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Multiple fatalities in Texas church bus crash, police say

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By David Rind

iStock/Thinkstock(CONCAN, Texas) – At least 12 people were killed and three were injured Wednesday in a head-on collision between a church bus and a pickup truck in Concan, Texas, officials said.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the bus was carrying congregants from the First Baptist Church in New Braunfels, Texas at the time the accident occurred.

The bus, which was carrying 14 people, was returning to New Braunfels from a Baptist encampment neat Lakey, Texas, where members were attending a Bible study, according to the church.

Police said the driver was the sole occupant of the truck.

The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted Wednesday night, “The NTSB is investigating today’s highway accident in Concan, Texas.”

The First Baptist Church also posted an acknowledgement of the incident on their Facebook page.

“We have received word that the bus carrying our senior adults back from their retreat was involved in an accident,” the post reads. “We understand there have been some fatalities, but we do not yet know who. All activities for tonight are cancelled. The Sanctuary will be open this evening for prayer and support. Please be in prayer for all involved.”

A subsequent Facebook post read, “We are ministering to family members to help them deal with this tragedy. Counselors will be on hand at the church tomorrow. If you’re a Christian, you can pray for those who lost their loved ones and for the church family.”

Texas governor Greg Abbot said in a statement, “Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to the victims and the families of those involved in today’s tragic event. We are saddened by the loss of life and our hearts go out to all those affected. We thank the first responders working on the scene in the wake of this unimaginable tragedy, and ask that all Texans join us in offering their thoughts and prayers.”

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Nearly 50 dachshunds rescued from a single Arkansas home are up for adoption

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By David Rind

iStock/Thinkstock(FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla.) — Nearly 50 dachshunds are now available for adoption after two animal rescue groups in Florida helped to save them from a single home in Arkansas.

The dachshunds came from a “hoarding situation,” said Terri Bondi, founder of Save Underdogs in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Bondi described the dogs’ previous owner as an “older gentleman” in Arkansas who didn’t know what he was getting into when he welcomed three to four pups into his home without spaying or neutering them. That was five years ago.

The Crawford County man began asking for help when his canine brood reached 17 dogs, Bondi said, but he could not find anyone willing to assist. He didn’t intend to breed the dachshunds, he told her, but didn’t realize how young or fast the pups could reproduce.

“It only takes a year for 17 dogs to turn into 50 and 60,” she said.

Although the dogs hadn’t been receiving veterinary care, Bondi described them as clean, friendly and “not emaciated,” adding that their previous owner “did the very best he could” for them.

Once a friend alerted Bondi to the situation on Friday afternoon, she sprang into action. She wanted to transport the pups to Florida as quickly as possible to save them from being euthanized at a local shelter, she said.

Bondi, along with Lori Hood, founder of another Florida group, Freeport-based Alaqua Animal Refuge, arranged for a van to pick up 49 dogs from the man’s home within a matter of hours. The dogs were loaded onto the van before midnight on Saturday and were back in Florida by 1 p.m. Sunday, Bondi said, after a 12-hour drive.

Save Underdogs took in 22 of the dogs, while Alaqua Animal Refuge took in 29 dogs, Hood said. She and Bondi often work together, she added, in hoarding or puppy mill cases.

The man had an estimated 75 dogs at his home, but he decided to keep three. In addition to the pups taken in by the rescue groups, about 20 of the dogs were adopted locally in Arkansas, Bondi said.

The man, who lived in a small trailer, was “very sad, but very grateful” that the dogs would go to loving homes, she said, adding that he would often go without food for himself to make sure the dogs had enough to eat.

He told Bondi that he would spend “24/7 trying to take care of them.”

Hundreds of interested people have reached out to the groups to adopt the dachshunds, both Bondi and Hood said. Bondi asked that those interested in adopting remain patient as they filter through applications.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Fossils millions of years old swiped from Death Valley National Park

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By David Rind

jamesdvdsn/iStock/Thinkstock(DEATH VALLEY, Valif.) — Death Valley National Park, with its hot, forbidding desert climate and barren terrain seems like an unlikely target for robbers. But, apparently they found some of the park’s historic riches hard to leave behind.

Ancient fossil footprints were removed from part of Death Valley’s park territory, which covers more than 3 million acres in California and Nevada, according to a statement published by the National Park Service (NPS).

NPS said they believe the missing fossils were formed about three to five million years ago by the tracks of mammals and birds near what used to be a lakeshore.

Scientists visit the area of Death Valley regularly, photographing and recording the exact location of each footprint, NPS said in the statement, and noticed the fossils were missing during a recent trip.

The scientists then alerted park rangers about their discovery.

“It’s illegal to collect fossils, rocks, or anything else in National Parks,” Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds says in the statement. “The purpose of National Parks is to conserve the landscape and everything it contains for the next generation. I ask that visitors come and enjoy all there is to see, and to leave it unimpaired for others to enjoy.”

NPS has an Investigative Services Branch, and park officials are asking for anyone with information about the fossils to come forward with information.

Investigators believe that a group of men who were photographed near the site may have information about the fossils. They are offering up to $1,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Woman charged with murder in Oklahoma home invasion planned the crime: police

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By David Rind

carlballou/iStock/Thinkstock(BROKEN ARROW, Okla.) — Elizabeth Rodriguez, the woman who allegedly drove three teenage boys to a home in Oklahoma where they were shot to death after attempting a home invasion robbery, told investigators that she planned the crime, officials said.

She also told investigators that she left one of the burglars for dead, according to police.

The Wagoner County Sheriff’s office arrested Rodriguez on three first-degree murder and three first-degree burglary warrants and jailed her without bond after she told them that she had information about a shooting that took place at a home in Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa.

Rodriguez waived her right to an attorney in speaking with investigators today, police said, and claimed that she had no personal connection to Zachary Peters, the 22-year-old victim of the alleged home invasion attempt, whose actions are being investigated as a potential act of self-defense under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

Peters lived in a home in Broken Arrow owned by his father, according to police.

Rodriguez surmised that Peters had money, and then selected his home to “hit a lick,” they said, referring to an expression which refers to gaining a lot of money in a brief period of time.

Rodriguez and the deceased suspects robbed a spare apartment at Peters’ home earlier in the day on Monday, she told investigators.

Later on in the day, the suspects, masked and dressed in black, kicked in a door and encountered Peters, who police said was armed with an AR-15 rifle.

Investigators say that Peters shot at all three burglars in his home.

One of the injured teenagers fled the home after being shot and scrambled to get back inside Rodriguez’s vehicle, but she allegedly drove away and left him there to die.

Wagoner County Deputy Nick Mahoney said on Tuesday that two of the teens were 16 or 17 years old and the third was 18 or 19. Brass knuckles and a knife were found among their possessions, he said.

The National Council of State Legislatures notes that Oklahoma is one of 24 states in the country with laws that allow citizens to shoot if they believe the targeted person threatens their safety.

Rodriguez was scheduled to appear in court April 5.

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Severe storms leave nearly 200,000 people without power in Texas

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By Carmen Cox

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — Severe thunderstorms and damaging winds in parts of Texas overnight left nearly 200,000 residents without power as of early Wednesday morning.

Much of the power failures centered around the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas, according to the Oncor Electric Delivery utility company, which put the total number of statewide outages at 197,221 as of 4:46 a.m. local time.

The weather damaged houses, blew over trees and caused multiple car accidents across Texas.

There was significant damage reported in the Dalton Ranch Community in Rockwall, Texas, where multiple homes were damaged and five houses were reportedly destroyed, according to ABC affiliate WFAA.

In Arlington, Texas, wind gusts were reportedly strong enough to take down part of a brick wall.

The poor weather in Texas continued from Tuesday, when three storm chasers were killed in a car accident after their vehicles crashed on a rural road in West Texas. Tornadoes and heavy rain had been reported nearby at the time of the crash.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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