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Los Angeles marathon runner found dead after alleged cheating scandal

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iStock(LOS ANGELES) — A 70-year-old runner was found dead in the Los Angeles River Thursday just days after being disqualified from the Los Angeles Marathon for allegedly cheating.

Los Angeles police say they responded to a call Thursday morning, of a body in the river.

The man was identified as retired Dr. Frank Meza, whose time in the Los Angeles Marathon four months ago shocked runners around the world.

Meza was disqualified from the marathon this week due to alleged cheating after he posted a time of 2:53:10, more than an hour faster than the 4:10:07 run by the second fastest finisher in his age group.

Meza claimed that he left the course to look for a bathroom and not a shortcut. His finish time would have been a record for his age group.

Meza was also facing scrutiny for other marathon times, including his finish in the 2019 Sprouts Mesa-Phoenix Marathon.

Marathon investigator Derek Murphy said he was deeply saddened to learn about Meza’s death. Murphy said his heart goes out to Meza’s family and friends, and that he would comment on the investigation at a later time to allow those close to Meza to grieve.

Meza previously coached cross-country at Loyola High School in Los Angeles before resigning for health reasons.

His cause of death is currently under investigation pending autopsy results, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Explosion rocks University of Nevada dormitory, minor injuries reported

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iStock(RENO, Nev.) — Authorities are blaming a ‘mechanical failure’ for the explosion Friday afternoon that rocked a dormitory on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, causing minor injuries.

The dorm, identified as Argenta Hall, suffered major damage to its south side and center, while Nye Hall next door had windows blown out, KOLO-TV reported.

Crews were still searching for possible victims Friday evening, but nobody was reported missing and authorities told KOLO-TV that they didn’t believe anyone else was still in the building.

Six people were treated on the scene for minor injuries and two others were treated and released from a local hospital, reports said.

Video taken at the time of the explosion showed smoke billowing out of the building.

The explosion seemed to come from the building’s boiler room, where technicians were doing work, Reno city spokesman John Humbert told ABC News.

The blast has initially been classified as a utilities accident, Humbert said.

Officials with the university’s police services announced on social media that all remaining Friday classes on the school’s main campus had been canceled.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family suffers critical burns when Texas road rage shooting sets off fireworks in car

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iStock(HOUSTON) — A family of four, including two children, is in critical condition after a road rage incident ended in flames Thursday night near Houston, Texas.

Authorities say the family was driving in their truck in Harris County when the father got into a dispute with another driver on the road.

Both drivers eventually pulled into a gas station, where the second driver pulled out a gun. The father attempted to drive off, but when the second driver fired toward his truck, the gunshots struck the vehicle and set off fireworks that the family was carrying, police said.

The family was rushed to the emergency room after good Samaritans came to the rescue. The two children, ages 1 and 3, were airlifted to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, according to police.

The suspect who fired the shots is still unknown, and officials at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said that there is a possibility that there were also children in the suspect’s vehicle.

There is a $5,000 reward for any tips that lead to the suspect’s arrest.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Shocking video captures 'brave' 13-year-old girl fighting off, escaping attempted kidnapping

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iStock(NEW YORK) — Terrifying surveillance video captures the moment when a 13-year-old girl walking home from school was able to escape an attempted kidnapping in New York.

Footage from the video shows the unidentified girl fighting off her alleged attacker, who police said followed her home from school in Long Island.

“This 13-year-old girl was very brave. She fought off this individual. She fought off her attacker,” said detective Mike Bitsko on Thursday, according to ABC station WABC-TV. “She did exactly what she had to do. … I’m happy she’s doing well.”

The teenager was walking home early Tuesday afternoon after attending classes at Lawrence Road Middle School in Hempstead, when she noticed the man trailing her for half a mile, police said. When she was just steps from the door of her home, the man began running after her and allegedly grabbed her from behind, according to authorities.

Surveillance cameras outside the family’s home captured the struggle.

“I was screaming. Like, I was trying to defend myself,” the teenager told PIX 11 on Wednesday. “He grabbed my neck. … He was trying to still cover my mouth.”

The teen told police that the attacker put his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams and tried to drag her behind some parked vehicles.

After she managed to break free of the attacker, she was seen on video banging desperately on the front door of her home for help. Video showed a man exiting the home and confronting the attacker.

“This little girl did do everything right,” Callahan Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children told ABC News. “When a child is able to get away, it’s because of something that they did that was proactive — kicking, screaming, drawing attention, making noises, exactly what this girl did in this case. She did everything she could to get to get away from this guy.”

Nearly 24 hours later, police said they’d arrested Jarrod James, 24, of Roosevelt, in the attempted kidnapping. They said he faced multiple charges, including endangering a child, second-degree assault and attempted kidnapping.

Police do not believe he has any connection to the teenager and are calling the crime random.

James was arraigned Thursday but did not enter a plea. He is being held in the Nassau County Correctional Center.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Unidentified human bones left at New Jersey snack stand: Prosecutors

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iStock(ALPINE, N.J.) — Prosecutors are searching for answers after they say unidentified human bones were found at a snack stand at a New Jersey park.

Employees of the State Line Lookout snack stand in Palisades Interstate Park in Alpine, found the bones in a plastic bag hanging on the snack stand door Monday morning, according to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.

The person who left the plastic bag on the door was contacted and directed police to where the bones had been found, prosecutors said.

More bones and “some personal items” were recovered at that location, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office on Wednesday.

While the remains were determined to be human, they have not been identified.

Prosecutors said they’ll be “submitted to a lab for identification and will be compared to missing persons records.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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