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49ERS LINEBACKER ALDON SMITH ARRESTED AT AIRPORT

Monday, 14 April 2014 10:51 Published in Sports

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport after authorities said he became belligerent during a security screening and threatened that he had a bomb.

The 24-year-old player was randomly selected for a secondary screening at Terminal 1 and became uncooperative with the process, airport police Sgt. Karla Ortiz said. She said he told a TSA agent that he had a bomb before walking to the gate. When airport police officers caught up with him, Ortiz said Smith became uncooperative and was taken into custody.

A witness video posted on TMZ.com shows Smith exchanging words with an officer as he was being handcuffed and escorted out of the gate area.

Smith was booked for investigation of making a false bomb threat. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said anyone who makes a bomb threat at an airport is potentially subject to federal charges, although no such charges have been filed against Smith.

A message seeking comment from Smith's agent wasn't immediately returned.

With the arrest, Smith is involved in three pending criminal cases.

"We are disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "As this is a pending legal matter and we are still gathering the pertinent facts, we will have no further comment."

A fearsome pass-rushing specialist, Smith took a five-game leave of absence from the 49ers last season to undergo treatment for substance abuse. He rejoined the team Nov. 5.

Smith played in a 27-7 home loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 22, two days after he was arrested and jailed on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession. After the game, he publicly apologized for his behavior and later announced he would leave for treatment.

Leading up to the playoffs in early January, Smith said during an interview with The Associated Press he was encouraged by the strides he had made to better himself off the football field that put life - and his work - in perspective. He said at the time he hadn't had any alcohol since before his Sept. 20 DUI arrest, and that he wasn't craving it. When he rejoined the team Nov. 5, he insisted he was on the path to lifelong sobriety stuck by that statement.

His teammates rallied around him in support of his rehab and, later, his return to the team.

Smith emerged as one of the NFL's most-feared pass rushers in 2012. He had a franchise-record 19.5 sacks that year, but failed to record a sack in his final six games including the team's postseason Super Bowl run.

Smith finished with 8 1/2 sacks and 34 tackles in 11 games last season, making eight starts.

In November, Smith pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a June 2012 party at his home. Investigators say several shots were fired, two partygoers were injured and Smith was stabbed. In the subsequent investigation, prosecutors say detectives found five unregistered weapons in Smith's house, including two Bushmaster rifles and an Armalite AR-10T. They say those are assault weapons illegal to possess under California law.

Smith and former teammate Delanie Walker were named in a lawsuit last September filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court by a Northern California man who said he was shot at a party at Smith's house on June 29, 2012. The players charged a $10 admission and $5 per drink, the lawsuit said. Smith and now-Tennessee Titans tight end Walker were allegedly intoxicated on Smith's balcony when they fired gunshots in the air while trying to end the party, the lawsuit said.

Smith, selected seventh overall in the 2011 draft out of Missouri, had previously been arrested on suspicion of DUI in January 2012 in Miami shortly after the 49ers lost in the NFC championship game.

This is the latest in a long list of legal issues for 49ers players the past two years - and recently, too. The Niners, who lost to the rival and eventual champion Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game, have made nearly as much news away from the field as they have in free agency this offseason.

On Thursday, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was one of three NFL players named in a Miami police report involving a woman who passed out in a hotel and later woke up in a hospital not knowing how she got there, though no one has been charged with a crime. Kaepernick, 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton and Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette - a former 49er - were with the woman at a Miami hotel where Lockette lives, according to the Miami Police Department report. The police say it's too early to determine whether a crime was committed.

Late last month in San Jose, 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver was arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run and reckless driving after he drove a car into a bicyclist and fled. He is the player who underwent sensitivity training after his anti-gay remarks leading up to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season. He has done outreach to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Last summer, another starting linebacker, Ahmad Brooks, was investigated by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office on allegations that Brooks repeatedly hit a teammate on the head with a beer bottle. No assault charges were filed because of insufficient evidence.

According to police, Brooks hit then-teammate Lamar Divens with the bottle three times and then punched him in the face during an early morning argument June 8. Divens sustained a 3-inch cut on his forehead.

Another member of the defense, Demarcus Dobbs, was suspended for Week 1 last season for his own arrest on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession in 2012.

---

AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Josh Dubow in San Francisco 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.

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.

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