<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.comen-usFri, 28 Jul 2017 14:21:49 -0500Fri, 28 Jul 2017 14:21:49 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Police Officer Falls From Freeway After Patrol Car Struck]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 06:19:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/houston-officer-struck.jpg

Houston police said an officer fell 16 feet from an overpass after being struck by a suspected drunk driver Friday morning.

Police said they were investigating a crash on an exit ramp from U.S. 59 at about 2 a.m. when a vehicle struck a patrol car, which was pushed into one of the officers. The officer was thrown over the barrier and fell to the access road below.

That officer was transported to Memorial Hermann with injuries that police said were not life threatening.

"He's in a neck brace," Houston Police Department Sgt. Thomas Fendia said. "Firefighters luckily were on scene. They were able to render first aid immediately."

A second officer was also transported as a precaution.

Police said the woman who struck the patrol car and officer smelled of alcohol and is believed to have been driving while intoxicated.

"We are conducting a DWI investigation on her at this time," Fendia said.



Photo Credit: Metro]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Procession for North Texas Marine Killed in Crash]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 14:06:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/joshua-snowden-procession-dfw-airport.jpg

Staff Sgt. Joshua Michael Snowden, a flight engineer killed July 10 in a military plane crash, will be laid to rest after a funeral Friday morning.

Snowden was among 16 crew members on a KC-130 that crashed while flying over a soybean field north of Jackson, Mississippi. The crash, which remains under investigation, killed everyone on board.

Snowden would have turned 32-years-old July 22, his family said.

Snowden's body arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

After his arrival, Snowden was driven to the Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral home while being escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders. The riders will also accompany Snowden on his ride to the cemetery Friday and will stand in a flag line at his interment service.

Though he was born Abilene in 1985, Snowden's family eventually moved to Dallas where he attended Highland Park High School and played lacrosse.

After graduation he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He'd go on to to graduate from Texas State University in 2010, where he also played lacrosse. He returned to active duty in 2012.

"Snowden, or simply 'Snow' by all who knew him, was a man who loved God, his family and friends, and his country. He was an avid lover of Texas Country music, grilling steaks, and working on his truck all at the same time whenever possible," according to his obituary on Legacy.com.

Snowden's funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas. He will be buried at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery at 2:45 p.m. Friday.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Lewd, Rude, Crude? The White House Has Heard it All]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 14:19:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP_17209119495941.jpg

You think the Mooch is so bad? That's bull — He's got bipartisan company in the foul-mouthed world of American politics. 

Anthony Scaramucci, the new communications director at the White House, might have taken public sector profanity to a new low in this week’s New Yorker interview, but the country boasts a long history of occasionally salty presidents, their vice presidents and aides. You just may not have known it at the time. 

From “Give ‘Em Hell Harry” Truman who called General Douglas MacArthur a “dumb son of a b----” to Vice President Dick Cheney telling Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy to “f--- yourself,” America’s top politicians have not been reluctant to express themselves in strong language.

Scaramucci shocked more than a few readers with his vulgarity during a telephone call with a New Yorker writer Wednesday night, saying of Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, “Reince is a f------ paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac.” Of chief strategist Steve Bannon, he said to Ryan Lizza, “I’m not Steve Bannon. I’m not trying to suck my own c---.”

Scaramucci later tweeted that he had “made a mistake in trusting in a reporter,” but Lizza says Scaramucci never asked that the conversation be off the record.

As Rolling Stone recalled in a round-up of presidential profanity in 2012, Richard Nixon and the Watergate tapes put the phrase “expletive deleted” on the map. The difference today is the expletives are blasted on social media and make their way into news stories immediately instead of over hot mics or years later when unearthed by historians. News organizations have wrestled with how explicit their reports should be in recent years. Ground zero in the latest round: Donald Trump's infamous "p---y" tape. 

The decade-old Access Hollywood recording was released in October during the presidential campaign.

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women — I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet,” Trump said to Billy Bush, then an anchor for the show, in 2005. “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the p----."

His predecessors had their moments, too — rude, profane, sometimes crude if not as misogynistic, at least not publicly. Here are a few of them.

Truman explained to Merle Miller, the author of “Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman,” why he had fired MacArthur in these words: “I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. That’s the answer to that. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a b----, although he was, but that’s not against the laws for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.”

President John F. Kennedy told his brother, Robert, of the Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker: “I don’t want to see that boring son-of-a-bitch again.”

Many of President Richard Nixon racist, bigoted comments were, of course, caught on the White House tapes. Here are some of his observations about various ethnic groups: “The Jews have certain traits. The Irish have certain - for example, the Irish can't drink. What you always have to remember with the Irish is they get mean. Virtually every Irish I've known gets mean when he drinks. It's sort of a natural trait. Particularly the real Irish," Nixon said.

“The Italians, of course, just don't have their heads screwed on tight,” he said. “They are wonderful people, but . . ." he trailed off, adding later: "The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality."

And on the day that Nixon announced chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, domestic policy aide John Ehrlichman, White House counsel John Dean and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst were resigning, he told Haldeman: “It’s a tough thing, Bob, for you, for John, the rest, but God damn it, I never want to discuss this son of a b---- Watergate thing again. Never, never, never, never.”

Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, when informed of one Watergate article the Washington Post was about to publish, famously said of its publisher, Katharine Graham, "All that crap, you're putting it in the paper? It's all been denied. Katie Graham's gonna get her t-- caught in a big fat wringer if that's published.

One of the most repeated stories about Lyndon Johnson is that he consulted with advisers, even with biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, while on the toilet.

President Jimmy Carter, whose adultery was committed in his heart, once told a group of congressmen in 1979 that if Kennedy were to challenge him, "I'll whip his ass."

As far as profane comments, here is one example, according to President George H.W. Bush, who had told Johnson he wanted to run for the U.S. Senate:  “And he said, ‘The difference between the Senate and the House is the difference between chicken salad and chicken s---,’” Bush said.

President Bill Clinton’s aide Rahm Emanuel warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair,  “Don't f--- it up,” during Blair’s 1998 visit to the White House during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

George W. Bush did not realize the microphone in front of him was on when he insulted then New York Times reporter Adam Clymer during the presidential campaign in 2000. Bush called Clymer a “major-league a------.”

Cheney cursed at Leahy during an argument on the Senate floor in 2004 over Cheney’s ties to the Halliburton Co. and the company’s contracts in Iraq. Cheney later acknowledged the comment.

And President Barack Obama in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2012 called his Republican rival, Mitt Romney,  “a bull------er.”



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais]]>
<![CDATA[CTE Reports, Concussions Deter Parents From Youth Football]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 13:48:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-499666996.jpg

Lori Anderson grew up with a big, traditional, football-loving family in Austin, Texas, and moved her own family to midwest Michigan. There, she did what was once unthinkable: She did not let her 13-year-old son play football.

"I feel it is my job as a parent to make those hard decisions and this was one of them," she said. "I told him that there were studies that showed that some hits injured the brain, and that I didn’t want him to possibly have problems later in life."

Most of the brains of deceased football players analyzed in a study of professional and non-professional athletes released this week found the existence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. The disease was even found in some high school players.

While the National Football League is the professional authority on the sport, the future of American football relies on the engagement of young children. It seems revelations from CTE studies are deterring some parents from starting their children in the sport. Some, though not all, leagues say they have had declining participation rates in football. And youth organizations like Pop Warner have responded to the fears by making more concerted efforts to protect their young players with rule changes and more training for coaches.

Anderson said she sat her son down when he was 9 or 10 years old and explained to him that it wasn't going to be safe for him to play football. When he was 12, his friend was badly injured and ended up in a neck brace. That "hit home for him," Anderson said. After that, her son began looking up CTE for himself on the internet and made peace with not being allowed to play. 

Over 1 million high school students played football in the 2015-16 season, according to an annual participation survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). But participation has steadily decreased since the 2008-09 season. The most recent report shows a 2.5 percent drop, or about 28,000 fewer players than nine years ago.

The report published Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that 177 of the 202 deceased football players had CTE. The disease was found in 110 of 111 brains from former NFL players; 48 of 53 college players; nine of 14 semi-professional players; seven of eight Canadian Football league players; and three of 14 high school players.

"Essentially this says it's a problem for football, it's a problem at all levels at high school and above," said the study's lead author Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuroscientist. "We need to now look for ways to detect it in living people, and most importantly, to treat it in living people."

CTE is linked to repeated blows to the head, resulting in irreversible changes to the brain, including memory loss, depression and dementia. As of now, the disease has no known treatment.

Anderson's 13-year-old son is on the track team and runs for the cross country team. She said he also swims and wants to play golf next year.

"He still has the teamwork aspect, which I do feel is important to experience at his age," she said. "He is still learning about hard work and time management."

Dr. Barry Kosofsky is the chief of child neurology at Weill Cornell in New York City and director of the pediatric concussion clinic. His general rule about receiving concussions while playing sports is "three strikes, you're out." But that should not apply to children under 14, who, in his opinion, should not play tackle football in any capacity.

"Football is not safe for children to play, no," he said. "Football is bad for your brain."

While the JAMA study represents a skewed sample, Kosofsky said it still managed to make breakthroughs on CTE. 

"They've shown, which no one else has shown, that you can get it at earlier ages with less football exposure," he said. 

USA Football, the national governing body for amateur football, uses numbers provided in the Sports and Fitness Industry Association's Topline Participation Report for tackle and flag football, for players ages 6-17. The report’s trend since 2012 has shown a drop in enrollment by 1.7 percent, a smaller percentage decline than shown by the NFHS survey.

"The youth game is taught and played differently today than it was a few short years ago," a USA Football representative said in response to questions about the latest CTE report.

Carrie Bembry is a mother of three in Centerville, Ohio. Her youngest is 10 years old and he is passionate about football. He has played since kindergarten, she said, and she does not intend to keep her son from the sport, unless he receives another concussion.

Bembry's oldest child is 17 years old and he stopped playing football after his freshman year of high school. He was sidelined by a series of concussions that lead to noticeable cognitive difficulties. Bembry said her once-honor roll, popular son is now withdrawn, depressed and struggles in school. He has difficulty completing multi-step tasks. Doctors have correlated the recent issues to concussions.

"Of course I worry about concussions with my youngest playing football, but even with my oldest son's post-concussion problems, it is a risk that we are willing to take because he loves the game so much," Bembry said. "[But] yes, it for sure weighs heavily on my mind."

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is fighting against CTE in Congress, calling for legislation to protect players. Last year, as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, she pressed a NFL spokesman to note the link between CTE and football. In a statement following Tuesday's report, she said, "The time for denying facts and looking the other way is over."

"We must now actively seek out ways to protect the health and well-being of players, from Pop Warner to the NFL and every league in between," Schakowsky said. "It is also imperative to ensure that the American people are informed about the dangers associated with playing football."

Pop Warner, a youth football program with players across the country, is one of the oldest and largest of its kind. According to spokesman Brian Heffron, enrollment has remained steady over the past five years. Their last significant drop in enrollment was from 2010-12, when "certainly the concussion issue played a role."

Heffron attributes their since-steady participation to Pop Warner's aggressive campaign for player safety, including banning kickoffs and head-on blocking, and mandating a coaching education.

"As an organization driven by player safety, we're grateful for the scientific community's focus on the issue," Heffron said. "We think there are valuable learnings in this study, but even the researchers point out that this was a narrow study."

The JAMA report is a continuation of research that began eight years ago and serves as the largest update on the study. The subjects of the study were not randomly chosen; they were submitted by players themselves or their families because of repeated concussions and/or troubling symptoms before death.

Dr. Greg Landry is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ sports council, and co-authored the guidelines on concussions and return to play. The son of a football coach, Landry played from ages 11 to 22, and was a team doctor for the University of Wisconsin for 25 years.

The JAMA study, he said, leaves many questions from the "biased sample" and he believes "youth football is low risk." But "coaches and officials need to do more to help football players protect their heads," he said. 

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the JAMA study was "important to further advancing the science and progress related to trauma."

"As noted by the authors, there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE," McCarthy said. "The NFL is committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries."

The NFL pledged $100 million to research on neuroscience-related topics last year, after settling a $1 billion concussion lawsuit brought forth by former players.

Christina Barrett, of Macomb, Michigan, said all the reports on CTE and the movie "Concussion" were enough to convince her that her 10-year-old son should not play football.

"No sport is worth endangering a child’s health," she said. "While sports are important, they aren’t more important than my child’s health or academics. His future successes will be dependent upon his brain, not his athletic skills."



Photo Credit: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Personal Info of Texas School Employees Published Online]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 12:49:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/20160928+Classroom+Generic.jpg

Employees with the Fort Worth Independent School District are apparently among a number of employees of Texas school districts whose personal information was inadvertently published online by the Texas Association of School Boards.

Some employees of the district received an email Friday alerting them to a "data security incident" that "exposed some of your personal information to the Internet."

The district informed employees that the exposure by the TASB was not isolated to the FWISD and that tens of thousands of school employees from hundreds of Texas districts were affected by the error.

The Texas Association of School Boards confirmed Friday in a statement that they published online personal information of some people employed in Texas school districts through an application they use to report wages to the Texas Workforce Commission. The information reported is part of an unemployment compensation group program administered by the TASB.

The TASB said in a statement Friday that after being told the information had been published they immediately took the application offline and began an investigation into the incident. Meanwhile, the TASB is in the process of notifying the districts involved so that the employees of those districts can also be notified.

"For affected employees, TASB is providing a hotline for questions and a one-year membership to a credit monitoring and identity fraud product," the agency said in a statement.

NBC 5 has reached out to the TASB to determine exactly how many people have been affected and specifically what personal information was published. As of this writing, the TASB has not replied to those questions.

The TASB said in a prepared statement they are "taking a variety of corrective actions including implementing additional security protocols to the application that caused the problem, conducting a comprehensive review of all electronic resources that contain sensitive information, increasing the frequency and scope of security scans, and expanding security training for all TASB staff."

TASB Statement



Photo Credit: Shutterstock / maroke]]>
<![CDATA[Semifinalists Announced for 2017 Big Tex Choice Awards]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 04:50:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/big-tex-choice.jpg

The State Fair of Texas announced the semifinalists for the 13th annual Big Tex Choice Awards Friday.

A third category was added to this year's awards. Three winners will be crowned in the 2017 Big Tex Choice Awards ceremony in the categories of "Best Taste - Sweet," "Best Taste - Savory," and "Most Creative."

The second round of judging will take place during the next few weeks to narrow down the following list of 30 semifinalists. The 10 finalists will be announced in mid-August.


  • Beer Battered Beef Jerky
  • Cajun Fried Deviled Eggs
  • Crawfish Lollipop
  • Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Mozzarella with Jalapeno Ranch
  • Deep Fried Breakfast Cupcake
  • Deep Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick
  • Deep Fried Fruit Loops
  • Deep Fried Reuben
  • Deep Fried Root Beer Float with Dragon's Breath
  • Dreamy Drunken Sopapilla Cheesecake Bar
  • Fat Smooth
  • Fried Arroz Con Pollo
  • Fried Cheesecake Stuffed Apple Sundae
  • Fried El Paso
  • Fried Mango Loco
  • Fried Redneck Wedding Cake Balls
  • Fried Sloppy Joe Flautas with 'Not Cho' Fries
  • Fried Texas Dirt
  • Fried Texas Sheet Cake
  • Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger
  • Gulf Coast Fish Bowl
  • Oreo Beer
  • Pinot Noir Popcorn
  • Ramen Grasshopper Cookie
  • Southern Fried Chicken Monte Cristo
  • Surfin-Turfin-Tator Boat
  • Texas Fajita Fries
  • Texas Fried Cowboy Fritters
  • The Tamale Donut
  • Tipsy Topsy Catfish on a Stick

The Big Tex Choice Awards will take place at 2 p.m. Aug. 27 in the Tower Building at Fair Park.

Tickets will be available online at BigTex.com for $100. All proceeds will be donated to the State Fair of Texas Youth Scholarship Program.

Online: BigTex.com



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[UT Dallas Teaches Speech, Confidence at Listening Camp]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 12:09:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/choclear-implant.jpg

For 22 years, the Callier Center from the Universityof Texas at Dallas has facilitated a “listening” summer camp for 4- to 11-year-old deaf children with cochlear implants.

The implant has two important pieces. One part of thehearing device is inserted inside of the child’s ear while the other part sits behind the ear. The two pieces are magnetically connected.

“Thecochlear implant technology is amazing and it advances all the time,’ saidMelissa Sweeny who is the head of Speech Pathology at the University of Texasat Dallas. “It allows them to hear thesoftest sounds and all of the sounds of speech that’s needed for a child todevelop a spoken language.”

Sweeny added that many children that use the implant are likely the only ones at their schools or on their sports teams.

“Sometime they may feel isolated because they don’t know otherchildren with cochlear implants, but here the children have a sense of supportand this environment builds up their confidence,” she said.

Forty to 45 kids register each year for the camp held the Cross Creek Ranch in Allen. Activities includingfishing, arts and crafts and rock-wall climbing. Sweeny said they have specificreasons for those activities.

"We may be working with them onwords that are associated with the rock-wall or saying new sentences with theirfriends," she said. "Good language skills are important for children learning to read, andwe know that learning to read is really important to academic success. A lot ofwhat we do is focused on their future success."

Many of the campers decide to comeback and work as counselors. Isabelle Pruitt, 15, is a camper turnedcounselor. She started going to the camp when she was 3-years-old afterreceiving her cochlear implant.

“I love camp. This is my deaf family,” shesaid. “We can bring the deaf community together, make friends and people whoare just like you get to experience something together.”

Online: Cochlear Implant Summer Listening Camp


Tags—courtney Gilmore, university of texas at dallas,cochlear implant, speech, summer camp, deaf camp, sign language, Melissa sweeny


For twenty two year the Callier Center from the Universityof Texas at Dallas facilitates a “listening” summer camp for children ages 4 to11-years-old. The camp, which is held at the Cross Creek Ranch in Allen, TX, isspecifically for deaf children with cochlear implants.


The implant has two important pieces. One part of thehearing device is inserted inside of the child’s ear, and the other part of thedevice sits behind the ear. The two pieces are magnetically connected. “Thecochlear implant technology is amazing and it advances all the time,’ saidMelissa Sweeny who is the head of Speech Pathology at the University of Texasat Dallas. “It really allows people who are profoundly deaf and can’t hear theloudest sound that you and I can think of, and it allows them to hear thesoftest sounds and all of the sounds of speech that’s needed for a child todevelop a spoken language,” said Sweeny.



“Many of these children may be the only ones with a cochlearimplant, at their school on their soccer team. So when they come here it’s verydifferent. Sometime they may feel isolated because they don’t know otherchildren with cochlear implants, but here the children have a sense of supportand this environment builds up their confidence,” said Sweeny.


40 to 45 kids register each year. Activities includingfishing, arts and crafts, and rock-wall climbing. “We really have specificreasons why we are doing those activities. So we may be working with them onwords that are associated with the rock-wall or saying new sentences with theirfriends. Good language skills are important for children learning to read, andwe know that learning to read is really important to academic success. A lot ofwhat we do is focused on their future success,” said Sweeny.


Many of the campers, after turning teenagers, decide to comeback and work as counselors. 15-year-old Isabelle Pruitt is a camper turnedcounselor. She started going to the camp when she was 3-years-old afterreceiving her cochlear implant. “I love camp. This is my deaf family,” shesaid. “We can bring the deaf community together, make friends, and people whoare just like you get to experience something together,” said Pruitt.


For more details about the listening summer camp and theCallier Center at the University of Texas at Dallas head here http://www.utdallas.edu/calliercenter/evaluation-and-treatment/cochlear/child/camp.php

Headline--UT Dallas Teaches Speech and Confidence atListening Summer Camp


Tags—courtney Gilmore, university of texas at dallas,cochlear implant, speech, summer camp, deaf camp, sign language, Melissa sweeny


For twenty two year the Callier Center from the Universityof Texas at Dallas facilitates a “listening” summer camp for children ages 4 to11-years-old. The camp, which is held at the Cross Creek Ranch in Allen, TX, isspecifically for deaf children with cochlear implants.


The implant has two important pieces. One part of thehearing device is inserted inside of the child’s ear, and the other part of thedevice sits behind the ear. The two pieces are magnetically connected. “Thecochlear implant technology is amazing and it advances all the time,’ saidMelissa Sweeny who is the head of Speech Pathology at the University of Texasat Dallas. “It really allows people who are profoundly deaf and can’t hear theloudest sound that you and I can think of, and it allows them to hear thesoftest sounds and all of the sounds of speech that’s needed for a child todevelop a spoken language,” said Sweeny.



“Many of these children may be the only ones with a cochlearimplant, at their school on their soccer team. So when they come here it’s verydifferent. Sometime they may feel isolated because they don’t know otherchildren with cochlear implants, but here the children have a sense of supportand this environment builds up their confidence,” said Sweeny.


40 to 45 kids register each year. Activities includingfishing, arts and crafts, and rock-wall climbing. “We really have specificreasons why we are doing those activities. So we may be working with them onwords that are associated with the rock-wall or saying new sentences with theirfriends. Good language skills are important for children learning to read, andwe know that learning to read is really important to academic success. A lot ofwhat we do is focused on their future success,” said Sweeny.


Many of the campers, after turning teenagers, decide to comeback and work as counselors. 15-year-old Isabelle Pruitt is a camper turnedcounselor. She started going to the camp when she was 3-years-old afterreceiving her cochlear implant. “I love camp. This is my deaf family,” shesaid. “We can bring the deaf community together, make friends, and people whoare just like you get to experience something together,” said Pruitt.


For more details about the listening summer camp and theCallier Center at the University of Texas at Dallas head here http://www.utdallas.edu/calliercenter/evaluation-and-treatment/cochlear/child/camp.php

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Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Inside Pa.'s ICE Immigrant Family Detention Center]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 12:33:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/berkz+county+detention+center+2+may.jpg

Three thousand, seven hundred miles from home, a Honduran couple and their 4-year-old son were about to cross into Canada through upstate New York.

The family planned to seek asylum there. U.S. Border Patrol agents found them first.

The husband was sent to the Buffalo Federal Detention Center. The wife and child were taken to the Berks County Residential Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

Mother and son spent the next 140 days at the county-run, federally-funded prison before being released July 27.

The father was also released and the family is on their way to Florida to live while continuing to fight for asylum, according to one of their pro bono attorneys, Bridget Cambria.

A worse fate befell 10 other mothers and their children at Berks. After spending more than two years at the former nursing home 80 miles west of Philadelphia, they all were deported in May.

“That was May 11, the worst day of our lives,” Cambria’s colleague, attorney Carol Anne Donohoe, said of the previously unreported removals of nine of the families. One mother and her child were first deported May 3.

The varied outcomes for asylum seekers, and the incredible amounts of time they can spend at Berks, is telling about a place critics describe as child immigrant purgatory. It’s the only facility of its kind in the country where parents and children can be held for an indefinite time.

“There’s a 16-year-old, Victor. He’s spent two years behind these walls. These stupid walls are all he knows,” Cambria said. “The whole thing is torture. You’re contained inside this building. They’ll say, ‘We see the same walls. All day, every day.’”

Advocates call the center a humane approach to detaining immigrants in the midst of a labyrinthine process for asylum. Federal officials granted NBC10 a tour of the facility, though the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) administrator was not available for an interview. ICE also did not allow a reporter to talk with detainees or use a camera.

“People are treated rather well,” said Kevin Barnhardt, one of three locally-elected county commissioners. “It’s not my fault they are there for a longer period of time because they filed appeals to their immigration.”

Since 2011, the county has made nearly $7 million from operating the detention center for ICE, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

“My view is the county works in cooperation with the federal government. They’re performing an important function,” another county commissioner, Mark Scott, said. “I’m more than happy to provide some assistance to them.”

‘They Won the Worst Lottery Ever’

When the 10 recently deported women crossed into Texas over two years ago, they claimed to be escaping sexual abuse, violence and possibly death back in their Central American countries. They came from an area known as the Northern Triangle, a trio of countries with the highest murder rates in the world.

No one is able to say with certainty why the immigration and judicial systems funneled them, in particular, to Berks and left them in legal limbo as hundreds of other immigrant men, women and children came and went.

“It’s the luck of the draw to end up in detention,” Cambria said. “They won the worst lottery ever.”

They’re known collectively as the Castro mothers, named for the court case: Castro v. Department of Homeland Security. The Supreme Court in April declined to hear their appeal, which challenged a lower court ruling denying the families further judicial relief from ICE expedited removal orders.

Cambria, Donohoe and a fellow attorney, Jacquelyn Kline, continued to argue that the mothers and children be freed and granted asylum because many of the children had already received Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status.

“The purpose of the SIJ program is to help foreign children in the United States who have been abused, abandoned or neglected,” according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Despite that, on May 3, the first mother and child were deported to Honduras. Cambria and Kline said they heard about their clients’ removals while in court for another case. That deportation initially garnered national attention after U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., unleashed a flurry of tweets calling unsuccessfully for the reversal of ICE’s removal order.

Eight days later, the sweeping removal of the nine other mothers, and their children, invoked no publicity.

They and thousands of other men, women and children have fled El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in the last decade, an exodus spurred on by drug wars between murderous gangs like MS-13.

Honduras and El Salvador have the two highest murder rates in the world, at 75 per 100,000 and 62 per 100,000, respectively, according to 2014 figures from the World Bank. Guatemala has the seventh highest rate at 32 per 100,000.

The murder rate for the United States is 3.9 per 100,000, according to the most recent data available.

In the last five years, a tiny fraction of asylum requests from those three countries have been granted, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review.

Federal Money for County Coffers

The Berks County facility is one of only three Immigration and Customs Enforcement family detention centers. The other two are in Texas, and those facilities are not allowed to detain immigrants for more than 20 days. (A recent Associated Press report, however, found that the limit may be not adhered to by authorities.)

Berks is not privately run, but it does make a tidy profit for the county — more than $1 million in 2016.

Kevin Barnhardt, the county commissioner, said the profit comes from renting office space inside the building to ICE. That rental income totaled $1.08 million last year, though ICE’s regional deputy director Josh Reed said during a recent tour of the facility that only a handful of agents operated out of the building.

“We make money from renting floor space,” Barnhardt said. “We do not make profit on the families.”

The county’s annual financial report is less definitive, indicating that the center had an operating income of $1,097,553 in 2016, which factored into what is described as a “total net position” of $6.8 million since its 2011 opening as an immigrant family detention center. Both commissioners interviewed said annual profits from the facility go into the county’s general fund.

Up to 96 immigrant men, women and children can be held at any time. During the walkthrough in late July, Reed said about 67 people were held at that time, but that the number fluctuates. For decades, the building housed a nursing home. When the county decided to build a new one, Scott said they found ICE eager to utilize the space.

Berks County previously held illegal immigrants at another county detention facility in a partnership with ICE, so the relationship was already established, Scott said.

“Many years ago, the county had some criminal aliens who were detained and mixed in the prison population,” he said. “We were dealing with adult males back then. I think what happened is the feds realized they had this issue with people with small children.”

Accounts differ greatly of the living conditions inside the center. A county staff of 65 operate and manage the facility. The attorneys for the detainees say a recent influx of male parents with children has created an unsettling environment.

“There are examples of a father and his daughter sharing a room with mothers and their children,” Cambria said. “Where else is that allowed?”

The building’s first floor includes a visitation area for phone calls and meetings with attorneys, a large communal space with eight computers called the Program Floor, an indoor playroom for small children and an exit to a rear playground, picnic area and small sports field. There is also a wing with four classrooms.

The second-floor has a cafeteria and another common area separating two wings of sleeping quarters. Each wing has shared bathrooms with showers. A guard watched over one while a short line formed. A corridor leads to a medical wing.

Each bedroom consists of six to eight beds, with some rooms occupied by four adults and four children, others by three and three. Locker-style closets served as storage space.

Reed said the facility makes every effort to keep those detained there in comfortable conditions. He touted classrooms run by the Berks County Intermediate Unit as providing children with access to teachers that is “a little more one-on-one here than in public schools.”

The center’s contract with the county Intermediate Unit has skyrocketed since 2011. The BCIU is now paid $78,000 a month for education services, according to vendor contracts obtained through a Right-To-Know request.

BCIU executive director Jill Hackman did not return a message seeking comment.

Three Lawyers Who Won't 'Shut Up'

The Castro case still looms over the center. Four mothers and their children, who were also plaintiffs, are still there. They remain in court appeals for the right to stay in the country.

Their collective story has brought attention to a federal center tucked amid the foothills of the Appalachian Trail.

State support has waned under Gov. Tom Wolf, who wants the federal government to look at alternatives for housing asylum seekers. He allowed the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to consider revoking the center’s license as a “child residential facility.”

A DHS spokeswoman said a departmental review remains under consideration.

Wolf made his preference clear in May.

“Gov. Wolf has repeatedly urged the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security to consider community-based options to serve these families whenever possible,” the governor’s spokesman J.J. Abbott said at the time. “He believes that the center should no longer detain these families and his administration continues to pursue the revocation of their state license.”

Mark Scott, the county commissioner, said he could not discuss the licensing issues, but said the state inspects the facility frequently. Kevin Barnhardt, another commissioner, said Berks has been inspected 30 times already in 2017.


"We understand there are people who have an ax to grind and want open borders. But in our case, it’s not a political issue," Scott said. "We’ve had people who objected to the center. We gave them a tour and they shut up."

That's not the case for the three pro bono lawyers Cambria, Donohoe and Kline. They continue almost daily treks from their Reading office to meet with detainees.

They are in near constant communication with one asylum seeker or another. Their detestation for Berks is evident in the numerous stories they pass along from clients.

The psychologist who says long-term detainees have stabilized.

“They come fleeing from violence and abuse in their home countries. They have all these traumas on their journey here,” Kline said. “Now, they’re re-traumatized.”

The staff counselors always watching.

“We’ve had one of our clients who was told she smiled too much, and she was written up for it,” Cambria said.

The coming of age inside a federal detention center.

“How can we live in a country where we can accept that a child is being detained?” Donohoe said. “It’s absurd.”



Photo Credit: Immigration and Customs Enforcement
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<![CDATA[77-Year-Old Man Stung By 'a Cloud' of Africanized Bees Dies]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 10:30:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Bee_Attack_Leaves_77-Year-Old_Fighting_for_His_Life.jpg

A 77-year-old man has died after being stung hundreds of times by a swarm of Africanized bees while on a walk in his high desert neighborhood, a relative said Thursday.

The victim, identified by his nephew only as Larry, was walking Monday near his home in Oak Hills, a desert community near Hesperia, when the bees, known colloquially as "killer bees," attacked. He was found by his nephew, who pulled him to safety inside the home and called paramedics before beginning to pull hundreds of stingers out of Larry's skin.

"He's been stung so many times, and there was just a cloud of bees around him and crawling all over him and stinging him," the nephew told NBC4 on Tuesday.

Larry was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he was treated for hundreds of bee stings.

According to doctors, bee stings can be fatal if the victim is allergic and does not seek immediate treatment.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV ]]>
<![CDATA[Man Dead, Teens Charged in Drive-By Shooting at Dallas Park]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 10:34:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dallas-park-drive-by.jpg

Police said an 18-year-old man is dead and two teenagers are in custody after someone opened fire at a group of people playing basketball at a Dallas park Wednesday night.

Dallas police said officers responded to reports of a shooting near Miller Family Park in the 2800 block of Persimmon Road at about 8:30 p.m. Witnesses said several people were playing basketball in the park when someone in a passing vehicle fired a gun.

Police said Patrick Powell was transported to a hospital with a gunshot wound. He was pronounced deceased Friday morning.

Officers caught up with the vehicle suspected in the shooting after a brief chase. Police said they detained and questioned four people in the vehicle.

Police said they arrested a 13-year-old male and a 14-year-old male in connection with the shooting. They were transported to the Henry Wade Juvenile Detention Center and charged with murder.



Photo Credit: Metro
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<![CDATA[Newborn Twins, Toddler Lose Both Parents Just Days Apart]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 09:36:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Kids+lose+parents+in+series+of+events+days+apart.jpg

A set of newborn twins and their 1-year-old sister were orphaned after a series of tragic events claimed the life of their father and then their mother just days later.

The children’s 26-year-old father, Jevaughn Suckoo, was fatally shot on July 11 at his Florida home in a gated community in West Palm Beach, according to a Palm Beach Post database. Police ruled Suckoo’s death a homicide.

Three days later, Suckoo’s pregnant girlfriend, Stephanie Caceres, gave birth to the couple’s twin boy and girl. According to Caceres’ family, she developed an infection from the C-section and was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit. She died 10 days later, the same day Suckoo's family laid him to rest. 

"She always told me that she had a dream of taking care of me because I have diabetes. And she always told me 'mom I'm going to take care of you,' not knowing that I'm going to be taking care of her kids," Stephanie's mother, Irma Meza, said in an interview in Spanish with NBC affiliate WPTV.

The couple also leave behind their 1-year-old daughter Kailanie. The family says that the children’s grandparents will now take custody and raise all three of their grandchildren.

"We're just devastated," Joni Saunders, Suckoo's aunt told WPTV. "They were looking forward to the twins coming. Then tragedy, a double whammy hit. Now we're just trying figure out how to move forward."

The couple’s family set up a gofundme page in the children’s names in effort to raise money for health care, education and support.



Photo Credit: GoFundMe]]>
<![CDATA[Trail Bridge Over Mockingbird Given Opening Date]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 08:09:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Mockingbird_Ped_Bridge.jpg

It’s a project that’s been in the works for about a decade, and it’s finally inching toward completion.

Dallas city officials said the Mockingbird Pedestrian Bridge is expected to be open to the public in October.

The bridge will start from the back of the Highland Dallas Hotel, go over Mockingbird Lane, and end at Mockingbird Station.

Rick Galceran, the director with the City of Dallas Mobility and Street Services Department, said one of the main reasons the project has taken so long to finish was the process of acquiring the property. He also said it’s a lengthy and complicated design.

Angela Hunt, a former Dallas city council member, was involved in the project for years during her tenure on the council. She said one of things she loves most about the bridge is how it connects different parts of Dallas together.

Hunt also said the bridge serves many purposes.

“It can function both as a recreational amenity, but also a transportation amenity. Imagine being able to jump on this and go to work in downtown Dallas. You will be able to do that once this is built," she said.

On Thursday, construction crews were hard at work in the heat working on the bridge.

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<![CDATA[Rangers Telling Teams They Will Trade Yu Darvish: Report]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 07:52:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-811456160.jpg

The Texas Rangers are reportedly telling other teams they will move Yu Darvish before Monday's non-waiver trade deadline.

MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal tweeted that sources told him the Rangers  have begun "exchanging names" with other teams in trade talks for the Texas ace.

The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the list of teams with reported interest in acquiring Darvish. MLB Network's Jon Morosi tweeted that they have had scouts watching his last few starts.

The Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant tweeted that the Rangers were scouting Dodgers outfield prospect Alex Verdugo last week. Verdugo is Baseball America's 35th best prospect.

The New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs are among the other teams with rumored interest in Darvish. The Cubs, despite being the reigning World Series champions, are one of 10 teams on Darvish's limited no-trade clause in his contract per SiriusXM's Jim Bowden.

The Dodgers make the most sense as a destination for Darvish. Despite owning baseball's best record, the team is approaching 30 years without a World Series title and should another top starting pitcher to pair with Highland Park's Clayton Kershaw — currently on the disabled list — heading into the postseason.

The Dodgers also boast several top prospects in the high levels of the minor leagues that could contribute quickly in Arlington.

The 30-year-old Darvish is due to become a free agent after the season. The Rangers were only planning to consider trading him if they felt they would be unable to re-sign him in the offseason, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

In 22 starts this season, Darvish has a 4.01 ERA and 148 strikeouts against 115 hits and 45 walks in 137 innings.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Man Takes Pet Chickens on Daily Walks]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 11:02:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/chicken-katy-trail.jpg

With his bright orange T-shirt and wide-brimmed hat, you can see Milt Strong coming from a long way off as he makes his way down the Katy Trail.

The 69-year-old Strong is up long before the rooster crows each day. He would know because he has been raising chickens his entire life. That explains, in part, why he has chosen such a peculiar workout partner.

“About three years ago I noticed people walking their dogs, small dogs in strollers. I started seeing a whole lot of goldendoodles, those expensive dogs. And I thought, ‘I’ve got a cock-a-doodle,’” Strong said with a laugh. “So I started pushing my little chicken.”

Strong chose a chicken — a hen he named ‘Lady Gaga’ — and headed out the next day, pushing a stroller equipped with a small basket. And he’s been turning heads ever since.

“Some people kind of look and look away, like they didn’t see it and they don’t want me to know they saw something,” he said. “I get all kinds of reactions, but generally everybody smiles and that’s what I like.”

It is those reactions that have turned what started as a joke into a dedicated, daily exercise routine. Strong acknowledged he would not be as dedicated to his morning walks without his hens.

And that dedication to exercise, or commitment to a joke depending upon how you view it, might have played a role in saving Strong’s life.

About two months ago Milt Strong underwent open heart surgery – a quadruple bypass – and he is proud to say that less than two weeks ago he had already resumed his routine, albeit at a slower pace.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Retailers Offer Early Back-To-School Deals]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 06:50:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/137773093.jpg

J.C. Penny's black Friday in July sale is available in-stores and online.

They have kids jeans for 60 percent off, backpacks for $6 and you can even get an additional 15 percent off select shoes. If you're shopping online, use the promo code “BUYNOW37. The sale ends Saturday.

Also this Saturday, Belk is hosting its annual Kids Fest Event. They're offering up to 50 percent off kids apparel as well as a fashion show, refreshments, games and lot of prizes. The event is from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Target has a number of kids clothing deals as well, like $4 graphic tees and $8 jeans until Saturday. If your kid wears a uniform, they have $5 collard shirts and $10 pants.

For the soon-to-be college students out there, Best Buy is offering $100 off an HP touch screen laptop, $50 off an Epson wireless printer and $50 off the Insignia 2.6 mini fridge. This sale also ends Saturday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hit-and-Run Victim's Family Pleads for Driver to Surrender]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 23:18:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rucci+carlos+iii.jpg

This should be a happy time for Rucci Carlos III's family. Seven weeks ago he became a new father when his daughter, Sofia, was born. Instead, the family is spending their days at John Peter Smith hospital in Fort Worth, where Rucci is recovering after being hit by a vehicle as he rode his skateboard Tuesday night.

"It was a very hard impact," said father Rucci Carlos Jr. "Very hard. He told me that."

The elder Rucci said his son is expected to recover, but will require more surgery. The driver who hit him has not been caught.

"I don't have anything to say," said Èlyssa Mendoza, Rucci Carlos III's fiancee, though tears. "I just wish they would have stopped, you know? They just left him there."

He was hit in the 700 block of Pipeline in Hurst as he rode his skateboard home from getting food. The family says he took the skateboard because his car broke down.

"He was skating to my house to come see me and the baby," Mendoza said. "We have a 7-week-old daughter."

There are surveillance cameras at every angle in the intersection where he was hit. Police are looking for witnesses, and the family hopes whoever did it will surrender to police.

"Hopefully he don't got no kids, because the pain that comes to me, to her, the whole family," said the elder Rucci. "Hopefully we can them 'em."

If you have any information about the hit-and-run crash Tuesday in the 700 block of Pipeline in Hurst at 10:45 p.m., call Hurst police.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with Carlos III's medical bills.



Photo Credit: Èlyssa Mendoza]]>
<![CDATA[Tire Fire at Dallas Co. Race Track Produces Huge Smoke Plume]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 03:21:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/207*120/tire+fire+grand+prairie+2.JPG

The sky above Dallas County was filled with a massive plume of black smoke Thursday afternoon as a tire fire burned at a race track near Grand Prairie.

The 3-alarm fire was reported after 4 p.m. at the Yello Belly Racetrack on the 6000 block of West Davis Street, just west of Loop 12. It took nearly 70 firefighters to get the blaze under control.

No injuries were reported in the fire.

Allen Roberson, a track official, told NBC 5 that the tires are part of what is known as the  "shutdown area," meant to slow down drivers' vehicles who can't slow down enough on their own during a drag race. He saw the fire from nearly ten miles away.

"I thought it was out this way. I said, 'Wow, something's on fire,' then a  couple of guys called me and said, 'Allen, what's up with the track?"

The tires are situated along a heavily wooded area, which made the fire even more difficult to extinguish.

The cause of the fire remains unknown.

Along with the fire itself, Dallas Fire-Rescue crews fought the dangerously warm air temperature, which at 4 p.m. was measured at 99 degrees with a heat index of 105 degrees.

"There's alot of heat coming off of those tires burning, and so we ended up having two DART buses go near where the fire area was so that we could rehab those individuals who had gone in, fought fire, and had to come back out, just to get some relief. They're air-conditioned. So we put them in there to relax, get some water. We use them for relief," said Lieutenant Pena, an arson investigator.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is monitoring the air quality surrounding the fire scene to ensure the public's safety. No evacuations or precautions were ordered.

NBC 5 viewers reported seeing the smoke plume from as far away as Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, approximately 17 miles north.

"I was all the way in West Dallas and saw it so we drove over," said Bobby Proctor, an amateur photographer. I take pictures man, I got to get it for my news on Facebook."

The racing surface was unharmed by the fire, and Roberson said they hope to go forward with a planned event at the race track this weekend.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Man Barricades Himself Inside Comfort Suites Motel: Police]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 19:50:24 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/zandi+comfort+suites.jpg

The Colony Police arrested a man for allegedly firing a weapon and barricading himself in a Comfort Suites Motel room Thursday.

Officers responded to a report of gunfire just after noon at the motel on the 4700 block of Memorial Drive. When officers arrived on the scene, according to police, the man fired several more shots.

He was later identified as 51-year-old Scott Clark Zandi.

The motel was evacuated as Zandi barricaded himself in his room, police said. 

Officers attempted to breech the room but say Zandi jumped through the window of the room. He was treated for minor injuries at Baylor Scott and White Hospital before being taken into custody.

Charges against Zandi are pending, police said.

The motel remained closed Thursday evening as the investigation continues.



Photo Credit: The Colony PD / NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA['Nightmare Is Over': Dems React to Health Care Bill Failure]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 11:05:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/schumerhironopelosihappier.jpg

The GOP took a hard blow early Friday when its Health Care Freedom Act, dubbed the "skinny repeal" of "Obamacare," failed to pass in the Senate in a late-night 49–51 vote.

Republican Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins crossed party lines to cast key votes to defeat the measure, with McCain's move drawing cheers from the Democrats on the Senate floor.

On Friday, former President Barack Obama's spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement that the Affordable Care Act  "has always been about something bigger than politics - it's about the character of our country." 

"It's about the dreams protected, and the untold misery and ruin prevented," the statement said. "Today, it remains that way because of everyone who mobilized, organized and made their voices heard."

He went on to say "there will always be more work to do" and called for bipartisan cooperation to "build on this law."  


As news of the GOP bill's failure spread, social media erupted with reactions from Washington.


President Donald Trump was not happy with the results, tweeting about 2:30 a.m. ET, "3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!"

"This is clearly a disappointing moment," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday as finger-pointing in his party began over the failure  that he was "disappointed and frustrated, but we should not give up."

On the Democratic side, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted, "the nightmare is over, at least for now." 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, "We are not celebrating; we are relieved--for the Americans who can now keep their #healthcare. We must work together to improve the law." 

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Schumer praised Collins, Murkowski and McCain. 

"I have not seen a senator who speaks truth to power as strongly, as well and as frequently as John McCain," he said. 

Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono earlier Thursday became emotional while talking about the bill. Before mentioning her own battle with cancer, she talked about having lost a young sister to pneumonia in Japan then fearing for her mother's health while growing up without health coverage in the U.S. 


"Where is your compassion?" said Hirono, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer in May. "Where is the care that you showed me when I was diagnosed with my illness. I find it hard to believe that we can sit here and vote on a bill that is going to hurt millions and millions of people in our country. We are better than that."

Read how Hirono and other Democratic lawmakers responded to their victory.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Former Swim Coach Charged in Southlake Teen's Drowning]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:23:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/elise-cerami-inset.jpg

A former North Texas swimming coach has been indicted for negligence following the drowning of a 13-year-old girl.

Tracey Anne Boyd, 49, was indicted Wednesday by a Tarrant County Grand Jury on a charge of abandoning or endangering a child by criminal negligence.

Elise Cerami drowned during a swim club practice on June 20, 2016 at the Carroll Independent School District Aquatic Center.[[384013231,R,250,359]]

At the time, Boyd was an assistant swimming coach for the North Texas Natadores, which is owned by the Carroll ISD, and Boyd was an employee of the school district. Boyd is no longer employed by the Carroll ISD, according to a district spokesperson.

The indictment indicates that Boyd, “did engage in criminally negligent conduct, namely by failing to watch or observe Elise Cerami while Elise Cerami was swimming.”

The Cerami family released a statement Wednesday evening.

“The charge against Tracey Boyd describes her conduct and we believe that the district attorney will devote the full resources of their office to the case against Boyd. While the court system proceeds with the grand jury’s indictment, our efforts will continue in water safety and drowning prevention,” the Cerami family statement read.

Since the teenager’s death, her family has launched a safety awareness campaign via the Swim4Elise Foundation, the Cerami family indicated.

[[383771411,C]]

The foundation works to heighten water safety awareness through the annual Run4Elise 5K fundraiser, the Lifeguard Challenge and our daycare outreach programs.

“We are doing our best to make a positive change in water safety and our hearts go out to other families who have lost a child to drowning,” the Cerami family statement noted.

Upon the discovery of Cerami in the pool, another swimming coach, Bill Christensen, suffered symptoms of a heart attack after attempting to perform CPR on the teen until paramedics arrived.

Christensen survived his incident, and has not been charged with a crime.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News/Cerami Family
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<![CDATA[Inspections Already Underway for State Fair of Texas]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 04:52:03 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/state+fair+of+texas+ferris+wheel.jpg

There is new information Thursday about the thrill ride involved in a deadly malfunction at the Ohio State Fair.

Records show inspectors repeatedly looked over the ride and signed off on it just hours before it came apart Wednesday evening, throwing passengers into the air, killing a high school student and injuring seven other people.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has ordered all rides at the fair shut down until they are inspected again.

Meanwhile, amusement ride inspections are already underway at the State Fair of Texas, which opens in a little more than 60 days.

Fair officials in Texas are trying to reassure customers that the State Fair of Texas has the toughest inspection process in the country.

Rusty Fitzgerald, senior vice president of operations, helps check every piece of equipment on the amusement rides.

"Every single car has been done," Fitzgerald said, in the shadow of the famous Texas Star Ferris wheel. "We are going to check these welds."

"We have the premier safety program in the country, and we double-inspect everything," he added.

The State Fair of Texas hires its own team of seven inspectors to run a second set of checks on rides beyond what the state requires — even metal tests to catch problems the eye can't see.

"Just to make sure there's no cracking or metal fatigue anywhere," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald says there are probably hundreds of rides across the country with a similar design to the one that failed in Ohio. In fact, the State Fair of Texas planned to use one of the same style this year, but that's on hold now until they learn more about what caused the Ohio accident.

"That ride's got a very good safety record on it. I don't know what happened. We are going to find out. We are going to work with the manufacturers and operators up there, and we will find out," Fitzgerald said.

Nationally the Consumer Product Safety Commission says it is aware of 22 deaths associated with amusement attractions, including rides, since 2010.

The State Fair of Texas has not had a death from an attraction since the 1980s.

In 2015, one worker suffered minor injuries when a wheel came off a ride.

Fitzgerald says his team goes above and beyond to keep people safe, even sending inspectors to other states to check out rides before they arrive here.

"We actually have inspectors that are at the Wisconsin State Fair inspecting the rides that are going to come here," he said. "We will have them in Minnesota before they come here so they have multiple inspections before they even arrive here."

The Texas Department of Insurance is responsible for overseeing the inspection process. State officials say consumers at fairs and carnivals should look for inspection stickers to make sure a ride has been checked by a qualified inspector.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Business Owner Enters Texas Governor's Race]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 19:38:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NEW_Julie_Gov_Candidate.jpg

A Dallas business owner has entered his name into the Texas governor's race, and he knows it's going to be an uphill battle.

Still, Jeffrey Payne says he is ready to run with no prior political experience. Payne, a Democrat, says he thought about the decision to run for about a year.

"I am tired of seeing what is coming out of the capitol, which is discriminatory policies," Payne said.

He watched the recent legislative session closely, but finally made the decision and filed the papers.

"My tipping point was literally the bathroom bill. That was my 'OK, enough is enough,'" he added.

He got his husband on board, knowing they would be in the spotlight during the campaign. Payne owns several businesses, including a popular gay bar in Dallas – a blue city, in red Texas.

NBC 5 political reporter Julie Fine asked him how he plans to run against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, who has a $41 million campaign war chest.

"I know that Texas will get behind our campaign. This isn't an electoral college here. It is a popular vote, and you can't have all of the money in the world, but when you start resonating with people, which is what this campaign has already started doing," he said.

Payne is familiar with struggle. He grew up in an orphanage and in the foster care system in Louisiana. He later lost him home during Hurricane Katrina and moved to Dallas in the aftermath of the storm in 2005.

He says he learned an important lesson along the way, which has to do with his decision.

"You always pay it forward. You always help other people," Payne said.

That's what Payne says he wants to do in this campaign. He is ready to spend $2.5 million of his own money.

"You know, I've had people already come to me (and say), 'It's a waste of time, it is a waste of money, what are you thinking?' I'm fine with that. When you give voice to people, that is not a waste of time, and it's not a waste of money," Payne said.

The Texas Democratic Party confirms it has met with Payne and is talking with a wide range of people. The party does not endorse a candidate before the primary.

In a statement to NBC 5, Tariq Thowfeek, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party said:

"There are over 27 million Texans. A majority of whom are looking for real leadership, not more of Greg Abbott’s failed policies and hateful agenda. Mr. Payne is one of those people.

"Our Democratic nominee will be authentic, dynamic, and the kind of person that can get the job done. We are talking to a number of great leaders, and an announcement will come at the appropriate time. We look forward to supporting our nominee.

"Here are the facts on the 2018 election cycle: Texas is a single-digit state and Democrats are fired up, the latest polls show state Republicans’ job performance is underwater, the economy is in tailspin and Republicans have no plan. We are set for a great midterm election with thousands of new activists, dozens of candidates running for Congress, and statewide candidates like Congressman O'Rourke running against Ted Cruz."

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