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How you can stay safe during sudden, severe turbulence

Daniel Garrido/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Eight people were recently taken to the hospital after a JetBlue Airlines plane encountered "sudden severe turbulence" early Monday as it neared Florida, the airline confirmed to ABC News.

Last month, 14 people were injured after a Delta Air Lines plane experienced sudden turbulence on approach to Atlanta, Georgia. In August, two flight attendants were injured after a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Punta Cana experienced turbulence.

Turbulence happens when planes encounter unstable air created by atmospheric pressure, jet streams, and even thunderstorms. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it can also occur unexpectedly when skies appear to be clear.

Pilots can't see turbulence on radars within the cockpit, but they can however see weather systems that may cause turbulence.

"You can see indications of a rapidly changing weather, which should as a pilot put you on on the track for telling everyone to sit down and suspend in-flight services," John Nance, former commercial pilot and ABC News Contributor, said in an interview with ABC News.

Nance said pilots will also report experiencing bumps to air traffic control, which will then relay that information to other pilots.

The FAA said it has received 17 reports of severe injuries related to turbulence last year – up from the 13 reports it received in 2019.

Experts say the best thing passengers can do to stay safe is keep their seatbelt on at all times during flight.

"The airplane can handle it, but the bodies inside, when they're not strapped to the airplane, can't. It's that simple," Captain Dennis Tajer, a 30-year veteran of American Airlines and spokesman for the union representing 15,000 pilots at American, told ABC News.

ABC News' Dan Manzo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


How El Nino will affect the US this winter

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Fall may have just begun, but meteorologists are already looking at the upcoming winter season's forecast with the help of El Nino.

El Nino is a warmer than normal surface ocean temperature in the eastern equatorial Pacific, which impacts weather around the world, including the United States.

The warm ocean helps change the Pacific jet stream's position, allowing warmer-than-normal air to move into parts of North America.

Usually, the United States begins to see significant impacts of El Nino in the late fall and early winter and these impacts last into early spring.

What is an El Nino winter?

On average, during an El Nino winter, the northern U.S. sees warmer than average temperatures, as the polar jet stream stays north and keeps the cold air in Canada.

Meanwhile, the South is wetter than normal due to the active subtropical jet that is fueled by warm, moist air from the Pacific Ocean.

Additionally, the Ohio Valley and mid-Mississippi River Valley are forecast to stay drier than normal, which could worsen drought in the area.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updated its winter outlook for the U.S. and it looks very similar to a traditional El Nino winter.

El Nino's 2023 winter forecast for US

Temperatures are forecast to be warmer than normal for all of the northern U.S., from northern California, Oregon and Washington to Pennsylvania, New York and into New England.

NOAA says that temperatures will stay closer to the 30-year average for the South.

For the precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, etc.), the northern states could see below-normal snowfall, especially in the northern Rockies and the Great Lakes.

Across most of the South, wetter than normal conditions are expected, especially in the Southeast from Louisiana to Florida and into the Carolinas.

For the Northeast, there is a chance that this will be a wetter than normal winter from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia, to New York City and into southern New England.

With warmer-than-normal temperatures forecast for the Northeast, major I-95 corridor cities will see more rain than snow.

With record-warm ocean waters this year around the globe, this could alter El Nino in a way we have not seen before.

One other thing to note, this is all a probability forecast. The atmosphere is very fluid and dynamic, and forecasts could change.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


3rd person arrested in Bronx fentanyl day care case, search continues for owner's husband

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(NEW YORK) -- A third person has been arrested in connection with the New York City day care drug operation that resulted in the death of a 1-year-old boy.

Renny Antonio Parra Paredes was taken into custody Saturday and charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute narcotics. He appeared to be a drug dealer doing business with the suspects at the Bronx day care, according to police sources. He appeared in federal court in Lower Manhattan on Monday and was ordered to be held without bail.

The three arrests in the case stem from the death of 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici, who died on Sept. 15 following exposure to fentanyl at his day care.

Three other children, ranging in age from 8 months to 2 years, were hospitalized and treated with Narcan, police said. An analysis of urine from one of the victims confirmed the presence of fentanyl, officials said.

Investigators found a kilo of fentanyl stored on kids' play mats at the day care, along with a device to press drugs into bricks for sale, according to court records. In a trap floor under the day care's play area, investigators found fentanyl, other narcotics and drug paraphernalia, police said.

The first two to be arrested were day care owner Grei Mendez and her tenant, Carlisto Acevedo Brito. They face federal charges of narcotics possession with intent to distribute resulting in death and conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death as well as state charges including murder.

Mendez’s attorney has said she was unaware drugs were being stored in her day care by Brito, her husband's cousin, to whom she was renting a room for $200 a week.

A search is ongoing for Mendez’s husband, who, according to court records, was seen on video fleeing the day care out of a back alley carrying two trash bags.

New images of Mendez's husband were released Monday allegedly showing him walk out of the day care with he bags.

Paredes isn't being charged yet by the Bronx District Attorney's Office, which has charged Mendez and Brito with several charges including murder, manslaughter and assault.

Federal investigators said a search of Brito's cell phone records found that he was in constant contact with Paredes allegedly about their drug operation, according to the criminal complaint.

Paredes was making daily trips to the vicinity of the day care in the weeks leading up to the children's poisoning, according to the complaint.

After he was arrested Saturday, Paredes allegedly lied about his visits to the day care and his whereabouts earlier in the day, the complaint said.

Later that day, investigators searched the apartment he was allegedly staying in with his aunt and found bags filled with drug making materials, the complaint said.

One of the items recovered was a stamp with the same identification that was used on the glassine envelopes found in the drug making material recovered from the day care, federal investigators said.

Attorney information for Parades was not immediately available.

Federal authorities last week promised to hold accountable anyone linked to the day care.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


First Black female NYPD police surgeon sworn in

Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Dr. Lynn O’Connor is now the first Black female police surgeon for the New York Police Department (NYPD) after being sworn in on Monday.

"This is incredibly [meaningful] to me," she told "GMA3" in an exclusive interview prior to her swearing in ceremony. "If you would have told me at 10 years of age that I'd be sitting here speaking with you, and soon to be sworn in as the first Black female police surgeon for the NYPD, I wouldn't believe it."

O’Connor also serves as the chief of colon and rectal surgery at Mercy Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital. In her new role at the NYPD, she will determine officers’ fitness for duty, treat injured members and provide them with consultations.

Speaking of her experience as a doctor working with police officers, O’Connor said officers spend so much time taking care of others that they don’t have as much time to care for themselves.

"With my background in this position, I am uniquely positioned to develop colorectal cancer awareness programs, screening programs and various other initiatives that are going to be key in keeping our officers safe, and keeping them healthy and keeping them fit for service," she said.

NYPD Chief of Personnel John Benoit said in a statement that "We’re very excited about this historical appointment of the first Black female police surgeon in the department’s 178-year history."

"Dr. O’Connor is an inspiration to all employees, and her expertise will prove to be valuable to our members – especially those who have been impacted by colorectal cancer," he continued.

O’Connor noted that there are not a lot of Black physicians in the country and underscored the need for them.

"Studies have shown when a patient is treated with a physician that is of the same race or ethnicity, they have markedly improved outcomes," O'Connor said. "They're diagnosed quicker, they're seen quicker, their overall health is improved. And that leads to saving lives, that leads to longevity, which is what I want to do when we get into the NYPD."

To all the young girls watching her, O’Connor said she wants them to know they're enough and they and their goals matter.

"You can be what you can't see," she said. "Perseverance pays off."

ABC News’ Jessica Yankelunas and Jessica Hornig contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


17-year-old gunman allegedly kills three teens, injures one over 'stupid' fight: Sheriff

Richland County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- The Columbia, South Carolina, community is reeling in the wake of a shooting that killed three teenagers and injured a fourth.

A 17-year-old allegedly shot four other teenagers -- ages 14 to 17 -- killing three of them, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a news conference Monday.

Sunday afternoon's shooting apparently stemmed from a previous dispute. Lott called it a fight "over something stupid" from a couple years ago.

The 17-year-old suspect has been arrested on charges including three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, the sheriff said.

The injured teenager has since been released from the hospital, Lott said.

At the news conference, the sheriff was among officials decrying the violence plaguing their community.

"Three kids are dead," Lott said. "If that doesn't shock you, then something's wrong. So we gotta do something. ... Now is time for action."

"Here we are once again," Richland County Councilwoman Gretchen Barron said.

"Young people got guns and they make poor choices. Now it's left up to us as a community," she said.

The sheriff did not say where the gun used in this shooting was obtained, but he said local teenagers are stealing guns from cars. He said 100 cars were broken into this weekend.

Additional security is on campus Monday at Columbia's Eau Claire High School, where the three slain teenagers and the suspect were students, according to the sheriff and the superintendent.

"The Richland One family is grieving the loss of three young lives to senseless gun violence," Superintendent Craig Witherspoon said in a statement. "This is an unimaginable tragedy, and we ask everyone to keep the students' families and the students and staff at Eau Claire High School in your thoughts and prayers."

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Children's books recalled due to potential choking hazard

Diyosa Carter/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Children's book publisher Make Believe Ideas has recalled approximately 260,000 children's books due to a potential choking hazard.

Seven titles from Make Believe Ideas' Rainbow Road Board Books series are impacted by the recall, according to a company press release. The recalled books include the titles "Animal Counting," "Dinosaur's First Words," "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," "Rainbow Road Book Box," "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," "Things that Go!," "Unicorn's Colors" and "Where's My Bottom?"

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a recall announcement Thursday that the plastic rings that bind the books can detach from the books and pose a choking hazard.

The books were sold both individually and in sets of four at school book fairs, online and at stores like Barnes & Noble, Sam's Club and Target between March 2022 and August 2023. Individual books retailed for $10 and $11 while the four-book set was sold for about $21.

Those in possession of the recalled books are being advised to stop using them immediately. Customers can contact Make Believe Ideas Ltd. at www.recallrtr.com/rr and register for a refund in the form of a gift card. Make Believe Ideas said it would provide instructions on how to dispose of the recalled books after customers register for a refund.

According to the CPSC, Make Believe Ideas has received reports of two incidents where the books' plastic rings came off in the U.S. and Australia, but no injuries have been reported.

ABC News has reached out to Make Believe Ideas for comment on the recall but has not yet received a response.

The company said on its recall website's frequently asked questions page that "this situation is rare."

"At MBI, your child's safety is our highest concern," the company wrote. "Our products are tested to exacting safety standards before being offered for sale."

 

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Puerto Ricans take recovery into their own hands 6 years after Hurricane Maria

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Six years after Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, flooding whole towns and leaving 80% of the island without power, some residents and businesses have taken matters into their own hands and are taking care of the island's locals.

Casa Pueblo, a 43-year-old nonprofit environmental group, is located in the town of Adjuntas and managed to keep its lights on after Hurricane Maria because it was run by solar power. The building, which had a solar power unit installed in 1999, became a community hub for people waiting weeks for the island’s grid operators to restore power.

Arturo Massol-Deyá, the organization's executive director, told ABC News that he and others in the village have been promoting solar to other parts of the island in an attempt to cut down on Puerto Rico's dependence on fossil fuel.

"That’s the new narrative, that’s the future that we are building in Adjuntas," he said.

Brenda Costa Torres, an Adjuntas resident who undergoes dialysis treatment and was aided by Casa Pueblo's power, told ABC News she agreed.

She said there needs to be a focus on efforts like solar power because everyone on the island benefits from it.

"And we help the planet which is important," she said.

Economic independence has been a struggle in Puerto Rico for over a century.

The 1920 Jones Act states that "goods carried between two U.S. ports by water must be carried in a U.S. flag vessel that is American built, owned, controlled and crewed," and because of this regulation, goods in Puerto Rico cost more due to the rising transportation costs.

To counter this roadblock, Puerto Rican farmers, stores and restaurants have been increasing their farm-to-table operations.

Efren Robles, the co-founder of the family farm Frutos del Guacabo, told ABC News he has been educating people on the island about the economic benefits of growing their own food.

"The main purpose of it is that people come and understand a little bit about what happens on a farm and how can they be a part of this local ecosystem," Robles said of his farm.

After the hurricane, Robles said he was devastated seeing farm soil and crops ruined.

About 80% of the island’s crop value was destroyed in the storm, which represented a $780 million loss in agricultural yields, according to officials.

"In that moment, we knew that we had something really big going on," Robles said.

Frutos del Guacabo is a hydroponic farm, which relies on water to transfer nutrients to plants rather than soil. It was one of the first farms to start producing crops after the storm, according to Robles.

"One hundred seventy-seven days after, I will never forget that day, we decided to start producing, [and] start delivering again, whatever we had," he said. "It was the best learning experience."

Robles shares what he’s learned with other producers on the island in hopes of creating a local independent food chain from Boricua farm to Boricua table.

ABC News' Armando Garcia and Victoria Moll-Ramirez contributed to this report.

 

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Six dead, one injured after train strikes SUV carrying family in Florida, sheriff says

WFTS

(HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.) -- Six people are dead after a freight train slammed into an SUV carrying seven at a crossing in Hillsborough County, Florida, on Saturday evening, law enforcement officials said.

The dead, which included three adults and three children, were members of a family and a friend of the family's children, officials said.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister described a horrific scene, comparing the SUV to a crushed can in the aftermath of the crash.

"This tragic loss is immense, and the members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and I are praying for peace and comfort for all those impacted," he said in a statement.

Jose G. Hernandez, 52, was driving a white Cadillac Escalade southbound toward a train crossing at about 7 p.m. on Saturday evening, officials said.

"For unknown and undetermined reasons, the driver slowly crossed the tracks directly in the train's path," the sheriff's office said in a statement on Sunday. "Five rear passengers were ejected from the Escalade as it rotated and rolled to final rest."

The SUV "flipped violently several times" and landed "a distance" from the initial impact at the crossing, Chronister said, citing a video of the collision.

The jaws of life were used to rescue Hernandez and a front passenger, who were both transported to Lakeland Regional Hospital, where they were both listed in critical condition, the sheriff's office said. Hernandez later died at the hospital, officials said.

The other five passengers were violently ejected from the SUV and were pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. Officials said the dead included the driver's wife, Enedelia Hernandez, 50.

Three of the couple's children and one of the children's friends were killed, law enforcement said. Their names were Anaelia Hernandez, 22; Alyssa Hernandez, 17; Julian Hernandez, 9; and Jakub A. Lopez, 17, officials said.

The name and age of the passenger who was transported to the hospital were not released publicly.

The crash scene was near the intersection of U.S. Route 92 and Jim Lefler Circle. Chronister said the victims were believed to have been en route to a quinceañera at a home just across the railroad crossing.

Members of the sheriff's Victim Specialist Unit had been asked to provide resources for those close to the Hernandez family, the sheriff's office said.

"Those impacted by this devastating loss were met with compassion and the highest level of professionalism while trying to navigate the unspeakable," Chronister said.

ABC News' Mariama Jalloh contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


FBI launches probe into Baton Rouge Police Department over abuse allegations

The warehouse in Baton Rouge, La., that some members of the Baton Rouge Police Department called the Brave Cave. -- U.S. District Court Middle District of Louisiana

(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- Federal authorities are investigating the Baton Rouge Police Department following allegations that some officers "abused their authority," the FBI announced.

The investigation comes as the police department faces several recent lawsuits over the treatment of detainees, including at a now-shuttered police warehouse that officers allegedly called the "brave cave," according to the complaints.

The New Orleans FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Louisiana have opened the probe, with investigators "reviewing the matter for potential federal violations," the FBI New Orleans said in a statement on Friday, while urging anyone with information on the case to contact them.

The announcement comes in the wake of multiple federal lawsuits filed against the Baton Rouge Police Department and the city of Baton Rouge in the past month.

In a statement to ABC News, the Baton Rouge Police Department said they are "committed to addressing these troubling accusations and have initiated administrative and criminal investigations. Chief Paul met with FBI officials and requested their assistance to ensure an independent review of these complaints. The Narcotics Processing Facility has been permanently closed and the Street Crimes Unit has been disbanded and reassigned."

"In light of the serious allegations, we reached out to the FBI to conduct an unbiased, external investigation. Additionally, we immediately shut down the facility known as the brave cave and disbanded the street crimes unit. BRPD is also conducting its own criminal and administrative investigations," Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, who ordered the facility be shut down upon learning of its existence, said to ABC News in a statement.

"We are committed to getting to the bottom of what happened at this facility. Most importantly, we are committed to justice. We have created an online portal at brpd.com where anyone with relevant information or similar experiences can submit a complaint," the statement added.

The most recent lawsuit, filed on Monday, alleges that officers "sexually humiliated" Ternell Brown, a Baton Rouge grandmother who was stopped on suspicion of criminal wrongdoing while carrying prescription pills, according to the lawsuit.

Officers allegedly refused to examine the prescriptions that Brown says proved she was entitled to carry the medication. Instead, Brown was humiliated during an examination at the so-called brave cave -- a warehouse used by the Baton Rouge Police Department's Street Crimes Unit -- on June 10 and then released without charge, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint from Brown is seeking unspecified damages for multiple alleged violations, including unreasonable search, battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.

Another federal lawsuit filed last month alleges unlawful conduct at the warehouse. The complaint, filed on behalf of Jeremy Lee, claims Lee suffered a fractured rib after officers beat him on Jan. 9. Lee was not charged with any criminal wrongdoing that led to his detainment, but resisting an officer, according to the complaint, which is seeking unspecified damages for alleged violations including excessive force, unreasonable search and retaliation.

A third federal lawsuit, filed last month, also alleges excessive force and retaliation violations stemming from an altercation with Baton Rouge officers outside a hospital on Oct. 8, 2022. The lawsuit claims that two of the plaintiffs were falsely arrested, with their charges later being dismissed.

Following the filing of Lee's lawsuit, Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome announced that the warehouse will be permanently closed and the police department's Street Crimes Unit disbanded.

"The severity of these allegations deeply concerns me, especially given the potential impact on the trust our community places in us -- a trust we've worked tirelessly to establish and maintain during my administration," Mayor Broome said in a statement.

The Baton Rouge Police Department is also investigating the allegations of abuse, Chief Murphy Paul said at a press briefing in late August.

ABC News did not immediately receive a response from the Baton Rouge Police Department to a message seeking comment on the FBI probe and lawsuits. The East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney's Office told ABC News they do not comment on pending litigation.

A Baton Rouge police officer who was named as a defendant in the three federal lawsuits -- Troy Lawrence Jr. -- resigned last month in the wake of Lee's lawsuit. On Wednesday, he was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge for an unrelated incident that occurred on Aug. 8, police said.

"Baton Rouge Police Detectives reviewed departmental body camera footage that showed a handcuffed subject, as he sat in the rear seat of the patrol car, being drive stunned by Lawrence with a taser before giving the subject an opportunity to comply to verbal commands," the department said in a statement.

ABC News was unable to reach Lee for comment. It is unclear if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Virginia shooting kills 14-year-old, injures four others: Police

Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

(CHESAPEAKE, Va.) -- A 14-year-old is dead and four others injured following a shooting in Chesapeake, Virginia, according to police.

All five victims were transported to local hospitals for their injuries following the shooting on Saturday afternoon, according to a press release from the Chesapeake Police Department.

The 14-year-old succumbed to his injuries on Sunday, police said.

The other victims were identified as two male juveniles and two adult males.

Emergency dispatches received a call shortly after 5 p.m. on Saturday detailing gunshots fired in a residential neighborhood, according to police.

There are currently no suspects and police are urging anyone with information to come forward and are calling this an active crime scene, offering $1,500 for any tip that leads to an arrest, according to the press release.

ABC News' Noah Minnie contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


What to know about NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission

Keegan Barber/NASA via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A seven-year-long NASA mission has come to an end with the first asteroid sample collected in space.

This capsule, the size of a microwave oven, landed safely on Sunday morning to a crowd of cheering spectators -- a bit earlier than planned but exactly in the manner it was supposed to land.

Before it landed, the capsule's cover was ejected at 102,000 feet above Earth's atmosphere, and rogue parachutes were deployed to stabilize it.

Operations for the capsule have begun. It will take several hours to recover and process it, officials said.

Back in September 2016, the federal space agency launched the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on a daring mission to snare a batch of rocks from the asteroid Bennu, located about 200 million miles away.

The spacecraft is now heading back into Earth's orbit now and will jettison its cargo over the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. If successfully performed, it will release a capsule containing nearly nine ounces of rock and soil believed to be 4.5 billion years old.

OSIRIS-REx will be visible above Salt Lake City at 6:41 a.m. ET and will release its capsule 63,000 miles above Earth about a minute later.

The spacecraft will then fly in tandem for 20 minutes before firing its thrusters to head off onto its next mission to the asteroid Adophis, reaching it in 2029.

NASA will air a live stream of the delivery beginning at 10 a.m. ET and the capsule will enter Earth's atmosphere around 10:42 a.m. ET. The canister cover will be ejected at 102,000 feet and the drogue parachutes will then be deployed to stabilize the capsule.

Finally, the capsule has a projected lading in the Utah dessert at 10:55 a.m. ET.

If OSIRIS-REx does not make this window, the next attempt would be in 2025 because that's when it will next orbit Earth.

Nicole Lunning, lead OSIRIS-REx sample curator -- who is responsible for taking care of the sample after landing -- said it could change what we know about the origins of the solar system.

"This sample is so important because it's really going to give us a new insight into understanding how our solar system formed and the building blocks of life that may have been contributed to the planets on Earth as well as if we have life elsewhere in our solar system," she told ABC News.

To be mindful about organic contaminants, the samples will be stored in a hyper clean room built just for the mission in Building 31 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where all the Apollo moon rocks were also processed.

Lunning said that just about any scientist from the broader community who requests a sample will be able to receive one as soon as possible.

"There are hundreds of scientists around the world who are super excited to be able to study these samples to answer new scientific questions that we haven't been able to answer with the samples that we have on Earth right now," she said.

This is not the first time NASA has attempted a sample return mission. In 2004, NASA's Genesis was returning to Earth after collecting solar wind particles when Its drogue parachute did not deploy, and it crashed in Utah. Most of the samples were damaged but some were successfully recovered.

Two years later, another sample return mission, Stardust, landed successfully after collecting samples from Comet Wild 2 and interstellar dust.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Black high school student suspended in Texas because of dreadlocks files lawsuit

George Family Photo

(TEXAS) -- The family of a Black Texas high school student who was suspended over his dreadlocks filed a federal lawsuit Saturday against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the state's Attorney General Ken Paxton for allegedly not enforcing the state’s CROWN Act, a law which protects from hair discrimination.

The family filed the complaint alleging that Darryl George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, has been subjected to "improper discipline and abrogation of both his Constitutional and state rights," as a result of the governor's and the AG's failure to provide equal protection and due process under the law for the plaintiffs; ensuring school districts and schools refrain from discrimination based on race and sex and from using the Crown Act of Texas to cause outright race and discrimination, according to a copy of the lawsuit ABC News obtained.

ABC News' requests for comments from Abbott and Paxton were not immediately answered.

Darryl George has been sitting on a small stool at school every school day since Aug. 31, back aching, as he receives his schoolwork online or through a classmate, according to his mother Darresha George. The school claimed that his dreadlocks violated their dress and grooming code. He was recently issued an additional five days of in-school suspension (ISS) after already serving weeks of ISS.

"Every day my son comes home with tears in his eyes. He's frustrated; he's outraged, aggravated, and it's breaking him down mentally, physically and emotionally," Darresha George told ABC News. "I have to see him taking ibuprofen because his back hurts."

Texas enacted the CROWN Act on Sept. 1, making it unlawful to discriminate against "protective hairstyles" in schools, Allie Booker, Darresha George's attorney, told ABC News.

"Any student dress or grooming policy adopted by a school district, including a student dress or grooming policy for any extracurricular activity, may not discriminate against a hair texture or protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race," according to the CROWN Act. "'Protective hairstyle' includes braids, locks and twists.'"

The CROWN Act, which stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair," was passed with a bipartisan vote in the Texas legislature and signed into law by Abbott in May.

State Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Houston), who was one of the authors of the Texas CROWN Act, told ABC News in an interview that he has spoken with the family and offered his support.

"We're going to protect him. They're not in it alone. So, we as the Texas Legislative Black Caucus stand behind him," Reynolds said. "This was one of our top five legislative priorities this session, and we fought like hell to pass it and we won't go quietly in the night."

If the state doesn't step in to release Darryl George from the school district's disciplinary actions, Reynolds told ABC News that he will appeal to the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. He hopes the issue is resolved amicably, but if not, he has already had conversations with members of the Congressional Black Caucus who are ready to aid in the fight.

The school district sent ABC News a statement from Barbers Hill Independent School District Superintendent Greg Pool, which they emailed to students and their families last Wednesday.

"We recently had a mother bring her children from a neighboring district that has a different dress code than ours, knowing what our expectations are. She has utilized the media to present her case that we are unfairly treating her child," the statement from the superintendent reads in part. "My high school son doesn't like to cut his hair. You perhaps deal with the same issue in your household. Regardless, these same rules have existed longer than my time at Barbers Hill and the rules are applicable to ALL students unless they have legitimate reasons for a religious exemption."

Reynolds told ABC News that the school district is stuck in the past, and that times have changed where it is common for males to wear longer hair than what used to be traditionally accepted by the status quo.

"There used to be where girls couldn't wear pants, right?" Reynolds said. "I mean this is 2023. I'm sorry Barbers Hill [Independent School District]. You have to wake up."

The school district told ABC News in a statement that their dress and grooming code does not conflict with the CROWN Act.

"The Barbers Hill ISD Dress and Grooming Code permits protective hairstyles, but any hairstyle must be in conformity with the requirement that male students' hair will not extend, at any time, below the eyebrows or below the ear lobes," the school district told ABC News in a statement. "Further, male students' hair must not extend below the top of a t-shirt collar or be gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes when let down."

The school district told ABC News in a statement that on Wednesday they filed a lawsuit in the judicial system of Texas to help them clarify the terms of the CROWN Act and whether the length of hair is a factor in the law. Reynolds said that clarification should have been made before they put a teenage boy through weeks of disciplinary actions.

Booker told ABC News that the family plans to file a discrimination lawsuit and an injunction to get Darryl George out of ISS.

Darresha George told ABC News that the school district is trivializing her son's dreadlocks by labeling them as a violation of the district's dress code. His locks are a representation of his culture and spirituality, Darresha George said.

"It's part of his roots, part of his ancestors," his mother said. "At the ends of his hair, we have his dad's hair, his stepdad's hair, and his brother's hair actually sewn into his locks. So, cutting that off is cutting them off from him."
 

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


5 hospitalized in home explosion that left house 'heavily damaged'

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(NEW JERSEY) -- A house explosion in West Milford, New Jersey, left six people injured Friday, according to police. Officials said the house was heavily damaged.

The explosion happened around 9 p.m., police said. West Milford Police received multiple reports of a house explosion in Upper Greenwood Lake.

Five of the injured were transported to medical centers and the sixth refused further medical attention.

One victim was taken to Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, two victims were flown to Morristown Medical Center, one victim was taken to St Joseph's Medical Center Paterson and one victim to Hackensack University Medical Center.

West Milford fire marshals and detectives are investigating the cause of the explosion.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New body camera footage shows East Palestine toxic train derailment evacuation efforts

Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

(OHIO) -- ABC News has obtained new footage, via a public records request, of evacuation efforts on the night when a Norfolk Southern-operated train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this year.

The footage, released first to ABC News on Thursday, shows roughly 30 minutes of body camera as Ohio State Highway Patrol went from door to door on the night of Feb. 3, in the immediate aftermath of the fiery crash, and evacuation efforts several days later -- when the risk of a major explosion at the site amped up authorities' request to get people out of the area.

According to the first clip's body camera timestamp, it's about 10 p.m. on the night of the derailment.

Going up and down the quiet residential streets, a patrolman calmly asks people to evacuate -- informing them of what had happened, if they didn't already know, the concerns over toxic fumes in the area, and the worry of a possible explosion. His feet crunch on the frozen ground as he goes from house to house.

As he walks, his body camera catches glimpses of smoke billowing in the background.

The evacuation zone was first a 1-mile radius around the derailment site. It was later expanded to a 2-mile radius when authorities conducted a controlled burn at the site.

"Hello, we've gotta get everybody to evacuate 'cause of that train fire, they're worried everything else is going to blow," the patrolman says to one resident.

Residents seem dismayed at having to leave their homes. Some are unsure of where they can go.

"One mile?" one man on the street says, incredulous at the evacuation radius.

"Yep, they think there's hazmat involved," the patrolman says.

"Oh, I'm sure," the man responds.

"We don't know, something might blow, or toxic fumes... so we just need everyone out, okay?" the patrolman says.

Standing on her front porch, another resident asks, "where's the train at?"

"It's - I mean if you look right here, you can see the orange in the sky from the flames," the patrolman responds. "It's blocking the main crossing there in town, too. It derailed back there and the whole thing stopped up there, alrighty?" he says.

The resident asks how long it'll take, and if the evacuation is optional.

"We don't know how bad the hazmat is, and whatnot... it shouldn't be, hopefully not too long, but at least want, you know, the toxic fumes and whatnot, want to make sure everyone's out of here, okay?"

He tells people if they need somewhere warm to go, they can go to the high school.

Sirens can be heard intermittently blaring in the background.

About halfway through the footage, the body cam cuts to several days later -- with a timestamp of Feb. 6 around 3:45 a.m.

It was on the evening of Feb. 5 that a "drastic temperature change" had occurred in one of the rail cars, threatening a "catastrophic tanker failure" and the potential for a "major explosion," authorities said -- issuing a new, urgent warning to East Palestinians living within a mile of the derailment.

On this second body camera angle, a few days after the derailment, there is no answer at many of the doors the patrolman knocks on.

Over his radio, others can be heard saying they too have had "no contact" at various addresses they've tried.

One resident, who does answer his door, answers without any urgency -- but with some skepticism.

"I'm questioning the arbitrary mile," he says. "There's quite a buffer zone between me and that... and it's magically safe two hundred yards down the road. I would prefer to just shelter in place in case something does come up."

He seems more interested in the troopers' outfits -- asking several follow-up questions about their hats -- but says he would "prefer to shelter in place," and that "there's only two of us in here" and if something did change they could get out "fairly quickly." He elects not to evacuate.

The derailment in East Palestine rocked the small Ohio town and its emergency response, and kicked off a long, slow effort as contaminated soil and water were hauled out from the site.

The train, operated by Norfolk Southern, had been carrying chemicals and combustible materials, including the toxic, highly volatile gas vinyl chloride, which when burned can pose serious health risks. Vinyl chloride burning can create dioxins which is carcinogenic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

But fearful that some of the tanker cars carrying those hazardous materials could explode, authorities expanded the evacuation zone and carried out a controlled release and burn of the chemicals.

A controlled burn neutralized the threat of an explosion, but it also fomented already brewing concerns about the long-term health effects the derailment and the fire could have on residents' health and the environment. Though the EPA has said they are "committed to protecting the health and safety of the East Palestine, Ohio community" and Ohio's governor has said "drinking water sampling results from the East Palestine Municipal Water System show no indication of contaminants associated with the derailment," residents' concerns have lingered.

Norfolk Southern has sworn they would "make it right," and pledged millions of dollars in support to impacted communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania, including what they say is nearly $4.3 million as part of a "long-term commitment to protect East Palestine drinking water," along with the legally binding order from EPA to conduct all cleanup actions associated with the East Palestine derailment.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Two killed when bus carrying high schoolers crashes on way to band camp

WABC-TV

(NEW YORK) -- At least two adults died when a bus carrying high school students from Long Island, New York, crashed while heading to band camp in Pennsylvania, state police said.

Dozens were hurt in Thursday's rollover accident in Orange County, which is about 60 miles north of New York City, officials said.

As of midday Friday, 18 people -- 16 children and two adults -- remain hospitalized, according to Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman.

Five students remain in critical condition, state police said on Friday.

The bus, carrying students from Farmingdale High School, rolled over and slid off Interstate 84, down into a 50-foot ravine around 1:12 p.m. on Thursday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

Multiple occupants were ejected from the motor coach, National Transportation Safety Board investigator John Humm told reporters on Friday.

The motor coach, operated by Regency Transportation, "departed the travel lane, penetrated a roadside cable barrier and came to a rest on its left side in the median," Humm said.

The two adult passengers, identified as Beatrice Ferrari, 77, from Farmingdale, New York and Gina Pellettiere, 43, of Massapequa, were killed, state police officials said.

"There's a lot of families that need some love tonight. And we extend that from 20 million New Yorkers," the governor said.

Pellettiere was listed as the school's Director of Bands on its website. She was the chairperson of the Nassau All-County Division 5 Symphonic Band for many years, as well as guest conductor for both Nassau and Suffolk All-County Festivals, according to the school's website.

She leaves behind a 2-year-old son, a family friend told reporters on Friday.

A faulty front tire was a factor in the crash, the governor and investigators said. The investigation is ongoing.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. Investigators will look at seatbelt usage, the mechanics of the bus and its "general crashworthiness," among other factors, Humm said.

A total of 40 students and four adults were aboard the bus, according to the state police.

"It really was a difficult scene to process," New York State Police's Greg Spak, who has been a state trooper for more than 20 years, told reporters Friday. "I've never seen anything like that before."

Spak said some of the children were "extremely hurt" and he felt an urgent sense to get them to help "right away."

Hochul said that it took 45 minutes for first responders to get all of the victims out of the ravine.

"These high school students, many of them freshmen, were surrounded by this chaos, but they endured. They were strong," she said.

Farmingdale School District officials were at the scene, the district said.

Five other buses from the school that were traveling to the camp returned to Farmingdale, but made a stop on the way to give students the chance to meet with grief counselors, the district said.

Donna Baltch, a Farmingdale resident, told WABC that her niece was on one of the buses that returned. Baltch, who is also the parent of a Farmingdale High School 10th grader, said she and other parents spent the afternoon trying to figure out what happened and support each other.

"These poor kids, these kids are going to be traumatized for the rest of their lives," Baltch told WABC. "All the families, we always, always come together for each other. I don't care if it's 3 o'clock in the morning, I will be there for these kids."

Farmingdale High School is open today, which Blakeman called a "very good and wise choice because they have so many good resources there for the children and the families."

"It was a way to bring the high school community together," he said at a press briefing Friday.

Additional counseling will be provided at the Howitt Middle School over the weekend and Farmingdale High School next week.

The Farmingdale-Freeport high school football game scheduled for Friday night is postponed with no makeup date announced.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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