Click for St. Louis, Missouri Forecast

// a href = ./ // St Louis News, Weather, Sports, The Big 550 AM, St Louis Traffic, Breaking News in St Louis

 
 
 
KTRS News

KTRS News

FEDS REVISIT SAFETY RULES AFTER CALIF. BUS CRASH

Monday, 14 April 2014 10:47 Published in National News

RED BLUFF, Calif. (AP) -- Federal transportation authorities are investigating ways to minimize death and injuries in bus crashes following the fiery wreck that left 10 dead when a FedEx truck slammed into a tour bus carrying high school students in Northern California.

The truck driver veered across the Interstate 5 median, sideswiped a sedan and collided with the bus, leaving no tire marks to suggest he had applied his brakes. Dozens of injured students escaped through windows before the vehicles exploded into towering flames and billowing smoke in Orland, 100 miles north of Sacramento.

The sedan driver told investigators the truck was in flames before the crash, but the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday investigators found no physical evidence of a pre-impact fire or other witnesses to confirm that account.

The bus was carrying 44 students from Southern California for a free tour of Humboldt State University. Many were hoping to be the first in their families to attend college. Five students, the three adult chaperones and both drivers died.

"The worst thing for the NTSB is to show up, know that we've issued recommendations from a previous accident where lives have been lost . and find out (that) if those recommendations had been closed and enacted, lives could have been saved," NTSB member Mark Rosekind said.

His agency has long advocated for seatbelt, emergency exits and fire-safety rules to protect bus passengers. But federal agencies are often slow to heed the call. The California case can reinforce the need for regulations or expose the need for new rules, Rosekind said.

The investigation also will consider if bus manufacturers can learn lessons from voluntary measures taken by Silverado Stages, which has a strong safety record and owned the bus that was destroyed Thursday.

Under a rule sought for almost a half-century by investigators, all new motor coaches and other large buses must include three-point lap-shoulder belts beginning November 2016. Although Silverado Stages' bus, a brand new 2014 model, had seatbelts, not all passengers were using them - some were killed when thrown from the bus.

Rosekind said it's difficult to issue guidelines to enforce seatbelt use while they aren't mandated.

"In the absence of a flight attendant, the likelihood of anyone on a bus buckling is slim," said Larry Hanley, president of Amalgamated Transit Union representing bus drivers and advocating for policies reducing driver fatigue.

Regulators did not require that existing buses add seatbelts because it would have been too expensive.

The transportation board has also called for measures to detect and suppress fires and make buses less vulnerable to blazes after 23 nursing-home evacuees escaping Hurricane Rita in Texas in 2005 died in a bus fire.

Bodies recovered from the bus in California were charred beyond recognition, although it's unclear if they died from impact or fire. Rosekind said investigators will examine the materials and design of the bus to help better understand how vehicles withstand fires.

Fire-suppression systems, which the government is considering mandating in 2015, are aimed at stopping fires that start in engines and wheel wells. The systems, akin to a hand-held extinguisher, automatically douses the first embers and sparks, but aren't suited for massive blazes following collisions, said Joey Peoples, a vehicle fire safety expert for SP Fire Research.

"Once you have a fire, it's now simply a matter of how do we buy enough time to evacuate all the passengers," Peoples said.

Almost every window on the bus involved with Thursday's crash was available as an emergency exit, Rosekind said Sunday. Students escaped through them before the fiery explosion that devoured the vehicles. Investigators will examine if the windows were well-labeled and easily opened.

Safety standards to make large buses easier for passengers to escape after a crash have not been adopted 15 years after accident investigators called for new rules. They came after passengers in a tour bus following the trail of the Underground Railroad struggled to escape through windows after the bus tumbled down an embankment and overturned in a river in 1997.

A preliminary NTSB report on the Northern California crash is expected within 30 days. The entire investigation can last more than a year.

State officials led by the California Highway Patrol say they expect to identify the cause in 3 to 6 months. They are cooperating with federal authorities to find out why the truck driver veered into oncoming traffic and never applied the brakes.

The bus' black box-style electronic control module was recovered, and investigators will use other tools to reconstruct the truck's speed and maneuvers. Blood tests can tell if the drivers were impaired. The investigation will also review maintenance records and the drivers' medical histories.

---

Joan Lowy in Washington, D.C., Terry Chea in San Francisco and Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about ourPRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

POLICE SEEK ANSWERS AFTER 7 DEAD BABIES FOUND

Monday, 14 April 2014 10:42 Published in National News

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (AP) -- Police in Utah are questioning a mother and family members about the killings of seven babies whose bodies were found stuffed in cardboard boxes in a garage.

Megan Huntsman, 39, is accused of killing her babies after giving birth to the children between 1996 and 2006, investigators said. She was booked Sunday into the Utah County Jail on six counts of murder. It wasn't immediately clear if Huntsman has an attorney or why there were six counts and not seven.

The gruesome case has raised a series of questions about how the killings occurred despite Huntsman carrying out what neighbors said seemed like a normal existence. Police declined to comment on a motive and on what Huntsman said during an interview with investigators.

Her estranged husband made the discovery while cleaning out the garage after recently getting out of prison. Authorities do not believe he was aware of the killings and he isn't a person of interest at this time.

Police Capt. Michael Roberts said officers responded to a call from him Saturday about a dead infant, and then they found the six other bodies.

Family and neighbors identified the estranged husband as Darren West, who has been in prison on drug-related charges.

Roberts said police believe West and Huntsman were together when the babies were born.

"We don't believe he had any knowledge of the situation," Roberts told The Associated Press

Asked how West could not have known about the situation, Roberts replied, "That's the million-dollar question. Amazing."

The babies' bodies were sent to the Utah medical examiner's office for tests, including one to determine the cause of death. DNA samples taken from the suspect and her husband will determine definitively whether the two are the parents, as investigators believe.

Huntsman also has three daughters - one teenager and two young adults - who lived at the house.

Neighbors in the middle-class neighborhood of mostly older homes 35 miles south of Salt Lake City say they were shocked by the accusations and perplexed that the woman's older children still living in the home didn't know their mother was pregnant or notice anything suspicious.

Police say West made the grisly discovery at the house owned by his parents in a city of about 35,000 people at the foot of snow-capped mountains. It's a nondescript, newer home with a brick facade and a star ornament hanging by the door.

Several police cars blocked the entrance to the house Sunday evening as officers milled about with the belongings from the garage strewn across the front lawn.

Late Sunday, West's family issued a statement saying they were in a "state of shock and confusion."

"We are mourning this tragic loss of life and we are trying to stay strong and help each other through this awful event," the statement said before asking for privacy.

West pleaded guilty in federal court in 2005 to two counts of possessing chemicals intended to be used in manufacturing methamphetamine, court records show. In August 2006, he was sentenced to 9 years in prison, but appealed the term three times. He maintained his innocence and said he never had any intention to manufacture meth. It's unclear when he was released.

West's sister Sarah Wright wrote to federal district court in 2006, saying West is a good father to his three daughters. She said he worked at an excavation company for 11 years and is an avid outdoorsman who likes to fish and camp.

"Darren is such an awesome dad," she wrote.

Neighbors told the AP they were shocked and horrified by the accusations of what went on inside the home. None of them even knew Huntsman was pregnant in recent years.

The family members seemed like nice people and good neighbors, said Aaron and Kathie Hawker, who lives next door.

Huntsman moved out several years ago, leaving her three daughters to live alone, the Hawkers said. They weren't sure where Huntsman has since been living.

Years ago, Huntsman baby-sat the Hawker grandchildren and they were friendly with each other.

"It makes us so sad, we want to cry," Kathie Hawker said. "We enjoyed having them as a neighbor. This has just blown us away."

Aaron Hawker said he talked with West on Saturday morning. He told Hawker he was cleaning out the mess in the garage.

"Two hours later, suddenly we had all these policemen here," Aaron Hawker said.

Fred Newman, a neighbor whose cousin is the husband's mother, said he's perplexed how the three oldest daughters living there didn't know about what police say was going on. He said the girls didn't always park their cars in the garage, but did sometimes in the cold winter months.

He said he has used his snow-blower to clean off the driveway of the home and the young women would thank him.

The girls were normal youngsters, coming and going often, neighbor Vickie Nelson said.

"It's shocking and kind of morbid and strange," Nelson said as he looked across the street at the garage from her from lawn.

Roberts said the case has been "emotionally draining" and upsetting to investigators. He was at the home when the bodies were discovered.

"My personal reaction? Just shocked. Couldn't believe it. The other officers felt the same," the 19-year police veteran said.

"They got more and more shocked each box they opened," Roberts said.

---

Associated Press writer Martin Griffith in Reno, Nev., and Annie Knox in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about ourPRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

SUPREMACIST ID'D AS SUSPECT IN KANSAS ATTACKS

Monday, 14 April 2014 10:41 Published in National News

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The man accused of killing three people Sunday in attacks at a Jewish community center and Jewish retirement complex near Kansas City is a well-known white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader who was once the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

Frazier Glenn Cross, of Aurora, Mo., was booked into Johnson County jail on a preliminary charge of first-degree murder after the attacks in Overland Park.

At a news conference, Overland Park police Chief John Douglass declined to publicly identify the man suspected in the attacks. But an official at the Olathe jail, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the case, identified the suspect as 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Cross, of Aurora, Mo.

"Today is a sad and very tragic day," Douglass said at the news conference. "As you might imagine we are only three hours into this investigation. There's a lot of innuendo and a lot of assertions going around. There is really very little hardcore information."

According to police, the attacks happened within minutes of one another. At around 1 p.m. a gunman shot two people in the parking lot behind the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. He then drove a few blocks away to a Jewish retirement community, Village Shalom, and gunned down a woman or girl there, Douglass said. Officers arrested him in an elementary school parking lot a short time later.

Police said the attacks at both sites happened outside, and that the gunman never entered any buildings. Douglass said the gunman also shot at two other people during the attacks, but missed.

Authorities declined to release the victims' names pending notification of their relatives, and the identity of the person shot at the retirement community was still unknown early Monday. However, the family of the first two victims put out a statement identifying them as Dr. William Lewis Corporon, who died at the scene, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, who died at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

They were both Christian, and the family thanked members of their church congregation, among other people, for their support.

"We take comfort knowing they are together in Heaven," the family said. It asked for privacy to mourn.

Rebecca Sturtevant, a hospital spokeswoman, said family members told her Corporon had taken his grandson to the community center so that the boy could try out for a singing competition for high school students. Reat was a freshman at Blue Valley High School and an Eagle Scout.

Douglass said the suspect made several statements to police, "but it's too early to tell you what he may or may not have said." He also said it was too early in the investigation to determine whether there was an anti-Semitic motive for the attacks or whether they will be investigated as hate crimes. The Jewish festival of Passover begins Monday.

"We are investigating it as a hate crime. We're investigating it as a criminal act. We haven't ruled out anything. ... Again, we're three hours into it," he said.

Although the suspect was booked under the last name Cross, he is probably better known as Frazier Glenn Miller. A public records search shows he has used both names, but he refers to himself on his website as Glenn Miller and went by the name Frazier Glenn Miller in 2006 and 2010 campaigns for public office.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said it reached Miller's wife, Marge, by phone and that she said authorities had been to their home and told her that her husband had been arrested in Sunday's attacks. Calls by The Associated Press to a number listed as Miller's on his website were met by a busy signal or rang unanswered.

According to the law center, Miller has been involved in the white supremacist movement for most of his life. He founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and was its "grand dragon" in the 1980s. The Army veteran and retired truck driver later founded another white supremacist group, the White Patriot Party, the center said.

Miller was the subject of a nationwide manhunt in 1987 for violating the terms of his bond while appealing a North Carolina conviction for operating a paramilitary camp. The search ended after federal agents found Miller and three other men in an Ozark mobile home, which was filled with hand grenades, automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Miller tried running for U.S. House in 2006 and the U.S. Senate in 2010, espousing a white power platform each time.

The attacks rattled Overland Park, a suburb of about 180,000 residents south of Kansas City.

President Barack Obama released a statement expressing his grief over the attack, and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

"My heart and prayers are with all those who were affected by today's events," Brownback said in a statement. "We will pursue justice aggressively for these victims and criminal charges against the perpetrator or perpetrators to the full extent of the law."

Michael Siegal, chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, also said in an emailed statement that "no community should have to face a moment such as this one."

"Today, on the eve of Pesach, we are left to contemplate how we must continue our work building a world in which all people are free to live their lives without the threat of terror," he said.

___

Associated Press writer Tim Jacobs in Chicago contributed to this report.

Latest News

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
Prev Next
Man charged in connection to mother's murder

Man charged in connection to mother's murder

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - A St. Louis man is facing first-degree murder charges in his mother's death.   Prosecutors allege that Courtney Cunningham allegedly shot his...

Missouri lawmakers mull change to helmet law

Missouri lawmakers mull change to helmet law

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has endorsed a bill that would allow motorcyclists over the age of 21 to forgo wearing helmets while travelling on the road. &n...

House approves change to Missouri primary dates

House approves change to Missouri primary dates

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House gave initial approval to legislation that would move the state's primary elections to June.   Party primaries for Cong...

One dead after shooting in Washington Park, Illinois

WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. (AP) - Illinois State Police are helping investigate a suspected drive-by shooting death of a 19-year-old man in southwestern Illinois' Washington Park. ...

Three gyms robbed within minutes of one another

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - A spate of break-ins targeted south city gyms this morning.   Fox2 reports thieves hit at least three different gyms in less than a half an h...

UPDATE: Missing Belleville boy found safe

UPDATE: Missing Belleville boy found safe

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - UPDATE: Good news for a Belleville father, his 11-year-old son has been found safe.   A SARAA Alert was issued Wednesday morning for DeA...

Universities examine bans of 'selfies' at graduations

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - It may be coming to a college near you.......with graduation season upon us, bans on selfies are being suggested.   Two universities are the ...

© 2013 KTRS All Rights Reserved