TTR News Center

Florida authorities arrest suspect in disappearance of Alabama college student

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Auburn Police Department(AUBURN, Ala.) — Authorities have arrested a suspect in the case of a missing Alabama college student.

Ibraheem Yazeed, 30, of Montgomery, Alabama, was taken into custody in Florida’s Escambia County early Friday morning. He is being held at the local county jail, according to Maj. Andrew Hobbs of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

Yazeed was wanted on kidnapping charges in connection with the disappearance of Aniah Haley Blanchard, a 19-year-old student at Southern Union State Community College who was last seen Oct. 23 at a convenience store in downtown Auburn, Alabama. Investigators believe Blanchard is a victim of foul play.

Late Thursday night, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the United States Marshals Service to assist in an arrest of the suspect on the Alabama-Florida line, according to Hobbs.

Yazeed was driving along an interstate highway from Alabama into Florida and tried to flee the officers attempting to arrest him. He was ultimately apprehended in the Pensacola area of northeast Florida, just 3 miles from the border with Alabama, Hobbs said.

Earlier Thursday, the Auburn Police Division in Alabama named Yazeed a suspect in Blanchard’s disappearance and obtained a warrant for his arrest for the charge of kidnapping. At the time, Yazeed was out on bond for the charges of kidnapping and attempted murder from another jurisdiction in a separate case. Police said he should be considered “dangerous and potentially armed.”

Authorities released images of Yazeed showing him inside the Auburn convenience store at the time Blanchard was last seen there.

“Further investigation and analysis of evidence has determined that Yazeed was at the same location Blanchard was last seen and is involved in taking Aniah against her will,” the Auburn Police Division said in a statement Thursday. “Additional charges and/or arrests are anticipated.”

Blanchard, who is the stepdaughter of mixed martial arts competitor Walt Harris, last communicated with a friend on Oct. 23, just before midnight. Blanchard’s family reported her missing the following day.

“We need her back; we have to have her back,” her mother, Angela Haley-Harris, told ABC News in an interview on Wednesday. “We can’t live without her, we can’t.”

Blanchard’s vehicle, a black 2017 Honda CRV, was found abandoned near an apartment complex in Montgomery on Oct. 25. It had damage to the front left tire area, which is believed to have occurred between the time she was last seen and when the vehicle was found.

Investigators later discovered evidence in the vehicle that indicates Blanchard “was harmed and is considered to be a victim of foul play,” according to the Auburn Police Division.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Auburn Police Division Detective Section at 334-501-3140, Central Alabama Crime Stoppers at 334-215-STOP, or the 24-hour non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Colder air set to descend upon eastern half of US

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — The coldest air of the season is hitting the East Coast Friday morning and it’s only going to get colder.

With this cold air moving over the Great Lakes, up to 14 inches of lake effect snow fell in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and up to 4 inches in Erie Pennsylvania.

A Freeze Warning has been issued for many states from the Deep South all the way to New York City. The first freezing temperatures of the season are on the way by Friday night and into Saturday morning.

With even a little wind, the wind chill will be in the teens in the Midwest and parts of the Northeast for the next 24 hours.

After this cold shot, our attention turns to an even colder air mass early next week that will bring more snow ahead of it from the Midwest into the Northeast.

On Monday morning, the new storm system will already be moving through the Midwest with snow from Chicago to Detroit. A few inches of the white stuff is expected there as well.

By Tuesday, this storm system will move east, bringing rain and snow to the Northeast. This time around, big cities could see some snow but it is still too early to say how much and who will get the most.

Heavy lake effect snow is expected around the Great Lakes next week too.

What we do know for sure is that an even colder air mass will move in behind this next storm system.

Wind chills will be below zero for the Midwest and 20s all the way to Texas and the Deep South.

This cold blast moves into the Northeast on Tuesday night into Wednesday. It will feel like January for Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston next week.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

California marks one year since deadliest wildfire in state history

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Toa55/iStock(PARADISE, Calif.) — It was one year ago that flames ignited in a parched, wooded area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Northern California before sunrise. Within days, that wildfire would become the deadliest, most destructive in the state’s history.

The so-called Camp Fire spread across 240 square miles over the course of 18 days, decimating communities in its path. Nearly 14,000 homes were destroyed and 85 people died from the catastrophic blaze, mostly in the Butte County town of Paradise.

Ceremonies will be held in Paradise and other communities affected by the Camp Fire on Friday to mark the one-year anniversary. There will be 85 seconds of silence to remember the 85 lives lost.

The extreme heat of the fast-moving fire, which turned entire neighborhoods into ash, made it difficult for authorities to find the remains of those who died.

One person out of the 85 victims is still unidentified, and little is known about the individual, even after a year. The Butte County Sheriff’s Office says it’s a man from Concow, a small mountain hamlet nestled in the woods just east of Paradise.

Few of the homes that burned to the ground have been rebuilt in the past year. Many residents remain displaced in nearby communities, while others have moved out of the region.

Investigators determined that the blaze was sparked by power lines owned and operated by the Pacific Gas and Electric Co., also known as PG&E. The San Francisco-based utility company filed for bankruptcy in January as it grapples with lawsuits following the Camp Fire and other devastating wildfires that its equipment ignited or likely ignited in recent years.

Last month, PG&E preemptively cut power to millions of residents in Northern California as high winds, which contribute to wildfires, moved through the Golden State. The company said in a statement at the time that it turned off power “to protect public safety” as gusty winds and dry conditions bring “a heightened fire risk.”

Fed up with the embattled utility company, 22 mayors and other local leaders from across the region have proposed to turn PG&E into a customer-owned cooperative.

“There is a better way,” they wrote in a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission on Monday, “and we want you to consider it.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Chemical exposure at Buffalo Wild Wings kills one, injures 10

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RiverNorthPhotography/iStock(BURLINGTON, Mass.) — One person is dead and 10 others have been hospitalized following a chemical incident at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Burlington, Massachusetts.

Investigators were called to the restaurant at approximately 6 p.m. on Thursday when they received a report of a chemical reaction in the kitchen.

When authorities arrived, they found an employee, who had been exposed to a strong cleaning agent while preparing the floor to be cleaned, suffering from nausea after he breathed in fumes from the product.

The unidentified male employee was rushed to Lahey Hospital and later died, according to ABC’s affiliate station in Boston, WCVB-TV.

Ten more people, including employees and customers, complained of breathing difficulties and eye irritation and were checked into the hospital for evaluation.

Interim Burlington fire chief Michael Patterson said that the chemical that was involved in the incident was sodium hypochlorite, the main ingredient in bleach.

“This is a common product used in floor cleaning. It was just a reaction that led to this,” said Patterson.

“The gentleman that passed away was an employee of Buffalo Wild Wings who attempted to squeegee the product out of the building when he was overcome,” Patterson continued. “Anyone who was in the restaurant at the time and believes they may be impacted by the incident should seek medical treatment immediately.”

Footage filmed by WCVB shows a HAZMAT crew conducting an investigation inside the restaurant with fire crews responding outside the establishment.

According to WCVB, the Occupational Saftey and Health Administration has been informed of the incident.

A Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson told ABC News, “We are shocked and saddened to learn of this tragic accident at our franchise-owned sports bar and are working closely with our franchisee and the authorities while they conduct an investigation. Because the investigation is ongoing, we are unable to share any additional comment at this time. Any further questions will need to be referred to the local authorities.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Fiance of victim killed in Hard Rock Hotel accident describes his final moments

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Courtesy Frank Wimberly(NEW ORLEANS) — Quinnyon Wimberly and his fiancee Bianca Boone were on the phone, planning a birthday party for Wimberly’s father, when Boone heard a “loud boom.”

“What was that?” she remembers him saying.

Boone, 42, didn’t think much of it initially. Wimberly was, after all, working on the construction site at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown New Orleans.

But when she continued to call for him to no avail, she began to worry. And, finally, when she heard news that the building collapsed and she needed to get over there as soon as possible, her worst fears came true.

“At that point, I knew in my heart he was gone,” Boone told ABC News on Thursday.

Wimberly was one of three construction workers who died in the collapse of the under-construction Hard Rock Hotel on Oct. 12 in downtown New Orleans. His body, along with the body of 63-year-old Jose Ponce Arreola, remain inside the building. Another victim, Anthony Magrette, was removed from the building.

Crews have been unable to reach Wimberly or Arreola, as the site continues to be too dangerous to enter, officials have said.

Wimberly’s family had held out hope that authorities would be able to recover the bodies before demolishing the building.

Last week, they were told otherwise.

“[Mayor LaToya Cantrell] said they would have to demolish the building with him in it,” Frank Wimberly, Quinnyon Wimberly’s older and only brother, told ABC News on Thursday.

The news, he said, felt like they learned of his death all over again.

“I don’t think words can describe the way my family and I feel. It’s one thing to lose him in such a freak accident … but then, you pile on top of that, we don’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye,” Wimberly, 46, said.

“We was just hoping that they would recover his body,” Wimberly added. “We’re losing hope every day.”

Boone echoed Wimberly’s heartache, saying that just about a week before the collapse they were celebrating what was one of the happiest days of their lives. Quinnyon Wimberly, who she had been dating for about a year, proposed on Oct. 4, she said.

“I didn’t even have time to enjoy the happiness of being his other half because I was robbed,” Boone told ABC. “I was robbed of my happiness.”

Mayor Cantrell’s office said in a statement to ABC News that her “focus and priority remains recovery of the remains, and securing closure for the victim’s families — with whom she has been in close contact. Our public safety team continues working with engineers to evaluate the next steps on the site.”

The office did not say when the demolition is expected to occur but the mayor has said that a recovery process would still occur after the demolition: “I have a commitment from the ownership that they will … go above and beyond to deliver for our people. That’s what I’m expecting and absolutely requiring.”

There is still no official word as to what caused the hotel to come crashing down.

Wimberly was a supervisor for the construction project, in addition to working at Regional Mechanical Services, an air conditioning contractor in Louisiana. He was also the father of two sons, Treionn Wimberly, 6, and Quinyonn Wimberly II, 14.

In a statement on Facebook, the company said “his passion, reliability, and energetic nature were known and enjoyed by everyone he met.”

Irene Wimberly, his mother, told ABC that her son had always been a hard worker. He wasn’t supposed to be at the site that day, she said, but went to make sure everything was ready for an upcoming inspection.

“I really wish that he hadn’t went in because he’d have been here now,” his mom said.

The Wimberlys and Boone said the support they have received from his co-workers has helped the family keep his memory alive.

One story, in particular, has stuck with Frank Wimberly.

He had been sitting in a bar, trying to clear his head amid the aftermath, when live coverage came on a TV of the controlled demolition of two damaged cranes that stood at the site.

“There was another guy who stood up next to me, and he said, ‘Man, I was working in that building,'” Wimberly said.

The two got to talking and Wimberly discovered the man not only knew his brother, but credited him with his life.

The man told Wimberly that he had tickets for the LSU Tigers vs. Florida Gators football game on Oct. 12, but the higher-ups wouldn’t let him take the day off.

Wimberly remembers the man said to him that when his brother found out he had tickets, he told him “to go ahead and he would handle everything.”

“He said, ‘your brother saved my life. If it wasn’t for him, I would have been in that building,'” Wimberly told ABC.

It is stories like those that give the family solace.

But, the seemingly endless setbacks they’ve endured remain devastating.

“I don’t know how it feels to lose a child. I don’t know how it feels to lose a spouse,” Wimberly said. “I know how it feels to lose my brother, my only brother, my only sibling. To hear my mom say ‘now you’re my only child,’ that hurts.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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