WFSB - Eyewitness News

Injured dancer seeking to get back on the floor following crashEAST HAMPTON (WFSB) - Sarah Barney has been a dancer her whole life. But unfortunately, the last 2 months she has been unable to express herself through dance. She was badly injured in a horrific crash in Cromwell the day after Christmas - and right now she's confined to a wheel chair "I just like the way it lets me express who I am and my feelings," Barney said Friday. "It's hard because my life was movement." Every day is a struggle, but Sarah who is from East Hampton, moves forward thanks to the love and help of the people who care about her. Sometimes the strength comes from one individual at a time - like her mom Judy "She helps me to stay positive," Barney said. "And on my bad days she works me through it." But often the support comes from so many that it's almost overwhelming. Tonight is one of those times. Two-hundred people packed Saint Clements castle in Portland for a "Sarah Strong" benefit to help the Barney's with medical bills. "It's nice to see that all these people have come to support to me," Barney said. Family friend Lois Villa who helped organize the fund raiser says people are proud to support Sarah. Saint Clements and a bunch of other local businesses signed up to help and the dinner sold out almost immediately! "It's absolutely brought people together," Villa said. "It really makes me from the bottom of my heart thank the East Hampton community." Sarah still loves dance. She watches her old videos with determination. Her next goal is to learn to walk again, she'll zero in on dancing after that. Sarah says all of this support is almost overwhelming, but it makes a difference "I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who came here who set it up donated," Barney said. If you missed tonight's benefit but still want to help. You can find links to the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/sarahstrong2019/" target="_blank">Sarah Strong Facebook page</a> and <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/6mpwnaw?utm_source=facebook&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_campaign=fb_dn_cpgnstaticsmall_r&amp;fbclid=IwAR1XtHIx32sImFlXUQh6TqQLukY48TCaHDSmMuZM56qSFLmdlrMX8KPISp4" target="_blank">Go-Fund-Me page</a>.
Road reopened following serious crash in VernonVERNON (WFSB) - A serious motor vehicle accident closed a section of Reservoir Road in Vernon Friday. According to emergency officials, 2 cars were involved in the accident in the area of 55 Reservoir road. The scene is near a Burger King and a McDonald's Restaurant. Police said the road has reopened after emergency workers cleared the scene. Officials said 3 ambulances were requested, but did not have details on the extent of injuries. Stay with Eyewitness News for more information as soon as it becomes available.
Thieves target railings outside of Meriden churchesMERIDEN, CT (WFSB) -- Thieves are striking area churches, ripping not only their history, but something very functional -- railings. The steps at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Meriden were noticeably bare on Friday, as someone managed to rip most of the railings. Turns out, it’s not the only church with missing hand rails. It was parishioners at St. Rose of Lima who first drew attention to the missing 4-foot sections of bronze railings last Saturday. “It was understandably kind of a surprise to everyone. Particularly too, it was our older parishioners who need the railings to maneuver over the steps that alerted us to it,” said Rev. James Manship, of St. Rose of Lima. Across the street, a neighbor’s video surveillance captured the thief in the act early Saturday morning. Mule Spinelli said he heard a loud noise, got up to check his cameras but didn’t see anything at first. It wasn’t until the next day, he checked again to see someone carrying a trash bin before ripping the railings off. “It took no more than 10 minutes or so. He stacked them in a garbage can and he walked right off with them right through the church, like no respect,” Spinelli said. Meriden police said detectives are checking scrap yards and pouring over surveillance video. “The railings, they do hold a value. I don’t believe it’s that much, at times I do believe the effort is a tremendous one for a very small gain,” said Meriden Police Sgt. Christopher Fry. Meanwhile, St. Rose of Lima looks at replacement costs. “I mean the old adage, ‘crime doesn’t pay’ I think this is a truth they’ll also find out,” Manship said. While police couldn’t release investigation details, Manship said detectives told them they have some solid leads in the case.
Changes implemented over course of 1 year after Middlesex Hospital attackMIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) -- One year ago Friday, a Middletown man drove into Middlesex Hospital and lit himself on fire, all while broadcasting it on Facebook. When this happened, there was a period of time that no one knew if this was an isolated incident or part of a pre-planned terrorist attack. The random attack had Homeland Security in Middletown, and over the course of a month, they did a risk assessment. What they shared has now been implemented at Middlesex Hospital, and at other local hospitals. One year ago, <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/man-who-drove-into-middlesex-hospital-has-died/article_0d0bdd17-3390-505a-8fe5-abf12c8087f6.html" target="_blank">Steven Ellam started his descent into death</a> with a Facebook live of him driving while making a series of comments relating to the president. It ended in him crashing his car into the emergency room of the hospital, dousing himself with gasoline, and lighting himself on fire. Ellam would <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/suspect-in-middlesex-hospital-attack-was-released-early-from-prison/article_cae085b5-5002-5e59-822e-212daa54c1ad.html" target="_blank">die more than a week later from his burns</a>. “I’m certainly not going to forget Feb. 22, 2018 at 9:56 in the morning,” said Jim Hite, director of Environmental Safety and Protective Services for Middlesex Health. He was one of the many tasked with picking up the pieces from this random attack. In the days after, Channel 3 reported on quickly the emergency room was repaired, but the security concerns lingered long after. “We never expected what would happen on that day,” Hite said. Hite stresses he didn’t want to make decisions off emotions, so Homeland Security, as well as a private consulting firm, did a risk assessment on the hospital, going over everything from the structure, to the employees, cameras, locks and other operating procedures. The changes are evident now, especially near the scene of the horror. “We now staff our emergency department waiting room with a dedicated officer, so there’s that security presence,” Hite said. Cement barriers installed in the hours after, are still there a year later. Public parking under the emergency room has ended, and extra security has been hired and staff have been retrained. “We don’t live in fear, we live aware,” Hite said. He added that more Middlesex health employees are more vigilant in reporting concerns, and other recommendations from Homeland Security will still roll out this year. For security reasons, they won’t be disclosed. While nothing can be done to remove the random tragedy from Middlesex Health’s history, Hite said the mission now is to be an example of how to move forward. “We did rise to this occasion and persevered and we’re more resilient because of it,” Hite said. Because what happened there could have happened anywhere, Middlesex Health has passed along the lessons learned and recommendations to other hospitals in the area and they say they’re taking action too. A year later, friends of Ellam are still trying to understand why this happened. Kyle Wright said he can’t shake what his longtime friend did one year ago. “Just thinking about all the pain he endured, and what he went through, even leading up to that, I don’t want to imagine what he was battling,” Wright said. Ellam died more than a week after the attack. With years of friendship, Wright was well-aware that Ellam struggled with mental health. Ellam was the lead guitarist in a band they were in. “We did try to get him help, we tried many times. When you feel like you’re alone, you feel like you’re alone,” Wright said, adding that he thinks about his friend daily. “I wish I could’ve done something. Every day, I beat myself up on it, but I try to move forward.” He’s started healing through the bond he and Ellam once shared, which was music. His new album is called “Lost Souls” and he says it’s based off what happened a year ago and the struggles he’s faced because of it. “We feel like our souls are lost at some point and we want the community to realize that they have something to listen to, to bring them back to earth,” Wright said. Because of his friend’s death, and now through his music, he’s hoping the discussion on mental health can be started. “You can’t look at the past, all we can do is move forward,” Wright said. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there is help. <a href="https://www.ct.gov/dmhas/cwp/view.asp?a=2902&amp;q=335206" target="_blank">Click here</a> for information on where to get help in your area.
Robert Kraft, owner of New England Patriots, charged in prostitution bust(WFSB/AP) Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, is facing charges following a prostitution bust in Jupiter, Florida. Police in Florida made the announcement Friday morning. During the news conference, police said 77-year-old Kraft is being charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution. He's one of 25 men charged with paying for sex acts at a massage parlor. Police said there is video evidence of at least two alleged incidents involving Kraft. Kraft hasn't been arrested, but a warrant will be issued and his attorneys will be notified. In a statement, a spokesperson for Kraft said they "categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further." The Associated Press said this charge comes amid a widespread crackdown on sex trafficking in the area surrounding Palm Beach County, where 10 spas have been shut down. About 200 arrest warrants have been issued in recent days and more are expected. The Patriots won the Super Bowl earlier this month in Atlanta. His wife died in 2011, after nearly 50 years of marriage. Stay with Channel 3 as more information becomes available.
Every Town Has a Story: Historic city of NorwichNORWICH, CT (WFSB) - Every Town Has a Story takes a trip to Norwich. Nicole Nalepa started her tour off at a place you can't pass by, without stopping in! It's the place in Norwich where everybody knows your name, how you take your coffee, and what your favorite donut is. People say the donuts are just a small part of what makes the place so special. “My favorite is the chocolate raised because the donuts are super buttery. I had a donut somewhere else the other day and I pictured Dixie Donuts but it wasn't a Dixie Donuts,” said Cedrone Knowles. Once you sink your teeth into a Dixie Donut, there's no going back. “We have been voted best donut for 6 years running,” said Kathy Burkhart. Kathy Burkhart has been serving customers for nearly 20 years here on West Town Street. Twelve years ago, she became the proud owner of Dixie Donuts. “We have a very good product. It's a recipe that was passed down many, many years ago and it has continued and well, it speaks for itself,” Burkhart said. It’s no secret that the bakers come in at midnight to start making these hand-cut, preservative-free, delicious round pieces of dough. You’ll also find other breakfast items on the menu if you pop in between 5:30 a.m. and 12:30pm. The historic city of Norwich has a lot of gems to offer. There’s a museum that lies inside the walls of a high school. The Norwich Free Academy is a non-profit, privately endowed institution for students, 9th through 12th grade. It’s the public-school choice for Norwich and 8 other surrounding towns. But, it doesn't feel like your typical high school. “It’s more like a junior college than it is like a high school,” said Vivian Zoe, Director of Slater Memorial Museum. Perhaps due to the fact that one of their school departments is an actual museum. Classes can go there and get to see thing firsthand, which comes complete with tour guides! What’s so unique about the Slater Memorial Museum, is it's only 1 of 2 museums in the entire country that actually sits on the campus of a high school. The museum was a gift from William Albert Slater to his Alma-mater. “And he gave it to honor his father, John Fox Slater, who was one of the founders of the academy,” said Zoe. “I kind of thought it was a little museum that had statues and stuff, and then we came freshman year and I was like, 'wow,’” said Samantha Tracey, junior at Norwich Free Academy. As you step inside, you immediately become awestruck by the impressive cast collection, which doesn't exist anywhere else in the state. “These are as these pieces, mostly marble and bronze, existed 130 years ago,” said Zoe. Casts of the original statues were seen as a way to teach the classics, life-drawing, mythology, and history. “You see it in textbooks and you're like, 'oh it's just a statue' or something like that and then you come and see how big they are,” said Zoe. Over time, some of these historical statues have been destroyed in the world. “If you can't see them anywhere in the world anymore, you can still see them here in the Slater Museum,” Zoe said. This museum offers more than these big, beautiful casts. “We have fine and decorative art that represents 350 years of Norwich history,” said Zoe. That includes galleries that feature Connecticut’s contemporary artists, 20th century artists, an African art gallery, and an Asian art gallery is currently in the works. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday. “Our admission fees are ridiculously reasonable,” Zoe said. The fees are $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and students, and those under 12-years-old get in for free. The final stop on our tour of Norwich this evening takes us to a favorite spot for tourists, history buffs, and photographers alike. It’s a beautiful spot at Yantic Falls called: 'Uncas Leap.’ Channel 3 learned about the legend behind the name and found out some steps that are being taken to highlight this historical landmark. Norwich is a city with 400 years of history in just a 4-mile radius. Melissa Tantaquidgeon-Zobel is the tribal historian for the Mohegan tribe. Norwich is part of the 'traditional territory' of her ancestors. “Norwich is a place that has gone from being a very large city, to a medium-sized city, and before that it was actually our corn planting field in ancient, ancient times,” said Tantaguidgeon. During the 1600s, a great Mohegan leader, by the name of 'Sachem Uncas' played a unique role when the colonists began coming over. “This is one of those great American stories. Uncas decided to become a friend of the English, and worked with the English people in Norwich from the very beginning,” said Tantaguidgeon. So, as a way to honor his memory, there's a serene spot in the city named after him. It’s called: 'Uncas Leap.’ “Many native American sites as you know will just say 'Indian Falls' or 'Indian Something-or-Another...,’ but this is one individual who deserves to be named and I thank the city for doing that,” Tantaguidgeon said. There’s a story to go along with this historic site. “It’s the place where, in our tribal history, Uncas is said to have jumped during the battle with the Narragansett people,” Tantaguidgeon said. The beautiful thing about 'Uncas Leap' is, it looks just as it did when Uncas was there,” said Tantaguidgeon. “So, it gives us a bit of America in its natural state and also a bit of native American history at the same time.” The only change that would come to the area, would be enhancements around this focal point. “We’ve been working in partnership with the tribe to see how we can improve this space and make it really vibrant and welcoming to all visitors,” said Tantaguidgeon. “We have multiple tribal representatives from the archaeology department to members of the council and they've been a real key component in this process.” A process that has hit the ground running after the city was recently able to acquire the private property adjacent to the falls. Last year, Norwich received two big grants from the state to start planning the space, which would include: new trails and walkways, an amphitheater, and a kayak tie-up area.
Campaign manager fired over tweet condemned for being anti-SemiticHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- There is more fallout over a campaign post on social media. A candidate for State Senate said he fired his campaign manager after her a post on Twitter was condemned for being anti-Semitic. The tweet was sent by Bill Wadsworth’s campaign manager, Nicole Palmieri. Wadsworth is a Republican candidate for Senate in the fifth district. He has apologized, but the problem hasn’t gone away. "By using a photo of two legislators, who are open about their Jewish lineage, and using the term “money grabbing” you cross the line from being a campaign issue or a policy issue to a Jewish stereotype of being money hungry,” said Michael Bloom of the state’s Jewish Federation Association. Derek Slap, the Democratic candidate for State Senate, was the target of the tweet. "I think it was in poor taste. If it didn't cross the line, it got very, very close to it,” Slap said. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who is pictured with Slap in the tweet, said he is also offended. "The code words and the images that are sometimes used in expressing racial religious bigotry have no place in Connecticut’s discourse,” Blumenthal said. Wadsworth said he didn’t see the tweet until after it was sent, and he has since fired his campaign manager. "As soon as I heard about it I knew it was something I wouldn't condone and it was terribly wrong to do,” Wadsworth said. Another Jewish candidate who ran for State Senate was also the target of what some considered to be an anti-Semitic campaign mailer. Matt Lesser, a Democrat, was deeply offended by an image that caused his Republican challenger to pull the mailer and apologize. "I do think people need to be sensitive about it. Our national politics are so divisive, and we don't want that here in Connecticut,” Slap said. In this case, the tweet has not been pulled. It is still posted. Channel 3 reached out to Nicole Palmieri but has not yet heard back.
Stabbing marks Hartford's 5th homicide of the yearHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Police are investigating the death of a man who was stabbed with a knife Thursday evening. Officers responded to 2327 Main St. around 9:30 p.m. to the reported knife assault. A man was located by police with several lacerations and stab wounds. According to police, a suspect was taken into custody, and officers found the weapon they believe was used in the stabbing assault. The victim, identified as 40-year-old Shawn Banks, was taken to St. Francis Hospital, where he died from his injuries. The suspect has been identified at 44-year-old Mayceo Montford. He's being held on a $1 million bond. Matford and Banks were acquaintances and are both from Hartford, according to police. The case is the capital city’s 5th homicide of 2019, police said. “There is no indication that this incident is related to any previous acts of violence this week in the city of Hartford,” Cicero said. The homicide does not appear to be narcotics related. Banks had gone to visit Montford, but police are unsure of what conspired at the home to lead to the stabbing. The mayor and police chief said they are making any and all resources available to deal with the recent increase in violence.
Hartford man dies after being struck by tractor trailer ThursdayHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – A Hartford man died after he was struck by a tractor-trailer Thursday evening. The man identified as 77-year-old Carl Loven succumbed to his injuries just before 5 p.m. Friday. Police said the incident happened at the intersection of High Street and Walnut Street. No charges have been filed at this point. The driver of the tractor-trailer remained on scene and is cooperating with the investigation. Stay tuned to Ch. 3 for updates on this story.
State reports first child death related to the fluHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- The state’s Dept. of Public Health said a child died earlier this week due to the flu. Officials said it is the first pediatric death involving the flu this season, however it is unclear how old the child was. The flu is considered to be widespread across the state, as 29 others have died because of the flu in CT so far this season. “Our hearts go out to the family of this child. For confidentiality reasons, I can’t provide you with any additional details about this child’s illness”, said Commissioner Raul Pino. “I can, however, emphasize the importance of vaccinating children against influenza. In Connecticut, there have been reported 12 flu-associated pediatric deaths from the 2005-06 flu season through the 201718 season. Only two of these cases (17%) had evidence of current flu vaccination." <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/latest-stats-bring-total-number-of-flu-deaths-this-season/article_941366d6-3613-11e9-b582-7be7a970efdd.html" target="_blank">Numbers released Thursday by the Dept. of Public Health</a> showed four other deaths related to the flu were reported in the past week. The pediatric death brings that total to five. "This is an unfortunate outcome. Every year nationally we see a hundred or so kids die from influenza," said Doctor Nicholas Bennett, Director of Infectious Disease at Connecticut Children's Medical Center. Health officials said all children should be vaccinated for influenza starting at 5 months of age. Officials also said approximately 80 percent of children who die from influenza nationally and in Connecticut were not vaccinated. "Get your children immunized because the vaccine does protect against influenza to a significant extent. It's not perfect, but it does provide some protection and it reduces the severity of symptoms," said Bennett. Bennett says the stakes are especially high for children because so many potentially sick young people congregate together every day at school. "If a flu gets into a classroom setting, it's pretty easy to spread around. It's spread by respiratory droplets, so coughing, sneezing, as well as through contact," said Bennett. The flu often feels like a bad cold with symptoms of sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and a fever, along with body aches and trouble breathing. "The only way to really tell is to get the flu test and the earlier you can test the better because we know that most people will benefit from treatment if you treat them earlier rather than waiting three or four days," Bennett said. State health officials said the season began on Aug. 26, and they have been posting weekly updates. Since the season started, 1,668 people have been hospitalized because of the flu. Between August and the beginning of February, 4,540 cases were reported. Stay with Channel 3 as more information becomes available.