iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Relatives of the 33 crew members who are missing after a cargo ship sank near the path of Hurricane Joaquin said the search for the crew members will be suspended on Wednesday.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been in charge of the search for survivors and relatives of the missing confirmed that they had been told by authorities that the search will stop at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The ship, called El Faro, sent a distress signal Thursday morning but no rescue boats were able to get close to the ship because weather conditions at the time were so harrowing due to the hurricane.
The storm impacted the search for the survivors as well since Hurricane Joaquin stayed in the area through much of Friday and into Saturday, meaning that the first full day of search and rescue did not start until Sunday, Coast Guard chief of response Capt. Mark Fedor said on Monday.
During that time, rescue teams did find one body in a survival suit, but it was "unidentifiable."
That person's remains were not recovered, as Fedor said that the rescuers were being called to other reports of signs of life, so after checking that the individual was deceased, they moved on in hopes of saving someone else, Fedor said Monday.
iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Keisha Jenkins, a 22-year-old transgender woman from Philadelphia, was recently beaten and shot to death by a group of men, according to police, who said they are investigating whether her gender identity played a role in the slaying.
Jenkins is at least the 20th trans woman killed in the United States this year -- and the 18th trans woman of color, according to a report and statement published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HCR) in partnership with the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC).
The HCR and TPOCC are LGBTQ advocacy groups that have been working together since the beginning of the year to keep a running record of the violence transgender people face.
Jenkins was attacked and beaten by five to six unidentified men early Tuesday around 2:30 a.m., shortly after she was dropped off near Hunting Park, a Philadelphia Police Department spokesman told ABC News on Wednesday.
Police believe one of the attackers pulled a gun and fired two shots into Jenkins' back while she was on the ground.
She was unresponsive when police and medics arrived and was pronounced dead at the Einstein Medical Center at 2:53 a.m., police said, adding that the suspects are still at large and police are looking at all possible motives, including the possibility that her gender identity may have played a role in her killing.
Jenkins' death has sparked an outcry from the transgender community and advocates, including the HRC, which said in a statement that more action must be taken to address "what has become a nationwide epidemic of anti-transgender violence."
"Even in a moment of unprecedented visibility for transgender people, their right to simply live authentically is threatened daily by violence, with countless unreported or unseen cases falling behind scattered headlines," Judy Shepard wrote in an op-ed co-written with HRC President Chad Griffin for its website.
Shepard is the mother of Matthew Shepard, a gay man whose murder in 1988 "became a rallying cry for LGBT advocates around issues of bias-motivated violence," the HRC said.
Shepard's death, along with the murder of James Byrd Jr., a black man killed by white supremacists, led to the passage of a federal hate crimes prevention act in 2009, which extends a previously enacted law to include crimes based on gender, sexual orientation or disability.
Though Jenkins identified as a woman and used the pronouns "she" and "her" on her personal Facebook page, her sister Ronnia Jenkins told ABC News that their family didn't think she was transgender. Ronnia said Keisha went by "Stephen Jenkins and was a boy" most of the time when with the family "and only dressed like a girl sometimes."
"[She] was loving, caring and joking," Ronnia Jenkins said. "[She] loved to draw, and [she] was an artist. We'll miss [her]."
Keisha Jenkins' death is also being mourned by high-profile transgender celebrities and advocates.
"Another tragic loss," New York Times bestselling author and TV show host Janet Mock tweeted. "The state of emergency on black & Latina trans women's lives is real. #GirlsLikeUs"
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ever want to catch a glimpse of a rocket in person? You may have a chance Wednesday night.
A rocket launch scheduled to blast off from NASA's Wallops Island facility in Virginia is set to put on a colorful show that could be visible from Long Island, New York, some 235 miles north of the launch site and all the way to Morehead City, North Carolina at 232 miles south.
The purpose of this suborbital flight is to test new spacecraft technologies. What makes this launch so special will come six minutes after liftoff when the rocket will eject four payloads of barium and strontium, which give off blue, green and red colors that could provide a fun spectacle in the sky.
Residents from Long Island to Morehead City -- and everyone in between -- could get a glimpse of the colorful evening launch, which has a window between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET.
iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A California jury is set to begin deliberations Wednesday in the second trial of a woman accused of killing her husband.
Julie Harper, 42, is charged with second-degree murder in the 2012 death of her husband Jason, a high school math teacher and volleyball coach.
The judge for the San Diego stay-at-home mother’s earlier case declared a mistrial after the jurors were deadlocked.
Her attorney, Paul Joseph Pfingst, said she was a victim of domestic violence, while prosecutors allege that Harper chose to pull the trigger.
The shooting happened in the couple’s Carlsbad bedroom while their children watched cartoons downstairs, officials said. Harper has admitted to killing her husband, but claims it was self-defense.
Instead of calling for help after the shooting, prosecutors say, Harper took off with the couple’s three children and a getaway bag, driving around town before turning herself in 16 hours later.
Harper also claims the gun went off by accident.
“I never intended to shoot him,” she said on the stand. “I only intended to scare him and, hopefully, stop him from hurting me.”
The prosecution allowed jurors on Monday to test-fire a handgun similar to the one she says she used that police never recovered. The handgun requires 10 pounds of pressure to fire, according to a firearms expert.
ABC News' chief legal affairs correspondent, Dan Abrams, said the gun demonstration represents a potential problem for the defense.
“It’s really unusual that each juror got a chance to pull the trigger. They could see how hard it would be to pull the trigger accidentally,” Abrams said. “That’s one reason it will be very hard, almost impossible, for the jury not to find her guilty of something.”
The defense says it’s implausible that Harper shot her husband unprovoked.
“The history of Julie Harper does not lead one to believe that all of a sudden she turns into an assassin,” Pfingst said.
Prosecutors will present their rebuttal argument on Wednesday and the case is expected to go to the jury of seven women and five men.
If convicted, Harper faces 40 years to life in prison.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Alcohol-fueled public indecency and booze-fueled brawls are par for the course at your average party school, but Wired reports the government is getting concerned about such behavior at the hands of scientists stationed in Antarctica.
The magazine reports that after an audit of the McMurdo Station and the Scott-Admundsen South Pole Station by the Office of the Inspector General, the National Science Foundation considered installing breathalizers at the bases.
However, experts insist enforcing -- and even calibrating -- the devices in Antarctica would be difficult in the extreme, seeing as the remote continent isn't U.S. territory.
Wired reports NSF officials complained drinking at the isolated bases was creating, "unpredictable behavior that has led to fights, indecent exposure, and employees arriving to work under the influence," with static routinely erupting between the scientists -- called "beakers," and the cooks, security personnel, and other contract workers who make the facility run.
One former bartender who worked at the South Pole station told Wired that there's a "cultural split" between the two groups, and the scientists suffer "little consequence for what they do down there.
iStock/Thinkstock(OKLAHOMA CITY) — Under a judge’s orders, the Ten Commandments monument that has stood on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol for the last three years has been moved to a private property a few blocks away.
It’s the latest illustration of the power of symbols.
The mere suggestion that the Confederate flag be removed from the South Carolina statehouse grounds prompted loud protests across the country. In Texas, a small-town police chief has ordered that the motto ‘In God We Trust’ be painted onto his squad cars. The state attorney general there says he supports the chief.
Now in Oklahoma, a Baptist preacher has successfully sued to remove the Ten Commandments monument from that state’s capitol grounds.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin hated to see the 4,800-pound monument go.
“I think it’s a benefit to Oklahomans to have something as guiding as the Ten Commandments as a moral compass for our state,” she said.
Fallin plans to push for a bill in the next session of the legislature that will allow Oklahoma voters to decide whether the tablets should be returned to the statehouse grounds.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — While rain has stopped falling in South Carolina, the deadly storm continues to bring devastation, with numerous dams breached and damage expected to top $1 billion.
Numerous dams have been breached, bridges collapsed and hundreds of roads were inundated with floodwaters, causing emergency evacuations.
President Obama has signed a disaster declaration for federal aid to help with recovery efforts, and more than 1,300 National Guard members have been deployed in the state.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 15 deaths and nearly 2,000 collisions in the state, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.
Heading into the storm's aftermath, Haley called it a vulnerable situation.
Tuesday, Haley said South Carolina is stronger today than it was yesterday, but the state is "still in prayer mode."
The sun even came out in South Carolina Tuesday, but the governor said, "don't let the sunshine fool you," adding that the next 36 to 48 hours will be "volatile."
This is a time of strength and taking care of each other, Haley added. The damage will be heartbreaking for a lot of people, but the state will rebuild, Haley said.
"We are going to continue to push through this," she said.
More than 500 roads in the state were severely damaged by the storm.
About 40,000 people in the state still do not have drinking water, and tens of thousands remain without power.
Officials went door-to-door Monday, checking on residents in flood-ravaged areas such as Columbia, and hundreds of people were evacuated to emergency shelters.
Officials are closely monitoring 18 dams in the state, said the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
Of those 18 dams, 9 have breached or failed completely, and one was intentionally breached to relieve pressure on it, SCEMD said.
Residents are urged to avoid driving into areas where water covers the road, as the leftover floodwaters can carry infection as well as the risk of drowning.
The storm damage occurred despite the much-feared Hurricane Joaquin missing the East Coast.
South Carolina authorities mostly switched Monday from search and rescue into "assessment and recovery mode," but Haley warned citizens to remain careful as a "wave" of water swelled downstream and dams had to be opened to prevent catastrophic failures above low-lying neighborhoods near the capital.
DanHenson1/iStock/ThinkStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice Tuesday confirmed that the doors of federal prisons all over the country will swing open for an estimated 6,000 drug offenders at the end of this month.
It is the largest-ever one-time early release of federal prisoners, and it comes as a result of U.S.
Sentencing Commission and Obama Administration efforts to reduce long prison sentences given to drug offenders. It is also part of an effort to cut down jail overcrowding.
It is not just non-violent offenders who are getting their freedom, a Justice Department spokesman said -- some of those being released have been convicted of violent crime, along with drug crimes.
But the vast majority are non-violent offenders, officials said. And the sentence reductions were not for the violent portion of offenders' sentences.
However, all of the prisoners who petitioned for release had to have a public safety determination made by a judge.
The judge could elect to release the prisoner, or to keep him or her locked-up.
About one-third of the prisoners to be released between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2 are non-citizens, the Department of Justice said, and they will be turned over to Immigration and Customs officials for deportation.
Most of the former prisoners who are released into the community will still be supervised through a halfway house or home confinement, according to Justice Department officials.
“The Department of Justice strongly supports sentencing reform for low-level, non-violent drug offenders," said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in a statement Tuesday. "The Sentencing Commission's actions - which create modest reductions for drug offenders - is a step toward these necessary reforms.”
Yates also emphasized that even with these sentence reductions, the drug offenders in question have served substantial sentences. On average, according to DOJ, each inmate has already served 8.5 years of a 10 year sentence.
A similar program was undertaken in 2007 when inmates were released for sentences for crack were deemed too harsh.
SOMATUSCANI/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- The skies over the United States have seen two incidents of commercial pilots becoming incapacitated in-flight in just two days.
A United Airlines co-pilot lost consciousness mid-flight this morning, airline officials said, one day after the captain of an American Airlines flight died mid-flight.
“This is the very reason we have two qualified pilots in the cockpit, both trained to exactly the same standards,” said ABC News aviation consultant and airline pilot John Nance.
“The only difference in landing the airplane by yourself is that there are a few things that you're going to have to reach across the cockpit for -- but they're well within reach,” Nance added “You're very well trained to be able to do this solo.”
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the situation is very rare -- only nine pilots have died in-flight in the past 20 years.
In one remarkable case in 2009, a 60-year-old Continental Airlines pilot died at the controls three hours into an eight-hour flight from Belgium to Newark, airline officials said at the time.
After a doctor aboard the plane determined the pilot was clinically dead, his body was moved to a crew rest area, according to the airline.
Passengers were not informed of the pilot’s death until the co-pilots landed the plane safely in New Jersey -- where several passengers received cell phone calls from friends who told them what had happened. By federal law, flights longer than eight hours are required to have three pilots on board.
“It's really up to the co-pilot, who is now the acting captain, as to whether or not to tell the passengers everything that's going on,” Nance said. “It's really an individual decision.”
According to a 2005 study from Flight Safety Digest based on FAA data, 50 health incidents involving pilots occurred between 1993 and 1998. Thirty-nine of those incidents were classified as incapacitations and 11 were impairments.
These incidents occurred on 47 flights.
Commercial airline pilots are required by the FAA to retire at age 65, and pilots over 40 must get two yearly physicals.
Eric Crama/iStock/ThinkStock(MCLEAN, Va.) -- Parents in a Virginia suburb are protesting the opening of a gun store due to its proximity to a local elementary school.
Some students at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, can spot Nova Firearms right outside classroom windows and their parents argue the gun store's location is sending the wrong message, especially at a time when there have been a number of high-profile incidents around the country involving gun violence.
"That gun store is going to make my community less safe," said Deb Lavoy, whose daughter is a sixth grader at Franklin Sherman Elementary School. "I do not wish to deny the landlord his rent, but neither do I want more guns in my neighborhood, or a gun store as part of my daughter’s daily experience."
The store owners countered that they are complying with federal and state laws and are defending their right to remain open.
"I have every right to be here just as any other small business," store co-owner Rachel Dresser told ABC News. "We are transparent in what we do. We just needed more retail space so we expanded here." Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, whose district includes McLean, is urging the owners of Nova Firearms to move the store.
"It is simply antagonistic to our community and frightening to concerned parents to locate a store selling firearms and live ammunition literally within 60 seconds walking distance to a school entrance," Foust said.
While he conceded that Nova Firearms is allowed to sell guns at the current location near the school, he added, "this is an issue of judgment, not legality."
The store's owners relocated the shop near the elementary school after a failed attempt to expand at its previous location in Virginia. Dresser, and her co-owner James Gates, said they needed a larger location in part to offer gun-safety classes for both adults and children.
Members of the community balked when the store opened and staged a protest a week ago. The fight is also getting heated online as more than 2,000 people have signed a petition to kick-out Nova Firearms from its current location.
Even locals who do not have children at the school expressed their concern.
"I'm outraged by this. It shows poor judgment," Dr. Bita Motesharrei, a local doctor, told ABC News. "It attracts the wrong crowd."
Meanwhile, gun-rights supporters are rallying behind Nova Firearms, saying it's not a threat to the McLean community and the owners are within their legal rights to sell guns on a street that also houses an auto body shop and a bank.
Vance Gore, the PTA president at Franklin Sherman Elementary School, has two children at the school and said "the community at large is still grappling with the issue."
"I would say many parents are deeply troubled by the opening of the gun store right next to the school," Gore said.
JaysonPhotography/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- Authorities are investigating how Kiersten Cerveny, a successful doctor, wife and mother of three, died after a night out partying in Manhattan this weekend.
Cerveny lived in suburban Manhasset, Long Island, with husband Andrew Cerveny and their children. The Cervenys, both dermatologists, met in 2004 as medical residents at the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans, according to their 2009 wedding announcement in the New York Times.
She graduated magna cum laude from Duke University and received her medical degree from Tulane University, according to the wedding announcement, which also noted that she had a previous marriage before Andrew that ended in divorce.
Here is the timeline surrounding the dermatologist's mysterious death.
Cerveny met friends at a hotel at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night, according to police sources.
The 38-year-old was out until 2:30 a.m. with her friends, using alcohol and cocaine, according to police sources.
The group went to a bar on New York City's Lower East Side, where Cerveny met a man with whom she was Facebook friends, police sources said.
Cerveny and the man left the bar between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., taking a cab to an apartment building in Chelsea, police sources said.
Surveillance video shows Cerveny and the man entering the building in Chelsea at 4:25 a.m., according to police sources, who noted that the taxi driver took them to the driver's apartment.
Cerveny was found in the apartment building lobby around 8:30 a.m. Sunday and was declared dead at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.
One of the men she was out with had called 911, disappeared and called 911 again to check on Cerveny's status, police said.
PIECING TOGETHER THE MYSTERY:
There was no evidence of robbery or sexual assault, according to police sources, and bruises discovered on her neck were determined to be from a prior medical procedure.
Investigators brought in Cerveny's husband, as well as one of the men she was out with, to be questioned, but no one was arrested, police said.
When asked today whether her death resulted from an overdose, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, "At this juncture that is the direction this case seems to be going. We have no indication based on our investigation there is any foul play suspected. We believe at this time it had to do with the ingestion of narcotics."
Police were told Cerveny consumed a significant amount of alcohol and cocaine that night. The autopsy is pending the results of toxicology tests, according to the medical examiner's office.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The National Transportation Safety Board launched its go-team to Florida on Tuesday and will be joining the investigation into the sunken cargo ship, El Faro.
The NTSB investigators will be hoping to gather any perishable evidence first, but they will also be looking at the logs, maintenance records and the fitness of crew and captain, just as they do in plane or train crashes, officials said on Tuesday.
They also hope to recover the data recorder that was on board.
The president of the company that owned the boat, which sent a distress signal Thursday morning and has not been heard from since, said that the captain indicated that he was aware of the conditions near Hurricane Joaquin.
Phil Greene, the president and CEO of Tote Services, which owned El Faro, said that the captain explained that he understood the storm's track and had a sound plan going forward, enabling him to pass around the storm with comfort.
It is unclear to them how long the vessel may have been disabled before communications received a call Thursday morning, but Greene said typically a crew will work to restore the propeller and that process can either be done quickly or take several hours.
"I think what is regrettable in this is the fact that the vessel [El Faro] did become disabled in the path of the storm and that is what led to ultimately the tragedy," Greene said at a news conference Monday night.
The Coast Guard search, which will be run separately from the NTSB investigation, continued overnight into Tuesday morning. All told, the Coast Guard has searched an area larger than 160,574 square nautical miles, an area larger than California.
There were 33 crew members on board when the ship sank, and so far there has only been one known fatality, though that individual has not been identified nor has his body been recovered.
Capt. Mark Fedor, the Coast Guard chief of response, said on Monday that they had found one emergency rescue suit that had "unidentifiable" human remains.
Fedor said that the rescuers were being called to other reports of signs of life, so after checking that the individual was deceased, they moved on in hopes of saving someone else, Fedor said during a news conference.
"We needed to quickly move to other reports of life," Fedor said.
Scott Olson/Getty Images(LANSING, Mich.) -- The sole winner of a $310.5 million Powerball jackpot has finally come forward to claim Michigan's second-largest win for lotteries in state history -- and her reaction was priceless.
The winner, Julie Leach, 50, said she was still in "disbelief" -- adding that she told her boss that she doesn't need a raise before quitting her job at a fiberglass company.
"I don't know what to say. I'm just overwhelmed," she said during a news conference this morning.
Leach explained the night she discovered she was the winner.
"I was having a really bad night at work and I thought I better check my numbers," she said, adding that she was "shaking" when she checked her numbers. She said she went back to her work, where she is a supervisor, to ask her co-workers to check the numbers.
When asked if she will continue working, Leach said, "I quit automatically. I was done." She said it was a "nasty, dirty job" that she had for more than 20 years.
Leach said she and her partner of 36 years want to take care of their children and 11 grandchildren, and she hopes to buy property in Michigan so they can live near each other.
"I said he would have to sign a pre-nup now," she said with a laugh.
The ticket was sold at a Shell gas station in Three Rivers, Michigan, just a drive away from the border with Indiana. The drawing took place on Sept. 30
She said she's accepting the lump sum cash option of $197.4 million.
The winning numbers were 21, 39, 40, 55, 59 and Powerball 17.
The state's largest Powerball jackpot ever was $337 million, which was won by Donald Lawson on Aug. 15, 2002.
iStock/Thinkstock(CARLSBAD, Calif.) -- A mother is suing the city of Carlsbad, California, after she says police allegedly assaulted her in front of her children on the way home from a birthday party in 2013.
The 2013 incident was caught on cellphone video and shows officers pinning Cindy Hahn during the arrest.
Her lawyer, Mark Geragos, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Hahn against the city of Carlsbad and five officers. The lawsuit claims that Hahn “suffers permanent memory loss and brain trauma” as a result of the beating, and that the police reports filed about the incident were false.
“The only thing correct in this, in the documents that they filed with the court is the spelling of her name,” Geragos added.
The Carlsbad Police Department said in a statement, “We are prepared to provide a complete and detailed account of the facts of this incident in a courtroom, including what is not shown on the video released by the plaintiff’s attorney."
Hahn said the situation started when she asked a police officer about a car alarm that was going off. Hahn says she called the non-emergency police hotline to complain about the officer’s response.
Immediately after, Hahn said that same officer pulled her over for an alleged seatbelt violation. The next thing she knew, Hahn says, she was pinned to the ground.
“I was reaching for him for help. And what he did next. I have a lot of … issues with memory from the blow,” Hahn said.
Hahn originally faced up to two years in jail, charged with resisting arrest and battery. But according to Geragos, once the district attorney saw the video, those charges were dropped.