safety

U.S. Senator Describes Train Wreckage

Feb 7, 2015

Two U.S. Senators and two congressional representatives Friday saw the wreckage and toured the crash site of Tuesday’s fiery Metro-North crash in Westchester County that left six people dead. 

The officials, including U.S. Senator from Connecticut Richard Blumenthal, spoke after viewing the charred train in a warehouse and then touring the crash site in Valhalla.

“Look inside the car and you can see those third rails like daggers going into the heart of that chamber.”

Alberto Cairo / ProPublica

Imagine walking into your young child's classroom and seeing him on the floor, his hands behind his back, as if he was being arrested. This is what happened to Lisbeth Ehrlich in Darien. 

"It's profoundly disturbing,” Ehrlich said. “It is surreal; it's something you cannot believe you're seeing."

In Ehrlich's case, she said it was done because her son "didn't want to sit through circle time." A new report from the Office of the Child Advocate shows that cases like Ehrlich's are not unusual, and that some kids have been restrained or secluded for minor behavior problems such as throwing puzzle pieces on the floor or swinging a coat around.

The State Department of Education released data last year showing that the number of restraints and seclusions increased by over 2,000 incidents compared to the year before.

Paul Goyette / Creative Commons

There were 124 child fatalities in Connecticut between 2005 and 2014.  The state Department of Children and Families studied the cases and is now implementing a new strategy to identify and support at-risk families. 

DCF's study found that the most common cause of death was from Sudden Infant Death syndrome, or SIDS.

Susan Smith, DCF's Chief of Quality and Planning, said 34 percent of the child fatalities were attributed to SIDS when combined with unsafe sleep.

NTSB

Federal investigators visited a Metro-North train crash site Wednesday where six people were killed and 15 were injured.

A train on the Harlem Line crashed into an SUV Tuesday evening in the Westchester County town of Valhalla, New York. It's considered the worst accident in the history of the rail line.

New York Senator Charles Schumer told reporters Wednesday that the train was traveling at about 58 mph, within the speed limit for the area, which ranges between 60 and 70 mph. Federal investigators gathered other information about whether the train's brakes were applied, and whether its horn sounded as it approached a crossing.

Oregon DOT / Creative Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy's Office of Policy and Management has released new crime statistics for Connecticut, and the news is good, especially for Connecticut's urban areas.

According to the report, the index crime rate in Connecticut hasn't been this low since the 1960s.

Index crimes dropped by 18.2 percent from 2008 to 2013 -- listed by the FBI as willful homicide, forcible rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny over $50, motor vehicle theft, and arson. 

NTSB

A federal report stemming from the investigation into the May 2013 derailment of a Metro-North Railroad train that injured scores of passengers in Bridgeport said that bolts on brand-new M-8 cars are too weak.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that Metro-North replace thousands of bolts on the fleet of more than 400 new Kawasaki rail cars on the New Haven line and New Canaan branch.

The NTSB said the bolts were not to blame for the derailment, but that their failure made the two-train collision worse, because a piece of one car sliced into the passenger compartment of another.

CT-N

Governor Dannel Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission met on Friday. The panel is getting closer to finishing a final report, but more details remain.

Much of the meeting turned into a debate on whether the report should be dedicated solely to the 26 victims at Sandy Hook elementary, or whether it should also include shooter Adam Lanza and his mother Nancy.

Panel member Dr. Harold Schwartz suggested adding Nancy Lanza as an asterisk to the 26. "Why would we not consider Nancy Lanza to have been a victim?" he asked.

Update, 12:27 a.m.

The death toll is now at 3 with the death of a second infant in the hours following the blast, according to The Associated Press, and eight children and seven adults remain in critical condition.

"The blast occurred at 7:05 a.m. when the truck was making a routine delivery of gas to the hospital kitchen and gas started to leak. Witnesses said the tanker workers struggled for 15 or 20 minutes to repair the leak while a large cloud of gas formed.

Residents across the state are digging out of the blizzard that dumped more than two feet on parts of the state. Gov. Gina Raimondo lifted the state’s travel ban last night. She thanked Rhode Islanders for staying off the roads. There was a fire in Providence and a handful of accidents, but no major injuries from the storm.

Tucker Ives / WNPR

Blizzard warnings eased early Tuesday for parts of Connecticut, but central and eastern parts of the state saw continuing snowfall and strong winds through midday. By noon, most counties were downgraded to a winter storm warning as a powerful nor'easter made its way across the state.

A statewide travel ban lifted in Connecticut at 2:00 pm. Local roads were opened in Litchfield and Fairfield Counties early Tuesday morning, but Governor Dannel Malloy asked residents to wait before getting on the roads if possible. State bus service will resume Wednesday, and state employees return to work in the morning.

Sharon Mollerus / Creative Commons

If you’ve been watching the news the last few days, you’d know our region was bracing for what could be an “historic” storm. But can anything really be historic when we’ve seen so many similar events over the past few years?

Office of Dannel Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy is asking residents to prepare for a significant snowstorm impacting Connecticut Monday evening through Tuesday. He declared a state of emergency, opened the Emergency Operations Center, and issued a travel ban on state highways as of 9:00 pm Monday.

Malloy said Bradley International Airport is closing to passengers at 7:00 pm Monday night. He said the last Metro-North train would leave Grand Central Station in New York City at 9:00 pm.

"Although storms can be unpredictable, this storm has the potential to have a significant impact on the state and we need to be prepared," Malloy said. "Just as the state is monitoring and preparing, the public should do the same."

In a response to recent incidents in which large commercial airliners have vanished into oceans, the National Transportation Safety Board is calling for new regulations requiring all passenger planes that fly over large bodies of water to be equipped with more sophisticated flight tracking technologies.

Northeast Utilities

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has notified the Millstone Power Station of possible enforcement action following a November 24 inspection that found problems related to unspecified safety issues. 

Starting today, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will begin sending out Amber Alerts on Facebook's news feed. The alerts will include a photograph of the missing child and the location where the possible abduction took place.

Facebook has 185 million users in the U.S., and the notices will be tailored to location — so users will receive alerts about missing children in their area.

One subway passenger died and more 84 were taken to the hospital, including two still in critical condition, when a Washington, D.C., train filled with smoke late Monday afternoon, WAMU reports.

The train halted in a tunnel just outside L'Enfant Plaza station, a major junction in the system, and then the power went out and smoke flooded into the car, NPR employee Luis Clemens told the radio station.

Keurig, the company that makes the popular single-serve coffee machines, is recalling 7 million Mini Plus Brewing Systems, with the model number K10 (previously identified as B31), the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission announced today.

Facebook

New Haven police officers who normally work on their own are patrolling with a partner now, following the fatal shooting of two New York City officers in a squad car last weekend.

Motorists would be required to use their headlights during bad weather under a bill approved by Massachusetts House lawmakers.

This year, Tennessee joined 21 other states that allow employees to leave guns in their cars in the office parking lot. The laws have left many employers debating how best to ensure safety at work.

After Georgia passed its law allowing employees to keep firearms in their employers' parking lots, Sally Roberts installed a sign on her newspaper firm's door. It read: "No Weapons Allowed."

A job candidate once threatened her, says Roberts, human resources director at Morris Communications. "She did become violent, and I'm very thankful she did not have a weapon."

For the first time in at least 20 years, significantly more Americans say it's more important to protect the right to own guns than to control gun ownership, according to the Pew Research Center.

The survey found that more than half of Americans (52 percent) sided with gun rights compared with the 46 percent who favored gun control.

The findings represent the continuation of a shift that was only briefly interrupted by the Newtown, Conn., school shootings in 2012.

Phalinn Ooi / Creative Commons

State health inspectors visiting Stamford Hospital in late 2012 turned up several infection-control violations, including the improper drying and storage of endoscopes, instruments used to look inside the body.

The U.S. Supreme Court is tackling a question of increasing importance in the age of social media and the Internet: What constitutes a threat on Facebook?

Anthony Elonis was convicted of making threats against his estranged wife, and an FBI agent. After his wife left him, taking the couple's two children with her, Elonis began posting about her on his Facebook page.

There's one way to love ya, but a thousand ways to kill ya,

And I'm not going to rest until your body is a mess,

Jenson Lee / Creative Commons

The holidays can be happy, but they can also be a dangerous. Safe driving advocates are renewing their campaigns to separate drinking from driving. 

Steve Guttman / Creative Commons

The National Transportation Safety Board released a report Wednesday recommending better training for the nation's doctors in identifying and treating sleep disorders. This follows last year's deadly Metro-North derailment in the Bronx that it blames on an engineer's sleepiness. 

CT-N

Governor Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission met in Newtown on Friday. The panel heard from three parents of children killed in the Newtown tragedy, who offered a host of policy recommendations based on their experiences over the last 23 months since the massacre. 

Sean Phillips / U.S. Navy

Investigators say a man involved in a shooting at a gate outside the Navy's submarine base in Connecticut lunged at one police officer with a knife and then stabbed another in the thigh before an officer opened fire.

Jessica Whittle / Creative Commons

One of the most basic functions of local government is to protect its citizens. We talk with a panel of local firefighters who do just that.

When a fire breaks out, many Connecticut towns have volunteer forces that go to the rescue. What draws firefighters to this profession that includes a lot more than just fighting fires? Some Connecticut firefighters are even taking it a step further, and are going out west to help fight forest fires.

NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports that as investigators examine what went wrong with the launch of an unmanned Antares rocket on Tuesday, they'll likely take a hard look at powerful engines originally destined to send cosmonauts to the moon, a project that was scrapped by the USSR more than four decades ago.

Recent headlines out of West Africa have been flooded with the news of the Ebola outbreak, shifting the attention away from the social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls, aimed at rescuing nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by the Islamist group Boko Haram.

On Friday, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister said that negotiations to get the girls back were underway and that their release was imminent.

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