<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:49:46 -0500 Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:49:46 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[West Mayor Moved to Tears by Emotional Song]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:45:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/donna-beckham-sings.jpg

During a live on-air performance, West Mayor Tommy Muska became emotional after hearing the song "Still Around West" performed live for the first time.

The song, penned by Jenipher Janek and performed by Donna Beckham, both resident's of West, moved Muska to tears.

"That's the first time I've heard it. It's a wonderful song. It told you just how everybody feels," Muska said. "It's very well done. I'm very pleased with it. It's another show of how strong these people are."

Janek wrote the song about the disaster just two days after the April 17, 2013, explosion that killed 15 people in the small town, including 12 first responders. 

The blast also destroyed Janek's home. For the next seven months, Janek lived in a mobile home while her home was rebuilt.

To read the lyrics to the song, see the tweet below from NBC 5 reporter Jeff Smith.

Throughout the day NBC 5 plans to offer several livestreams of anniversary coverage from West. At 2 p.m., a news conference will be streamed live on this page. At 7:15 p.m., a memorial service, including a moment of silence at 7:51 p.m., will be streamed. Check back and refresh this page for the latest — or visit our special section on the explosion in West found here.

NBC 5's Jeff Smith contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Early-Morning Fire Ravages Home in Dallas]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:53:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dfr-carpenter-avenue-fire.jpg

Dallas firefighters brought down a house fire on the 2800 block of Carpenter Avenue Thursday morning.

Firefighters responded at about 3:30 a.m. to a home on fire. Neighbors said the flames were too hot to even get to vehicles in a neighboring driveway.

One man inside the home escaped and appeared uninjured as he spoke to first responders on the scene.

No injuries are being reported.

The house itself appeared to be a total loss but the fire department hasn't made their report yet. It's unclear what sparked the blaze at this time.


Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Drives Van Into River: Police]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:31:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Delaware-River-Mom.jpg

A man swooped in to save a South Jersey family after a mother allegedly tried to kill her teenage children.

Darnell Taylor is mourning the loss of his father, who died from cancer Wednesday morning. Yet while Taylor is now coping with the tragedy, he can take solace in the fact that he prevented another one from happening just a day before his father's death.

Police say 49-year-old Joann Smith was driving her van on West Front Street in Florence Township, N.J around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. With her 15, 14, and 13 year-old children inside the vehicle, Smith allegedly accelerated onto a boat ramp and into the Delaware River.

Investigators say she was intentionally trying to kill her children.

Taylor says he was driving to dinner with his wife when he noticed the vehicle partially submerged in the water and the family trapped inside.

"I got out of the car and heard people screaming," Taylor said. "I took off my jacket, jumped in and swam out there."

Taylor swam towards the family while his wife called 911.

"I couldn't get the window open because the window in the van was not a pop out window," Taylor said. "So I kept telling the young lady to kick the window out and she kicked it out."

One by one, Taylor grabbed Smith, her daughter and two sons to safety. Taylor claims Smith didn't say anything during the rescue except for "Thank you."

One of the children suffered cuts on the leg while Smith was checked into a medical facility for a mental evaluation.

Police claim Smith intentionally drove the van into the water. She was arrested and charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts ofchild endangerment.

Smith’s bail was set at $600,000. Officials say she will likely appear in Superior Court in Mount Holly Thursday afternoon.

Detectives with the Florence Township Police Department along with officials from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office are investigating the case.

Smith's three children are currently staying with relatives, shaken by their terrifying experience but still alive thanks to Taylor.

"He was a godsend," said Bob Lane, a Florence Township resident. "He saved them. That water is not warm and he jumped in."

While many people are calling him a hero, Taylor disagrees.

"I'm not a hero," he said. "I'm just a member of this community and anyone else would have done the same thing."

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Mayor Emotional After Hearing Song About West]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:07:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mayor-muska-Donna-Beckham.jpg Donna Beckham sings "Still Around West," a song penned by West resident Jenipher Janek whose home was destroyed in the blast. Mayor Tommy Muska, upon hearing the song for the first time, became emotional and said "it's a wonderful song that ... told you just how everybody feels."[space]]]> <![CDATA[Body of Crowley Marine Returns Home]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:31:03 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Boterf-Patriot-Guard-041614.jpg

The body of a Marine from Crowley, killed last week in what authorities described as an apparent accidental shooting at a North Carolina military base, returned to North Texas Wednesday.

Lance Cpl. Mark N. Boterf, 21, died on April 8 after a single gunshot wound to the chest while on sentry duty at the main entrance to the sprawling Camp Lejeune base.

Boterf's twin brother, who is also a Marine, said that his brother volunteered for the guard position so that another Marine could take leave to get married.

"He was an amazing young man and he would do anything for anybody," said his aunt, Adrianne Fore. "Anything he did, he did with all his heart."

Boterf was one of 10 children, three of whom are in the Marines.

"Mark was definitely one of a kind. We wish the circumstances could have been different," said his aunt Ashley Boterf. "But we're strong. We're a family and together we're going to get through this but overall, God is in control."

Boterf's body arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport just after 6 p.m. Wednesday and was escorted to a funeral home by the Patriot Guard.

The group of motorcyclists volunteer for duty and spend their own time and money to help families in their time of grief.

"There's nothing you can do except let them know somehow, with your behavior, with your actions, that people care," said Patriot Guard rider Floyd Kammerer.

A public viewing will be held Thursday at Laurel Land Funeral Home in Fort Worth; the funeral will be Friday at Alsbury Baptist Church in Burleson.

The family asks that contributions be made to the Wounded Warrior Project in Mark Boterf's honor.

Boterf's name will be added to a new Veteran's Plaza which is nearly completed in Crowley.  The City of Crowley spent $260,000 on the plaza to honor all the town's men and women who are serving now and have served in the past.

NBC 5's Scott Gordon contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Chopper 5/Boterf Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Grapevine Police Search for Serial Burglar]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:24:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Grapevine+Robberies+041614.jpg

Grapevine police are asking for the public's help in track down the man they're now calling a serial burglar.

Investigators said it's possible he's hit numerous stores across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. So far, they say he's broken into at least four stores in Grapevine; the first three being nail salons and the fourth a resale store for children's clothing, Kid to Kid.

Store owner Brittany Tucker was home sleeping the other week when she received a phone call from police saying someone broke into her store.

"He broke through there, with a rock. Climbed in, went straight behind the counter and checked all the registers. Then looked in every single cabinet and drawer behind there, looking obviously for the money," Tucker said.

Surveillance video caught the man on camera rummaging through her store.

"You can see the clothes flying in the air," she said. "When we got here the clothes were all over the parking lot. All the way to his car, or whoever was out there waiting for him."

"He's hit not only our city, but several other cities in the Metroplex as well," said Sgt. Robert Eberling, with the Grapevine Police Department.

Eberling said the man goes after anything he can get his hands on, from cash to laptops and merchandise.

Tucker said investigators told her it's possible the man could be responsible for up to 10 burglaries.

"I don't get it! I don't understand people like that," Tucker said.

Tucker said she's worried more businesses and people could be at risk.

"Not that nail salons aren't a big deal, but from going from that to retail I think could change his whole mindset because he could steal so many more things and sell them or do whatever he wanted with them. I think it's a really big deal," she said.

If you know anything about the crimes you are asked to call the police.

<![CDATA[New Video: Formerly Conjoined Twins Leave Hospital]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:26:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Ezell-Twins-041514.jpg

The conjoined twins who were separated at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas have left the hospital for an inpatient rehabilitation center.

"We are thrilled beyond words that we are here today," the boys' mother Jenni Ezell said Wednesday.

The boys were born in July and were connected from the chest to the belly button. They shared a liver and intestines until doctors at Medical City Dallas Hospital separated them a month later.

Owen and Emmett Ezell left the Dallas hospital eight months after their surgery and a day after turning 9-months-old.

"This is a big day we have been waiting on a long time, we have been ready to bring these boys home for months now so this is a good thing," said the boys' father Dave Ezell.

It was an emotional departure for the hospital staff, the team of doctors and nurses who have cared for them in the neonatal intensive care unit since their birth and separation surgery in August.

"I just can't thank them enough we are so happy and grateful," said Jenni Ezell. "They are like family to us. It is hard to say goodbye until later."

While at rehab, the boys' parents will learn to manage those tubes until the boys can eat on their own.

"When we first learned they were conjoined we never imagined, that we would be here but it has come and it is time now time to keep loving them and watching them develop and grow," said Dave Ezell. "We are in charge of their care, we get to take care of the babies. So it is like the beginning of this whole new world for us, where it is going to be physically exhausting, it's going to be amazing." 

The Ezells home the boys can go home for good in a month.

The family has been chronicling the boys' progress, since their separation surgery in August 2013 on The Ezell Twins blog.

The Ezells are selling T-shirts through their blog that read, "The Works of God Displayed in Them, John 9:1-3."

The funds donated go into a trust fund set up for Emmett and Owen and their direct care.

More: The Ezell Twins blog | The Ezell Twins T-Shirts | Contribute

Photo Credit: Ezell Family/Medical City Children's Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Robbed of $1 in NYC Subway]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:47:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/girl-robbed-1-dollar.jpg

Police are looking for a man who approached a teen girl in an Upper West Side subway stairwell and tried to rob her before assaulting her and fleeing with $1.

The 15-year-old girl was entering the B and C subway station on 96th Street and Central Park West at about 10 a.m. Saturday, police said.

The suspect approached her and demanded her valuables.

He then assaulted her and took $1 from her jacket before fleeing.

Police released surveillance images of the suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

<![CDATA[Dallas Home Rule Charter Debate Flares at City Hall]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:27:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/DISD+Home+Rule+041614.jpg

Supporters and opponents of the controversial Dallas Independent School District home rule charter change clashed Wednesday at a rare joint meeting of school trustees and the city council.

The meeting was supporters' best chance yet to dispel rumors and make their case to the public, but critics -- including several vocal city council members -- used the platform to denounce drastic changes in school governance.

One option for a home rule charter could dispose of the elected school board and put trustees appointed by the Dallas mayor in charge of the DISD.

Mayor Mike Rawlings said he backs a petition drive to force the next step, a 15-member commission that would decide on a new charter.

The city attorney said under the law, DISD voters would have the final say on a home rule change and 25 percent of those registered in the district would have to approve.

"The number one barrier to living in Dallas is the school issue," Rawlings said. "All of us need to act with a sense of urgency because every year that passes our children will never get it back."

But school officials said they are making progress under the current arrangement.

"We can't afford incremental gain, we need to do some transformative things in Dallas ISD," Superintendent Mike Miles said.

School Board President Eric Cowan was asked if he believes the current governance structure is limiting success.

"In my opinion, no," Cowan said.

Cowan said the district deserves a better reputation and Councilman Phillip Kingston agreed.

"I believe however there are people who choose not to put their kids in DISD because of perception problems that are not reality," Kingston said. "If we have a discussion that is not clouded by secret backers and secret agendas, we can work together to improve this district."

Councilwoman Carolyn Davis pressed Rawlings to reveal his connections with the group seeking the signatures, Support our Public Schools.

"I was a citizen supporter of that effort, OK, and continue to be so," Rawlings said. "At the same time, that is a separate organization that I have no voting powers on."

Rawlings said he still believes a home rule charter would be positive improvement for DISD.

Support our Public Schools hopes to have the required 5 percent of DISD registered voters submitted by May.

In the meantime, Wednesday the mayor announced a new joint committee of city council members and school trustees to pursue immediate improvement in support for Dallas public schools.

Councilman Adam Medrano, a former DISD Trustee, will lead the committee.

CLICK HERE to read more from our media partners at The Dallas Morning News

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Hurst Gym Closes Unexpectedly]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:31:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Gym-Closed-041614.jpg

Just Fitness off Grapevine Highway in Hurst closed unexpectedly in late March, leaving members who prepaid for training sessions searching for answers.

Overnight the equipment was gone and a sign on the door told customers they had been transferred to Fitness 2000 on Mid-Cities Boulevard.

While their memberships were transferred, members told NBC 5 personal training sessions they paid for in advance were not. A Fitness 2000 representative confirmed that to NBC 5.

Leah McDaniel prepaid nearly $2,000 for a package of training sessions and still has nearly 30 sessions left.

"It's very frustrating. I had started back again with my training and had trainer that I liked, and I'm hoping they'll transfer my training sessions to Fitness 2000, or at the very least get my money back," McDaniel said.

NBC 5's Ray Villeda called the phone number for Just Fitness 4 You gyms, and was told the Hurst location was independently owned that no one can help with any issues.

Fitness 2000 representatives also said they haven't heard from the owner of Just Fitness 4 You since it closed last month.

NBC 5 checked with the Better Business Bureau in Fort Worth and found Just Fitness in Hurst has seven pending complaints on file.

Membership dues go to a company called ABC Financial, NBC 5 called and left a message, but hasn't received a call back.

A representative at Fitness 2000 told NBC 5 if members are currently paying for training sessions for the defunct gym, it's better to cancel payments and call credit card company.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Father Found Not Guilty After Improvised Security Drill]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:56:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Ron+Miller+041614.jpg

The Celina father accused of threatening workers at his child's elementary school as part of an improvised test of school security has been found not guilty Wednesday.

Ron Miller, 44, was charged with making a terroristic threat against a public servant after he allegedly told employees at Celina Elementary School that he had a gun and was a shooter.

It took a Collin County jury just 45 minutes to acquit Miller, who had been on trial since Monday for the misdemeanor.

“It is closure,” Miller said, breathing a deep sigh of relief. “It was not my intent to cause any harm at all or to make anybody afraid. That was not my intent. I just wanted to make sure the kids were safe, more specifically, my child and everyone else’s child.”

Miller was accused of walking up to his son’s school on Jan. 9, 2013, and telling employees outside and in the school’s office that he was there to test their security.

Teachers and staff testified that Miller stated that he was a gunman and that his target was inside, questioning them, “What are you going to do?”

George Milner III, Miller’s defense attorney, questioned why those at the school didn't immediately call the police if they felt threatened, as the testified they had, and said that it was the prosecution’s job to prove that Miller intended to cause the level of fear the women said they felt under his questioning.

Milner told the jury what is at stake in this case is not whether or not his client made a good or bad decision in conducting his own drill, but rather if prosecutors had proved intent to cause harm.

The lead investigator in the case from the Celina PD testified that, in his opinion, Miller’s intent was clear, because his behavior "escalated" as he moved from the sidewalk into the school office.

Staff were offered counseling in the weeks following the incident, with some actually going through the therapy.

Milner told NBC 5 his client was dealing with deep grief, after losing his 16-year-old daughter to cancer not long before the incident at Celina Elementary.  Milner added the Miller family had dealt with security questions involving Celina Independent School District before, including, he said, that the Miller’s 7-year-old son was able to wander away from the school during the fall semester of 2012 — just months before Miller’s arrest.

Then, Milner said, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut had his client thinking hard about school security in his hometown, adding the Millers couldn't bear to lose another child.

After his acquittal, Miller refused to discuss the details of what was going through his mind that day. He gave only an apology to the five women who testified of their fear.

He adds his goal is to get back to normal, including his hope to one day be allowed back on the campus of his son's elementary school.

“I hope that I get permission to go back up to the school and visit my son and have lunch with him once again,” Miller said. “I miss that very much. It’s been over a year."

The district did not immediately comment on if they plan on removing the ban on Miller’s presence.

"I understand a man wanting to be in his child's school life," said Celina ISD Superintendent Donny O'Dell. "We don't want to be vindictive."

O'Dell said the district will talk to law enforcement and make a decision at a later time.

"The courts have spoken. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with them," said O'Dell. "We're going to get on with finishing out the school year."

Had he been convicted, Miller could have faced up to a year in jail and a fine.

NBC 5's Josh Ault contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Kept Deceased Son on Ice for Hindu Ritual]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:44:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pallavi-dhawan-mug-inset.jpg

A North Texas mother who is accused of killing her 10-year-old son says the boy died in his sleep and was kept on ice to comply with a Hindu ritual, an affidavit released by the family states.

Pallavi Dhawanwas was arrested and charged earlier this year after police were called to the family's Frisco home and discovered the boy's body in a bathtub. Frisco police charged her with murder after they said she confessed to killing the boy. Her husband, Sumeet, and the family's attorney have repeatedly called for charges against her to be dropped.

In an affidavit dated April 15, Dhawan said she loved her son Arnav "with all of my heart and never would hurt him in any way."

"...I want to make it perfectly clear to the world that: I did not hurt Arnav. I did not kill Arnav. I did not murder Arnav. I did not drown or smother Arnav. I did not poison Arnav," the affidavit states. "I did not fail to render aid to Arnav at any time."

Dhawan said her son, Arnav, had been diagnosed with microcephaly and had special needs that were catered to by the family and other caregivers.

She said she found the boy "cold," "stiff," and "completely unresponsive" in his bed after trying to wake him up for school. The mother said she moved her son's body to the bathtub and attempted to revive him with CPR.

The boy's mother said she kept her son's body on ice for four days after his death using ice cubes taken from her refrigerator and placed in plastic bags. Dhawan said she followed Hindu rituals with her son, including reading the Hindu scriptures over his body, due to significant concern over the last rites that she believed needed to be performed on Arnav. She said that when her husband Sumeet's father passed away, the body was preserved on ice for "4-5 days until the immediate family could reach India and perform the last rites."

"Being in the state of shock with such a sudden demise of Arnav, I continued to try and follow the Hindu customs to the best of my knowledge as exhibited by the father's [Sumeet Dhawan] family in the past, including preserving the body on ice," she said in the affidavit.

In March, Sumeet Dhawan said the charges against his wife are a result of a cultural misunderstanding. The Dhawan family is Hindu and after death bodies are preserved on ice while waiting for family to pay respects and for last rites to be issued.

"Nothing is going to get our son back and I hope that what has happened to us doesn't happen to anybody and cultural differences played a big part in this," said Sumeet Dhawan.

During an April 10 hearing on the case, prosecutors said they haven't decided if Dhawan will be indicted because they are still waiting for a report from the Frisco police department.

Additionally, a report from the Collin County medical examiner ruled the boy's cause of death as "undetermined," but "natural disease is most likely."

<![CDATA[Church Attempting Largest Chalk Drawing of Jesus]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:22:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/chalk-jesus-03.jpg

Fellowship Church in Grapevine is attempting to set the world record for the largest chalk drawing.

The church, led by Pastor Ed Young, is coloring a drawing of Jesus Christ that spans nearly 17,000 square feet, according to a statement on their website.

It took 6,700 individual pieces of chalk to create the portrait, and 125 bags of charcoal, according to a church representative.

The purpose of "Chalk Jesus" is to get people interested in and talking about the church in the days leading up to Easter.

"We believe the church should be the most creative entity on the face of the planet. Not boring, not humdrum," said Derric Bonnot with Fellowship Church. "But it should be out there thinking up new ways to tell the story of who Jesus is and who God is. And so hopefully this just catches people's attention to want to see more and want to know more."

Bonnot told NBC DFW hundreds of volunteers helped to make the portrait possible. Most were members of the mega church, which has six locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But many of the volunteers were people who learned about the effort from social media, the radio or from the television, Bonnot said.

"Honestly, I think it speaks to people," said church member Roger Moreno about the portrait. Moreno brought his son, Luciano, 2, to help. "To show him that it's a good thing to give back and not just be so selfish."

"That actually shows that we actually still care and [we are] trying to make a difference in somebody's life," Moreno added.

The portrait will stay in place through Sunday's Easter services, at which point congregation members will then wash it away.

Despite their 12-plus hour drawing effort, if rain showers come before Sunday, Bonnot said the church understands that may make the chalk Jesus "an abstract art piece."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Truck Crashes Into Restaurant]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:47:30 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/217*120/firetruckcrash1.JPG

Witnesses described a scene of chaos in Monterey Park on Wednesday as 15 people were hurt in a crash involving two fire trucks, including one that plowed into a restaurant.

Lu's Dumpling House owner Vivian Lu said a man was on the sidewalk when the 40,000-pound fire engine jumped the curb, pushing him as it slammed through her restaurant near Garfield and Emerson avenues about 3:25 p.m.

When the fire truck came to a stop, a man was found pinned beneath it.

Cellphone video captured the moment when a firefighter attempted to help the man under the front bumper of the engine. The victim was believed to be hospitalized in critical condition.

"A lot blood,” Lu said. ”I see a lot blood."

Lu said the impact of the crash also pushed a built-in cashier's table across the floor, sending a waitress into a wall and making the building unstable.

Six firefighters suffered minor to moderate injuries, and eight other people had minor injuries. One person was in critical condition. A total of 15 people were hurt.

"I see a few people sitting on the street and all this blood," Lu said.

The crash happened down the street from Garfield Medical Center, where many of the victims were being taken on foot by firefighters.

The crash occurred when a fire truck and a fire engine crashed while responding to a house on fire. Both trucks were blaring sirens and running lights, one truck from Montery Park Fire Department and the other from the Alhambra Fire Department. All firefighters on board were wearing ear protecting headsets to dampen the sirens noise.

"It is ear protection from the noise of your own sirens so they do diminish the sound from outside," Alhambra Fire Department Chief Bill Walker said.

Neighbors ended up helping put out the house fire that both departments were responding to at the time of the crash.

Photo Credit: NewsChopper4]]>
<![CDATA[Turning Things Around at RadioShack]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:22:27 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-000041.jpg Making RadioShack relevant again. The Fort Worth-based electronics retailer has had many ups and downs in recent years, even in just the last few months. But a company executive says their Super Bowl ad is helping them turn things around.]]> <![CDATA[Arlington Doctor Expects Boston Marathon to Be Uplifting]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:29:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Dr.+Fikkert+041614.jpg

April 15, 2013, was supposed to be one of the best days of Dr. Chimene Fikkert's life. The Arlington pediatrician was running in her first Boston Marathon.

"It took me 10 years to qualify to finally run the Boston Marathon," said Fikkert. "I remember coming down Boylston Street thinking, 'Oh my gosh, this is a dream I'm actually getting to live out.'"

Instead it turned into a nightmare that shook her, the City of Boston, and the entire nation to the core. About five minutes after she crossed the finish line, the first bomb went off just several yards from where she was standing.

"I looked over my shoulder and there was a cloud of smoke," said Fikkert. "In the few seconds I was processing that and trying to make sense of it, the second bomb went off. And I realized this was intentional. I just remember thinking I'm really out of control of this situation."

As she reflects on those horrific moments just days before the 2014 Boston Marathon, she said she takes solace in how Boston and the running community have risen above this tragedy.

"I'm certainly praying for safety for all those who are running it," said Fikkert. "But I think it will be a glorious day in Bean Town."

Fikkert said she had every intention of returning to Boston this year and crossing that finish line again – but fell just short of that goal.

Marathon organizers wanted to make sure those who did not get to finish the race last year got that opportunity this year. Coupled with the enormous interest from people wanting to participate in the race, they changed the qualifying times to help control numbers. When that happened, Fikkert no longer had a qualifying time.

"I missed it by three seconds," said Fikkert. "But hopefully I'll be back in 2015."

Though she admits it's bittersweet, she believes race organizers made the right call.

"I'm grateful for the experience I had," said Fikkert. "I want other people to have that experience. I can certainly sit this one out so they can."

Even though she won't physically be in Boston, she said she'll be with the runners in spirit, sending her thoughts and love their way.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NWS Warnings Delivered to Your Phone]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:26:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NWS+Text+Alerts+041614.jpg

The National Weather Service will start sending text alerts to your mobile phone if dangerous weather is near your location.

"This is a system that you don't have to sign up for anything," said Mark Fox, warning and coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office. "If you are in a tornado warning or in a flash flood warning, those alerts are going to come straight to your cellphone just like the Amber Alerts do."

The alerts, which have a different ring tone than others, will be delivered to any smartphone from the last two to three years.

The alert provides the warning and watch information as well as what you need to do to protect yourself.

The information is delivered based on what tower your mobile phone is accessing, so that no matter where you are in the country, you'll receive an alert if the tower your phone is accessing is within the warning area.

"It's a different frequency, no one is tracking your GPS, no one is selling your information," said Fox. "It's just for warning purposes and to let you know I really need to be paying attention to weather right now."

NBC 5 also provides NWS information through the free First Alert Weather app available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Allowing location services and turning on push notifications will give you the latest NWS alerts as well.

The app gives you interactive radar literally at your fingertips which allows you to zoom in on your neighborhood.

Plus, you'll get hourly, daily and 10-day forecasts as well as NBC 5 meteorologists' written and video forecasts and weather news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

To get the NBC 5 First Alert Weather app for free, just search NBC 5 or NBC DFW in the App Store or in Google Play or click the links below:

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Teens Accused of Sharing Naked Pics]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 04:32:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/texting-sexting.jpg

Two New Jersey teens are facing criminal charges after allegedly sharing nude photos of other teens, some of whom were engaging in sex acts, police said.

The Little Falls Police Department said Wednesday that a 16-year-old West Orange boy was arrested after he texted eight naked photos of a 17-year-old girl to a 16-year-old girlfriend from Little Falls.

That friend is then accused of showing the photos to others, and may have posted them on social media, police say. 

The girl is also believed to have sent other videos and photos of underage teens engaging in sex acts to other juveniles.

The teens are charged with endangering the welfare of a child by possessing child pornography. Both teens were released to the custody of their parents.

Police are urging parents to explain to their children that sending, taking and sharing of naked photos of juveniles is a crime. 


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ace-Off: Overhyped and Underdelivered]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:57:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/darvish-hernandez-action.jpg

Texas Rangers ace and 2013 AL Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish hasn't given up a run in 15 innings this year. Seattle Mariners ace and former Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez is 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA and leads the American League with 30 strikeouts.

Tonight at Globe Life Park, the two will face off in what should be a great pitchers' duel of the highest order.

But in their history against each other, Hernandez takes the cake in a big way. The two haven't faced each other since 2012, when they squared off twice. In Darvish's first MLB season, he was 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA in those two starts. Hernandez? Well, he was 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA.

Darvish is a much different pitcher now than he was two years ago. Hernandez is pretty much the same, and pretty much the same is really good.

But the Rangers have had Hernandez's number in his career, especially in Arlington. But guess what? The three active Rangers with the highest batting averages against Hernandez are, you guessed it, Adrian Beltre, Jurickson Profar and Geovany Soto. We all know what those three have in common.

What's all this mean? Absolutely nothing. As enticing as the matchup is between two of the league's premier pitchers, we've seen this before, and we've seen it blow up.

Last season, Yu Darvish faced Justin Verlander in Arlington last May, and the Rangers came away with a 10-4 win, as neither pitcher was very impressive and especially not Verlander, who was chased in the third inning.

So, be my guest. Go to Arlington tonight expecting to be home in time to catch the second period of Stars-Ducks. Maybe you will. But don't be shocked if you're at the ballpark until 11 p.m. and both pitchers can't make it out of the fifth inning. Stuff like that happens, even though it defies all logic.

Photo Credit: NBC 5, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Burglar Recorded on Houston Baby Monitor]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:40:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/gjanda-2014-04-16-12h46m46s137.jpg A burglary suspect who broke into a Houston home was caught on the video baby monitor set up to view the family's sleeping toddler.]]> <![CDATA[Students, Teachers Coping With Death of Student]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:41:27 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mari-smith-ethan-vasquez-inset.jpg

Extra psychologists are at William B Travis Academy in Uptown Dallas Wednesday where 13-year-old Ethan Vasquez attended school.

Vasquez was killed Tuesday morning during a hit-and-run crash with a driver trying to elude police.  The boy's mother, Sandy Vasquez, was critically injured in the crash and remains hospitalized.

The school Vasquez attended is for academically gifted 4th through 8th graders who have some of the top STAAR test scores in the state.

"I remember him in the halls, he seemed to always be happy and laughing, had a lot of friends. Was just a good all-around student and kid," said Principal Mari Smith.

Smith said the regular school counselor and an extra staff psychologist with the Dallas Independent School District will “follow” Ethan’s schedule, period by period and classroom by classroom, and simply sit in the back of class. They’ll be there as needed for any classmates who may need to leave the classroom or talk to a professional.

The seventh graders were notified in a school assembly at about 3 p.m. Tuesday to inform them about Ethan's death. All of the students also received a letter to take home to their parents.

"A young man lost his life. That’s never easy. It’s just a shock," said Smith. "It’s just senseless. It’s hard for everyone to grasp, and to understand."

This is the first student death in the 14-year history of William B Travis Academy, according to Smith.

She said the friends and family members of the driver in the hit-and-run need to come forward to police.

"This family is going to need closure. I’m sure anyone who has a heart, that was responsible, it would be very difficult to live with knowing a young life was taken because of a stupid act you did."

Police are searching for as many as two people who are believed to have run from the scene of the crash. At this time, a description of the driver is not available.

Oak Farms Dairy is offering a $15,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the driver of the vehicle that hit Ethan and Sandy Vasquez. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Dallas police

<![CDATA[DISD Leaders Expected at City Hall for Home Rule Discussion]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:01:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mona-reeder-dmn-mike-miles-mike-rawlings.jpg

Top Dallas school district leaders will be at City Hall this afternoon, as Dallas City Council members will finally get the home-rule school district discussion they asked for more than a month ago.

Read the complete story at The Dallas Morning News.

Photo Credit: Mona Reeder/The Dallas Morning News]]>
<![CDATA[For the Mavs, the Playoffs Start Tonight]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:15:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459461465.jpg

The NBA Playoffs begin this weekend.

But Game 1 for the Dallas Mavericks comes Wednesday night.

The Mavs have already clinched a post-season berth and can reach the rare air of another 50-win season tonight. But the stakes are much greater as they face the Grizzlies in Memphis: Avoiding the Spurs.

San Antonio was the league’s best team all season and the veteran Spurs swept both the Mavs and the Grizzlies, 4-0. Neither team wants a piece of the No. 1 seed, and the winner of tonight’s regular-season finale gets to side-step the Spurs and instead get a matchup with No. 2 seed Oklahoma City Thunder.

With not having played since Saturday and not play again until Saturday – at the earliest – there’s no reason to rest Dirk Nowitzki or any players tonight. The winner tonight gets the No. 7 seed. And – whether either team will admit it – the stakes are high.

Memphis and Dallas each have wins over the Thunder this season and undoubtedly like their chances against Kevin Durant than Tim Duncan. The Grizzlies, who qualified for the playoffs by winning in Phoenix Monday night, have won 13 consecutive home games.

The way the Spurs have dominated the league in general, and the Mavs in specific – nine consecutive wins over two seasons – just winning one game in a series against San Antonio would be an accomplishment. Beating the Thunder four times would be much more realistic.

In other words, welcome to the most meaningful meaningless regular-season finale in the history of the Mavericks.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Yu vs. King Felix: First One to 1 Wins?]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:01:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/darvish-hernandez.jpg

I love offense. Home runs and fireworks and slam dunks and deep bombs and eagles holed out from the fairway.

In other words, I shouldn’t be the least bit intrigued by tonight’s Rangers-Mariners game in Arlington. But I am. Big time.

Because even though I prefer 9-8, there’s still something romantic – and scintillating – about the 1-0 baseball game. The strategy. The tension. The sheer dominance of ace pitchers.

We should get that tonight when Felix Hernandez duels Yu Darvish. First one to 2 wins? It’ll be like watching a game of one-on-one between Bill Russell and Dikembe Mutombo, two of the greatest defensive players in the history of basketball.

Darvish, last season’s Cy Young runner-up, has yet to allow a run in 2014. In 15 innings over two starts he has 15 strikeouts. Hernandez, the 2010 Cy Young winner, is also off to an impressively stingy start, going 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA and leading the AL with 30 strikeouts.

Adding to the unique chemistry will be the struggling offenses of the Rangers and Mariners. The teams rank 20th (Seattle) and 22nd (Texas) in runs scored. Monday the Rangers mustered just one run in a 5-1 loss. Last night the Mariners were shut out by the Rangers’ Robbie Ross.

Chances are tonight there will be more strikeouts than hits and runs you can’t count on one hand. And I’ll be on the edge of my seat for every one of them.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: NBC 5, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Strong Reaction to Mansfield ISD Discipline Room]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:56:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Isolation-Room---Perry-Elem.jpg

The report of a special needs Mansfield school student repeatedly detained in a closet-like room for discipline has sparked strong reaction.

Edwin Villegas’ parents have withdrawn him from Annette Perry Elementary School after they learned the 7-year-old was held 21 times this school year in what the Mansfield Independent School District calls a “blue" room or “calm" room.

Bridget Villegas, Edwin's mother, said she has still not received documentation required by state law from the school about the discipline for her special education student who is autistic and bipolar.

She said she only saw the "calm" room for the first time Friday.

“I would have expected a Zen kind of calm down type of room or what have you and what we saw was a concrete looking jail room. Upon further inspection of the room, they took me to the back corner, which looks like it used to be a utility closet. And they took me back there and they said that’s where they put Edwin if he doesn’t calm down in the blue room. In the beginning they hold the door shut so he can’t get out, but that it was OK because they can see him in the little glass window at the top of the door,” Bridget Villegas said.

Dr. Lewis Wasserman, an education professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, said "time out" is an acceptable part of student behavior management, but detaining a student behind a blocked door is not permissible.

“A peep hole is not an exception contained in Texas state law,” Wasserman said. “And I would also be concerned that the trauma to the child could result in exacerbation of his education problems.”

His mother said Edwin has regressed this year after attending special education classes last year in a different district without problems.

“If our goal is to educate all children including children with disabilities, then this is not the way to go about doing it,” Wasserman said.

But some parents of other Mansfield special needs students disagree with Villegas’ complaints.

“I think it’s a bad rap for the school,” said Isabel Gutierrez de Armas.

She said her special needs daughter has also been confined in a Mansfield “calm room,” but Gutierrez received all required documentation.

“Nothing changes without you knowing about it, without your consent about it, without your understanding what the situation is and what your child’s consequences and reward will be,” she said.

District spokesman Richie Escovedo said retraining has been ordered for special education staff at Perry Elementary School while officials investigate accusations about the school.

He said it is unclear how long the investigation will take and declined to comment on Villegas’ specific complaints. 

Photo Credit: Bridget Villegas Photo/NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Killed in Hit-and-Run Crash With Stolen Van]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:32:59 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/M+Streets+Crash+041514.jpg

A teenager was killed and his mother was critically injured in a crash involving the driver of a stolen minivan fleeing the Highland Park police Tuesday morning, officials say.

Lt. Max Geron with the Dallas Police Department said the teen killed was a passenger in a car struck by the driver of a minivan fleeing a traffic stop near the M Streets.

"It's awful it's awful, nobody was expecting that this morning, they probably didn't even know what hit them," said eyewitness Brian Gray.

The teen was identified by the Dallas County medical examiner Tuesday afternoon as 13-year-old Ethan Vasquez. NBC 5 has learned the teen's father, Sgt. Victor Vasquez, works for the Cedar Hill Police Department and that the boy was in the 7th grade at the William B. Travis Academy.

"He was just full of life, a very smart intelligent little boy who just loved life, who was always on the computer playing games and stuff." said Ethan's uncle Ruben Vasquez. "A good little boy. Smart, smart kid."

His mother, Sandy Vasquez, is in critical condition at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Police officers and other first responders spent the day in and out of the hospital supporting the Vasquez family.

"We are his second family. Fire and police officers alike as well as any emergency personnel, and we are just here in a show of support for him," said a Cedar Hill Firefighter.

During a news conference Tuesday morning, Highland Park Police Sgt. Lance Koppa said an officer witnessed a moving violation at about 8:15 a.m. and attempted to stop the driver of the minivan. The driver of the minivan refused to pull over and the officer pursued. 

Koppa said the chase was terminated and the pursuing officer slowed down and turned off his lights when the driver of the minivan sped into a residential area near the M Streets.  Koppa said even though the officer pulled back from the chase, the driver of the minivan continued to drive recklessly.

From a distance the officer then saw the driver of the minivan run a stop sign at Homer Street and Monticello Avenue and collide with a sedan crossing the intersection, police said. The sedan was then pushed into a third vehicle stopped at the intersection.

Koppa and Geron said the driver of the third vehicle got out to assist the victims in the sedan, and that's when police believe as many as two people ran from the stolen minivan. 

"The mother was nonresponsive at first but then they got her, she started to kind of at least she was breathing, and they were getting a little bit of movement out of her and then when we saw the boy I just you know I just feel so sorry cause I, he was just nonresponsive," said eyewitness Peter Ferris.

Geron said the minivan had been reported stolen about two weeks ago and that a description of the person(s) who fled the scene are not yet available. Police continue to search the area for those involved in the hit-and-run.

Oak Farms Dairy is offering a $15,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the driver of the vehicle that hit Ethan and Sandy Vasquez. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Dallas police.

NBC 5's Julie Fine and Randy McIlwain contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Sisters Found Safe After Overnight Search]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:55:26 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/missing-girls-dallas-041614.jpg

Two Dallas sisters were found safe Wednesday morning after an overnight search, police say.

Dallas police reported 11-year-old Ali Abrego and her sister, 9-year-old Adriana Castillo, were found safe shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday after disappearing the night before.

"I'm just glad they found them," said the girls' grandmother Antonia Castillo. "Those are my little babies, my little girls."

Before their disappearance, the girls were last seen near the Mariposa Villa Apartments in the 1500 block of Duncanville Road at about 4 p.m. Tuesday. 

Police said Adriana Castillo was upset and masterminded a plan to run away from home and got her older sister to join her.

Police said the girls were last seen by a large wooded area across the street from the complex.

"The girls spent the night in the woods they didn't get much sleep, they complained that the woodpeckers kept them up got maybe two hours of sleep but thankfully that's where we believe they stayed throughout the night," said Dallas police Lt. Max Geron.

According to NBC 5's Brian Scott, who was on the scene when the girls were found, both girls looked scared but uninjured when they were reunited with family members Wednesday morning.

The girls rode with family in police cars to Dallas Police Headquarters and did not require transportation by ambulance.

Sgt. Warren Mitchell, with the Dallas Police Department, said the girls came home after school Tuesday, packed some snacks and supplies and then took off.

Their mother called 911 at about 8 p.m. Tuesday when she arrived home and realized they were gone.

Police and family were concerned because neither girl was wearing a jacket or dressed for the elements when last seen.

Police say the pair took a cell phone with them which helped searchers locate them when they turned it on Wednesday morning.

Dallas police said Child Protective Services will work with the family to resolve any issues that led to the girls running away.

<![CDATA[Phony Phone Calls Threaten North Texans]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 10:26:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/phone-call.jpg

North Texans continue to receive calls from phony law enforcement officials asking for money.

The Garland Police Department is the third local agency this month to report residents targeted by the fake phone calls.

According to a release, Garland police continue to receive reports of schemers portraying themselves as officers or Garland city officials.

The schemer will call and threaten to put the person in jail for outstanding warrants if they do not send them money.

Some schemers have even rigged their phones their call back numbers to appear on Caller IDs as the City of Garland.

Irving police and the Denton County Sheriff's Office said many of its residents have received calls from people claiming to be with different government agencies.

One family in Irving was told to pay $4,000 or face deportation.

NBC 5 law enforcement expert Don Peritz said law enforcement agencies do not call people and try to extort money from them by alleging there are warrants out for their arrests and demanding payment.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Bloomberg to Spend $50M to Fight Gun Violence]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:32:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mayor-bloomberg-budget.jpg

In his first major political investment since leaving office, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to build a nationwide network aimed at curbing gun violence and battling the National Rifle Association, according to published reports.

Bloomberg told the New York Times that he is planning to spend $50 million this year to establish the grassroots gun control lobbying group, called Everytown for Gun Safety.

The new organization will encompass two other Bloomberg-funded gun control groups – Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – and will first take aim at expanding background checks for gun buyers both at the state and national levels, according to the Times. 

Everytown for Gun Safety will borrow from some of the NRA’s field operation tactics to grow influence, targeting mothers and other women that might be swayed on gun issues. The group has already targeted 15 states across the country with varying views on gun control, with the goal of recruiting 1 million new supporters.

“Right now, women, when they go to the polls, they vote on abortion, they vote on jobs, they vote on health care,” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts told the Times. “We want one of those things to be gun violence prevention.”

Bloomberg said he wanted work with both parties on gun control efforts and assembled an advisory board of Republican and Democratic officials, philanthropists and investors.

The former mayor's $50 million contribution would more than double the NRA’s $20 million in annual spending on political activities, the Times reports. Bloomberg hinted that his contributions to the cause could grow.

“I put $50 million this year, last year into coal, $53 million into oceans,” he told the Times. “Certainly a number like that, $50 million. Let’s see what happens.”

Bloomberg and Watts appeared on NBC's TODAY show Wednesday morning to talk about the group.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Part of U.S. Highway 75 Closed in McKinney]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:12:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/traffic-US-75.jpg The southbound lanes at U.S. Route 380 are closed in McKinney.]]> <![CDATA[FW, Tarrant County Slightly Adjust WNV Plan]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:42:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/WNV-Trap-041514.jpg

It is that time of year again, when the fight against the West Nile virus kicks into gear.

On Tuesday, the Fort Worth City Council was briefed on the city's 2014 plan, which features some small additions to the 2013 plan.

The city will continue its surveillance program of mosquitoes at its 42 fire stations. But the code compliance department will increase the amount of trapping it does at some popular area parks, like the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge and the Fort Worth Zoo.

The department also plans to create a "Citizen Participatory WNV Vector Control Program," per its presentation during the pre-council meeting on Tuesday.

The Nature Center averages 50,000 visitor a year, the Botanic Garden around 70,000 and the goal of the extra monitoring is both public safety and science related.

"So that we can continue to work toward having a predictability model for West Nile virus," said Code Compliance Director Brandon Bennett. "That's one of the things that everybody lacks at this point is, it (the West Nile season) going to be bad? Is it going to be average? Who knows?"

The UNT Health Sciences Center will be working on the data collected at the parks and elsewhere to help develop that possible model. 

Last year the virus saw a major drop off from 2012. In 2013, Fort Worth had only six human cases of the virus and one fatality. A year earlier 81 people were sickened and four people died. The number of positive mosquito pools also were on the decline, with 15 in 2012 and just five in 2013. It should be noted though that testing did not take place across the whole season in 2012.

"We just have to stay on course, stay focused and not allow these slower years to get us off track," Bennett said.

The West Nile virus plan calls for canvassing of neighborhoods and assessing environmental exposure concerns when a positive human case is found.

The city also assesses environmental risks when positive mosquito pool samples are found. The city also responds to citizens’ calls for concerns.

Bennett said his department is prepared to go door-to-door if needed again this year.

The city started trapping at various parks in mid-June in 2013, but will now do so year round at the Nature Center, Botanic Garden, Acadia Park, Gateway Park, Cobb Park and Rolling Hills Park.

During the testing in 2013 in the parks there were no positive mosquito pools found in the 49 samples tested.

If positive mosquito pools are found in the parks, city staff will work to mitigate the hazards. That includes finding the source of the mosquitoes and using larvicide and larvae eating fish to combat the mosquitoes. 

The best way to fight the virus the city said is through protecting yourself with the four D’s, Deet, Dress in long sleeves, stay indoors at Dusk and Dawn and Drain standing water. There is also the 5x5 program, where you check your home and five others around your neighborhood to make sure there are no mosquito pools.

The Tarrant County Public Health Department is also modifying its plan this year, but only slightly. Surveillance is year round for the county but on April 1, the seasonal surveillance program kicked off which features dozens of traps around the county in various cities.

One change this year is that the county health department will no longer call for spraying of nuisance mosquitoes. Last year the county would spray in spots due to a high abundance of mosquitoes in certain areas.

"Spraying will only be done in response to a positive mosquito sample," said Dr. Anita Kurian, assistant director of the Tarrant County Public Health Department.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Two Arlington Teams Earn National Titles]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 19:41:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Goodman-Step-Team-041514.jpg

Not many people can say they’re national champions -- and even fewer can say they won that title by the time they were in fifth grade. The step team at Goodman Elementary School in Arlington can though.

They won the U-12 division at the National Step Show Alliance Championships this past weekend in Chicago. They beat out five other teams who qualified for the prestigious competition.

“It was really exciting,” said Paola Maqueda, a fifth-grader and co-captain of the GES Steppers. “And we liked it a lot.”

Their routine combines dancing, an intricate series of stomping and clapping in rhythm, even jumping on each other’s shoulders at one point. And the judges and teams in Chicago almost didn’t get to see it.

“At first we had the heavy shoulders of how are we going to get there?” said Christy Heath, one of the team’s coaches.

The GES Steppers qualified for nationals but didn’t have the money to get to Chicago. They turned to the community for help, which stepped up in a big way. The team received more than $11,000 in donations.

“It means a lot because they took the time to donate,” said Maqueda.

The team said that support is what pushed them to work hard and ultimately come out on top.

“It’s still kind of surreal,” said Heath. “It hasn’t set in yet. The effort they put in is tremendous.”

The team arrived back at school Tuesday with a big trophy.

“It means that we tried our best and we had fun,” said Tearra Seal, a fifth-grader and co-captain of the GES Steppers.

But just to make sure everyone knows how appreciative they are, they’re spending the next few days writing thank you notes to everyone who donated.

They weren’t the only step team from Arlington that went to Chicago and brought back a national title. The Bowie High School “Souljahs” won their division as well.

After not placing during last year’s competition, the team said they came back this year ready to work harder. To prepare for the competition, the team practiced upwards of four hours, six days a week. They said they’re glad the hard work paid off.

“It was the happiest moment of my life,” said Trey Boston, a senior on the team. “I never cried so hard. I’ve never been so happy. It was just worship and good feelings.”