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Search expands for missing sailors from USS John McCain

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By Michelle Boncardo

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian Senyk/Released(NEW YORK) — The Navy announced it is expanding its search for 10 missing sailors from the USS John S. McCain on Wednesday just hours after the commander of the 7th Fleet was relieved of duty.

Ten sailors are missing after the USS John S. McCain collided with a commercial vessel on Monday. The Navy said Tuesday the remains of “a number” of the missing sailors were found within the ship but had yet to be identified.

Additional divers will join the search area east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, where the ship originally crashed into the tanker, according to a statement. The Royal Malaysian Navy recovered the remains of a sailor in that location on Tuesday.

The Navy also said it will continue to search within the USS John S. McCain itself.

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The U.S. Navy announced early Wednesday it had relieved from duty the three-star admiral in charge of the U.S. 7th Fleet after a string of four accidents this year, including Monday’s disaster. Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was removed and replaced by Phil Sawyer, the Navy announced.

Seven sailors were killed in a similar accident in June when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship. In May, the USS Lake Champlain, a guided missile cruiser, collided with a fishing boat in the Sea of Japan. The USS Antietam ran aground off the coast of Japan in February.

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Source:: National News

      

Missing teen walks out of Tennessee woods after 11 days

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By TJH

George Rose/Getty Images(BLOUNT COUNTY, Tennessee) — A teen missing for 11 days walked out of the Tennessee woods in good condition on Tuesday after disappearing following a hike with his stepfather.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park confirmed in a release that Austin Bohanan, 18, emerged from the woods at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Bohanan was taken to a local hospital, but later released, according to ABC affiliate WATE.

“We are so grateful for all the love, prayers and support from everyone,” his aunt Carrie Bohanan told WATE at the hospital.

WATE said Bohanan was first reported missing on Sunday, Aug. 13 after going for a hike with his stepfather on Friday. Bohanan’s great-uncle told The Associated Press it was not unusual for the teen to go camping alone.

Two search and rescue teams and 28 trained emergency responders had been searching the difficult terrain, WATE reported.

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Navy removes commander of 7th Fleet following string of accidents

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By TJH

U.S. Navy (WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Navy has relieved from duty the three-star admiral in charge of the U.S. 7th Fleet after a string of four accidents this year that includes this week’s deadly collision of the destroyer USS John S. McCain with an oil tanker off Singapore.

According to a statement from the Navy, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan, has been relieved of duty due to a “loss of confidence in his ability to command.” Aucoin was relieved of command by Admiral Scott Swift, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, on Wednesday in Japan.

Ten sailors are missing from the McCain’s collision. Earlier on Tuesday, Navy divers found some of their remains inside the ship’s flooded sleeping compartments. The collision comes two months after the USS Fitzgerald’s deadly collision with a container ship that killed seven sailors.

News of Aucoin’s being relieved of command was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Aucoin was already slated to retire in September and turn over command of the 7th Fleet to Rear Admiral Phillip Sawyer. But his relief from command shows the Navy’s focus on accountability in the wake of the incidents this year involving the USS John S. McCain, USS Fitzgerald, USS Lake Champlain and the USS Antietam.

The Navy’s statement on Wednesday confirmed Sawyer will take over command immediately.

“I support Admiral Swift’s decision to bring in new leadership to 7th Fleet,” Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, said in a statement. “The new 7th Fleet Commander must help move his team forward, focusing efforts on safe and effective operations.”

The collision involving the USS McCain is just the latest in a string of mishaps for the U.S. Navy that have taken place in the Pacific.

The USS Fitzgerald collided in mid-June with a Philippine-flagged container ship off the coast of Japan in June, killing seven sailors.

In May, the USS Lake Champlain, a guided missile cruiser, collided with a fishing boat in the Sea of Japan. There were no injuries. In this case, the Navy ship tried to alert the fishing boat prior to the collision, but it was too late.

And in February, the USS Antietam, also a guided missile cruiser, ran aground off the coast of Japan, damaging its propellers and spilling oil into the water.

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Mom of missing sailor from destroyer USS John S. McCain 'couldn't be prouder' of her son

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By Kelly Terez

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian Senyk/Released(DETROIT) — The mother of one of the ten sailors who went missing following a U.S. Navy ship collision near Singapore on Monday said that she and her husband “couldn’t be prouder” of their son.

April Brandon, the mother of Kenneth Brandon, spoke to ABC News about her son.

“His father and I couldn’t be prouder of our son,” Brandon said about her son. “He’s a great kid [and] he’s a hero.”

Brandon told ABC News that officers from the Navy came to her home and told her they are doing everything possible to find Kenneth.

“The Naval officer came over to tell me he’s missing,” Brandon said. “That’s the last update that we have.”

The family has a history with the Navy that dates back many years, according to Brandon.

“His father was in the Navy, his stepmother had been in the Navy, my father was in the Navy,” Brandon says.

The collision represents the second such incident involving a U.S. ship in Asian waters in two months. Back in June, seven sailors died when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan, leading to the death of seven sailors.

Although fatalities have been confirmed in the accident regarding the USS John McCain, it is unclear at this time how many sailors died as a result.

The Navy said they discovered human remains in the search for the missing sailors early Monday morning.

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Source:: National News

      

Family of missing Chinese scholar vows to find her

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By Kelly Terez

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — More than two months after a visiting Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was allegedly kidnapped, authorities say she is presumed dead but her body has not been found. Her family members, who are from China, are staying in Illinois and have not given up on finding her.

Brendt Christensen, 28, of Champaign, Illinois, was arrested on June 30 and charged with the kidnapping of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, the FBI said. Authorities claim Christensen lured her into his car in broad daylight on June 9. Surveillance video shows her getting into the passenger seat of a car that day.

Christensen has pleaded not guilty, his attorney, Evan Bruno, told ABC News.

Zhang’s boyfriend, Xiaolin Hou, said at a news conference this afternoon that when Zhang’s mother learned of her daughter’s disappearance, “she fainted immediately.”

“A lot of time after that, she could not eat or sleep. She was extremely weak,” Hou said. “In these two months, we continue to encourage her that she must hurry to get well.”

He added that Zhang’s mother has since begun “to try her best on eating and sleeping on time, enduring great pain in her heart.”

Zhang’s father is also not in good health, Hou said.

“He often feels an unendurable pain in his heart,” he said. “During these two months in America, he asked me the same question most every day: why there’s still no update about where Ying is.”

Hou spoke of the family members’ difficulties during their past two months in the U.S., explaining that they are not familiar with the laws, customs and culture and are dealing with a language barrier.

But he emphasized that Zhang means the world to her parents and they do not want to return to China without her.

He also said Zhang would want to be with them, too, explaining that “this may be the last desire we can fulfill for her.”

“We will never give up on her,” he said. “I have no energy or time to be anxious, frustrated or angry. There’s only one thought on my mind. That’s to try everything I can to find her.”

Zhang’s family members wrote a letter to President Trump requesting that he “direct all available federal law enforcement and investigatory resources be used to find our daughter as soon as possible.” The letter was read during the family’s press conference today.

“As a loving father to your own children, you can understand what we are going through,” the letter said. “Yingying meant the world to us.”

According to a criminal complaint, during an interview at the FBI’s Champaign office, Christensen “admitted to driving around the UI campus when he observed an Asian female with a backpack standing at a corner appearing distressed.” Christensen then claimed that he drove up to her and when she said she was late to an appointment, he offered her a ride. He said she got into his car and tried to show him where she needed to go, the complaint said.

According to the complaint, “Christensen claimed that he believed he made a wrong turn, because the female became panicked, at which point Christensen claimed that he let her out of the vehicle in a residential area a few blocks away from where he picked her up.”

But on June 29, Christensen allegedly was “captured on audio recording while under law enforcement surveillance explaining how he kidnapped” Zhang. The complaint said Christensen admitted to bringing her back to his apartment and holding her there against her will.

But Bruno, Christensen’s lawyer, said: “he is legally presumed innocent.” Bruno added that the defense team is “meticulously going through the mountain of evidence we have,” explaining that they are “in the early stages of that long process.”

“All the lawyers here at this firm who are representing Mr. Christensen, we all appreciate the depth of pain that Ms. Zhang’s family is feeling and how difficult this all is for them,” Bruno said.

Christensen’s trial is set for Sept. 12.

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