof collapsed at the Diboll Correctional Center– a privately-run jail near Houston– more than 80 inmates were temporarily trapped by debris.
Nineteen prisoners were taken to local hospitals, but Warden David Driskell says their injuries appear to be non-life-threatening.
The collapse was reportedly caused by water that built up on the roof after days of heavy rain in the area.
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Sinkhole Opens Up in Florida

Sinkhole Opens Up in Florida

iStock/Thinkstock(SPRING HILL, Fla.) — A family remains out of its home after a sinkhole opened up in a Central Florida neighborhood.
The 120-foot wide and 30-foot deep sinkhole opened Saturday afternoon in Spring Hill.
“Out of nowhere the earth just went straight up in the air and exploded up in the air,” said Margaret Helmick, who lives in the neighborhood.
Police evacuated four homes but later allowed residents to return to three of them. The area was closed off until further notice.
Engineers were called out to assess the damage and the sinkhole may later be filled with sand and cement.
Officials say sinkholes are a way of life in Florida, where there have been nearly 300 ground depressions since 2010.
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Twenty-Two Shot in Chicago In 12 Hours; 11-Year Old Girl Among Dead

Twenty-Two Shot in Chicago In 12 Hours; 11-Year Old Girl Among Dead

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Two people were killed and 20 others were wounded in a rash of gun violence over the course of 12 hours in Chicago, two weeks after the city was rocked by gunfire over the Independence Day holiday.
One of the victims was 11-year-old Shamiya Adams, who was shot in the head at a sleepover at a friend’s home in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood at around 9:35 p.m. Friday.
Adams was in a first floor bedroom when gunshots came in through the window, originating from somewhere outside the house, Chicago Police Department spokesman Officer Jose Estrada said.
Adams was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition where she was later pronounced dead, and police are investigating her death as a homicide.
Estrada told ABC News that 22 people were shot between the hours of 3 p.m. Friday and 3:30 a.m. Saturday. Of the people shot two were killed and twenty injured.
A second homicide occurred early Saturday morning at approximately 3 a.m. in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, where police found a man dead of multiple gunshot wounds, Estrada said.
The deadly 12-hour period comes in the wake of a violent Independence Day weekend, when shootings left nine dead and more than 60 injured in Chicago.
“We will keep building on our strategy, putting more officers on the street in summer months, proactively intervening in gang conflicts, partnering with community leaders,” Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a statement.
Marin Maloney at the Chicago Police Department’s Director of News Affairs did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
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Military Firefighting Planes Called Up to Battle Western Wildfires

Military Firefighting Planes Called Up to Battle Western Wildfires

iStock/Thinkstock(BOISE, Idaho) — Two military C-130 airplanes were activated Saturday morning to help fight raging western wildfires, a spokesman told ABC News.
The two planes belong to the Wyoming Air National Guard 153rd Air Wing and carry a portable tank called a MAFFS — short for Modular Airborne Firefighting System. MAFFS-equipped planes can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in only five seconds.
The aircraft will head from Wyoming to a base in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, and will be assigned to specific fires Sunday, said Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a MAFFS spokesman with the North Carolina Air National Guard.
“We are mobilizing MAFFS to ensure that we continue to have adequate air tanker capability as we experience very challenging wildfire conditions in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California, and elsewhere in the West,” said Aitor Bidaburu with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho in a press release.
There are eight MAFFS planes in total at bases around the country that are called up when fire activity is high and the U.S. Forest Service runs short on federally-contracted civilian firefighting planes.
In recent years the Forest Service has been criticized for a critical shortage of firefighting air tankers. The fleet has shrunk from around 50 a decade ago to 15 this year. Many of the planes are aging relics dating back to the Korean War.
The Forest Service has increasingly been awarding firefighting contracts to more modern jet aircraft.
Of the 15 non-MAFFS firefighting planes available this fire season, nine are the newer “next generation” air tankers, said Jennifer Jones, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Forest Service. The remaining six are older, so-called “legacy” planes, Jones said.
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Illinois Man Accused of Killing Wife on Valentine’s Day Heads to Trial

Illinois Man Accused of Killing Wife on Valentine’s Day Heads to Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — A former Baptist missionary from Illinois is on trial for allegedly killing his wife on Valentine’s Day so he could be with the Lithuanian college student prosecutors say is his mistress.
Nathan Leuthold, 39, of Peoria, Ill., called police to his home on Feb. 14, 2013, saying he was the victim of a home invasion. It was there that officers found the body of his wife, Denise Leuthold, with a single gunshot wound to the head.
“I observed some kitchen cabinets open, and some kitchen drawers on the floor. I felt that this was not an ordinary burglary,” Officer Richard Linthicum testified.
Investigators say Denise Leuthold was killed with a Glock 40, the same gun Leuthold owns but which is now missing. They also found Internet searches for “how to muffle a gun,” “hitting someone over the head to knock them out,” and “lethal injection,” on Leuthold’s computer.
Leuthold has been charged with first degree murder. Prosecutors say they believe he murdered his wife so he could be with Aina Dobilaite, the 20-year-old college student.
Leuthold and his wife met Dobilaite during a missionairy trip to Lithuania. When she turned 18, the couple sponsored her to come to the United States.
Now prosecutors say they believe Leuthold’s relationship with the college student was more than just a sponsored student.
“I know you want me dead. Why do you want to humiliate me by running around with a 20-year-old,” Leuthold’s wife allegedly wrote in a day planner entry investigators found.
Leuthold’s lawyers say there is no evidence that Leuthold was romantically involved with the college student or that he shot his wife on Valentine’s Day.
If convicted, Leuthold faces up to 45 years in prison.
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Bodies Found in Storage Unit Rented by Unlicensed Funeral Director

Bodies Found in Storage Unit Rented by Unlicensed Funeral Director

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — The bodies of 12 people have been discovered in a storage locker in Weymouth, Mass., and the cremated remains of another 40 people were found in another storage facility in Somerville, Mass.Both storage units were rented by unlicensed funeral director Joseph O’Donnell.Charlotte McLaughlin, of Quincy, Mass., wonders if one of those sets of cremated remains belongs to her father, who died in 2012. The family never received his ashes.”I can’t believe somebody would take vulnerable people in this state of mind that they’re burying a loved one, and take complete advantage of their situation,” McLaughlin said.O’Donnell is currently in jail, awaiting trial on two larceny charges to which he has pleaded not guilty.Authorities say they are approaching this as a criminal investigation.
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Boy Battling Cancer Asks for Box of Birthday Cards

Boy Battling Cancer Asks for Box of Birthday Cards

iStock/Thinkstock(FOXBORO, Mass.) — A 5-year-old Massachusetts boy battling cancer said all he wants for his upcoming birthday is a box of birthday cards.
Danny Nickerson, of Foxboro, Mass., will turn six on July 25. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor this past October — one of the most chemotherapy-resistant cancers. As a result, he has since stopped going to kindergarten.
The boy gets lonely from time to time, and is always happy to get cards with his name written on them.
“He can recognize his name now,” Carley Nickerson, Danny’s mother told ABC News. “When he saw his name on the package from magical fairies on Easter, he was so happy.”
But the packages and cards stopped after Easter.
“He had 33 radiations from November through December last year,” Nickerson said. “We are now getting chemo therapy every two weeks.”
Doctors tell Nickerson that less than 10% of the children diagnosed with this type of cancer live longer than 18 months.
“I don’t really believe in that. He is doing great,” Nickerson said. “Every day is a blessing for us,”
So far, Danny has received about 40 letters.
“I gave him to key to the P.O. box,” Nickerson said. “He was so excited when he opened it.”
Nickerson said Danny loves Lego and Super Mario.
“I wish Lego makes Super Mario toys,” Nickerson chuckled. “That would really make him happy.”
Danny’s birthday is July 25. Cards can be mailed to: Danny Nickerson, P.O. Box 212, Foxboro, MA, 02035.
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American Victim on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Identified

American Victim on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Identified

Quinn Schansman/Facebook(NEW YORK) — Only one of the victims aboard the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight struck by a missile in Ukraine has been identified as an American: Quinn Lucas Schansman.President Obama identified him Friday during a news conference, saying our “thoughts and prayers are with his family through this terrible loss.”His devastated cousins told ABC News that Schansman is also a Dutch citizen, but declined to say more.Schansman attended the International Business School at Hogeschool van Amsterdam in the Netherlands, according to his Facebook page.He also appeared to be a soccer player. Dutch club Olympia ’25 named him in a statement, saying they “can barely comprehend the news.” The club also named five other members as victims aboard the plane.”We wish the surviving family members and friends much strength in digesting this inconceivable loss, this huge hit,” reads a translated version of the statement posted on the club’s website.Schansman is among 298 victims of Flight 17, which was taken down by a surface-to-air missile on Thursday in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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Cluster of Plague Cases Confirmed in Colorado

Cluster of Plague Cases Confirmed in Colorado

Creatas/Thinkstock(DENVER) — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identified three Colorado residents who have been infected with pneumonic plague.Each of the residents reportedly had direct contact with a dog that recently died of plague. The initial patient, whose family owned the dog, remains hospitalized. Plague was identified in the dog on July 8, the CDPHE says.Officials believe the dog had been exposed to the disease through a prairie dog or rabbit that carried plague-infected fleas. The cluster of plague infections is the first in the United States since 1923. Plague symptoms include fever, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. Residents are urged not to handle any dead rodents, keep pets away from wildlife, treat pets for fleas and avoid feeding prairie dogs or other rodents.
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Investigation Launched After Man Dies While Being Taken into Custody by NYPD

Investigation Launched After Man Dies While Being Taken into Custody by NYPD

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Richmond County District Attorney and New York Police Department Internal Affairs are investigating after a man was killed while being taken into custody by NYPD officers on Thursday.Police attempted to take Eric Garner, 43, into custody on Thursday on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes, the New York Daily News reports. The arrest was reportedly caught on tape, and one of the officers may have used a chokehold on Garner, a method of apprehension that is barred by the NYPD.New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a Friday statement, expressed his “deepest condolences” to Garner’s family, citing the responsibility of the mayor and the NYPD to “keep every New Yorker safe, and that includes when individuals are in custody of the NYPD.”
Mayor de Blasio also announced he would delay travel plans to Saturday to allow him to attend to “city business,” which an official tells ABC News involves the incident.
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Obama: At Least One American Killed on Malaysia Airlines Flight

Obama: At Least One American Killed on Malaysia Airlines Flight

The White House(WASHINGTON) — At least one American was among the 298 people killed on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, President Obama announced on Friday.”We know at least one American citizen, Quinn Lucas Schansman, was killed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family for this terrible loss,” Obama said.According to the U.S. State Department, Schansman is a male U.S.-Dutch citizen.Obama called for an immediate cease-fire in the region Friday among Ukraine, Russia and Russian-backed separatists in order to conduct an investigation into the crash site.“This was a global tragedy,” the president added. “There has to be a credible international investigation into what happened.”

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Federal Appeals Court Rejects Oklahoma Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Federal Appeals Court Rejects Oklahoma Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(DENVER) — The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled on Friday that Oklahoma must allow same-sex couples the right to marry.The decision follows one made by the same court last month involving same-sex marriage in Utah.
Mary Bishop, Sharon Baldwin, Susan Barton and Gayle Phillips filed the suit against the Oklahoma governor and attorney general in 2004. Bishop and Baldwin exchanged vows in a church-recognized “commitment ceremony” in 2000, court papers say. They sought a marriage license from the Tulsa County Court Clerk in 2009 but were denied because of the state ban on same-sex marriage. Barton and Phillips took part in a civil union ceremony in 2001 and were married in Canada in 2005 and again in California in 2008. They too say that the state refused to recognize their marriage, causing “adverse federal tax consequences.”In 2006, the court rejected a motion to dismiss filed by the state’s governor and attorney general. Three years later, a court panel determined that the plaintiffs had no standing, as they had not named “a defendant having a causal connection to their alleged injury.” They later filed an amended complaint naming Sally Howe-Smith, former Court Clerk for Tulsa County, a defendant.A three-judge panel made Friday’s ruling, saying that none of the arguments made by the defendant persuaded them to alter their initial holding that “states may not, consistent with the United States Constitution, prohibit same-sex marriages.”Still, the court put its majority ruling on hold pending an appeal, preventing same-sex couples from getting married in Oklahoma immediately. Utah’s attorney general, after his state was subject to a similar ruling, said he plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Supreme Court Grants Stay in Utah Same-Sex Marriage Case

Supreme Court Grants Stay in Utah Same-Sex Marriage Case

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay to prevent same-sex marriages in the state of Utah pending a final decision on the matter by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes applied for the stay after a federal judge in the 10th circuit court struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. About 1,000 marriage licenses were granted during the time period between the ruling striking down the ban and the Supreme Court’s injunction. Those marriages will not be recognized by the state until the end of legal proceedings.The state of Utah also announced that it would appeal the circuit court’s ruling, leaving open the possibility that the case returns to the Supreme Court in its next term. If the Supreme Court accepts the case, it would require the court to make a ruling on the rights of states to prohibit same-sex marriage.
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Evacuations Ended, over 30 Homes Lost in Washington State Wildfires

Evacuations Ended, over 30 Homes Lost in Washington State Wildfires

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OKANOGAN, Wash.) — The Carlton Complex fires in Okanogan County, Washington are believed to be contained after having burned upwards of 30 homes or mobile homes.Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said that hundreds of people were evacuated from the small town of Pateros on Wednesday after winds blew the fire into the area.”We ended up evacuating the entire town, having everybody head south,” Rogers said. “Firefighters did what they could but we lost, I don’t know how many homes, several homes.” He said it seemed as though “it was just one after another catching fire.”A number of wildfires were sparked in the Pacific Northwest on July 14, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s InciWeb. Officials believe that the the fires were ignited by lightning or other natural causes. No injuries or deaths have been reported as a consequence of the fire.
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‘Stunning’ Fireball in the Sky Caught on Camera

‘Stunning’ Fireball in the Sky Caught on Camera

Dan Perjar(RALEIGH, N.C.) — A North Carolina man driving down a street Thursday night caught footage of a fireball in the sky that was apparently visible to people in at least six other states.Dan Perjar, a software developer at North Carolina State University, recorded the meteor on his dash cam while driving on I-440 from Cary, North Carolina, toward the Raleigh campus around 10:17 p.m. Thursday.”When it first appeared, it honestly looked like someone had shot some fireworks off in their backyard; it was that stunning,” the Raleigh resident told ABC News. “I quickly realized it was much larger and much further away when it exploded and lit up the clouds beneath it.””It streaked with a definite green and gold color as it broke up in its descent,” Perjar said. “It seemed to explode multiple times.”Perjar, who said he watched a documentary about the Chelyabinsk meteor just days before, knew the fireball was likely a meteor.More than 95 reports of the fireball came in between 10:12 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. ET from people across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, according to the American Meteor Society.Sightings were reported in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.“There was a very bright light at the beginning of the event: looked like lightning, but then I turned and saw the fireball descending and fragmenting,” Matthew K. of Chesapeake, Virginia, reported to the meteor society.Amanda K. of Baily, North Carolina wrote, “It was crazy, I had no idea what I had seen,” describing the meteor as a “white ball with slight blue outline with white glowing trail.”Matt S. of Clayton, Delaware, reported that seeing the fireball was “truly an amazing sight. [A] once in a lifetime experience I’ll never forget.”Perjar agreed that it was quite the experience: “It’s definitely the most interesting thing I’ve caught on my dash cam yet.”

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Sisters Lost at Sea for Eight Hours While Paddleboarding

Sisters Lost at Sea for Eight Hours While Paddleboarding

iStock/Thinkstock(HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.) — Two vacationing sisters who took off from Tybee Island, Georgia, Tuesday on their first-ever paddleboarding experience ended up in Hilton Head, South Carolina, after spending a harrowing eight hours lost at sea.Cayci and Summer Underwood had just taken off around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday when they say the wind picked up and the choppy waters knocked them off their paddleboards.“The current got really bad and then we thought, you know, this is picking up and there’s no way we’re going to make it back,” Summer, 21, told ABC News.As the Tennessee sisters held onto their boards, and kept in sight of each other, the conditions worsened.“Eventually, the choppiness turned into waves, very big waves,” Cayci, 27, said.The sisters became separated at one point with the current pushing them, “further and further apart,” Summer said.The pair managed to find each other and then stuck together for the rest of their eight-hour ordeal, comforting each other through the pain of sunburn and chafing against their paddleboards.“We just came to realize that there was really nothing we could do,” Cayci said.The sisters say they saw several shrimping boats as they floated in the sea but none saw them. They ultimately made the lifesaving decision to ditch their paddleboards and swim to shore, even though they had no idea where that shore would be.”We couldn’t see any sight of land or anything,” Summer said.The Underwoods swam their way to what turned out to be Hilton Head Island’s South Beach, a destination eight miles from their original launch point of Tybee Island.”There were people on the shore, but we ended up swimming all the way to them,” Cayci recalled.The sisters were helped by people on shore and taken to a local hospital for treatment. They were treated for shock and exhaustion and the chafing from the paddleboards.Now back home in Tennessee, the Underwoods said they do not plan to ever paddleboard again but will always retain the bond they forged in the sea.”Nobody can compete with the bond that we have now,” Cayci said, ”and we’ve literally fought for our lives together.”
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FedEx Indicted in Prescription Drug Delivery Investigation

FedEx Indicted in Prescription Drug Delivery Investigation

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — Delivery company FedEx faces charges for its role in distributing controlled substances and prescription drugs, officials announced Thursday. A federal grand jury in San Francisco, California indicted the company for its involvement with illegal Internet pharmacies. Such groups, beginning in 1998, don’t require a prescription before filling orders for drugs and instead provided products based on an online questionnaire. The practices violated federal and state laws on the distribution of controlled substances, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. As early as 2004, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and members of Congress reportedly informed FedEx that illegal pharmacies were using its shipping services, according to an indictment. The company subsequently established a policy requiring all online pharmacy shippers to be approved by the Credit Department, and also created a related sales policy. Officials allege, however, that FedEx knew it was “delivering drugs to dealers and addicts.” Couriers in Kentucky, Tennnessee, and Virginia expressed safety concerns to senior management, including claims that trucks were stopped on the road by online pharmacy customers demanding pills, or that delivery addresses were parking lots or vacant homes. In response, the company created a procedure where such packages were held for pickup at specific stations rather than dropped off. Still, the company knew of the dealings and continued its affiliations. “The advent of Internet pharmacies allowed the cheap and easy distribution of massive amounts of illegal prescription drugs to every corner of the United States, while allowing perpetrators to conceal their identities through the anonymity the Internet provides,” Haag said. “This indictment highlights the importance of holding corporations that knowingly enable illegal activity responsible for their role in aiding criminal behavior.”
In response to Thursday’s indictment, FedEx Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Patrick Fitzgerald said the privacy of its customers is at risk based on the charges. “FedEx is innocent of the charges brought today by the Department of Justice,” Fitzgerald said. “We will plead not guilty.  We will defend against this attack on the integrity and good name of FedEx and its employees.”Company representatives are scheduled to appear in court on July 29.
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Family Friend Shocked Teen with ‘Potential, Morals’ Turned Murderer

Family Friend Shocked Teen with ‘Potential, Morals’ Turned Murderer

iStock/Thinkstock(STAR CITY, W. Va.) — A close family friend of Rachel Shoaf, one of two teens now in prison for stabbing 16-year-old Skylar Neese to death, said that she is still reeling from the fact that a young girl she helped raise, whom she described as having a lot of promise, is a convicted murderer.“There was never any sign. Not a mean kid, not a bully, didn’t torture animals, and it’s been a long two years trying to come to grips,” Kelly Kerns told ABC News’ 20/20. “With all of the potential and morals, I don’t even get where this came from.“This is just so bizarre,” she continued. “I don’t care how you look at it. How you spin it. We’re normal people.”Kerns said she is an aunt-like figure for Shoaf, who she said she has loved like a daughter for the past 18 years. Since first holding her moments after she was born, Kerns said she has played an active role in Shoaf’s life.“I’m not kidding, she was the only baby I was ever going to have,” Kerns said.She described the now 18-year-old as an adventurous, happy child who was blossoming into a young woman full of promise and potential.“She loved life and there was no reason for her not to,” she said. “People around her loved her.”But that future came to a screeching halt in early 2013, when then-16-year-old Shoaf admitted her role in a horrific crime that shook the close-knit Morgantown, West Virginia, community to its core. For six agonizing months, residents were shocked over the mysterious disappearance of another sociable teen, Skylar Neese.Neese, Shoaf and a third girl, Sheila Eddy, were all students at University High in Morgantown. The trio was inseparable. Kerns fondly recalled the excitement surrounding Shoaf’s 15th birthday when she had the opportunity to meet her two new best friends, Neese and Eddy.“They were two, adorable little girls smiling up at me,” Kerns said.But Kerns said she began noticing some changes in Shoaf’s behavior, including sneaking out, smoking marijuana and skipping class. At the time, Kerns said she thought they were just typical teenage antics, and despite her worrisome behavior, Kerns said Shoaf kept her grades up, stayed involved in the school theater program and continued to take singing, piano and acting lessons.By the summer of 2012, however, Kerns said she and Shoaf spent less “quality time” together. But on the morning of July 6, 2012, she said the teen made a last-minute decision to spend the day on her boat with her and Shoaf’s mother, Patricia. The young redhead grew up spending her summers on Kerns’ boat, learning how to watertube and swim.While on the boat, Kerns said Patricia Shoaf mentioned that her daughter’s friend, Skylar Neese, had been missing, but Kerns said she didn’t note anything strange in Rachel Shoaf’s demeanor.“I mean she was texting all the time. But you see so much of that it didn’t really faze us,” she said.The next day, Shoaf left for a scheduled away trip to a church camp.Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and Neese still has not been found. As her disappearance continued to consume the Morgantown area, Shoaf returned from camp and school was back in session.As a substitute teacher, Kerns said she started hearing countless rumors about what happened to Neese, who was caught on surveillance video climbing out of her bedroom window after midnight July 6, 2012, never to be seen again.The most alarming rumor, by far, Kerns said, was that Shoaf and Eddy were with Neese the night of her disappearance. Even more unnerving for Kerns was the realization that she had spent the day with Shoaf on her boat hours after Neese vanished.“The story starts unraveling, and we find out they were together,” she said. “It just keeps evolving from searches of the house, of the schools. The girls ended up having to be homeschooled because of all the talk. And the FBI, you know, searched their lockers and took computers. …We knew the girls knew something.”But nothing could prepare Kerns for what came next. Shortly after Christmas 2012, Shoaf suffered an apparent nervous breakdown and was briefly hospitalized. After her release, Shoaf confessed to police that she and Eddy were responsible for Neese’s disappearance, had brutally stabbed her to death and left her body in the woods in Pennsylvania.She also led authorities to the murder scene, located across state lines in Brave, Pennsylvania and recounted how she and Eddy meticulously planned to kill their best friend.Both were charged as adults. Shoaf pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years on Feb. 26, 2014, with the possibility of parole in 10 years. Eddy pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for her role in Neese’s death and was sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 24, 2014, with the possibility of parole in 15 years.Although Kerns said her relationship with Shoaf and her mother has been strained since the sentencing, she hopes to remain a part of their lives.“I still love this child,” Kerns said. “You can’t stop loving a child,” Kerns said.She said she has twice visited Shoaf since her incarceration but the two have never spoken of the murder. Shoaf lives lodged in a juvenile facility but will be transferred to an adult facility near the end of the month.“I’m absolutely freaking out about her going to an adult prison,” Kerns said. “I’m scared to death for her, but I understand Skylar was scared, too.”
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