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Stowaway Spent 7 Hours Undetected Before Plane Took Off


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- A 15-year-old stowaway who survived a flight over the Pacific in a jet's wheel well spent seven hours undetected in the plane before the jetliner took off.

The teen, the son of a California cab driver, is a junior at Santa Clara High School. He reportedly moved to the school this year.

Student Emanuael Golla said the student is shy. “He really didn’t speak that much,” he added. “We were all surprised at what happened. We really didn’t believe it was him.”

The teen told authorities he left home after a fight with his father and step-mother. He scaled a fence at the San Jose Airport at about 1 a.m. Sunday, hiding in the Hawaiian Airlines 767 wheel well for nearly seven hours before the plane took off at 7:55 a.m.

While it's not clear how the teen spent all that time, FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu said the teen was sleeping in the plane before takeoff. He "literally just slept on the plane overnight," Simon said.

The boy told authorities that he chose the specific plane because it was the closest one. The teen’s actions were caught on tape, but were undetected by security.

Once the plane landed in Maui, officials said airport surveillance video captured the boy crawling out of the wheel well. Authorities believe the boy survived the five-plus hour flight, despite little oxygen and temperatures of at least -50 degrees.

Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz said he spoke with the stowaway after airport employees found him wandering the tarmac. He said the teen told him he hadn’t seen his biological mother since he was 2 years old and that he wanted to go see her. It’s not clear if that was the purpose of the teen’s incredible journey.

The boy was resting Tuesday at a Honolulu hospital. Hawaii's Department of Human Services said child welfare officials were arranging his safe return to California.

The big concern Wednesday is airport security. A camera caught the teen climbing into the wheel well, but nobody knew until Hawaiian officials called the San Jose International Airport and asked them to look.

“We are looking at what we need to improve so that what happened on Sunday will not occur again,” said Rosemary Barnes, the airport’s spokesperson.

The Federal Aviation Administration said about one-quarter of the 105 stowaways who have sneaked aboard flights worldwide since 1947 have survived. Some wheel-well stowaways survived deadly cold and a lack of oxygen because their breathing, heart rate and brain activity slow down.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Pledge of Allegiance Prompts Lawsuit by NJ Family


iStock/Thinkstock(ABERDEEN, N.J.) -- A New Jersey family is suing their local school district, charging that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance turn atheists into "second-class citizens."

The suit filed this week against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District by the Washington, D.C.-based American Humanist Association keeps the identity of the family under wraps because their child attends school there.

Under New Jersey state law, students in all 590 school districts must recite the pledge each day or else stand without speaking.

In response to the suit, Matawan-Aberdeen schools officials say their district is being unfairly singled out, drawing resources away from schools in order to defend their case.

Previous objections to the Pledge of Allegiance have had to do with the separation of church and state. However, this lawsuit is alleging that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is being violated when one is forced to say "under God."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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University of Central Florida Student Says Fraternity Rejected Him Based on Sexuality


iStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The Greek system at the University of Central Florida is the subject of harsh scrutiny after a student claimed a fraternity rejected him because of his sexuality.

George Dumont, 19, said representatives of Beta Theta Pi made it clear he wasn't going to join because he is gay.

"It nearly broke me, to be honest," Dumont said. "...I've been through a very dark period where, you know, I probably wouldn't be here today if it weren't for a couple of really close friends."

The former UCF cheerleader took to social media to bring attention to his case, posting his story to YouTube. Meanwhile, the president of the 70-member chapter responded to the allegations, denying them and explaining that the same time Dumont was rejected, another gay student was initiated.

Mediation talks are planned between the parties involved to resolve the discrimination claim. University spokesperson Chad Binnette said the meetings will involve diversity experts, psychologists, and several department heads.

"The goal is to provide support for students who also many not know where they can turn for help if they feel like they're a victim or witness of bias," Binnette said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Computer Glitch Delays Florida Exam for Thousands of Students


iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- A computer glitch caused several Florida school districts to cancel exams Tuesday, delaying the administration of the yearly Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. More than 20,000 students across five counties were affected by the technical troubles.

Overall, 26 school districts were hit by the server crash. In Orange County, a total of 12,000 kids couldn't take the test at all. Pearson, the company involved, claims the problem is resolved and says it is working with districts to set up make-up test dates. A national issue with Internet service is blamed.

Students prepared for the exam months in advance, leaving several parents upset with the unexpected issue on testing day.

"I wish they would have known sooner or something," one parent said. "I always feel bad that I have to make my kids come because of the FCAT but, you know, it is what it is."

State education leaders are threatening action against Pearson, with a letter from Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart calling the failure "inexcusable."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Stowaway Teen Said He Ran Away From Home After Argument with Parents


Karent Bleier/AFP/Getty Images(SAN JOSE, Calif.) -- The teenager who miraculously survived a five-hour journey in the unpressurized wheel well of a jetliner said he ran away from home because he was angry about an argument he had with his stepmother and his dad, an airport official in Hawaii who spoke with the boy told ABC News on Tuesday.

Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz said he spent some time with the stowaway on Sunday after an airport worker found the 15-year-old wandering the tarmac disoriented.

The teen told Moniz that he hadn't seen his biological mother since he was 2 years old and that he wanted to go see her. But it wasn't clear if that was the goal of the teen's daring journey from San Jose, Calif., Moniz said.

Airport surveillance video captured the stowaway -- wearing a hoodie, jeans and sneakers -- exiting the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767, which departed from San Jose and landed in Kahului, Maui, at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

"It's not a temperature-controlled area so the fact that he was able to survive is a miracle," Moniz previously told ABC News.

After the flight was airborne, the boy passed out inside the wheel well, FBI officials said. When the plane landed after a 2,300-mile journey, the boy was still passed out and he did not come to for about an hour, the FBI said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Boston Marathon Proposal: ‘Life Is Short And You Have to Embrace It to Its Fullest’


Carla White-Keefe/Facebook(BOSTON) -- One marathoner was sprinting towards the finish line for a different reason than all his fellow Boston runners Monday.

Upon reaching the finish line, Greg Picklesimer dropped to one knee to propose to his girlfriend, Carla White, who was lovingly waiting for him at the end of his long race.

“I had two goals in mind,” Picklesimer, 47, of Newton, Mass., told GoodMorningAmerica.com.

“One was running under a certain time. And my bigger goal was to propose to Carla. My time goal fell apart a little bit after I was running, but the bigger goal more than made up for it.”

After completing the 26.2 miles in a still-impressive time of 2 hours, 42 minutes and 32 seconds, with the diamond ring still intact, he said there was only one thing that could have come in the way of him and his soon-to-be fiancée.

“I had arranged for her to have a VIP ticket or credential into the grandstand area so she would be near the finish line so she could find me more easily,” he explained. “But I knew this was going to be the wild card – getting her into the finish area. That was the only thing I couldn’t control.”

Picklesimer walked up to a security guard, explained he was trying to propose and asked if there was any way she could greet him inside the finish area.

“He immediately told me, ‘No,’” a discouraged Picklesimer said.

The tightened security was obviously much more strict about who was and was not allowed in certain areas following last year’s terror attacks, but after a little more coaxing and discussion, the guard let White in just long enough to say, “Yes.”

“I’ve waited my whole life for him, so this is just the happiest day of my life,” White told local affiliate WBZ of her easy answer. “I’m speechless.”

Picklesimer, a seasoned runner, also competed in the 2013 Boston Marathon, fortunately crossing the finish line before the horrific terrorist attack. However, those bombs going off certainly helped put everything into perspective for him.

“After everything that happened last year, it lit a fire under me that people you love could be taken from you at any moment,” he explained. “You just don’t know what could happen. The spirit and rebirth of the marathon this year, and my realization that life is short and you have to embrace it to its fullest while you can, it really did influence me. I want to be with her forever.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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New Details in North Carolina Kidnapping Plot, Assistant District Attorney Targeted


iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Nine people are charged in an indictment handed down Tuesday involving the kidnapping of a 63-year-old man. A prosecutor was the intended target of the abduction but instead, suspects accidentally took her father.

Frank Janssen, father of Wake Forest assistant district attorney Colleen Janssen, was taken from his North Carolina home on April 5. He was driven to Atlanta and held for five days before being rescued by a high-level FBI team.

Kelvin Melton, an inmate at the Polk Correctional Institution in North Carolina, was previously prosecuted by Janssen's daughter. In March, he devised a plan to kidnap someone tied to Colleen, promising to pay each member of the team $10,000 for their role in the abduction, according to Tuesday's federal indictment. For an unknown reason, the plot did not go into play.

Instead, later in the month, Melton created another plan to kidnap Colleen. One of the alleged abductors looked online and discovered what they thought to be her home address, but instead was her father's.

From inside the prison, Melton promised one of the suspects $6,000 and told the team to wear khakis and collared shirts for their mission. Once at Janssen's home, they attacked him with a stun gun several times and "pistol whipped" him.

Additional details in the indictment describe the April incident in which Janssen was forced into the backseat of a car with a blanket thrown on top of him. On April 9, Melton ordered the father to be killed, providing specific instructions on how to cover up the murder and the manner in which his body was to be buried.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Pa. Patient Arrested for Allegedly Dealing Heroin from ICU Bed


iStock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- A Pennsylvania woman will be charged Tuesday with allegedly dealing heroin from her bed in the intensive care unit of a Pittsburgh area hospital, police said.

The 38-year-old woman, whose name is being withheld until she is officially charged, is suspected of selling $1,400 worth of heroin from her room in the Excela Westmoreland Hospital ICU.

“She will be charged with possession with intent to deliver, delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and probably a paraphernalia charge as well,” Greensburg Police Chief Captain Chad Zucco told ABC News on Tuesday.

Hospital staff became suspicious and alerted police after noticing the patient was receiving an unusually large number of visitors to her room in the ICU, and many of the visitors would stay mere minutes before leaving. Some of the people who came and visited her didn’t even know her last name, police said.

“The ICU is where our sickest of the sick patients are, so our staff are very attuned to what is happening in the patient’s rooms,” Excela health spokeswoman Robin Jennings told ABC News. “What they observed was an inordinate amount of foot traffic into a patient’s room."

Detectives set up surveillance on the room and eventually were able to get a confidential informant into the room to buy approximately 30 bags of heroin. A subsequent search of the patient and her room yielded 380 bags of heroin, syringes and $1,400 in cash, Zucco said.

The drugs were kept in her purse and in hospital room drawers, police said. The woman apparently also had several cellphones in her room that would ring at odd hours, police said.

“I’ve not seen anything thing like this before, dealing heroin set up out of a hospital bed,” the chief said.

Zucco said it is unclear how the woman was able to smuggle the heroin into the hospital. The patient checked into the hospital on April 14 for an undisclosed reason and the alleged drug dealing took place from April 14 to April 18, police said.

“It gives a person pause that people can be this bold if you will,” Jennings said. “At a time when they can be quite ill, they still either through addiction or whatever life circumstances, that they would continue to pursue [drug dealing] even at their most vulnerable.”

Jennings said the alleged ICU drug dealing is indicative of widespread drug abuse in the county.

“I think what our reaction is is one of sadness about the level of drug activity in Westmoreland County,” she said. “It is very dismaying to our caregivers that we have the level of drug overdoses in the county.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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How Did Teen Survive Flight Inside Plane's Wheel Well?


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Calif.) -- It’s still unclear how a 15-year-old teenager stowed away inside the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines 767 and survived amid the high altitude, frigid temperatures and low oxygen as the plane flew for more than five hours.

Residents believe the teen lives in Santa Clara, Calif. with his parents and three siblings. His father is a cab driver -- and neighbors say they only see the family in passing.

“They’re really quiet neighbors,” a neighbor said. “So we don’t hear noises or anything.”

The 15-year-old made his way to a fence surrounding the San Jose Airport Saturday. He scaled it, evading several layers of security, including video surveillance, German shepherds and Segway-riding officers, airport spokesperson Rosemary Barnes said.

“It does appear that he did scale a part of our perimeter fence line under the cover of darkness and remained undetected as he proceeded onto the aircraft ramp and then proceeded into the wheel well of the aircraft,” Barnes said.

As daylight broke, the boy remained undiscovered for the 8 a.m. takeoff. He chose the first plane he saw and may not have realized he would be in the air for more than five hours, FBI spokesman Tom Simon said.

"He got very lucky that he got to go to Maui but he was not targeting Maui as a destination," Simon said.

The boy is also lucky to be alive -- with wheel-well stowaways rarely surviving flight conditions. At 38,000 feet, the percentage of oxygen is a fraction of that at sea level, and the temperature ranges from -50 to -85 degrees.

An FAA study of stowaways found that some survive by going into a hibernation-like state.

The plane landed in Hawaii. About an hour later, at 10:20 a.m. Hawaii time, crews were startled by the teen coming out of the wheel well, Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz said.

“He was weak. He hung from the wheel valve and then he fell to the ground and regained some strength,” Moniz said.

Many questions remain following the boy’s journey -- including how no one spotted the teen until after the plane landed in Hawaii. Isaac Yeffet, a former head of security for the Israeli airline El Al who now runs his own firm, Yeffet Security Consultants, said the breach shows that U.S. airport security still has weaknesses, despite billions of dollars invested.

"Shame on us for doing such a terrible job," he said. "Perimeters are not well protected. We see it again and again."

Unlike checkpoint security inside the airport, which is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration, airport perimeters are policed by local authorities, as well as federal law enforcement.

Airport police were working with the FBI and the TSA to review security.

The boy was released to child-protective services in Hawaii and not charged with a crime, Simon said.

The city of San Jose, which owns and operates the airport, is not planning on pursuing criminal charges against the teen based on the current information available.


ABC US News | ABC Business News

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Texas Police Officer Caught Tripping, Pushing Kids at Soccer Game


iStock/Thinkstock(GEORGETOWN, Texas) -- Police in Georgetown, Texas, are investigating one of their own after he was caught on tape apparently tripping and pushing children at a high school state championship soccer game on Saturday.

In the broadcast of the game, accused officer George Bermudez, while in uniform, appears to trip and push students as they go onto the field after the game ends.

Bermudez, who has been with the department for nine years, is now on paid administrative leave for the apparent violation while the investigation is in progress.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Minnesota Man Accused of Murdering Teens Who Entered His Home


Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(LITTLE FALLS, Minn.) -- The trial against a 65-year-old man accused of murdering two teens who entered his home is underway in Minnesota, stirring debate about how far people can go in defending their homes.

Byron Smith, a retired security engineer for the U.S. Department of State, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the slayings of cousins Nick Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 16, on Thanksgiving Day 2012. The killings rocked the small city of Little Falls.

Prosecutors say Smith was sitting in his basement when he heard a window breaking upstairs. When Brady started walking down the basement stairs, Smith shot him twice, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Then, according to court documents, Smith shot Brady a third time in the face, allegedly telling investigators, “I wanted him dead.”

Minutes later, Kifer walked down the same steps, reportedly calling Brady’s name. Smith shot her multiple times, too -- telling investigators the last time he fired was “a good clean finishing shot.”

Steve Meshbesher, Smith’s attorney, said the case focuses on home security, that Smith had been worried after several break-ins.

“This was about anxiety and fear, and what somebody does in their own home,” Meshbesher said.

But prosecutors say Smith planned the killings -- lying in wait for the two teens in his basement with a book, two guns, energy bars and a bottle of water. The teens weren’t armed.

Under Minnesota law, a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one's home. ABC News Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams said the home-defense angle has limitations.

“The problem is that Byron Smith fired multiple shots,” Abrams said. “You don’t have the right to execute an intruder. If he had fired one shot at each of these intruders, he’d have a much stronger defense.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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US Marshal Stops Defendant from Attacking Witness in Utah Court


moodboard/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Shots were fired inside a brand new federal courthouse in Salt Lake City Monday that opened only a week ago.

The FBI said a defendant in a trial involving a gang called the Tongan Crips tried to attack the witness who was testifying against him.

"The defendant may have grabbed a pen or a pencil and charged the witness stand at that time with an instrument," said FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mark Dressen.

That's when a U.S. Marshal opened fire -- in front of the jury -- hitting the defendant in the chest.

"I believe he was shot in the chest multiple times," Dressen said.

The judge immediately called a mistrial, reporting jurors were visibly shaken, and the assailant was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died.

"The Marshals did an exceptional job. They stopped the threat to the witness," Dressen said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Pennsylvania Prep School Graduates Accused of Running Drug Ring


iStock/Thinkstock(ARDMORE, Pa.) -- Two prep school graduates are accused of leading a drug ring busted Monday in Philadelphia's Main Line suburbs.

The two men allegedly supplied marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy to local high schools and colleges. At least eight people are in custody in connection with the drug ring, and more arrests are expected.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman said it was an elaborate scheme that used traditional business principles. The leaders attempted to identify their dealers and create a market, and also targeted sub-dealers to find people "who would be motivated to do well."

"The tragedy of this is that instead of putting the skills that they might have into a traditional business or to a legal enterprise, they were using it for all of this," Ferman said.

Attorney Greg Pagano, who represents one of the alleged ring leaders, said one of the men was involved for a "very, very short period of time."

"He was only 18 years old and he was at a very susceptible low point in his life," Pagano said.


ABC US News | ABC Business News

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Two Men Shot Outside Gates of National Zoo


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two men were shot and injured outside the gates of the National Zoo on Monday afternoon, according to police.

One victim suffered an injury to his left hand, while the other was shot in the arm. They are being treated as non-life-threatening injuries. The incident occurred around 5 p.m. as a large group of individuals were walking on the 3000 block of Connecticut Avenue.

No arrests have been made in the shootings, and the motive is unknown. Police say the suspects are two male teens.

The shootings mark the second time in three years that violence has struck the zoo on Easter Monday. On April 25, 2011, a teenager attacked a victim twice during the same day. Mshairi Alkebular was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison after stabbing a 14-year-old in separate attacks inside and outside the National Zoo.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Increased Calls for Early Warning Earthquake System on West Coast


iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Following Mexico's 7.2-magnitude earthquake on April 18, lawmakers and experts are calling for an early warning system for the West Coast.

Many residents in Mexico fled to safety prior to the quake as a result of the country's warning system.

Jennifer Strauss, spokesperson for University of California-Berkeley's seismological lab, is an advocate for similar implementation in the United States and says the region is evaluating all options, as well as looking for federal and state funding.

State residents have long anticipated "The Big One," including seismological lab director Richard Allen.

"We really don't want to have a big earthquake, thousands of fatalities, before we build it," Allen said.

On March 28, a 5.1-magnitude temblor struck the Los Angeles area, followed by nearly two dozen aftershocks.  The quake came less than two weeks after a 4.4-magnitude earthquake hit the area on March 17.

Advocates of an early warning system say a big quake is inevitable for California.

"Even if it's a really short warning, a heads-up, it's better than nothing," said San Francisco resident Amie Zemlicka.

In 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation mandating a system, but funding was not provided. Dozens of lawmakers along the West Coast are calling for financing an early warning system. It is estimated it could cost about $82 million in the state of California.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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