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Mom of missing girl, 16, who may have fled to Cancun with older man pleads: 'Can you come home?'

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By Anthony Ali

Miu Luu(NEW YORK) — The mother of a missing 16-year-old Pennsylvania girl who is believed to have run away with a 45-year-old man sent a message to her daughter in an interview with ABC News.

“Amy, I love you, can you come back?” Miu Luu of Allentown, Pennsylvania, said Friday, addressing her daughter, Amy Yu.

Yu along with Kevin Esterly, 45, have been missing since March 5, and police believe the teen left with the man willingly.

When the girl did not return home from school that night, her mother reported her missing, the Allentown Police Department said.

Two days later, police received information indicating that on the night of March 5, Yu and Esterly took a one-way flight from Philadelphia to Cancun, police said.

Luu reported to police after her daughter’s disappearance that money, jewelry and Yu’s personal documents were also missing, according to a police report.

The mother told ABC News she doesn’t care if her daughter has spent her money, she just wants her to come home to her and her brother.

The girl’s brother, 15-year-old John Yu, added, “I hope you come home safely. Please don’t get into any trouble, and just get home safely.”

An Amber Alert has been issued in Mexico for Amy Yu.

“Prior to the Amber Alert in Mexico, the information that Amy Yu and Kevin Esterly were likely in Mexico was not released as it is believed that Kevin Esterly and/or Amy Yu are monitoring media reports,” police said in a news release Friday.

Allentown police issued a message to the teen Friday, “Amy, if you are uncertain how to come home or who to contact for help, you may simply reach out to a law enforcement official, a resort staff member, or contact your mom via text message, email or social media, and we will work to reunite you with your family right away.”

Esterly, who is married, met the teen at church, and Amy Yu appears to have been friends with one of Esterly’s daughters, said Gary Hammer of the Colonial Regional Police, which has jurisdiction over Amy Yu’s school, Lehigh Valley Academy.

When Amy Yu was asked by members of the Leigh Country Child Advocacy Center whether she was having a relationship with Esterly, she denied it, Hammer said.

However, Amy Yu altered her school records and listed Esterly as her stepfather, Hammer added. At least 10 times between December and Feb. 9, Esterly signed her out of school early, he said.

Feb. 9 was the day when Luu came to the school to pick up her daughter, “and the school said her stepfather already signed her out of school,” Hammer told ABC News last week.

“The mom explained she is a single mother,” Hammer said. “There is no stepfather.”

Lehigh Valley Academy confirmed that Esterly has been on school grounds before and was last there on Feb. 9.

“After that date, due to circumstances we cannot disclose pursuant to student privacy constraints, he was prohibited from entering school grounds, and the police were to be notified if he returned,” the school said in a statement last week.

The school said in its statement, “Due to federal and state privacy constraints, the school is prohibited from releasing any additional information about the student or the facts and circumstances surrounding the situation unless the parent provides express consent for the school to do so.

“We are, however, working closely with the Colonial Regional Police and the Allentown Police and are providing whatever information and assistance we can to assist them and Amy’s family during this difficult time,” the school added.

The school called the Colonial Regional Police immediately and it started investigating. The department found video of Esterly signing the teen out and leaving with her, Hammer said.

On March 7, a family member of Esterly reported him as missing or endangered, and that same day, an arrest warrant for Esterly was issued, charging him with interference with the custody of children, the police said.

Amy Yu is about 4 feet 11 inches tall and 90 pounds, and Esterly is 5 feet 9 inches tall and 185 pounds, according to police.

Authorities believe they may be in a 1999 red, two-door Honda Accord with the Pennsylvania plate KLT 0529.

Anyone who sees either of them is asked to call 911, local police or the Allentown Police at 610-437-7751.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News


3 bridge-collapse victims found dead in cars recovered from scene in Florida

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By Anthony Ali

@GabrielaRose12/Twitter(MIAMI) — Three victims have been found dead from the fatal bridge collapse in Miami after crews removed two cars from the rubble left at the scene, police said Saturday.

The recovery of the three bodies confirms a death toll of at least six from Thursday’s collapse of a newly-installed pedestrian bridge near Florida International University.

Police said four bodies are now in the custody of officials — the three recovered Saturday and one person who died at a hospital. Authorities said this number is anticipated to grow as crews work to remove more cars trapped under the rubble.

A total of eight cars were trapped under the bridge after it crumbled, including six that were “significantly entangled,” authorities said. Two of those heavily-trapped cars were removed this morning and crews are working to remove two more now, officials said.

Maurice Kemp, deputy mayor of Miami-Dade County, said Saturday that the primary goal is to remove all victims and cars in a “dignified and respectful manner.”

He said crews worked through the night to remove the two cars this morning and will continue the effort until all victims and cars are recovered.

FIU had touted the pedestrian bridge as one of the first of its kind, tweeting that it swung into place March 10.

The cause of the collapse remains under investigation.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News


Two storms making mess across US; new nor'easter still uncertain

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By Anthony Ali

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two storms are moving across the United States on Saturday, bringing rain and sleet to the Midwest and snow to the Mountain West.

The first storm is bringing rain, sleet and freezing rain from Iowa into northern Illinois Saturday morning and will extend southeast through West Virginia. Total ice accumulations of one-tenth of an inch or more are possible in some spots.

Meanwhile, the second storm continues to bring snow to the Mountain West.

Moderate to locally heavy rain that triggered flooding in Mississippi on Friday is expected to wind down as a cold front moves into the Gulf Coast states Saturday.

There is a slight risk of severe thunderstorms across parts of central and northern Texas on Saturday afternoon and a marginal risk exists across eastern parts of Kentucky and Tennessee this afternoon into southern Virginia and part of North Carolina this evening.

The main threats include damaging winds and large hail, and an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.

As one of the storms approaches from the west on Sunday, there is a slight risk of strong to severe weather for Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas and the lower Mississippi Valley in the morning. Parts of Kansas and Oklahoma are susceptible during Sunday afternoon.

Challenging forecast for Northeast storm
As an area of low pressure moves across the country it is forecast to develop into a coastal storm on Tuesday. The latest computer models have the track shifted further to the east at the moment.

Yesterday’s information implied a wide precipitation shield beginning Wednesday from the Ohio Valley to the Northeast as the storm tracked offshore.

The American model (GFS) from Friday morning showed a direct hit for the Northeast, including the major I-95 coastal cities.

The European model has a similar solution, keeping the bulk of the precipitation further south on Tuesday and Wednesday, then quickly sweeping the system offshore by Wednesday evening — completely missing the Northeast.

Both models for now have that first round of snow, early Wednesday in the Appalachians, producing some accumulating snowfall.

But there are several moving parts that have to come together over the next 48 hours or so to give the models a better handle on what’s happening in the atmosphere.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News


Walmart employee turns in man charged with possessing weapons cache

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By Anthony Ali

iStock/Thinkstock(ITHACA, N.Y.) — A Walmart employee’s tip has led to a large weapons bust near a college campus in upstate New York.

Federal authorities filed charges against Maximilien Reynolds, 19, on Friday for two counts of possession of an unregistered destructive device and a silencer, false statement in acquisition of a firearm and a false statement in required firearm record.

According to the criminal complaint, a Walmart employee in Ithaca, New York, called police after Reynolds allegedly purchased ammunition, camping gear, drill bits, tools, hacksaw blades and knives with a gift card.

Ithaca police and two FBI agents responded to Reynolds’ apartment, where they encountered his girlfriend, who allowed them inside. The complaint alleges the small apartment was “in severe disarray” with random piles of clothes, food, laboratory glassware and math formulas written on the windows. The authorities also found a bulletproof vest, gas mask and saw knives lying out in the open before the woman alleged to be Reynolds’ girlfriend ushered them out.

Authorities later returned, voluntarily spoke to investigators and allowed his apartment to be searched, the complaint states.

The FBI found a bullet-resistant vest, military-style clothing, knives, military-style gas mask, MSR-15 Patrol rifle, ammunition, a homemade silencer and bomb-making materials, including fireworks rigged with shrapnel.

The suspect was previously known to authorities, as Reynolds had previously been detained by Ithaca police in June 2016 under Section 941 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law, the complaint shows. The law allows police officers to take a person into custody and take them to a hospital if they appear mentally ill.

Reynolds used to be a student at Cornell University, but was currently taking classes at nearby Tomkins-Cortland Community College.

“On Thursday, FBI agents arrested Maximilien R. Reynolds following the reported seizure by the City of Ithaca Police Department earlier this month of a number of weapons in his possession at his residence in the city’s Collegetown neighborhood,” Cornell University Police Chief Kathy Zoner said in a statement. “Cornell University Police is cooperating with IPD and the FBI in this investigation, and all agencies continue to work together to promote the safety of Cornell University’s campus and the surrounding community.

“Neither Cornell University Police nor the lead law enforcement agencies in this case believe there is a threat to the campus or Collegetown.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News


Officials: Engineer reported cracks in Florida bridge days before collapse

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By Anthony Ali

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(MIAMI) — An engineer at the firm that designed the ill-fated Florida International University pedestrian bridge left a message for a state transportation official days before the deadly collapse, saying that he had observed a crack in the bridge — but the message wasn’t heard until after the span fell, officials said.

The worker at FIGG Bridge Engineers left a landline voicemail for an employee of the Florida Department of Transportation on Tuesday, saying he saw some cracking on the bridge but was not concerned from a safety perspective, according to FDOT.

The employee for whom the message was intended was out of the office on assignment and didn’t retrieve the message until he returned to the office on Friday, said FDOT officials who released the recorded message and a transcript.

“Calling to, uh, share with you some information about the FIU pedestrian bridge and some cracking that’s been observed on the north end of the span, the pylon end of that span we moved this weekend,” the FIGG engineer said in the message.

“Um, so, uh, we’ve taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that.”

FDOT said the FIU design-build team has solely responsible to identify and address life-safety issues and to notify DOT.

“At no point during any of the communications above did FIGG or any member of the FIU design build team ever communicate a life-safety issue,” FDOT said in an email Friday.

Despite the unheard voicemail, FIU released a statement after midnight on Saturday saying they held a meeting Thursday morning about the cracking in which FIGG engineers, FIU and FDOT representatives were present.

“On Thursday morning (March 15, 2018), at 9:00 a.m., theDesign Build Team of MCM and FIGG, convened a meeting at the MCM trailer, located on the construction site, to discuss a crack that appeared on the structure,” FIU said in its statement. “The FIGG engineer of record delivered a technical presentation regarding the crack and concluded that there were no safety concerns and the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge. This meeting lasted approximately two hours and included FIU and FDOT representatives.”

The bridge collapsed just hours later.

FIGG issued a statement Friday evening saying it was “heartbroken by the loss of life and injuries.”
“[We] are carefully examining the steps that our team has taken in the interest of our overarching concern for public safety. The evaluation was based on the best available information at that time and indicated that there were no safety issues,” FIGG said in its statement. “We will pursue answers to find out what factors led to this tragic situation, but it is important that the agencies responsible for investigating this devastating situation are given the appropriate time in order to accurately identify what factors led to the accident during construction.”

At a Friday evening press conference, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said his agency was not aware of the crack and its existence had yet to be confirmed.

“I don’t think we know at this point if there was a crack in the bridge,” he said, adding that a crack doesn’t necessarily mean the bridge was unsafe. “That’s still too early in the investigation for us to determine.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News


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