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DOT Endorses Technology that Allows Cars to Talk to Each Other

DOT Endorses Technology that Allows Cars to Talk to Each Other

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Transportation says cars that talk to each other could prevent more than half a million car crashes a year.It’s called vehicle to vehicle communication technology — or V2V — and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says it could move the focus from helping people survive crashes to helping them avoid crashes altogether.A new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposes a new rule, issued in 2016, that would require new cars to come equipped with two types of V2V.The report says those advance warning systems could prevent up to 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives every year. 
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Exclusive: Michael Brown’s Mother Sees ‘Justice’ Restoring Peace in Ferguson

Exclusive: Michael Brown’s Mother Sees ‘Justice’ Restoring Peace in Ferguson

ABC News(FERGUSON, Missouri) — The mother of Michael Brown says the officer who shot and killed her son needs to be held responsible in order for peace to return in Ferguson, Missouri.“Arresting this man and making him accountable for his actions; that’s justice,” Lesley McSpadden said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.The St. Louis suburb has been wracked by clashes and violence since Brown’s Aug. 9 death. Brown, 18, was unarmed when he was shot by a Ferguson police officer, identified by the department as Darren Wilson.McSpadden said she spoke Sunday with Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson.“He had a heartfelt message for me, and it was that that could have been his son, and he was sorry, and he’s, like everybody else, supporting and hoping and praying that this doesn’t happen again,” McSpadden said, holding back tears.A private autopsy performed Sunday at the request of Brown’s family showed that the teen was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, said Shawn Parcells, the medical investigator who performed the autopsy with Dr. Michael Baden.It’s unclear whether Brown’s arms were raised when he was shot, but he was not shot in the back, despite witnesses’ claims, Parcells told ABC News.Family attorney Benjamin Crump said the autopsy results are troubling.“It confirms our worst fears that the witnesses were telling the truth, that her son was shot multiple times,” Crump said. “The most troubling was the head shot, you know, it’s just not justified in any way, fashion or form to execute this child like this in broad daylight.”Crump said the family wanted an independent autopsy in order to find out the truth about Brown’s death. The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office previously conducted an autopsy, concluding that Brown died of gunshot wounds but releasing no details.Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a federal medical examiner to perform a separate autopsy because of the circumstances surrounding the shooting.The shooting death of Brown has sparked riots and protests in the St. Louis suburb, a situation that intensified after Ferguson police released video Friday they say shows Brown robbing a convenience store before the fatal shooting.McSpadden said she was surprised by the video’s release, and that it doesn’t help to explain the shooting that followed.“I feel like it has nothing to do with what he did to my child. Nothing,” McSpadden said.
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Texas Man on Trial for Allegedly Slaying Driver Who Killed His Sons

Texas Man on Trial for Allegedly Slaying Driver Who Killed His Sons

Brazoria County Sheriff’s Department(ALVIN, Texas) — The murder trial begins Monday for a Texas father charged with gunning down a suspected drunken driver who struck and killed his two sons.David Barajas, 32, is accused of taking the law into his own hands, executing the driver who authorities say killed his sons, ages 12 and 11, in a December 2012 crash.The accident happened near Alvin, about 30 miles southeast of Houston. Barajas’ truck had run out of gas, and he and the boys were pushing the truck down a rural road when Jose Banda, who investigators say was intoxicated, slammed into their truck and killed David Jr. and Caleb.Prosecutors say the enraged father ran home, grabbed a gun and shot the 20-year-old in the head.Cindy Barajas, mourning the loss of her two sons, is worried that she could lose her husband, too. “Half of my life is gone. There’s no bringing that back,” she said, speaking exclusively to ABC News.Cindy Barajas said her husband is innocent.“The fact that they’re sitting there trying to say that he did something he didn’t do … He was sitting there trying to revive my sons,” she said.David Barajas has pleaded not guilty and says he didn’t shoot anybody. The case features many complexities. Police never found the gun. The defense says there were no witnesses to the shooting.Barajas has lots of support in the community: There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to freeing him.“While there appears to be evidence beyond all doubt of motive, what’s lacking is credible evidence to prove that he’s the one who pulled the trigger,” Mark Eiglarsh, a Miami-based criminal defense attorney and legal analyst with no connection to the case, said.Banda’s family also set up a Facebook page, demanding his killer go to prison. Banda’s fate should have been handled by the legal system, they argue.“Whoever did it is getting away with murdering my nephew. He deserves justice,” said Janie Tellez, Banda’s aunt.If convicted of murder, Barajas faces up to life in prison. Cindy Barajas remains adamant in her husband’s innocence.“Trying to take my husband away from me after my kids are gone, accusing him of something he didn’t do…I just don’t think it’s right,” she said.
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National Guard Called In to Ferguson, Missouri; Brown Autopsy Released

National Guard Called In to Ferguson, Missouri; Brown Autopsy Released

Scott Olson/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — A curfew imposed on the city of Ferguson by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon did little to quell disturbances Saturday night as one man was shot and seven people were arrested during protests over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Meanwhile, even before authorities imposed another curfew Sunday at midnight, multiple smoke canisters were fired at protesters in an attempt to disperse a crowd after Molotov cocktails were allegedly thrown by agitators.On Aug. 9, Brown and a companion were confronted by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who witnesses say allegedly shot Brown multiple times while he had his hands in the air.In an effort to calm the situation that has grown increasingly more volatile, Governor Nixon said early Monday he was directing the state National Guard to assist in restoring peace and order. Nixon blamed “the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state,” for jeopardizing the community. Meanwhile, all schools in Ferguson will be closed Monday.
[PHOTOS: Powerful Scenes from Ferguson, Missouri]
In other developments, ABC News has confirmed details in the preliminary private autopsy performed on Sunday by Dr. Michael M. Baden, who was hired by the family, according to The New York Times.According to his findings, Braden said that Brown was shot six times, including twice in the head. One of the bullets, which was the fatal shot, entered the top of the skull, suggesting Brown was bending down. He was also hit four times in the right arm.Furthermore, the Justice Department will perform its own autopsy on Brown’s body, which is in addition to one by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner and Baden.Following nights of clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement, Nixon had the Missouri Highway Patrol take over security from local cops while imposing the curfew beginning Saturday from midnight until 5 a.m.Although the streets were mostly empty Saturday, one person was left in critical condition by an unknown shooter, and when police responded, their car was also shot at. The victim remains in critical condition.Meanwhile, some groups refused to disperse, prompting authorities to fire smoke and gas canisters. Seven people who refused to leave the streets were then taken into custody.Afterwards, Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson, who is in charge of the security, admitted feeling “disappointed in the actions of tonight.” However, he said that no looting occurred, largely because officers were guarding stores that were ransacked earlier in the week.Brown’s death is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney and the FBI to determine if federal civil rights laws were broken. The teen was African-American, while Officer Wilson is white.
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On Sunday afternoon, Brown’s parents hosted a rally at the Greater Grace Church in an attempt to bring the community together.Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton also spoke, saying, “Anybody that is going to be taken seriously in this country needs to address the police and Michael Brown.”
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Michael Brown’s Family Hosts Rally to Remember Teen Shot by Cop

Michael Brown’s Family Hosts Rally to Remember Teen Shot by Cop

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Thousands gathered Sunday afternoon at the Greater Grace Church for a rally hosted by the parents of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old whose shooting by police sparked a week of unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.
The rally was an attempt to bring the community together after the shooting of Brown last weekend, according to fliers distributed to Ferguson residents.
Bishop Larry Jones helped lead the service, during which he spoke about unity.
“When we get to the place where we respect everybody, regardless of race, creed or color, respect everyone,” Jones said.
Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton also spoke, saying “Anybody that is going to be taken seriously in this country needs to address the police and Michael Brown.”
Sharpton also criticized local police for using military equipment.”If you’ve got enough money to bring all that equipment in here, you’ve got money for jobs for these young people,” he said.
Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who is now overseeing security, said, “And I’m going to tell you I’m going to be here as long as it takes. My words will be honest. If we talk about it behind closed doors, I’m going to tell you.”
Martin Luther King III offered his condolences to Brown’s family, saying, “The world is praying for you. Not just us here but the whole world has prayed and is praying for you.”
The rally was also hosted by Sharpton’s National Action Network and The National Bar Association.
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At Least Two Killed in Arkansas Freight Train Collision

At Least Two Killed in Arkansas Freight Train Collision

iStock/Thinkstock(HOXIE, Ark.) — Two freight train crew members were killed in a fiery collision between two trains in the northeast Arkansas town of Hoxie early Sunday morning.
According to Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokesman Kendell Snyder, two others were injured and have been transported to local hospitals.
While officials had been concerned the trains were carrying toxic chemicals, the Department of Emergency Management confirms there was no hazardous or toxic release.
The fire has mostly been extinguished. About 500 people in the area were initially evacuated, but the evacuation order has since been lifted.
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Justice Department To Perform Own Autopsy on Michael Brown

Justice Department To Perform Own Autopsy on Michael Brown

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The Justice Department will perform its own autopsy on the body of Michael Brown as part of its independent investigation into the Missouri teenager’s shooting death, officials announced Sunday.
“Due to the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family, Attorney General Holder has instructed Justice Department officials to arrange for an additional autopsy to be performed by a federal medical examiner,” the Justice Department said in a statement Sunday.The autopsy will take place “as soon as possible.”In addition to the Justice Department’s autopsy, the St. Louis County Medical Examiner and forensic pathologist Michael Baden, who was hired by the Brown family, are conducting their own autopsies.According to preliminary results from the county’s autopsy, Brown died from gunshot wounds. Justice Department officials will also consider that autopsy in their investigation.Brown was killed last Saturday when he was shot by a Ferguson police officer, identified by the department as Darren Wilson. The shooting has sparked protests and racial tensions in the city, and the state has since imposed a curfew that began this weekend.
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Alabama Family Catches Record-Breaking Alligator

Alabama Family Catches Record-Breaking Alligator

iStock/Thinkstock(THOMASTON, Ala.) — A 1,000-pound gator is breaking records in Alabama.Five members of the Stokes family caught this monster alligator Saturday in Thomaston, Alabama.It took them 10 hours to wrangle the mammoth beast.Biologists at Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries easily measured the alligator at 15 feet, but weighing it was a big more tricky.
The alligator was so large it destroyed the winch used to lift average-sized alligators.Eventually, a biologist had to use a backhoe to lift the alligator onto the scale.It weighed in at 1,011.5 pounds, making the gator the largest ever killed in Alabama.
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Man Accused of Impersonating TSA Agent Won’t Face Criminal Charges

Man Accused of Impersonating TSA Agent Won’t Face Criminal Charges

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — No criminal charges will be filed against Eric Slighton, a man who allegedly posed as a security agent at San Francisco International Airport last month and privately viewed a couple of women.
California’s San Mateo County District Attorney says while it is illegal to impersonate a police officer, it’s not illegal to impersonate a TSA agent.
The DA says his office has been unable to track down the two women and have not found surveillance footage.
People convicted of impersonating federal, state, or local law enforcers can face up to five years in prison.
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Washington Police Find Bloody Scene That Could Be Sign of Homicide

Washington Police Find Bloody Scene That Could Be Sign of Homicide

iStock/Thinkstock(AUBURN, Wash.) — Washington police are investigating whether bloody clothes and pieces of flooring found burning along a roadside in Auburn are evidence of a homicide.The Washington State Patrol lab confirmed that the blood found on the debris was human, according to police there.”We can assume it’s a probably homicide. We are reasonably certain that it’s going to be homicide or a very serious assault,” Auburn Police Department Commander Mike Hirman told ABC News.According to Hirman, the debris included clothing and parts of flooring including carpet, hardwood and linoleum all covered in blood. Hirman said police are waiting on tests to see if the blood is related to a male or female victim.The debris was found Wednesday afternoon by a Federal Protective Service officer, who was driving through a well-trafficked road in Auburn, when he saw a small smoldering fire about 20 feet from the roadway.The officer drove to the fire and pulled out his extinguisher to put out the fire. Before he could use the extinguisher, he spotted another man near the fire who immediately got into a nearby dark SUV and drove off.Although the officer chased the SUV, he was unable to catch up or stop the vehicle. After firefighters were called to put out the fire, they found the items covered in blood.Now police are asking the public for help in finding the suspect or even the victim. Hirman said if anyone in the area thinks someone is missing or if they are suspicious about any activity they can call the Auburn police investigation line at 253-288-7403 or 253-931-3080.
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Missouri Gov. Declares Curfew, State of Emergency in Ferguson

Missouri Gov. Declares Curfew, State of Emergency in Ferguson

governor.mo.gov(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Saturday that he was declaring a state of emergency and a curfew in Ferguson, where peaceful demonstrations about the police shooting of an unarmed man have been marred by nights of looting.
The governor said the curfew will run from midnight to 5 a.m.”This is a test, the eyes of the world are watching,” Nixon said. “This is a test to see if this community can break the cycle of violence and replace it with peace.”
The announcement comes after looters broke into a number of stores overnight, and threw rocks and other objects at police.On Friday, police had released the name of the officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, and also alleged that Brown robbed a store before he died.
The governor and Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson, who was put in charge of policing the St. Louis suburb this week, said they were trying to find a balance between allowing the peaceful demonstrations to continue, but to stop the looting and other disturbances that have occurred many nights since the shooting a week ago.Both men were interrupted repeatedly by members of the emotional audience, but they seemed determined to let people voice their frustration with how police have handled the investigation into Brown’s death.
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‘Coercion Tactics’ Used to Lure Amish Girls, Police Say

‘Coercion Tactics’ Used to Lure Amish Girls, Police Say

iStock/Thinkstock(OSWEGATCHIE, N.Y.) — Investigators are looking for more information about the two people who have been arrested for allegedly kidnapping two Amish girls in Northern New York. Stephen Howells, 39, and his girlfriend Nicole Vaise, 25, allegedly kidnapped the girls from their family farm on Wednesday while they were selling vegetables. The girls were apparently released 30 miles away from their home.
On Saturday, Saint Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said investigators are looking for “anything and everything about the backgrounds of the two individuals, where they’ve been over the years, what else have they done, who else have they been involved in there lives with, and we’ll go from there.”
Investigators believe “coercion tactics” were used to lure the children into the car and the sheriff said the motive of the kidnapping “was to victimize children.”
Wells also said the girls played a big role in bringing the two suspects to justice.
“We need to give credit to the girls here. Things that they saw. Things they remember, were very influential in getting us to this point so quickly,” Wells said.
The alleged kidnappers are being held without bond. They have not yet entered any plea. If convicted, they could face 25 years to life.
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More Human Remains Recovered in Rhode Island Funeral Home

More Human Remains Recovered in Rhode Island Funeral Home

iStock/Thinkstock(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) — More than 50 human remains were found during an investigation into a now shuttered funeral home.
Officials first discovered six decomposed bodies inside the Pennine Funeral home in Providence, Rhode Island in July, the same month the funeral home owner Alfred Pennine committed suicide.
This week three other bodies, including an infant, were found in a storage unit owned by Pennine.
And now it’s been revealed Pennine also kept 45 cremated remains, some of which date back to 2001.
Officials are working to identify the bodies and notify next of kin.
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Businesses Targeted by Looters in Ferguson, Missouri

Businesses Targeted by Looters in Ferguson, Missouri

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Several businesses were targeted by looters Friday night and early Saturday morning in Ferguson, Missouri. 
Mike Jacobs, the owner of Sam’s Meat Market, was awakened by a phone call from a customer saying that the store had been broken into and set on fire.
The fire damage was minimal, but the cash register was broken and merchandise was stolen. 
Tanya Littleton manages a beauty supply store that was also struck by looters.Another targeted business was the liquor store that 18-year-old Michael Brown is thought to have robbed, just before he was shot and killed last Saturday.
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Four Notre Dame Football Players Accused of Academic Violations

Four Notre Dame Football Players Accused of Academic Violations

iStock/Thinkstock(SOUTH BEND, Ind.) — The Notre Dame football program is trying to recover a fumble by their own players.The Fighting Irish has suspended four players suspected of committing serious academic violations. According to ABC’s Ron Claiborne, suspensions would not just effect the four players but the entire football program, which just two years ago went undefeated in the regular season and to the national championship game.Notre Dame now says it will voluntarily forfeit all of the games it won with the four players on the field if ultimately they are found to have cheated.
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Michael Brown’s Family Calls Police Report an Attempt to ‘Assassinate the Character of Their Son’

Michael Brown’s Family Calls Police Report an Attempt to ‘Assassinate the Character of Their Son’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The family of Michael Brown, the teenager shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson on Saturday, released a statement in response to a police report made public on Friday, alleging that the report was “intended to assassinate the character of their son.”In the statement, released through the family’s attorneys, the family says it is “beyond outraged” at the manner in which the report was released.
“There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender,” the statement reads.Criticizing the delay in releasing the name of the officer and information pertaining to a robbery in which Brown was allegedly a suspect, the family notes the “distrust for the local law enforcement agencies” that the community feels. “It is no way transparent to release the still photographs alleged to be Michael Brown and refuse to release the photographs of the officer that executed him,” the statement says.The family also pointedly stated that the police “attempting to blame the victim” won’t “divert [their] attention,” calling the incident the “brutal execution of an unarmed teenager.”
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Arrests Made in Kidnapping of New York Amish Girls

Arrests Made in Kidnapping of New York Amish Girls

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HERMON, N.Y.) — Police have arrested two people in connection with the kidnapping of a pair of Amish girls from their family’s roadside vegetable stand in northern New York.Stephen Howells II, 29, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, each face two counts of first-degree kidnapping. That charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years to life.The girls showed up on the doorstep of Jeff and Pam Stinson barefoot, cold, wet and hungry Thursday night, the couple told ABC News on Friday.The Stinsons opened their door to the two girls, ages 6 and 12, who asked the couple to drive them back home. The Stinsons said they recognized the girls because they had bought produce from them before and were aware of news reports about their abduction.According to police, the sisters were abducted Wednesday night in Oswegatchie, New York, a rural town located near the Canadian border, when they went out to sell vegetables to a car at the stand. They were then dropped off later near the Stinson’s house, authorities said.Authorities held a news conference Friday about the abduction but refused to give details about the incident other than to say that they are still investigating and the girls appeared to be healthy.When the girls arrived on their doorstep, the Stinsons fed them watermelon and grape juice and the girls were so hungry they couldn’t stop eating the watermelon.”They ate that watermelon in 30 seconds. It was fast,” said Jeff Stinson.Jeff Stinson knew exactly where the two girls lived because he had bought corn from the elder girl before at their vegetable stand.At one point on the return home, the girls ducked in the back seat because they saw the kidnapper’s red car pulled over by the side of the road, the Stinsons said. An Amber Alert had been issued Wednesday night after a witness reported seeing a vehicle pull up to the stand, the girls go out to wait on them, and then the driver of the car put something in the backseat. When the car drove away, the witness told police the children were gone.
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Florida College Student Found Guilty in ‘Love Triangle’ Murder

Florida College Student Found Guilty in ‘Love Triangle’ Murder

ABC News(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — A Florida jury found a college student guilty of killing his friend out of what prosecutors said was jealousy over an ex-girlfriend.Jurors found Pedro Bravo guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Christian Aguilar. They deliberated for just shy of four hours.Bravo, 20, was accused of killing Aguilar, 18, after taking him for a drive one night in September 2012 to discuss Aguilar’s relationship with Bravo’s ex-girlfriend, Erika Friman. Bravo and Aguilar had been friends, but Bravo was “crushed” to learn that Aguilar and Friman were dating.Prosecutors alleged Bravo poisoned and beat Aguilar, then hid his body. Surveillance footage showed Bravo buying a shovel, duct tape, bandages and over-the-counter sleep aids the night before Aguilar went missing.Bravo claimed that he and Aguilar only got in a physical fight that night.Friman testified that she arranged for Bravo and Aguilar to meet after Bravo threatened suicide, and that she hid her relationship with Aguilar from Bravo.“I lied to him because he was at a very sensitive point in his life, I supposed,” she said in court. “I didn’t want to throw him over the edge and say, ‘By the way, I’m dating a mutual friend of ours.’”In police interrogation tapes played in court, Bravo admitted to police that he met Aguilar on the night of his death.“He got out of the car and I fought him and after that, I remember going in the car and I remember seeing him in my rearview mirror while I was driving away,” Bravo said during the interrogation.Prosecutors agree that Bravo drove away, but they allege that he did so with Aguilar’s body in the back of his SUV, later stashing it in a remote field.Aguilar’s body was found 22 days later in a forest.Prosecutors also revealed a photograph in court of the belt they said Bravo used to kill Aguilar. Authorities also focused on a sketch pad they said Bravo filled with hate-filled messages.“No one will stop me,” he wrote in one passage, prosecutors allege. “I will get out of Miami and into Gainesville by January 2013 and I will get her back.”
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Lost in the Wilderness: One Man’s Five-Day Fight for Survival

Lost in the Wilderness: One Man’s Five-Day Fight for Survival

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — For one California man, what began as a day fishing trip quickly turned into a five-day fight for survival.Mike Vilhauer, 58, went fishing Aug. 6 at Lower Sunset Lake in Alpine County when he noticed he wasn’t catching any fish. Deciding he needed more bait, Vilhauer, butterfly net in hand, left on what he thought would be a short trip to find some grasshoppers.“I was just zigzagging up and down the mountain,” Vilhauer told ABC News. “I didn’t see anyone for quite a while.”After a few hours, Vilhauer said it began to get late, and he decided he should probably head back to the fishing site. “That’s when the fun began,” he said.Vilhauer began to make his way towards what he thought was the fishing site. But with darkness upon him at about 8 p.m., he decided to make shelter under a pine tree, covering himself with pine needles and willow branches in an attempt to stay warm. Vilhauer attempted to call 911, but a weak signal thwarted his efforts.Vilhauer continued his search for the help on Thursday. Weak from his lack of food and water, he adapted what he called his “survivor man routine,” drinking water out of puddles, regardless of what else was in the puddle.“I thought ‘I’m going to keep walking, I’m going to get back to my wife,’” said Vilhauer, who lives in West Sacramento.After trying to find a way back the whole day, Vilhauer came across a stream and began to follow it before the sun began to set. Setting up a camp of tree bark and needles, he slept for another night in the open wilderness.He was crushed to find on Friday morning that the stream came to a dead end. “At this point I’m thinking ‘Man, this is looking bad,’” Vilhauer said.Vilhauer continued to wander in circles on Friday, unsure of where he was or where to go next. Exhausted and hungry, he set up camp under a large rock.“I hadn’t slept at all,” said Villhauer, “It was cold and I just tried to keep moving around. It rained every night.”Saturday morning brought no relief.“I hadn’t eaten since Wednesday morning,” said Villhauer, “I was so weak, I could only do so much before getting too exhausted and having to lie down.”Grounding himself underneath the rock, Villhauer tried to build up his strength. He decided he would try to climb up the side of the ridge, only to find out that every time he thought he had reached the top, there ended up just being another peak ahead.Suddenly, Villhauer could hear helicopters in the distance. One flew overhead, but kept going, leaving Villhauer “disheartened.”“It was a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Villhauer, “I thought, ‘You know what? I’m done. This is it.’”“I was thinking about my family and my wife and all of the stupid things I’d done to get myself into that position,” said Villhauer.“And then, after 10 to 15 minutes I decided ‘No. Hell no. I’m not going to give up, I’m going to get down to that stream and I’m going to sit there and wait until somebody finds me,’” he added.Villhauer made his way back down the stream, drinking out of puddles along the way, and made his way back to the rock.He picked up a piece of driftwood and began writing his last words to his wife.“I put all of these thoughts down, I had to continue on another piece of drift wood,” Villhauer said.He then used cypress needles to spell out “HELP”, saying “I figured if I don’t make it, at least I gave it my best shot.”Sunday morning, Villhauer had just had his first meal in five days – a dandelion – when he heard the helicopters again.“I got excited, I started waving around my blue shirt on a stick,” said Villhauer as the helicopter kept repeatedly flying over and then leaving.“It was a big rush, and then the letdown. A big rush, and the letdown,” described Villhauer, who assumed that the choppers were operating on a grid system, so once they deemed the area clear they would not be returning.“I figured, if they hadn’t seen me yet, I was in here for the long haul.”The choppers returned and began circling Villhauer, when he suddenly heard a bark from behind him. It was a search dog leading one of the rescue teams that had been looking for Villhauer since Friday.After five days in the wilderness, he had been saved.Villhauer was given a tiny meal, then transported in a chopper to a base where he met some of rescue teams.“I was shocked at how many people were yelling and screaming and crying and hugging,” Villhauer said, who soon came to realize that his disappearance had culminated in the largest rescue search of the year.Villhauer was reunited with his wife and family on Sunday night, staying in a hotel for the night and heading back home on Monday morning, when he was able to see a doctor. He suffered no serious injuries during his ordeal, just a few scrapes and bruises, though he did lose his wedding band somewhere along the way.Villhauer is happy to be back at home, and has nothing but gratitude for those the search teams, many volunteers, who helped him to get home.“I appreciate all of those efforts,” said Villhauer, “I couldn’t say enough about those folks.”Despite getting lost for five days, Villhauer is more than ready to plan another fishing trip, though he’ll likely bring a friend next time.“I plan to go back,” Villhauer said, “I’m going to go up there and buy a whole lot of rounds of beer.”
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Fed Warning over Drones Flying Near Wildfires

Fed Warning over Drones Flying Near Wildfires

iStock/Thinkstock(BOISE, Idaho) — Federal wildfire authorities issued a new warning Friday against the use of remote-controlled drones they say could interfere with firefighting aircraft and put firefighter lives at risk.This year, there have been at least three instances of an unmanned drone flying in restricted airspace near a wildfire, the National Interagency Fire Center said Friday.In July, a private drone was banned from flying over the Sand Fire in Northern California after authorities said it put fire crews in danger.“Unauthorized UAS [Unmanned Aircraft System] flights could cause serious injury or death to firefighters on the ground. They could also have midair collisions with airtankers, helicopters, and other aircraft engaged in wildfire suppression missions,” said NIFC, a federal firefighting organization made up of eight agencies including the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.Unauthorized drone flights, the agency says, “could lead fire managers to suspend aerial wildfire suppression efforts.”
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