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Olympian's Relatives Safe After Getting Lost in the Wilderness


Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The brother of a U.S. winter Olympian -- along with his three young children -- are safe Monday morning after 24 hours lost in the wilderness.

Jared Pikus, brother of skeleton athlete Noelle Pikus-Pace, is thankful to be home after spending the night lost in the Idaho wilderness. The group got lost Saturday after leaving a campsite to hike to a nearby lake.

The group couldn’t find its way back.

“I came to a point where I didn’t know where I was,” Pikus said later. “At that time, I had to think about the kids and survival.”

The area was so isolated that there was no cell phone service. The family had only a few bagels to eat and spent the night outdoors, sleeping huddled together under a raft.

While rescue crews combed the area, Pikus-Pace -- who lives in Utah -- pleaded for support on social media, sharing photos of her family cheering at the Sochi Olympics, when she won a silver medal.

 

 

This time, Pikus-Pace said, she felt helpless.

“You want to do something, and there is nothing you can do,” she said.

By Sunday afternoon, Pikus and his children found their way to a road, meeting people who brought them to rescue crews. Despite some mosquito bites and poison ivy rashes, they were otherwise OK, something that left Pikus-Pace relieved.

“We were left to imagine life without them and it was an awful feeling,” she wrote. “We are so incredibly blessed to have them back safe and sound!”

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FSU Professor Was Talking on Cell Phone When Shooting Happened


Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- A Florida State University criminal law professor was pulling into his driveway and talking on his cell phone when he was fatally shot, ABC News has learned exclusively.

Professor Dan Markel, 41, was shot July 18, dying hours later.

The killer was waiting for Markel outside his home in Tallahassee’s Betton Hills section, a source told ABC News, and followed Markel into the garage, shooting him in the side of the head through the window of his car.

The bullet entered just beneath Markel’s jawline.

Markel was alive when cops arrived, with the keys in the ignition of his car, before being pronounced dead at the hospital hours later, police said. Markel was apparently on the phone at the time of the shooting, remarking to the person on the phone that someone was in the driveway, ABC News has learned.

A police report has revealed more information about the shooting, specifying that a neighbor, apparently different from the person on the phone, heard a single gunshot. That neighbor called 911 and reported seeing a silver Toyota Prius drive away from the scene. Police later released a grainy surveillance image of that car.

Tamara Demko, a longtime friend of Markel’s, was stunned by the shooting.

“I cannot imagine a person wanting to hurt him. I don’t think any of his friends can,” Demko said.

Two days before he died, Markel posted a blog to his website, PrawfsBlawg.blogs.com, about the death penalty, the same website on which he received threatening comments in 2012 after a writer alleged he had censored anonymous comments.

Reggie Garcia, a friend of Markel’s, wondered whether Markel’s blog and other law endeavors could have motivated the attack.

“Is it possible his scholarship and literature created some enemies? It’s as possible as any of the other scenarios,” Garcia said.

Markel left behind two young sons and an ex-wife, Wendi Jill Adelson, also an FSU professor. Their divorce was acrimonious, punctuated by dozens of court dockets, hearings and a protracted custody battle over their two boys. Markel described the day Adelson left him as his “Pearl Harbor,” friends told ABC News. Markel told friends that, without warning, Adelson had packed up the house and the children and left while he was away on a business trip.

Police spent hours questioning Adelson, and questioned many others who knew him well, but have named no suspects.

The new details reveal why police have classified Markel as the shooter’s intended target, ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams said.

“Now we know why the authorities were so quick to say they believed this was a targeted killing and the neighbors don’t need to worry,” Abrams said.

The fact that a Prius was possibly being driven by the shooter was also notable, Abrams said.

“A Prius isn’t a typical hit-man vehicle," he said. "[Was it] the person who wants to protect the environment and kill someone?”


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Diaper-Clad Boy, 3, Crashes AuntÂ’s Jeep, Runs Home to Watch Cartoons


iStock/Thinkstock(MYRTLE CREEK, Ore.) -- The mother of a diaper-clad, 3-year-old boy who got behind the wheel of his aunt’s Jeep Wrangler and accidentally put it into gear, sending it crashing into the side of a neighbor’s house, has been cited for failing to properly supervise her child.

The woman, identified by police as Brennan Pennington, of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, was issued the citation after the Tuesday evening incident, which was the second involving the boy and police that day.

At about 9 a.m. the same day, a Myrtle Creek Police office had spotted the boy by himself in the Jeep Wrangler outside his Northwest Second Avenue home. He was in the vehicle by himself for about five minutes, according to police logs.

The officer asked the boy about his parents’ whereabouts, and the boy said they weren’t home but that a relative was asleep inside. According to the log, the officer woke the relative and turned the boy over to him, warning the relative -- who was not named in the log -- that the boy had the keys to the car and it was not secure.

At about 7:30 p.m., police were called to the same scene. They said the boy got into the car again and knocked it out of gear, and it traveled down the street, up over a curb and through the neighbor’s yard, hitting the neighbor’s home. The homeowner was not home, and no one was hurt.

The police log said a 911 caller witnessed the crash and “saw the boy run from the Jeep wearing only a diaper.”

Right afterward the boy “bailed out and ran back home, and when the officer arrived at the house [the boy] was sprawled out on the couch watching cartoons like it was just another day,” Myrtle Creek Police Officer Kevin Taggart told ABC News on Sunday.

ABC News was unable to reach Pennington Sunday evening on a cell phone that was registered to her, according to public records.

The ticket issued to Pennington was a violation and carried a fine.

The home sustained minor damage and the boy’s mother came to “a civil compromise” with the neighbor, police said.

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One Dead, 13 Injured in Rare Southern California Lightning Storm


iStock/Thinkstock(VENICE BEACH, Calif.) -- A rare lightning storm struck packed Venice Beach, Calif., Sunday, killing a 20-year-old man and injuring up to 12 others, one critically, after the same storm had struck a person on Catalina Island.

Firefighters said a bolt of lightning hit the water and the electrical current then traveled, hitting swimmers and surfers.

"The fire department assessed a total of 13 patients, and transported a total of eight patients," Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Katherine Main said.

Five others were injured, but did not require hospitalization, she said.

Main said it appears to have been just one powerful lightning strike that hit the shoreline.

"Everyone that had a medical complaint was either in or near the water," Main said.

The man who died was swimming and went missing in the water after the lightning strike, according to ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles. After lifeguards found him in full cardiac arrest, emergency personnel performed CPR and transported him in critical condition to Marina Del Rey Hospital, where he died.

The other person who was critically injured was a surfer, officials said.

Thunderstorms are very uncommon in the Los Angeles area, and people on the beach were shocked by what they experienced. Some said it felt like they got hit over the head with a board and then they were tingling all over.

"It sounded like a sonic boom. It literally shook the buildings," Stuart Archer, who was playing volleyball on the beach, told ABC News. "Shook us on the courts."

He said it was like somebody punched him in the head, his muscles locked up, and he fell. "I looked up and everybody else was falling over," he added.

Many people who were on the beach said they were knocked down, and lifeguards ran to get victims out of the water.

"Out of nowhere, we heard like a thunderstorm," witness Jason Alas told KABC-TV. "It was like really, really loud."

Before hitting Venice Beach, the thunderstorm moved over Catalina Island where a golfer was injured by lightning.

According to the National Weather Service, before Sunday there had already been 15 lightning strike deaths nationwide this year, including six in Florida.

This was the first death attributed to lightning in California this year.


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Judge Lifts DC Ban on Guns in Public


Image Source/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A ruling that would allow registered gun owners to carry firearms in public has thrown Washington, D.C. for a loop.

On Saturday, Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. ruled that a "total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is unconstitutional."

The judge said he would stop enforcement of the ban until D.C. came up with a "constitutionally valid licensing."

However, ABC News legal analyst Royal Oakes explains, "This won't be the last word on the subject. The District of Columbia will likely appeal the order, and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court may be called on to clarify when and how lawmakers are allowed to impose restrictions on the right of citizens guaranteed by the Second Amendment to carry guns."

Attorney Alan Gura, representing the group challenging the ban, says the ruling should be in effect immediately and will lead to less crime on the streets as people will be able to defend themselves.

However, Ted Gest, a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, says the AG is asking Judge Scullin to stay his ruling pending appeal.

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Small Plane Lands on Florida Beach, One Dead


Photo Credit: Zack Arceneaux(VENICE, Fla.) -- A man was killed and his daughter critically injured Sunday when they were hit by a plane making an emergency landing on a Florida beach, officials said.

"One man is deceased, and a young girl, possibly around the age of 10 is very critically injured," Sarasota County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Wendy Rose told ABC News.

Ommy Irizarry, 36, and his daughter, Oceana Irizarry, 9, were walking along the beach in Sarasota County, Fla., when a small plane made an emergency crash landing along the shore, killing the man on impact, Rose said.

The little girl was transported via helicopter to to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where she was in critical condition.

Neither the pilot, identified as Karl Kokomoor, 57, of Englewood, Fla., nor the passenger on the plane, David Theen, 60, also of Englewood, were injured in the landing, Rose said.

"The pilot radioed that he was not going to be able to make it back to the airport, and he was going to try to land on the hard-packed sand of the beach," she said. "He landed about the water's edge and the pilot and his male passenger were both unharmed."

From the time the pilot radioed in distress to the crash landing, the whole thing happened very quickly.

"I do know the timing of his radio to the Venice Airport and immediate response was minutes so there was not, from what I understand, there was not a lot of time between his radio dispatch and the crash," she said.

Venice Mayor John Holic, a former air traffic controller, said it is likely the plane lost power in flight and was trying to land in an open space or at nearby Venice Airport.

"One of the first things that you learn when you're flying is to always be aware of your surroundings and where you may be able to touch down in the event of loss of power. A beach is a viable place," he told ABC News.

A woman who witnessed the crash was also taken to a hospital after having stress-induced cardiac issues not directly related to the crash, according to Rose.

Police have not yet released the names of the victim.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators are on their way to the scene of the accident to begin investigating, in cooperation with the FAA.


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California Wildfires Spread, Force Evacuations


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(YOSEMITE, Calif.) -- A fire near Yosemite National Park has burned over 2,000 acres of land, more than four times as much land as it had on Saturday.

Officials called in planes and helicopters and about 400 personnel to help battle the flames. Park spokeswoman Ashley Mayer told ABC News that there have been some evacuations, but officials were not certain whether any structures were lost in the fire.

No injuries have been reported in the fire.

The Sand Fire in northern California also continued to spread over the weekend with more than 3,800 acres burning on Sunday. Officials say that fire is 35 percent contained, but 10 homes have been destroyed and more than 500 are still at risk. Mandatory evacuations for the area remain in place.

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Former WWE Champion Thwarts Home Invader with Wrestling Move


Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images(PHOENIX) --  A former WWE champion used his ring skills to foil an attempted robbery in his Arizona home.

Bryan Danielson, better known by his stage known Daniel Bryan, and his wife, fellow-wrestler Brie Bella, were pulling up to their home early this week when they saw two burglars try to escape their home with stolen items.

Danielson, a four-time world champion, chased the two burglars and managed to use his signature wrestling move to catch one, according to ABC affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix.

"I took him down and put him in a rear naked choke," Danielson said. "I didn't want to hurt him, I just wanted to make sure he was subdued."

Danielson caught Cesar Sosa, 22, who was booked and charged with burglary, allegedly trying to steal from the couple's home with an unidentified accomplice, according to police.

Danielson, his wife, and their dog, a bulldog named Josie, are doing just fine, the former wrestler said.

"I was very angry, Brie was very angry," Danielson said. "They're actually lucky I got them instead of Brie, because she probably would have been a little more violent."

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Alleged Pennsylvania Hospital Shooter Richard Plotts Arraigned in Bed


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- A Pennsylvania psychiatric patient has been arraigned on charges including murder and attempted murder for allegedly shooting his caseworker in the head in a hospital office and then engaging in a gun battle with a doctor who tried to subdue him.

The patient, Richard Plotts, 49, was arraigned late Saturday night in his bed at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he is being treated for his wounds and is under police guard, a spokeswoman for the Delaware County district attorney's office said.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan told ABC station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia that police seized two guns and a computer from Plotts' home in Clifton Heights this weekend.

Plotts is accused of opening fire inside the wellness center of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby Borough just after 2 p.m. Thursday.

Police told WPVI that they believe Plotts went to his appointment intending to kill his psychiatrist, Dr. Lee Silverman. They said Plotts was angry because the hospital posted a sign declaring the building a "gun-free zone."

Plotts was inside Silverman's office for a scheduled appointment Thursday when he suddenly pulled a gun out of his waistband and shot his caseworker, Theresa Hunt, in the head at point-blank range, police said. Hunt was killed instantly.

Silverman dove to the floor, pulled a semi-automatic pistol out his pocket and had a furious close range gun battle with Plotts, who police said fired at least 10 rounds. The doctor, who was using a chair for protection, aimed his gun at Plotts and fired until it was empty, Whelan said Friday.

The doctor, who was grazed in the head and wounded in the thumb while covering his face, was able to get out of the office, unaware that he had struck Plotts three times.

According to Whelan, caseworker John D'Alonzo heard the shooting and called 911. He then climbed through a window into Silverman's office because the door was locked and "engaged in a wrestling match with Mr. Plotts," getting him on the ground. Whelan called D'Alonzo's actions "nothing short of heroic." Dr. Jeffrey Dekret helped D'Alonzo wrestle the gun away from Plotts and hold him for police, Whelan said.

Whelan said that D'Alonzo "believed Plotts was trying to reload." The prosecutor said Plotts had another 39 bullets.

"If it wasn't for the heroic actions" of Silverman and Dalonzo, "we believe he (Plotts) was going to reload that revolver and continue to fire," Whelan said.

The prosecutor said that had the doctor not had a gun and fired back, "he would probably not be alive today."

Plotts had a history of violence with arrests for simple assault and a federal bank robbery as well as illegal firearms possession.

Plotts did not have a license for the gun that he used. It was not clear whether he had a lawyer.

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Reward Offered in Carjacking that Killed Three Children


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) --  Philadelphia police are offering a $110,000 reward to anyone who can help them find two men suspected of carjacking an SUV and killing three children and injuring three adults when they crashed it.

Siblings Thomas Reed, 10, Keiearra Williams, 15, and Terrence Williams, 7, were selling fruit outside their church Friday when they were hit and killed by a white Toyota 4Runner SUV that blew a tire while making a turn at a high speed.

The children's mother was also hit in the crash and taken to a hospital in critical condition. Another woman who was hit by the SUV was also injured, and the SUV's owner, who was in the vehicle when it crashed, was also injured.

"Taking innocent people's lives. That's my son, you took him away from me. Turn yourself in, dog. Whoever y'all is, turn yourself in," the father of Thomas Reed told ABC's Philadelphia affiliate WPVI.

The SUV crashed into the fruit stand and then crashed into a nearby grove of trees, where two suspects got out of the vehicle and fled on foot, police said.

They are still at large and police on Sunday announced the reward to anyone who can help track them down.

The two suspects are described as one Hispanic male wearing a white shirt and one black male wearing a white shirt, according to WPVI.

"We have a tragedy here. We will use all the resources at our disposal to find the people responsible," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told WPVI.

"I've been in the homicide unit for six years and this is one of the saddest cases that I've come across," Capt. James Clark of the Philadelphia Police added. "You have three innocent children who had the rest of their lives in front of them who were taken in this fashion. It is very sad and very tragic."

An estimated 40,000 carjackings occur every year in the United States, particularly in hot spots like Northern New Jersey where proximity to ports like Newark that ship luxury vehicles overseas entice carjackers.

"The crime of carjacking has reached epidemic levels," New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman told ABC News.

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California Man Killed Wife, Set Home on Fire to Cover it Up, Police Say


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ESCONDIDO, Calif.) --  Police officers in California are grieving one of their own as her husband sits in jail, accused of shooting his wife and trying to cover up her murder by lighting his house on fire.

Freddy Perez-Rodas called 911 on Wednesday and said his wife, Laura Perez, was inside their burning home in Escondido, California, according to police. Investigators suspected arson after firefighters put out the blaze and were unable to find her inside.

“We started to look for her and it became something of an arson, missing person investigation,” said Murrieta Police Lieutenant Tony Conrad.

Within hours, police took Perez-Rodas into custody and charged him with murdering his wife. Although police said that Perez-Rodas confessed, he pleaded not guilty.

“He essentially admitted to shooting his wife three times in the chest and removing her body from the home and taking it to a storage locker,” said Conrad.

Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter called Perez a "fantastic officer." She graduated from the police academy in December.

"[She was] quickly moving into a leader on her shift and with her teams,” said Carter.

The couple’s 4-year-old daughter is being watched by family members as Perez-Rodas awaits his trial.

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Kayakers Breach Security System at New York's JFK Airport


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A pair of kayakers who overturned in Jamaica Bay reportedly breached a secure area at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday, getting through the airport's security system.

The two men pulled themselves from the water at the end of a pier that sticks out into the bay near one of the airport's runways, says ABC's New York affiliate WABC. That pier supports navigation equipment that assists planes with takeoff and landing.

Maintenance workers spotted the two men at about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, WABC reports.

Port Authority Police Benevolent Association Spokesman Bobby Egbert said that the breach "raises serious concerns" about the security system.

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Over 100 Million Could Face Severe Weather This Weekend


Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Severe storms are threatening the midwestern United States this weekend with over 100 million Americans at risk of facing severe weather.

Parts of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa are under a severe weather outlook for Saturday evening, the National Weather Service says. The storms could bring hazardous hail, strong winds and potential tornadoes.

The system is also thought to threaten parts of Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania on Sunday, with areas as far north as Boston and as far south as Nashville being at risk of thunderstorms.

A powerful tornado touched down near an airpark in Edgewater, Florida on Saturday. David Sharp of the National Weather Service says the storm brought winds that touched 100 to 105 mph. No injuries were reported immediately. ABC's Orlando affiliate WFTV said no injuries were reported.

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NM Authorities Say Girl, 7, Was Not Kidnapped


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MORIARTY, N.M.) -- Authorities in New Mexico say that a girl who called authorities repeatedly on Friday was not kidnapped, and that she was acting out a scenario out of a movie she had watched.

On Friday, the Torrance County Sheriff's Office said that the girl, 7, had called approximately 40 times, saying that she was being held against her will in a vehicle. Deputies located the semi-truck and questioned the driver, who they later determined was the girl's uncle.

Sheriff Heath White said that the man had adopted the girl, who is believed to have learning disabilities. The girl, White said, had recently watched a film in which a character was being held hostage inside a car, a scenario that she mimicked on Friday.

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Teen Arrested for Making Threats of Violence Ahead of US Open of Surfing


Purestock/Thinkstock(HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.) -- A teenager was arrested on Saturday after he allegedly made threats of violence in advance of the U.S. Open of Surfing.

The U.S. Open of Surfing is the world's largest surf event, with officials telling ABC's Los Angeles affiliate KABC-TV that they expect about 500,000 people to attend the nine-day event. Lt. Mitch O'Brien of the Huntington Beach Police Department said that a search warrant was served and the 16-year-old was placed under arrest.

Last year's event was marred by looting and fighting. O'Brien warned attendees that security is going to crack down on bad behavior this year. "If you want to come down and watch surfing, we're going to welcome you. If you want to come down here and try to repeat last year, we're going to identify you as quick as we can and send you home."

KABC said a shotgun and a handgun were found at the teenager's home.

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