<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com en-us Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:19:45 -0500 Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:19:45 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[3 Die in Crash En Route to Funeral]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:18:32 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/ROLLOVER_121914_1239_1_1200x675_375195715768.jpg

An SUV full of people on their way to a funeral rolled over on Interstate 15 Friday, leaving three dead and another three injured.

A 2001 Ford Expedition was headed south on I-15 when it flipped into the northbound lanes near Old Hwy 395, causing traffic to be blocked in the left lanes of both sides of the freeway and killing three people inside.

Two of the deceased were girls: a 12-year-old from Azusa, Calif. and an 11-year-old from Los Angeles. CHP said it does not appear either were wearing seat belts.

The female driver was wearing a seat belt, but was also killed.

A 2-year-old restrained in a car seat survived, as well as two adults that sustained non life-threatening injuries.

A survivor of the crash told CHP the group was traveling to Mexico to board a plane for a funeral.

Deputies happened to be driving behind the vehicle when they said the tread on the left rear tire appeared to separate, causing the driver to lose control. Reports also said the tread on all four tires looks different.

CHP, fire rescue and the Medical Examiner were on the scene.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.

<![CDATA[Long-Lost Dog 'Max' Found in Chester County]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:51:16 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Max4.jpg

Delaware County Animal Control scanned a stray dog's microchip Thursday afternoon in Chester County to find it belonged to someone in North Carolina. A month after his disappearance, Max is finally returning to his owner, Traci Harrison, tonight.

Around Nov. 17 or 18, Max escaped from Traci's backyard in High Point, North Carolina. Her father had just gone into the hospital for organ failure and she was staying with him around the clock. Traci didn't realize her dog was gone until the morning of Wednesday Nov. 19 when he didn't come running for his food.

"It was a tough time," she said. "His nickname is Houdini," she continued on a lighter note, describing her dog's tendency to disappear. "He likes to dig. He squeezed between the chain link fence and brick of the house, miraculously, and got out."

No one other than Max knows exactly what happened next, but he was probably picked up by someone who drove with him north into Pennsylvania. He then escaped for the second time and was picked up by Eddystone Police after some kids reported a friendly, stray dog, according to the Philadelphia Animal Hospital.

After a quick scan of Max's chip in their truck, Animal Control Officer Lisa Stewart thought he was a rescue, brought up north by a local shelter. After some investigation, Control reached out to Traci who was driving home with a pizza when she got the call Thursday, exactly a month after Max's disappearance.

"I was trying to write down the information on the pizza box in the car," she said describing how her initial confusion during the call turned to elation. "I didn't think I'd ever see him again. Just the perfect Christmas present for me."

Max is set to board a plane Friday for the hour and a half journey home from Philadelphia International Airport. Traci, 42, can barely contain her excitement.

"I just wanna squeeze him to death. I just want to sit on the floor at the airport and let time stand still because it's my buddy. I just can't wait to see him. I'm going out right now to get some new toys."

She says Max, three and a half, is amazing, protective, and like an old soul, "a little old lady's perfect little lap dog."

Photo Credit: Traci Harrison ]]>
<![CDATA[5 Key Points From Obama's Year-End Presser]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:44:32 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP684603546762.jpg

President Obama said Sony Pictures Entertainment had made a mistake pulling the movie “The Interview," and defended normalizing relations with Cuba in his last press conference of the year before heading to Hawaii for vacation.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” he said of the cyber attack during which embarrassing emails were made public.

Here are the main topics that he addressed during the exchange with the press, during which he only called on female reporters.

North Korea

On the day that the FBI identified North Korea as the source of the cyber-attacks on Sony, Obama refused to reveal what the U.S. response would be other than to say it would be proportional and in a place and time of U.S. choosing.

He said that although he sympathized with Sony, he wished its executives had talked to him before making the decision on “The Interview.”

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” he said.

If Sony could be intimidated over the release of a satirical movie, imagine what might happen if the issue were a documentary or a news report, he said. Even worse, imagine if producers and other start engaging in self-censorship, he said.

"That's not what America's about," he said.


Obama said he shared worries that Cuba would fail to address human right or move toward democracy.

“This is still a regime that oppresses its people,” he said.

But he said he believed normalizing relations, announced this week by his administration, would give the United States more leverage over Cuba. Visiting Americans and better access to telecommunications and the Internet will chip away at what he called a hermetically sealed society and offer the best prospect for self determination, he said.

“Change is going to come to Cuba,” he said. “It has to.”

The country’s economy does not work and it can no longer rely on subsidies from allies such as Venezuela.

He recounted that in his conversation with Cuba President Raul Castro, after Obama had apologized for his 15-minute opening, Castro told him that he was a young man and still had time to break Fidel Castro’s record for speaking for seven hours straight.

State of Race Relations

Black Americans like the rest of Americans are better off than when he took office, Obama said, though the income and wealth gap between black and white America remained.

He said that educational changes his administration has initiated have meant higher high school graduation rates and record numbers of people attending college.

Race relations are now "colored" by police shootings in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, and the perception that law enforcement was not fair, he said.

He said a task force he created would return with practical changes that could be implemented.

“People are basically good and have good intentions,” he said.

Systems and institutions don’t always work as well as they should and can be fixed, he said.

Dealing With Congress

Obama said he would continue to take unilateral actions on issues important to the American people if Congress failed to act.

Immigration was the classic example, he said. He acted only after the House failed to move on a comprehensive bill passed by the Senate.

If Republicans were angered by his executive actions, he said, “There is a very simple solution: Pass bills.”

He urged Republicans to work with him because both sides would have to compromise.

Obama again said that the Keystone XL pipeline would not have much effect on gas prices in the United States, but instead would benefit the Canadian oil industry. The pipeline would bring oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, where it would enter the world oil market.

He said he hoped to work with Republicans on fairness in the tax system, particularly involving corporations. Some are paying taxes at a rate of 35 percent, others of which are paying nothing.


Obama touted America's economic gains and said the country could enter the new year confident that the United States was making strides.

This year was the strongest for job growth since the 1990s; over a 57-month period, businesses had created nearly 11 million new jobs, he said. About 10 million Americans have gained health insurance in the past year. Deficits has been cut by about two-thirds since he took office.

"America's resurgence is real," he said.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Man Charged in Fake Carjacking During Manhunt]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:08:12 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/216*120/Sanderlin.JPG

A Doylestown resident is facing charges after he called police to report a carjacking that he said involved Bradley Stone at the height of the manhunt for the former-marine who went on a shooting spree earlier that day -- killing his ex-wife and five of her family members -- in Montgomery County.

Luke Sanderlin, 34, made a call to police late Monday and told them that an armed Bradley Stone ran up to him while he was walking his dog near the Stonington Farm Apartment Complex and demanded his car keys, according to officials. Sanderlin allegedly told police he pulled a gun on Stone and scared him into the woods.

Stone, who was being pursued after he allegedly went on a violent spree killing his ex, Nichole Hill Stone, her mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law and niece. He also injured Anthony Flick, Stone Hill's 17-year-old nephew, said investigators.

The false report resulted in the lockdown of the apartment complex, but also the Central Bucks YMCA and Central Bucks West High School. Police from three counties spent four hours combing Doylestown before determining that Stone was not in the area -- wasting resources and taxpayer money, said Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler.

"We are still counting the costs in taxpayers' dollars wasted by Mr. Sanderlin," said Heckler.

Sanderlin is charged with risking catastrophe, reckless endangerment, false alarms and false reports. He's being held on $25,000 cash bail.

"Because Sanderlin's false report came in the midst of the manhunt for a dangerous and unpredictable killer, this hoax had the effect of diverting important resources which should have been devoted to protecting the public from a real threat, not a phony one."

Sanderlin reported the fake carjacking to raise money for treatment for an allegedly disease, said police.

Bradley Stone was found dead the following day in the woods near his Pennsburg home.

Photo Credit: Office of the Bucks County District Attorney]]>
<![CDATA[Bald Eagle Found Shot Dead in Ct.]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:35:02 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Great+Meadow+Road+in+Rocky+Hill+1200.jpg

A $5,000 reward is being offered to help find the person who shot a bald eagle, after the bird — a national symbol — was found dead along a road in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection received a report of a dead eagle along Great Meadows Road in Rocky Hill at 10:13 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13 and began investigating.

At the time, it was believed that the bird was struck and killed by a car, but that was not the case.

State Environmental Conservation police turned the eagle over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which conducted a preliminary examination that indicated the eagle’s injuries were from a gunshot.

Bald and Golden Eagles are protected under federal law and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and State Environmental Conservation Police are jointly investigating. 

The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspected poachers, according to DEEP.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Environmental Conservation Police’s Emergency Dispatch Center at 860-424-3333 or toll free at 1-800-842-4357 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent at 860-871-8348.  

<![CDATA['Cop Lives Don't Matter' Graffiti Hits Philly Street]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:08:44 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Cop+Lives+Dont+Matter+Graffiti.jpg

Anti-police sentiment has materialized in the form of graffiti along a busy avenue in West Philadelphia.

Three messages were scribbled in spray paint on a fence, bar and abandoned church on Baltimore Avenue between 48th and 50th streets.

They read "PPD Killed Brandon Tate Brown," "F--- the Cops" and "Cop Lives Don't Matter."

Brandon Tate Brown is the man shot in the head and killed by a Philadelphia Police officer on Monday following an altercation during a traffic stop. The last message is a play on the chant "Black Lives Matter" that demonstrators have been using recently while protesting against police treatment of African-Americans.

The protests in Philadelphia and other cities around the nation began after grand juries declined to indict white officers in two high profile cases surrounding the deaths of unarmed black teen Michael Brown and the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

It's not clear when the structures were tagged.

"Back in the day you could really run to a cop and trust the cop, but now people are scared to go to cops," nearby resident Sharon Weaver said after seeing the message on the fence.

Kale Good, another resident, said he doesn't agree with defacing a person's property, but that he understands how a person might feel it's the only way to have their voice heard.

"I think what the person is trying to express is that they feel police in general are disregarding their lives or aren't valuing their lives, and so they probably feel an amount of frustration and this is how they expressed it," he said.

A painter was removing the "Cop Lives Don't Matter" message from the fence around noon Friday.

"It’s a shame that someone defaced someone else’s property. We’re going to handle it as a vandalism case, just like we would any other,” Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Tanya Little said.

Little said it is one person's point of view and that the department has and continues to have positive interactions with the community.

"Regardless what the message said, even if it said ‘I love the police,’ this was really a crime against someone else, the property owner," she said.

There were no leads or an estimate on the vandalism's cost, police said.

The city would handle removing the other messages, Mayor Michael Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, said. He didn't immediately have further comment on the graffiti.

NBC10 also reached out to the police union, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, for reaction.

The physical anti-police commentary comes a day after city leaders condemned online commentary by a Philadelphia Fire Department paramedic.

The medic, who works in Southwest Philadelphia, posted a photo to his personal Instagram account of two black men pointing guns at the head of a white police officer. The accompanying message said: "Our real enemy ... Need 2 stop pointing guns at each other and at the ones that's legally killing us and innocents."

The post has since been deleted, an apology made and investigation launched.

A rally in support of the city's men and women in blue is being held on Friday night in the Mayfair section of the city. According to the event's Facebook group, more than 2,000 people said they planned to attend.

Photo Credit: NBC10
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<![CDATA[Son Who Killed Politician Gets Life]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:47:33 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/121914+jason+beckman.jpg

Jason Beckman was sentenced to life behind bars Friday for the 2009 shooting death of his father, South Miami Commissioner Jay Beckman.

Judge Rodney Smith said Beckman will serve a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison before he can ask for parole.

"This is who you are, you're very vengeful, your personality is a ticking time bomb," Smith told Beckman as he handed down the sentence.

Beckman, clad in orange prison clothing, expressed some remorse to Smith over the shooting.

"My father shouldn't be dead, I wish he was here and not because I'm here but because I loved him and I really feel like I could have improved my relationship with him just by doing a few things differently," Beckman said.

Sentencing in the case had been delayed several times in the past year. Beckman was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting in November 2013.

Beckman was originally charged with manslaughter with a firearm after he told police that he had just wanted to show the gun to his father, but he slipped and fell causing the gun to fire. The charges were upgraded to first-degree murder after friends and family came forward saying the then-17-year-old had talked of killing his father.

A search of the son's belongings showed the former South Miami High junior had compiled a hit list of enemies, with his dad's name on the top, authorities said. Defense attorneys had argued that Jason Beckman didn't shoot the gun intentionally.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Mayfair to Rally in Support of Police]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:28:33 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/160*120/PHI+Philly+police+badge+tnail.jpg

More than 2,000 people are planning to rally in support of Philadelphia's law enforcement Friday night in the city's Mayfair section, according to the event's Facebook page.

The rally, which is scheduled to begin Friday at 7 p.m., is intended to be a peaceful one, with its sole purpose to show Philadelphia Police that Philadelphians are behind them, according to the page.

"The Philadelphia PD is in no way associated with organizing this support rally," said the post.

Any negative signs of people causing any kind of disturbance will be asked to leave, said organizers.

The rally follows much unrest in Philadelphia as well as the rest of the country following protests against police after decisions in favor of law enforcement in the Eric Garner chokehold death and the death of Michael Brown.

It also follows a police-involved shooting Monday in Mayfair. Brandon Tate-Brown was shot and killed along the 6600 block of Frankford Ave., after he allegedly reached for a loaded handgun -- stolen last year -- during a traffic stop.

Family maintains that Tate-Brown, who had served five years in prison for aggravated assault, was trying to get his life back on track by being a "good guy."

Rally organizers are asking that supporters being a new, unwrapped to to Frankford and Cottman aves. for kids being treated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lu Ann Cahn Leaves NBC10, Embarks on New Adventure]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:57:40 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Lu+Ann+Cahn+2.jpg After nearly three decades reporting for NBC10, Lu Ann Cahn is embarking on a new adventure prompted by her book "I Dare Me" where she will travel and complete a 30 day, 30 dare challenge. Next, she will take on a new role as Director of Career Services for Temple University's School of Media and Communications and continue to mentor the next generation of journalists.]]> <![CDATA[Threat: Pay $1M or Get Hacked]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:12:22 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/160*120/IMG_02222.JPG

Hot on the heels of the infamous Sony hack, Pine Forge Academy in Berks County is facing a similar threat if it doesn’t pay $1 million to a person claiming to be with a group called Heart of the People.

The private Douglas Township boarding school received an anonymous email Tuesday from a "Heart hacker” who said the organization has taken down 57 institutions. Damage was assured to Pine Forge’s computer system and property if the rasnom isn't paid.

The "hacker" claimed to be paid $900,000 by some Pine Forge alumni to perform a cyberattack against the institution. They promised no harm if the $1 million is paid. The school alerted authorities who reviewed the message and searched the grounds before declaring them safe.

"We have no information about why this monetary ransom was made, the school authorities are cooperating with police authorities as they investigate this matter and will keep us posted on any further developments," said the academy's Headmistress Nicole Falconer.

Pennsylvania state police are tracing the email from its IP address. A novel case for them, authorities are seriously looking into the matter to determine if it's a sincere threat or a prank or scam. Police advised the school to strictly follow all safety protocols and procedures.

Photo Credit: Randy Gyllenhaal ]]>
<![CDATA[Shoppers Beware: Die-In Protest Planned for KOP Mall]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:52:16 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/217*120/Philly-Die-In-6.jpg

Planning on scooping up some gifts at King of Prussia Mall Saturday? Demonstrators are planning on disrupting one of the busiest shopping days of the year with a die-in protest.

"Join us the Saturday before Christmas, as we shut down the largest mall on the East Coast," a post on the No Justice No Peace Facebook page reads. "They can try to gloss over it with the holiday, shove it under the rug, and move on with life. But we will not be silenced."

Protesters plan to gather in the busy suburban mall's food court, located at 160 N. Gulph Road, around 5 p.m. and then drop to the floor at 5:15 p.m., 5:25 p.m. and 5:45 p.m., according to the Facebook event. More than 180 people are expected to attend.

The public die-in is one of many protests happening nationwide to draw attention to the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police.  The demonstrations followed two separate grand jury decisions not to indict the officers involved in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Protesters often shout, "I can't breathe," to reference the final moments of Garner's life, which were captured on video.

Officials with the King of Prussia Mall, aware of the scheduled die-in, said safety is their top priority.

"We respect anyone's right to assemble on public property, however... our shopping center is private property," reads a post on the King of Prussia Mall's Facebook page. "Our first concern is always to maintain a welcoming and safe environment for tenants and guests. Should a demonstration occur, keeping that environment would be our first goal."

"However, our ongoing policy has been that demonstrations are not permitted on mall property."

Along with the KOP protest, another die-in is scheduled to take place near the Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center located near the intersection of City and Belmont avenues.

A group of nearly 200 middle school students, along with their chaperones, will gather along City Avenue near Monument Road some time between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., and stage a die-in in the intersection for an estimated 20 minutes, according to the Lower Merion Township Police Department.

KAISER HEALTH NEWS]]> <![CDATA[HUP Among 721 Hospitals Penalized for High Infections, Injuries]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:30:24 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/hospital+bed+generic_722_406.jpg

In its toughest crackdown yet on medical errors, the federal government is cutting payments to 721 hospitals for having high rates of infections and other patient injuries, records released Thursday show.

Medicare assessed these new penalties against some of the most renowned hospitals in the nation, including the Cleveland Clinic, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.

One out of every seven hospitals in the nation will have their Medicare payments lowered by 1 percent over the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 and continues through September 2015. The health law mandates the reductions for the quarter of hospitals that Medicare assessed as having the highest rates of “hospital-acquired conditions,” or HACs. These conditions include infections from catheters, blood clots, bed sores and other complications that are considered avoidable.

The penalties, which are estimated to total $373 million, are falling particularly hard on academic medical centers: Roughly half of them will be punished, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis.

Dr. Eric Schneider, a Boston health researcher who has interviewed patient safety experts for his studies, said research has demonstrated that medical errors can be reduced through a number of techniques. But “there’s a pretty strong sense among the experts we talked to that they are not widely implemented,” he said. Those methods include entering physician orders into computers rather than scrawling them on paper, better hand hygiene and checklists on procedures to follow during surgeries. “Too many clinicians fail to use those techniques consistently,” he said.

The penalties come as the hospital industry is showing some success in reducing avoidable errors. A recent federal report found the frequency of mistakes dropped by 17 percent between 2010 and 2013, an improvement U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell called “a big deal, but it’s only a start.” Even with the reduction, one in eight hospital admissions in 2013 included a patient injury, according to the report from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or AHRQ.

The new penalties are harsher than any prior government effort to reduce patient harm. Since 2008, Medicare has refused to pay hospitals for the cost of treating patients who suffer avoidable complications. Legally, Medicare can expel a hospital with high rates of errors from its program, but that punishment is almost never done, as it is a financial death sentence for most hospitals. Some states issue their own penalties — California, for instance, levies fines as high as $100,000 per incident on hospitals that are repeat offenders.

The government has also been giving money to some hospitals and quality groups to help improve patient safety efforts.

The HAC program has “put attention to the issue of complications and that attention wasn’t everywhere,” said Dr. John Bulger, Geisinger’s chief quality officer. However, he said hospitals such as his now must spend more time reviewing their Medicare billing records as the government uses those to evaluate patient safety. The penalty program, he said, “has the potential to take the time that could be spent on improvement and making sure the coding is accurate.”

Hospitals complain that the new penalties are arbitrary, since there may be almost no difference between hospitals that are penalized and those that narrowly escape falling into the worst quarter.

“Hospitals may be penalized on things they are getting safer on, and that sends a fairly mixed message,” said Nancy Foster, a quality expert at the American Hospital Association.

Hospital officials also point out those that do the best job identifying infections in patients may end up looking worse than others. “How hard you look for something influences your results,” said Dr. Darrell Campbell Jr., chief medical officer at the University of Michigan Health System. “We have a huge infection control group, one of the largest in the country. I tell them to go out and find it.” Campbell’s hospital had a high rate of urinary tract infections but was not penalized because it had fewer serious complications than most hospitals, records show.

The penalties come on top of other financial incentives Medicare has been placing on hospitals. This year, Medicare has already fined 2,610 hospitals for having too many patients return within a month of discharge. This is the third year those readmission penalties have been assessed. This is also the third year Medicare gave bonuses and penalties based on a variety of quality measures, including death rates and patient appraisals of their care. With the HAC penalties now in place, the worst-performing hospitals this year risk losing more than 5 percent of their regular Medicare reimbursements.

In determining the HAC penalties, Medicare judged hospitals on three measures: the frequency of central-line bloodstream infections caused by tubes used to pump fluids or medicine into veins, infections from tubes placed in bladders to remove urine, and rates of eight kinds of serious complications that occurred in hospitals, including collapsed lungs, surgical cuts, tears and reopened wounds and broken hips. Medicare tallied that and gave each hospital a score on a 10-point scale. Those in the top quarter — with a total score above 7 — were penalized.

About 1,400 hospitals are exempt from penalties because they provide specialized treatments such as psychiatry and rehabilitation or because they cater to a particular type of patient such as children and veterans. Small “critical access hospitals” that are mostly located in rural areas are also exempt, as are hospitals in Maryland, which have a special payment arrangement with the federal government.

The AHRQ study found that the biggest decreases in errors among those it studied occurred in the two categories of infections Medicare used in setting the penalties. Central-line associated bloodstream infections decreased by 49 percent and catheter-associated urinary tract infections dropped by 28 percent between 2010 and 2013. By contrast, pneumonia cases picked up by patients on ventilators that help them breathe – a condition not covered by the new penalties — decreased by only 3 percent during the same period.

Some of the errors on which the Medicare HAC penalties are based are rare compared to other mistakes the government tracks. For instance, AHRQ estimated that in 2013 there were 760,000 bad drug reactions to medicine that controls blood sugar in diabetics, but only 9,200 central-line infections. Infections from tubes inserted into urinary tracts are more common — AHRQ estimated there were 290,000 in 2013 — but those infections tend to be easier to treat and less likely to be lethal.

On the other measures, the study estimated there were 240,000 falls and more than 1 million bedsores.

In evaluating hospitals for the HAC penalties, the government adjusted infection rates by the type of hospital. When judging complications, it took into account the differing levels of sickness of each hospital’s patients, their ages and other factors that might make the patients more fragile. Still, academic medical centers have been complaining those adjustments are insufficient given the especially complicated cases they handle, such as organ transplants.

Medicare penalized 143 of 292 major teaching hospitals, the KHN analysis found. Penalized teaching hospitals included Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles; Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta; Northwestern Memorial Hospital and University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago; George Washington University Hospital and Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.

“We know some of the procedures we do — heart transplants or resecting cancerous portions of the esophagus — are going to be just more prone to having some of these adverse events,” said Dr. Atul Grover, the chief public policy officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges. “To lump in all of those things that are very complex procedures with simple things like pneumonia or hip replacements may not be giving an accurate result.”

An analysis of the penalties that Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, conducted for KHN found that penalties were assessed against 32 percent of the hospitals with the sickest patients. Only 12 percent of hospitals with the least complex cases were punished. Hospitals with the poorest patients were also more likely to be penalized, Jha found. A fourth of the nation’s publicly owned hospitals, which often are the safety net for poor, sick people, are being punished.

“I’ve worked in community hospitals, I’ve worked in teaching hospitals. My personal experience is teaching hospitals are at least as safe if not safer,” Jha said. “But they take care of sicker populations and more complex cases that are going to have more complications. The HAC penalty program is really a teaching hospital penalty program.”

Medicare levied penalties against a third or more of the hospitals it assessed in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and the District of Columbia, the KHN analysis found.

The penalties are reassessed each year and Medicare plans to add in more kinds of injuries. Starting next October, Medicare will assess rates of surgical site infections to its analysis. The following year, Medicare will examine the frequency of two antibiotic-resistant germs: Clostridium difficile, known as C. diff, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA.

A request for comment from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania was made, but we've yet to hear back.

This story is published through a news-sharing partnership between NBC10 and Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit national health policy news service.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reward Offered After Dog Injured]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:41:29 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/dog+hook+121814.PNG

A dog is recovering after he was discovered with a horrific injury: a hiking carabiner hooked straight through his hind leg.

Ziggs, a one-year-old pitbull, was discovered roaming through Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, dragging a severed leash behind him. That leash was attached to the carabiner, which Dr. Al Meilan at South Federal Animal Hospital said was forcibly and intentionally inserted into the dog's leg.

"The carabiner is a dull thing, so in order to get it, they had to use a drill or something sharp to make the hole first, and then stick the carabiner through his leg," Meilan said.

Members of the Forgotten Dog Rescue believe the dog's owners used the carabiner to restrain the dog.

"Someone actually went out of their way to do this to this dog," said Amy Blitz with the rescue group. "It ranks on the mutilation type of torture."

Meilan said it appears the ring had been lodged in Ziggs' leg for several months, with evidence of similar injuries in the past.

Forgotten Dog Rescue said they are offering a cash reward for any information that leads to the arrest of Ziggs' owner. The rescuers said they won't stop until there is justice for the injured dog.

"The person that did this, it's probably somebody that if they could do this to an animal, they could do it to a person or a child," Blitz said.

The animal hospital expects Ziggs to make a full recovery within two to three weeks. He will be made available for adoption once he heals.

Anyone with information about the dog's owners can leave an anonymous tip with the Forgotten Dog Rescue via email at forgottendogrescue@yahoo.com.

<![CDATA[Pickpockets Target Shoppers in Cherry Hill, NJ]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:39:04 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cherry+hill+pickpockets.jpg

Police in the South Jersey suburb are warning shoppers after at least pickpockets snatched credit cards from at least four people, including one woman who had more than $14,000 charged to her account.

One assailant (pictured top right) stole a woman's wallet while she was eating at a Panera Bread location on Nov. 26, and then racked up more than $14,300 on her credit cards at a Nordstrom's department store and an Apple retail location, police said.

Another pickpocket (pictured top left) put more than $2,300 of Best Buy and Walmart goods on a different victim's credit cards after she stole her wallet on Nov. 5 as the victim shopped in a Wegman's grocery store, investigators said.

A man (pictured top center)  stole another victim's wallet on Nov. 20 as the woman dined in a Bahama Breeze restaurant, according to authorities, who added that victim had nearly $770 charged to her credit card at a Macy's department store and a Target store.

The most recent incident, which involved two suspects (pictured bottom), happened Dec. 16 when a woman's wallet was stolen as she shopped at the Christmas Tree Shop, police said. Her cards were used to buy more than $330 in Total Wine store products, investigators said.

Authorities are working to determine if the cases are connected.

<![CDATA[1-Day Airfare Sale for Philly Flights]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:59:21 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/tlmd_042914_frontier.jpg

Frontier Airlines is offering discounted airfares for one-day only ahead of the launch of several new non-stop routes between Philadelphia International and seven destinations.

The low-cost rates, some as low as $39 for a one-way flight, are available Friday, the day before the Denver-based airlines starts its new non-stop service between three Florida cities -- Miami, Orlando and Tampa.

On Sunday, Frontiers non-stop route between Philly and Cancun, Mexico begins.

The airline also has plans to add direct flights from Philly to Atlanta, Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina in spring 2015.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[4th Victim Dies After DUI Crash]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:40:03 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/202*120/12-19-2014-gaza-redondo-beach-crash.jpg

A fourth victim, identified as a 6-year-old boy, has died after a DUI suspect struck a group of people in a crowded crosswalk as they left a children's Christmas show Wednesday night at a Southern California church.

Samuel Gaza was among a dozen people who were in a crosswalk outside St. James Catholic Church in Redondo Beach when they were struck by a driver who, according to witnesses, ran a red light and swerved around vehicles stopped at a red light. Gaza was hospitalized Thursday in critical condition and died late Thursday night, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's office.

Gaza's mother, 36-year-old Martha Gaza, also was killed in the crash. Mary Wilson, 81, and Saeko Matsumura, 87, all from Torrance, also died Wednesday night.

Police confirmed at a Thursday morning news conference that prescription drug use by the driver is part of their investigation. Police also confirmed a witness account that the driver went around other vehicles stopped at about 8 p.m. at the intersection of Vincent Street and Pacific Coast Highway.

Two adults and a child were in stable condition Friday morning. Six other victims were treated for minor cuts and bruises before they were released from the hospital.

Witness accounts provided to police indicated the driver, headed northbound on Pacific Coast Highway, went around vehicles stopped at the intersection and entered the left turn lane. The driver then continued north on PCH, striking another vehicle and pedestrians, according to police.

Parishioners returned to the church Thursday morning and at noon for services to remember the victims. Michael Tovar, a St. James parishioner, said he will never recover from what he saw.

"I was standing by the front of his car and looked down, me and another gentleman, and there was the little boy underneath his left front tire," he said. "I thought it was a jacket his car was on. It was underneath the left front tire. I could not believe that."

Police identified the suspect as 56-year-old Margo Bronstein. She was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony DUI. Bronstein was treated at a hospital for injuries before she was taken to the Redondo Beach Police Department jail, where she is being held on $300,000 bond.

She is scheduled to make her first court appearance Friday.

DMV records indicated the Bronstein does not have prior criminal offenses. Her vehicle was equipped with modifications for drivers with disabilities, including an additional passenger-side mirror and hand controls, according to California Department of Motor Vehicle records.

Police are awaiting the results of toxicology tests.


Photo Credit: Gaza Family]]>
<![CDATA[Friend Defends DUI Crash Driver]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:20:38 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/12-18-2014-redondo-beach-dui-margo-bronstein.jpg

A friend of the woman accused of killing three people in a crash outside a church in Redondo Beach, California, has said she is not someone who would drink and drive.

Margo Bronstein, 56, has been booked on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter, but Timothy Eakin believes medication she takes due to being disabled or a mechanical failure may have caused the accident, which also left 10 others injured, including children.

Police say toxicology reports on Bronstein are pending, and she is being held at a Redondo Beach Police Department jail on a $300,000 bond. Investigators confirmed prescription drug use by the driver is part of their investigation.

"She had had a whole bunch of surgeries on her legs and on her hips, and that’s why she’s barely 4 feet tall. She was always in a wheelchair, but she was able to drive with hand controls," Eakin said. "Maybe the hand controls might have failed, and that might have caused it. But she also did take a lot of prescription medications, and the medications she took were like, muscle relaxers, and for pain."

He also does not believe his friend, who he met at Disneyland, is the sort of person who would get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol.

"She's not somebody who just went into a bar and got wasted and plowed through an intersection at a concert. This is something that was probably a complete accident, never something she would have done on purpose," Eakin said.

Prayers have been said all day at St James Catholic Church, where victims had just attended a Christmas concert. Eiken believes his friend may have been a visitor to the event herself.

Witness Michael Tovar said he screamed at Bronstein after the crash, demanding to know if she had been drinking. He said he had to be pulled away by his wife.

"(I said) what is wrong with you? What did you do? Are you drunk? I yelled that about five times, 'Are you drunk?' And she looked up at me, made eye contact."

Children had just finished singing Christmas songs for their parents and other members of the church.

Mary Wilson, 81, Saeko Matsumura, 87, and Martha Gaza, 36, all from Torrance, died, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. One of Gaza's three children, a 5-year-old boy, was hospitalized in critical condition.

One other adult also was in critical condition Thursday.

Photo Credit: Redondo Beach PD]]>
<![CDATA[In Case You Missed It: Yesterday's Top Stories]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:20:31 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/215*120/Shane+Montgomery+Police+Search+Manayunk+Canal.JPG

Didn't have a chance to catch the news? Here are yesterday's top stories.

Three Weeks Later: Search for Shane Montgomery Taking Its Toll
Three weeks after vanishing into the night, there’s no sign of college student Shane Montgomery. It’s a mystery chipping away at hope the 21-year-old’s family has been holding onto with each passing minute.

Caught on Video: South Jersey Cop and Son Wrestle, Stop CVS Robbery Suspect
Sergeant Daniel Murray and his son, Bryan, went to the CVS in Runnemede, New Jersey on Monday night to buy some vitamins and shampoo. They never expected stopping a robbery would be part of their shopping plans.

Chester County Man Twiddles Thumbs While Waiving Murder Charges in Boy's Death
Chester County man accused of beating his girlfriend's son to death twiddled his thumbs as he appeared in court Thursday via video.

Whole Foods, Acme, Wegmans Sued Over Baked Goods
Consumers in New Jersey are suing three supermarket chains, claiming their bakery good are not really made from scratch in the stores.

Bucks County Middle School Sex Tape Recorded by House Guest, Could Involve Incest: DA
Authorities confiscated cellphones from several Bucks County middle schoolers after reports surfaced that a video depicting minors possibly engaged in sexual acts was being shared.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Philly Paramedic's IG Photo Sparks Controversy]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:21:56 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/226*120/IG+Paramedic+Post.JPG

Mayor Michael Nutter and Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer condemned a Philadelphia Fire Department paramedic for a photograph shared on Instagram that depicted two black men pointing guns at a white police officer.

"I thought it was disgusting," said Sawyer, who added the image violates the fire department's social media policy. "We are a professional organization and I expect my members to act in a professional manner."

"In the strongest possible terms, I condemn the behavior of a paramedic ... who used social media to post a reprehensible message and image that targeted police officers particularly at a time of emotional volatility," Mayor Nutter said.

The message posted with the photo read: "Our real enemy ... Need 2 stop pointing guns at each other and at the ones that's legally killing us and innocents."

The next image posted to the same account said, "There are numerous crooked and corrupted cops (mostly white) & mostly they harass, beat or kill innocents (mostly blacks)."

The posts caused alarm among Philly firefighters, who do not want a fissure to form between themselves and police.

"In this difficult time, I want to assure the members of the Philadelphia Police Department that we are here to support and assist you whenever you may need," said Joe Schulle, president of Local 22, the firefighters and paramedics union. "[We] proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers in blue. ... We are brothers and sisters in public safety."

Hours after the initial post caught the ire of Philly leaders, the paramedic, who is based out of Medic 23 in southwest Philly, shared an apology on social media.

"That post was out of anger of what is going on around the world (Mike Brown, Eric Garner & Etc.) &  past experiences that I've had with police," the post said. "My intention was not to slander or hurt anyone or my brothers in blue. Again I am sorry."

An investigation is underway, and Sawyer said the charged images are unlikely to damage the bond between the Philly's Fire Department and police force.

"We have a pretty strong relationship with the police department," he said. "So one member's mistake is not going to severe those ties."

<![CDATA[10 at 7: What You Need to Know Today]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 07:17:22 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Clock_Wht.jpg

Here are the 10 things you need to know to start your day from your friends at NBC10.


Details Emerging in Middle School Sex Tape Investigation: Authorities have confiscated cellphones from several Bucks County middle school students in an effort to learn more information about a video depicting minors--some believed to be as young as 11 or 12-years-old--engaged in sexual acts. Prosecutors now know that the video was recorded in a local home, by a house guest, but they are still trying to determine exactly who was involved in the taping and whether it is legitimate or a supposed hoax.



Expect to see some clouds and sun, with a cold breeze today. High temp: 41 degrees. Get your full NBC10 First Alert forecast here.


Philly Paramedic's Controversial Photo Sparks Outrage: It's a photo that Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer called "disgusting." A Philadelphia paramedic posted a picture on Instagram that depicts two black men pointing guns at the head of a white police officer. Sawyer says the medic's photo post violates the department's social media policy.


Pakistan Retaliates: Pakistani forces killed 59 militants near the Afghan border in an apparent retaliation to Taliban fighter's massacre of nearly 150 people--most of them children--in a school this week. The Pakistani army confirmed both ground operations and air strikes against the terrorists. Read more here.


FCC Dismisses 'Redskin' Ban: A petition to ban the use of the Washington Redskins name on public airwaves has been dismissed by the Federal Communications Commission. A law professor submitted the petition to the FCC in September, citing use of the name as indecent content. The FCC refused to ban the word because it did not find the word to be"sexual or excretory in nature," the two main factors used to determine whether a word is profane.


NFL Post Season Outlook: A win for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday could give them the NFC East title, but that win may hinge on the performance of one of their key players, Demarco Murray, who is recovering from an injury. The Flyers lose to the Panthers. The 76ers play the Charlotte Hornets. CSNPhilly has the details.


See more Top News Photos here.


@photolope captured this perfect moment. Michael Grant, also known as Philly Jesus is checking his cell phone while sitting in at a holiday display in Center City.

Have an awesome Instagram photo you'd like to share. Tag it with #NBC10Buzz.


Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon and Grammy Award winning singer Justin Timberlake got together to create another hilarious sketch. In this bit, Fallon and Timberlake play prepubescent boys away at camp Winnipesaukee.


One Hour Shipping?: Shopping online just got a whole lot quicker for some Amazon customers. The online retail giant just announced that it will begin offering one-hour delivery service to its Prime customers in Manhattan. Find out how soon the service will arrive in your city here.

That's what you need to know. We've got more stories worthy of your time in the Breakfast Buzz section. Click here to check them out

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Dead Donkeys Dumped on NJ Road; Animal Cruelty Charges ]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 07:13:09 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/lafile-wild-burros-donkeys-donkeyland.jpg

Authorities have charged the owner of two dead donkeys that were found dumped off a road in Jackson Township with animal cruelty.

The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says one donkey was found dead in a paddock at JR Farms and the other was found on the ground barely breathing in early November. The SPCA says the second donkey was euthanized with a gunshot to the head.

The animals' owner said he removed the carcasses to an area near East Veterans Highway and Bennetts Mills Road.

The SPCA says the owner left a pot-bellied pig behind at the farm. He's charged with abandoning a domestic animal.

Authorities have not released the name of the person.

Photo Credit: DonkeyLand via Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Deadly Crash Closes Chester County Road: Reports]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:36:57 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Road-Generic1.jpg

At least one person is dead in a Chester County car accident Thursday morning.

One car was involved in the crash, which happened near Modena Road and Union Street in Coatesville just after 5 a.m., according to reports.

Authorities shut down Modena Road between Union Street and Overhill Road while they investigated.

The road remained closed at 8:30 a.m., more than four hours after the crash occurred.

No word yet on the victim's identity.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Suit Over $25 Million Cigarette Makers' Merger in Del. Court]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 04:44:02 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cigarette-generic-722-406.jpg

A Delaware judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging the planned $25 billion merger of cigarette makers Reynolds American Inc. and Lorillard Inc.

The judge was to hear arguments Friday on a motion by plaintiffs who are seeking a preliminary injunction and a motion to expedite the case.

The two companies last week announced that they would hold special shareholder meetings Jan. 28 in North Carolina, where both companies are headquartered, to vote on the merger.

The combination of the two companies would create a formidable competitor for Virginia-based market leader Altria Group, owner of Philip Morris USA.

Reynolds sells Camel, Pall Mall and Natural American Spirit cigarettes. Lorillard's brands include Newport, Maverick and Kent.

Federal regulators are conducting an antitrust review of the deal.

<![CDATA[Blaze Over NoCal Refinery "Normal"]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:13:02 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/212*120/chevronmain.JPG

Fire officials and Chevron said the large dramatic flames seen over the Richmond Chevron refinery in Northern California Thursday were a result of "normal flaring." But that didn't do much to comfort people living near the troubled refinery, who called the flares anything but "normal" on social media.

Both Contra Costa fire department officials and Chevron said there was no need for alarm, calling the flaring normal procedure to vent gas. They added that fire crews had not been called to the scene. The official Twitter account for @ChevronRichmond tweeted Thursday evening that "there was some visible flaring" to allow for equipment de-pressuring.

Chevron said that the refinery resumed normal operations Friday morning after the unit that needed to be depressurized Thursday night was successfully shut down. Chevron said community air monitoring stations reported levels below state and federal health limits.

"We understand that the community has been concerned about the flaring activity," a Chevron spokesperson said after the flares alarmed a number of Bay Area residents Thursday. "We had a process unit that needed to be depressurized, creating a visible flare. The flare is part of our safety system which enables us to safely shut down a unit. We are in the process of shutting down this unit now."

Some Bay Area residents tweeted about the flares, with one of them asking: "Gigantic fire balls are now normal flares?"

Another said: "If it's 'normal,' then why don't we see this regularly?"

Jamal Vaughn, who lives near the Richmond refinery, expressed concern about the flames coming out of the stacks.

"No alarm went off ... It's Kind of strange, there should have been a warning," he said. It's an alarming sight for the Vaughns, who remember the 2012 Chevron refinery fire.

"I worry about our health — last time we were at the hospital for four hours because I have asthma and needed breathing treatment," Vaughn's wife Michelle said, adding that the family will be shutting all their windows tonight.

Chevron's statement said that in flaring conditions, it is normal practice to release quantities of water vapor to assist with the flare quality, which can sometimes take on the appearance of smoke, but it is not smoke.

Both Chevron and Contra Costa Health Services said that there may be intermittent flaring Thursday evening. According to health officials, hazardous materials staff were monitoring the situation and there was no shelter-in-place.

NBC Bay Area viewers said they could see the fire from as far away as the El Cerrito Hills, San Rafael, San Francisco and the Bay Bridge. A photo taken by Twitter user @bluerabbit77 from the Oakland Hills showed the flares creating an orange haze over the night sky.

NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle contributed to this report.


Huge fire at the Chevron Refinery?? #fire #chevronrefinery #richmond

A photo posted by Blue Rabbit (@bluerabbit77) on


#apocalypse #endoftheworld

A photo posted by Pardeezy Dhillon (@kingsnake172) on

Photo Credit: Blue Rabbit ‏@bluerabbit77 Via Twitter ]]>
<![CDATA[Experts: WWIII Looks Like Sony Hack]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:03:12 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/N6P-SONY-KOREA-HACK-PKG---03282609.jpg

The term “cyber warfare” has been thrown around for years, with security experts wondering what the effects of a damaging cyber attack might look like. Now we know: a Hollywood studio left paralyzed, and the center of the tech world is wondering what's next.

As the billboards advertising Sony Pictures' "The Interview" were pulled down in Hollywood on Thursday, concerns about cyber terrorism shot up in Silicon Valley.

"World War III looks like this,” said Michelle Dennedy, Intel Security's chief privacy officer. She said technology is the new battlefield, and our gadgets are all potential targets.

"This is the wave of the future,” Dennedy said. “Bank robbers robbed banks because that's where the money was. Data is currency. Hackers are going for it because it's valuable."

What happened at Sony should, according to cyber security experts, be a warning to us all.

"This is the first time we've seen it at this scale,” said Truman National Security Project’s Mike McNerney.

The goal of hackers is not just disruption, it's fear, McNerney said. "This is different. The way they were able to combine this online attack that got them the attention they wanted, and then mix this with threat of physical violence, it's something we really haven't seen before."

But it’s likely something we'll see again, as hackers try to invade banks, retailers, anything with an easy to open virtual door.

"I think everyone needs to be worried about this," McNerney said, “whether it's an organization, government entity, or an individual.”

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[This Week's Wednesday's Child]]> Wed, 12 Dec 2012 17:34:19 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/meaganvai.jpg NBC10's Vai Sikahema introduces you to some of the area's amazing young people who dream of being connect to a loving forever family. Visit the Wednesday's Child Home Page on NBC10.com

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Community Reeling Following 12-Year-Old's Suicide]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 07:15:53 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/160*120/classroom1.jpg

A Delaware County community is reeling following the suicide of one of its children.

A letter was sent out to parents and guardians of students at Paxon Hollow Middle School in Broomall confirming that 12-year-old Skyler Baffa took his own life Thursday.

"This letter is to sadly inform you that a student, Skyler Baffa, passed away on Thursday, December 18," said the letter.

The letter, sent to the school community principal Dr. Steve Subers, was also posted to the Marple Newtown School District's website.

It goes on to emphasize the importance of discussing Skyler's death with their children while making sure to explain that suicide is not "a positive response to life's challenges."

"Please join us in mourning the loss of Skyler, while not glamorizing, and thereby positively reinforcing the method by which he died," read the letter. "We must reinforce positive options our children can employ when life is difficult as well as how they can access these options."

Additional counselors were provided Thursday to help students deal with the loss. The school will continue to provide support for its student body for as long as it's needed, according to the school's website.

Information on loss and suicide was also provided for helping parents deal with their children's grief.

The circumstances surrounding Skyler's suicide are unknown at this time.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Skyler," said Subers.

SUICIDE PREVENTION: If you know someone who needs help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Photo Credit: Ian Waldie]]>
<![CDATA[Brooklyn Rapper Arrested in Sting]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:51:02 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/shmurda+walk+copy.jpg

The up-and-coming Brooklyn rapper who performs under the name Bobby Shmurda was part of a gang that allegedly sold drugs, dealt guns and committed violent crimes, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a news conference Thursday detailing the investigation that led to his arrest.

Ackquille Pollard, 20, was taken into custody with seven others shortly after he left a recording studio near Radio City Music Hall in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday. Police recovered crack cocaine and three guns from a stairwell inside Quad Studio, Bratton said.

The Brooklyn-born Pollard is best known for the hit song "Hot Boy." He also put out a music video that popularized a dance craze called the "Shmoney dance," and reportedly signed a lucrative record deal with Epic Records. 

Pollard was stopped in a vehicle with another defendant, Nicolas McCoy, soon after leaving the studio Wednesday, prosecutors said, and there were two guns and a small amount of crack cocaine inside the car. There were other passengers in the car who are not named in the indictment but face separate criminal charges. 

Five other defendants named in the indictment were arrested at the same time elsewhere in the city, and two others are in custody outside the state, authorities said.

Pollard was arraigned on conspiracy, reckless endangerment, and weapons and drug charges Thursday. Twelve other defendants are named in the 69-count indictment, including Chad Marshall, another aspiring hip-hop artist known as Rowdy Rebel. 

Pollard pleaded not guilty in court Thursday. His attorney, Howard Greenberg, failed to convince a judge that his client should be released without bail because he was framed and had no reason to run.

"He is a legitimate entertainer,'' Greenberg said. "He is rich. He is busy. He is always on tour.''

Greenberg claimed Epic had agreed to help Pollard make his $2 million bail. A spokesman for the label declined to comment.

Bratton said Pollard was tweeting about a secret concert days before his arrest.

"I don't think he was aware that location is going to be state Supreme Court," Bratton said. 

Pollard did not comment to reporters as he was led from a Manhattan police station in handcuffs Wednesday night. 

G Stone Crips, or GS9, the gang Pollard was allegedly part of, is tied to the murder of a 19-year-old rival gang member on Feb. 8, 2013, and to gunshots fired outside New York and Miami nightclubs in recent months, according to Bratton. The investigation began after 24 shootings were traced to the gang since 2013.

Most of violence stemmed from an ongoing dispute between GS9 and members of rival street gangs, including the gang known as Folk Nation and the gang known as Brooklyn's Most Wanted, or BMW, according to prosecutors. 

The deadly February 2013 shooting inside a Brooklyn bodega capped a series of violent confrontations between GS9 and BMW, according to prosecutors. Pollard was at the scene of the shooting, they said. 

Pollard is also accused of firing a gun towards a crowd of people outside a Clarkson Avenue barber shop on June 2, shattering a glass storefront. Prosecutors said a recorded phone conversation between other GS9 members revealed that Pollard had fired the gun during an argument with his brother Javese Pollard, also an alleged GS9 member. 

Prosecutors said in another July 2014 incident, just before he performed at Barclays Center, Marshall and another defendant allegedly fired shots at rival gang members while driving on a street in Boerum Hill.

According to prosecutors, a distinctive system of code words and phrases allowed GS9 members to communicate with one another while hiding the nature of their communication from others. Among the code words for firearms were “tone” and “socks." “Crills” referred to narcotics, and “suntan” or “scoom” referred to shootings.

The gang is mainly based at 95th Street and Clarkson Avenue in East Flatbush, Bratton said. The bust was made by the Brooklyn South Violence Reduction Task Force, which was formed this year. 

The case carries some "deeply disturbing themes: The gang members' enthrallment with guns, and a cavalier disregard for human life,'' Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said at a news conference.

The hip-hop artist's songs and videos were "almost like a real-life document of what they were doing on the street,'' added James Essig, head of the NYPD task force that made the arrests.

Greenberg told reporters he believes Pollard and the other defendants were targeted because "the government hates rap and hates rappers and hates lyrics." 

Pollack's video for "Hot Boy" was posted on YouTube in August has been viewed tens of millions of times, and Pollard performed the song for a national television audience in October on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." 

"My music is straight facts," Pollard recently told New York Magazine. "There are a lot of gangsters in my 'hood.'"

Pollard's criminal history included two arrests for gun and drug possession, authorities said.

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<![CDATA[Plane Crashes in Dallas; Pilot Dead]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:11:04 -0500 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/plane+crash10.jpg

The pilot of a small plane was killed Thursday night when his single-engine aircraft crashed in Seagoville while descending to land at Mesquite Metro Airport.

The plane went down just after 6 p.m. Thursday in the 1600 block of Bent Tree Road near West Malloy Bridge Road, officials said.

The pilot, who was the only person aboard the plane, has not been identified. There are no other known injuries.

The plane, a 1967 Beechcraft Bonanza, was trying to land in Mesquite when air traffic control operators lost contact with its pilot, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said.

"It's broken to pieces. There's a lot of debris around," Capt. Ray Calverley, of the Seagoville Police Department, said Thursday night.

Despite initial reports that the plane had hit at least one house before it hit the ground, investigators on the scene have not been able to confirm that, Calverley told NBC DFW. Officers went door to door asking neighbors if their homes were damaged in the crash, and no one has reported that they did, Calverley said.

"We heard a real loud engine," neighborhood resident Fred Baugh said. "It wasn't like a normal approach, it was just all of a sudden a real loud engine."

The FAA confirms the plane departed from South Arkansas Regional Airport Wednesday at 3:35 p.m.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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