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National News

North Atlantic hurricane season could soon shift earlier in the year, scientists say

Robert D. Barnes/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Communities on the East and Gulf coasts of the U.S. could soon be preparing for a longer hurricane season as the formation of tropical cyclones shifts to earlier in the year, according to a new study.

Researchers who analyzed changes in the onset of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity from 1979 to 2020 found that the first named storms of the North Atlantic hurricane season have been occurring five days earlier every decade since 1979, according to a study published in Nature Communications on Tuesday.

Currently, the North Atlantic hurricane season runs annually from June 1 to November 30 -- a definition that was established in 1965.

Last year marked seven consecutive seasons that the National Hurricane Center issued watches or warnings for the continental U.S. before the start of the season on June 1, which prompted the researchers to study the phenomenon further, Ryan Truchelut, chief meteorologist at Weather Tiger, a consulting and risk management firm, and author of the study, told ABC News.

"The concern here is that this is, you know, historically very unusual," Truchelut said.

This trend could soon change the current definition of the North Atlantic hurricane season, and a panel at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is currently weighing whether to adjust the current season to start earlier, Truchelut said.

"I think that that's going to be an important signal to coastal residents and people living well inland who are at risk from tropical storm-driven flooding events," Truchelut said of the potential change in season.

In addition, the findings also suggest that the first named storm to make landfall in the U.S. occurred earlier by about two days per decade since 1900, according to the study.

In 2021, climate factors such as La Niña, above-normal sea surface temperatures earlier in the season and above-normal West African monsoon rainfall were the primary contributors to the early start and the above-average season. But springtime warming in the western Atlantic Ocean, which has also shown an increasing trend during the same period, could be linked to the earlier onset of named storms, the authors said.

Additional increases in ocean temperatures may exacerbate the exposure of populated landmasses to tropical cyclones by shifting the onset of their formation earlier, according to the study.

While it does not appear that the timing of the peak or end of hurricane season has changed, information about the earlier onset of hurricanes will be important for communities to properly assess necessary risk management measures as hurricanes continue to intensify as a result of global warming, Truchelut said.

"Hopefully it'll help people be more prepared to respond to those watches and warnings, and respond and react if they receive an emergency flash flood warning," Truchelut said of the research.

ABC News' Melissa Griffin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Six shot outside Memphis hospital

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(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- Six people were shot outside a Memphis hospital early Tuesday and four of the victims remain in critical condition, police said.

The shooting was reported around 12:42 a.m. at Methodist North Hospital, Memphis police said.

Two victims were taken to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in critical condition, one of whom is now non-critical, while four were taken to Regional One Hospital. One of those taken to Regional One is also now out of critical condition, police said.

Three victims involved have been detained for allegedly possessing a stolen vehicle, police said.

All of the victims were reportedly shot by suspects in a black SUV, according to police. No arrests have been announced.

Methodist North Hospital said no hospital staffers were hurt during the gunfire.

"We appreciate the swift action from our employees to guide patients away ... so our security team and Memphis Police Department could respond quickly," hospital officials said in a statement. "We are working with local law enforcement who are continuing to investigate."

ABC News' Keith Harden contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Woman struck by lightning near White House talks her road to recovery with 'GMA'

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- In an exclusive interview with Good Morning America, Amber Escudero-Kontostathis sits down to talk for the first time about being the sole survivor of a lightning strike near the White House earlier this month, on her 28th birthday, and her road to recovery.

"I don't remember much of that day at all," Escudero-Kontostathis told GMA in her first interview since the incident.

On Aug. 4, Escudero-Kontostathis, 28, was canvassing outside the White House for Threshold Giving, a nonprofit organization through the International Rescue Committee that helps refugees, when she and three others took cover underneath a tree at Lafayette Square after it began to rain.

Six bolts of lightning struck the group within half a second, killing three others, including 76-year-old James Mueller and 75-year-old Donna Mueller, a married couple celebrating their anniversary, and Brooks Lambertson, a 29-year-old Los Angeles man who was in D.C. for business.

Escudero-Kontostathis said the lightning struck her through the ground and traveled through her body, resulting in significant burns on her body.

"I don't know why I survived," she said. "I don't feel good about being the only survivor, that's for sure. I'm grateful, but I just don't feel good about being the only one."

She doesn't recall much of her stay at the hospital, where she was placed in the Intensive Care Unit, but does remember the nurses trying to keep her calm and telling her things would be OK.

Escudero-Kontostathis praised the burn and ICU nurses for checking on her and providing constant care.

"You would hit the little things saying you were in pain and they'd be like 'we're coming,' and they walk in and their name was always on the board," she said. "I had more of a personal relationship and memory with the burn center nurses, but I'm excited to eventually get to meet the ICU nurses in person again now that I'm more conscious of that."

She said her path to recovery has been frustrating both physically and mentally. "I forget that I can't just get up and do stuff. I have to use a walker, for example," she said.

"You wake up and you think that you can just get up and go and brush your teeth or get a cup of coffee yourself and I can't, my whole left sides like pretty charred," Escudero-Kontostathis said. "Mentally, also a little frustrated because I want to be working and doing things."

Escudero, who's the director of Threshold Giving's canvassing team, said she enjoyed the work she did and that being unable to work while she recovers is one of the more painful parts of this experience.

"I get to help people find their inner activist and bridge them to the work they want to see in the world," Escudero-Kontostathis said. "Not getting to do that every day is probably more painful than cleaning the burns, which is pretty painful."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Uvalde parents demand financial transparency over school security grants

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(UVALDE, Texas) -- During Monday night's school board meeting, Uvalde citizens demanded financial transparency regarding the millions of dollars in grants announced last week aimed at strengthening school security before children return to the classroom this September.

"We just saw lump sum $100,000 here, $500,000 here," one community member said during the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District meeting. "Now what I would like to see is further breakdown. OK, who is that money going to?"

The school board announced last week that it plans to spend more than $3.5 million on projects such as replacing locks, installing fences and hiring more counselors. The school district received grants from the state of Texas, the Department of Justice and the Las Vegas Raiders football team to fund these projects.

Uvalde:365 is a continuing ABC News series reported from Uvalde and focused on the Texas community and how it forges on in the shadow of tragedy.

The district also outlined its plan to offer remote classes this year in response to parents' concerns that their children do not feel comfortable returning to school in person.

Becky Reinhardt, the administrator for virtual learning, said there would not be a limit on the number of students who can be virtual, and that students could switch back to in-person learning whenever they wanted.

For their part, the school board members did not speak much about the massacre that killed 21 people in May. They did not answer when asked about the progress of fence-building at the other schools, the likelihood they would conduct their own investigation or the timing of Police Chief Pete Arredondo's termination hearing, which has been delayed twice.

The board will meet next Monday to hear community grievances.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Why archbishop turned to sign language to talk to Uvalde survivors

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(UVALDE, Texas) -- Archbishop of San Antonio Gustavo García-Siller has been traveling to Uvalde, Texas, to "walk with the community" as it grapples with the horrific shooting this past May.

García-Siller spends time with the residents and leads Mass services for the community. For the past two and a half months, he has borne witness to the town's "collective wound," he said.

When faced with the magnitude of emotions that accompanies tragedy, words often fail, which is why he's utilizing another way to make a connection with the children of Uvalde.

The archbishop said he has met with children from the community to encourage them, but when he tried to ask them to express their feelings, they had trouble, likely due to emotional distress. But when he used sign language for words such as "sad," "happy," or "peace," they were receptive and responsive, helping him and their families understand what they were feeling, García-Siller told ABC News Correspondent John Quinones.

The archbishop said one of his first concerns was that children he met weren't able to communicate their feelings verbally. "It's hard for people to talk... to express a feeling," he said. But after sensing fourth and fifth graders' participation during a partially signed homily, he went home to brush up on his American Sign Language skills. What they could not previously communicate verbally, they were able to through hand motions.

The archbishop could gauge the children's emotional states, and how they felt sad but desired to feel peace, he said. "It was a breakthrough. I felt so happy that I was able to connect with them," said García-Siller, who has now integrated the practice into his work with children.

"Because the children trust me," he said, when asked why he attended a local private school's back-to-school student-teacher meet-and-greet Monday morning.

Meanwhile, the parents of victims have presented the church leader with deep questions regarding faith and forgiveness, he said. What surprised him was how many parents asked not about why God would take their children away, but rather, if God was with their little girls and boys. "They wanted to know that God was taking care of their child," he said.

The archbishop described a community aching for trust. He said that while children often gain trust by "just sitting [at] the same table eating cookies," the adults in Uvalde need "servant leaders" who will reestablish "mutual trust." The archbishop also said he has a message for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

"We don't need to show power at this time. Power, at this time, and it will be for a while, diminishes people. We need you to accompany them. To walk with them," he said. "If mistakes were made, walk with them to resolve them. Don't bring all that power and all those arms and all that control."

In the meantime, García-Siller plans to continue to do just that: walk with Uvalde.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


88-year-old woman was gardening when attacked, killed by alligator

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(SUN CITY HILTON HEAD, S.C.) -- An 88-year-old woman was killed in an apparent alligator attack in South Carolina on Monday, officials said.

It appears the victim, Nancy Becker, was gardening near a pond in Sun City Hilton Head, an adult-only community, and slipped in, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Natural Resources.

Responders found the gator "guarding" Becker, officials said.

The gator, a 9-foot, 8-inch male, has been euthanized, officials said.

Becker's autopsy will be conducted Tuesday, officials said.

This marks the fifth alligator death in South Carolina since 2000, according to the Department of Natural Resources and the sheriff's office.

Alligators are active during spring and summer because when temperatures rise, their metabolism increases and they look for food, Melody Kilborn, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told ABC News last month.

Kilborn urged people to follow these safety tips: alligators are most active at night, so only swim in designated swimming areas during daylight hours; never feed an alligator; and keep your pets on a leash and away from the water's edge.

ABC News' Darren Reynolds contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Millions of people in Midwest to experience 'extreme heat belt' by 2053: Report

Bloomberg via Getty Images/FILE

(NEW YORK) -- Millions of Americans are at risk of experiencing an "extreme heat belt" that would affect parts of the Midwest over the next three decades, according to a new report from the nonprofit research group First Street Foundation.

By 2053, 1,023 counties, an area home to more than 107 million Americans and covers a quarter of U.S. land, are expected to see the heat index, or the feels-like temperature, surpass 125 degrees Fahrenheit at least one day a year, according to the report, which was released Monday.

According to the First Street Foundation's study, those high temperatures, considered extremely dangerous by the National Weather Service, are expected to affect 8 million Americans this year and increase 13 times over 30 years.

The "extreme heat belt" extends from Texas' northern border and Louisiana north through Iowa, Indiana and Illinois, the report shows.

Other parts of the country are expected to see hotter temperatures, harming people living in areas not used to excessive heat, the report found.

"This reality suggests that a 10% temperature increase in Maine can be as dangerous as a 10% increase in Texas, even as the absolute temperature increase in Texas is much higher," researchers wrote in the report.

The researchers cited the changing condition in the environment that's leading to higher temperatures and more humid conditions.

"When everyone thinks of this extreme summer we [are having], this is probably one of the best summers over the next 30 years," Matthew Eby, founder and CEO of the First Street Foundation, told ABC News. "It's going to get much worse."

Extreme temperatures can cause health issues, from fatigue to life-threatening problems such as heat strokes.

Scientists have said that prolonged heat waves result from climate change, particularly in different countries at the same time, as was the case last month in parts of the continental U.S. and Europe.

Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist for the Columbia Climate School's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, told ABC News last month that extreme heat is a "basic consequence of climate change."

"While each heat wave itself is different and has individual dynamics behind it, the probability of these events is a direct consequence of the warming planet," Smerdon said.

The First Street Foundation is a Brooklyn, New York-based nonprofit research and technology group that quantifies climate risks.

ABC News' Julia Jacobo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


99-year-old woman 'absolutely ecstatic' to meet her 100th great-grandchild

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A 99-year-old Pennsylvania woman got to meet her 100th great-grandchild in person earlier this month.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime event for Marguerite "Peg" Koller -- also known as "grandmom" to Christine Stokes Balster and her husband Patrick Balster -- who was "absolutely ecstatic" to greet baby Koller William Balster after his birth on Aug. 4.

"We went to grandmom's, introduced her to Koller, who was named after that family name," Stokes Balster, of Lafayette Hill, told "Good Morning America." "...She was absolutely ecstatic. Limited words for sure. She was just so happy and felt so blessed and lucky to be holding him."

"You could feel the emotion and the gratitude and [she] just felt blessed again that she got to hold yet another great-grandbaby, and this one named after my grandfather," the mom of two added.

In total, the 99-year-old matriarch has 11 children, 56 grandchildren and 100 great-grandkids. Koller was lucky number 100 and arrived a week after his due date, weighing in at 9 pounds, 6 ounces.

"It was a race to 100," Stokes Balster explained. "My cousin Colleen and I were just a day apart [for] our due dates, and she had the 99th great-grandchild, who is absolutely healthy and beautiful. So you know, just grateful, blessed to have another few babies joining this great family."

Koller is the second child for Stokes Balster and her husband, who are also parents to Griffin David Balster, 22 months. Griffin David was named after his uncle, Stokes Balster's late brother David Stokes, who died of brain cancer in 1990.

The Balsters said they wanted another name that was just as meaningful for their second son.

"We wanted to do like a name that was equally significant," Patrick Balster told "GMA." "I've always loved the name Cole. And Chris one day was like, 'Hey, how about Koller? This could be baby number 100 for great-grandmom.' We thought about Koller and we went for Koller William ... William Koller was her grandfather's name [Peg Koller's late husband, who died in 2008]. And then 'William' is also on my side of the family, I'm fourth-generation William, middle name. So we're like, it just made sense. It felt good."

The couple kept their baby's name a secret until after he was born.

"I think each one of my mom's siblings -- she's one of 11 -- just felt that it was such an honor to my late grandfather and the family name," Stokes Balster said. "[It was] so much love, so much support immediately once we revealed what his name was, and even more special that he was the 100th great-grandchild. So the timing was just right."

Peg Koller will turn 100 this November and the Balsters are looking forward to spending more time with their family matriarch. They say among the "secrets" to her longevity is working out twice a day and the love and support of their family.

"Faith and family really get her going," Stokes Balster said. "She is present no matter what is going on and however old she is. I mean she never misses a graduation, a baptism, a wedding, a book moment at grade school. Whatever it is, she's always there."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Former federal prosecutor reveals 'powder keg' in FBI raid on Trump

John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images, FILE

(WASHINGTON) -- Last Monday, FBI officials raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Fla., executing a court-ordered search warrant the Department of Justice later revealed was related to possible violations of three criminal statutes.

Officers seized a total of 27 boxes from Mar-a-Lago, with 11 containing classified documents -- including top secret information.

ABC News contributor and former federal prosecutor Kan Nawaday spoke with ABC News’ Phil Lipof about what stands out to him in the search warrant, the top secret materials in the boxes and what officials are likely doing now.

PRIME: ABC News contributor and former federal prosecutor Kan Nawaday again with us tonight for some insight on all of this. Kan, thanks for being here. Let's take a look at the search warrant first. We both have a copy of it. What stands out to you in the search warrant?

NAWADAY: First off, the huge big powder keg in this is the fact that the judge found probable cause to believe that there was a violation of the Espionage Act.

PRIME: And that's no small feat. We're talking about espionage here.

NAWADAY: Exactly. What that means is that they think that there was mishandling of top secret information that was transmitted to unauthorized persons. This is the exact same statute that [National Security Agency whistleblower Edward] Snowden was charged with.

PRIME: All right. So let's move on to the receipt here, the things that they say they took in this search of the former president’s home. You can see at the top a grant of clemency for Roger Stone, information on the president of France, then we see as you move down secret documents, miscellaneous, then we have top secret documents, confidential documents, more top secret documents. Talk about top secret for a minute, because, you know, people can throw that term around, but what does that mean?

NAWADAY: And you're exactly right. Feel like people throw that term around. But it's actually very, very specific. What top secret means is a type of document or information that if it gets out there, it can cause exceptionally grave damage to our national security. So it's really important stuff, it's sensitive stuff. And the thing that sticks out to me is item “2A,” various TS/SCI documents.

PRIME: That SCI.

NAWADAY: Right, SCI means this is top secret stuff that can only, and should only, be viewed within a certain facility that's basically protected from data leaks.

PRIME: They're called skiffs, right?

NAWADAY: Exactly.

PRIME: No phones allowed, nothing. This is where you view these documents exactly.

NAWADAY: Like you cannot take your phone in, you're not going to get any emails…that's how sensitive this material is, and they have it there.

PRIME: So then what do they have to do now? Are they concerned about people who may have seen this or where this material may have gone?

NAWADAY: Absolutely. My money's on what the FBI, and national security professionals are doing right now -- they're looking through everything they've gotten from the search and they're trying to figure out who else may have seen this highly sensitive material.

PRIME: That's a big task. Yes. Especially with everything that we see they took. OK. Former federal prosecutor and ABC News contributor Kan Nowaday, thanks so much for joining us again, we do appreciate it.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Man arrested for 1992 double murder says he was 'very drunk,' has 'snippets' of memories of crime

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(WEYAUWEGA, Wisc.) -- A Wisconsin man, 51-year-old Tony Haase, has been arrested for a 1992 double murder after police used DNA from a recent traffic stop to connect him to the crime. He told police last week he was in a "drunken stupor" and has "snippets" of memories of the crime, according to the criminal complaint.

On March 21, 1992, Timothy Mumbrue, Tanna Togstad and Togstad's dog were found stabbed to death at Togstad's Weyauwega, Wisconsin, home, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

The murders went unsolved for decades, even as police collected DNA, re-tested evidence, conducted interviews and executed search warrants, according to the criminal complaint.

At one point Haase was identified in the investigation, the criminal complaint said. A DNA sample was taken from a pen Haase used during a traffic stop in July 2022, and that DNA sample was determined to be a match to fluids on Togstad's body, the complaint said.

In a police interview on Aug. 11, 2022, Haase revealed his father was friends with Togstad's father, according to the complaint.

Haase told investigators that he'd never been to Togstad's home and denied involvement in the murders, the complaint said.

But Haase also told police "he had 'snippets/blurbs' of memories through the years that he attributed to the murders," the complaint said. "Those 'snippets' included remembering walking down the front steps of the house and vomiting in the yard" and leaving her driveway, the complaint said.

Haase said those memories "made him very nervous and scared that he was involved," according to the complaint.

He later told police that his father died a snowmobile accident when he was a child. Haase said several people were racing and collided, and that one of the snowmobile drivers was Togstad's father, the complaint said.

Haase told police that the night of the crime, he got "very drunk" and started thinking about his father's death, which led him to thinking about going to Togstad's home, the complaint said.

In a "drunken stupor," Haase said he had a "scuffle" with Mumbrue, "and he moved his arm in a stabbing motion toward Mumbrue's chest," the complaint said.

Haase said Togstad yelled, "what the f---" and he then punched her in the face, the complaint said.

When "Togstad started to 'stir,'" he said he stabbed her in the chest, the complaint said.

Haase said the crime was not planned and "he did not know why he did it," according to the complaint. He said when he "saw the news report he thought 'Holy f---, what did I do,'" the complaint said.

Haase, of Weyauwega, was charged Friday with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced Monday. He does not have an attorney. He has not entered a plea and is due back in court on Tuesday.

ABC News' Alex Faul contributed to this report.

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Suspect wanted in fatal shooting of youth football coach turns himself in to police: Attorney

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(LANCASTER, Texas) -- The suspect wanted in connection with the killing of a man at a youth football game near Dallas turned himself in to authorities on Monday, his lawyer told ABC News.

Police had identified Yaqub Salik Talib, the brother of former NFL cornerback Aqib Talib, as a suspect in the fatal shooting. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

"Mr. Talib is sorry for the terrible loss of life. He turned himself in to authorities today so he can start telling his side of the story," his attorney, Clark Birdsall, told ABC News.

The man was killed during a game in Lancaster, Texas, Saturday night after an argument escalated into a shooting, according to police.

Witnesses told Lancaster police that the coaching staff and officials had gotten into a disagreement that became physical, leading to the shooting.

"Upon arrival, officers were notified of a disagreement among coaching staff and the officiating crew," the Lancaster Police Department said in a press release. "During the disagreement, the opposing coaching staff were involved in a physical altercation and one of the individuals involved in the altercation discharged a firearm striking one adult male."

The man was taken to a hospital, where he later died, according to Lancaster police.

The victim was identified Sunday as Michael "Mike" Hickmon, a youth football coach, according to the family, who has released a statement.

"On behalf of the Hickmon family we would like to thank everyone for the onslaught of [love] we've received," the family said in a statement. "This is a very difficult time for our family and community. Michael was our everything. He was incredibly kind and generous. He loved to laugh and make others laugh. He could also be sarcastic and drive you crazy. But we loved him, because all of those things made him, him."

"Mike loved his family," the statement continued. "He adored his wife. He loved being a dad and grandpa. He was a great provider. The best brother you could ask for. He loved football and boxing, he went to as many fights as he could. He loved boxing so much, he also worked boxing matches. He loved to travel. Our family is grieving. Hard. Right now we don't see an end to our grief. But what I know for sure is... We will find a way to move forward. We don't have a choice. We miss him immensely. We always will. We will love him forever."

Authorities have not publicly identified the victim.

The shooting happened at around 8:50 p.m. at the Lancaster Community Park, Lancaster police officials said in the press release. An investigation is ongoing.

Lancaster is located in Dallas County.

ABC News' Nic Uff, Marcus Moore, Susan Schwartz and Marilyn Heck contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New heat wave builds as flash flooding targets several states

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A new heat wave is building in the South and West as flash flooding targets several Western states.

Heat advisories are in effect across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The heat index -- what a temperature feels like -- is forecast Monday to jump to a sweltering 106 degrees in Jackson, Mississippi; 100 in New Orleans and Houston; 103 in Dallas; and 104 in Austin, Texas; Shreveport, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Oklahoma City.

An excessive heat watch has also been issued on the West Coast.

On Wednesday, temperatures in California are expected to climb to 108 in Bakersfield and Fresno, 105 in Sacramento and 110 in Redding. Temperatures are also forecast to reach the triple digits in Oregon and Washington.

Meanwhile, flash flooding targeted drought-stricken Texas over the weekend, dropping 5 to 10 inches of rain on extremely dry soil.

Corpus Christi saw a record rainfall of 2.29 inches on Sunday.

Flash flooding also covered roads in Arizona on Sunday; some areas saw up to 4 inches of rain this weekend.

Four states are under flood alerts Monday morning, from Texas to Colorado.

Arizona is now getting a break from the monsoon rain, but the same system that brought flooding to Corpus Christi will move into the Arizona by the end of the week with more heavy rain.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Viral TikTok trend sparks dramatic rise in car thefts

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(NEW YORK) -- A viral TikTok trend has sparked a rash of car thefts in cities across the U.S.

The TikTok videos demonstrate how a person can start a car without a key by using only a screwdriver and a USB phone charger to hot-wire automobiles, with some Kia and Hyundai models particularly vulnerable.

In Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, the state's most populous city, local authorities say they've seen a 767% increase in Kia and Hyundai car thefts since 2021. Since July 1, the county has received 642 reported Kia and Hyndai vehicle thefts, a dramatic rise from last year's 74 reported thefts.

“This is an extremely concerning trend and the public needs to know so they can be vigilant in protecting themselves,” Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said in a statement.

The hack only works on cars with keys that don't have engine immobilizers, a type of anti-theft technology that uses a computer chip to help an engine recognize a corresponding key.

Authorities are blaming a social media challenge for an alarming rise in car thefts.

Hyundai told Good Morning America the TikTok videos target Hyundai models that were made before November 2021 and the automaker plans to roll out security kits for those models starting in October.

In a statement, the company said it will work with police departments to "make steering wheel locks available for affected Hyundai owners."

Police in Park Forest, Illinois, about 35 miles south of Chicago, said in a social media post that the cars most likely affected are select 2011-2021 Kia and 2015-2021 Hyundai models.

"Vehicles in those model years that are not equipped with a push-button start are more easily started without a key (hotwired) than cars from other manufacturers," the department said in a July 30 Facebook post.

Some Kia and Hyundai owners have since filed a class-action lawsuit in Missouri and Kansas, as reported by ABC affiliate KMBC.

To prevent a car theft, the National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends using visible or audible devices, such as steering wheel locks, brake locks, wheel locks, steering column collars, audible alarms and theft deterrent decals as part of a multi-pronged approach to discourage would-be thieves. Law enforcement officials are also reminding drivers to park in well-lit areas and public locations.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Anne Heche dies following car crash, family says

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(LOS ANGELES) -- Anne Heche has died at the age of 53 after suffering serious injuries in a fiery car accident in Los Angeles, according to her family.

Heche was declared brain dead Thursday night but was kept on life support for organ donation, and her heart was still beating, her representative said Friday.

Her representative told ABC News on Sunday night that she has been peacefully taken off life support.

"My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom," her oldest son Homer said in a statement Friday. "After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom."

"Rest In Peace Mom, I love you," he said.

"We have lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend," Heche's family and friends said in a statement. "Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact."

The actress was driving on Aug. 5 when she crashed into a home in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, engulfing her car and the house in flames, according to Los Angeles police and fire officials. No one else was injured and the home's resident and her pets were able to escape the blaze unharmed.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, results from a blood draw completed after the crash showed Heche had narcotics in her system, but additional tests were being run to determine more about the drugs, and to rule out which ones may have been present based on drugs administered at the hospital.

Investigators told ABC News no alcohol was detected in Heche's blood sample, however, the blood draw was many hours after the crash and alcohol could have already gone through her system.

Heche's representative said the actress was initially hospitalized in stable condition. On Aug. 8, her rep said she slipped into a coma and was in critical condition.

Heche's family said in a statement on Thursday that the actress "suffered a severe anoxic brain injury" and was "not expected to survive."

"It has long been her choice to donate her organs and she is being kept on life support to determine if any are viable," her family said.

"Anne had a huge heart and touched everyone she met with her generous spirit. More than her extraordinary talent, she saw spreading kindness and joy as her life's work -- especially moving the needle for acceptance of who you love," her family said. "She will be remembered for her courageous honesty and dearly missed for her light."

Heche broke into Hollywood in the 1980s on the soap opera Another World, for which she won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1991.

She went on to receive Primetime Emmy and Tony Award nominations for her work on Gracie's Choice and Twentieth Century, respectively, and appeared in films including Donnie Brasco, Volcano, Wag the Dog, Six Days, Seven Nights and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

In her 2001 memoir Call Me Crazy, Heche recounted her difficult childhood and surviving abuse. She told ABC News' Barbara Walters in 2001 that her father sexually assaulted her when she was a child and that the family experienced homelessness.

Heche told Walters she relied on drugs and alcohol to avoid her painful upbringing.

"I was raised in a crazy family and it took me 31 years to get the crazy out of me," she said at the time. "I did a lot of things in my life to get away from what had happened to me. ... I did anything I could to get the shame out of my life."

In recent years, Heche competed on Dancing with the Stars and co-hosted the podcast "BETTER TOGETHER With Anne & Heather."

Heche is survived by her two sons.

James Tupper, the father of her youngest son, wrote on Instagram Friday, "love you forever."

ABC News' Alex Stone and George Pennacchio contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


What forensic testing reveals about revolver in on-set 'Rust' shooting

Mostafa Bassim Adly/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The gun used in the fatal shooting on the Rust movie set could not have been fired without pulling the trigger, according to an FBI forensic report obtained Friday by ABC News.

Actor Alec Baldwin shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western, which he was producing and starring in, last year. The actor believed he was handling a "cold gun" -- one without live ammunition -- when it went off and a live bullet struck Hutchins, killing her. The film's director, Joel Souza, was also wounded in the shooting.

Accidental discharge testing determined that the firearm used in the shooting -- a .45 Colt (.45 Long Colt) caliber F.lli Pietta single-action revolver -- could not have fired without the trigger being pulled, the FBI report shows.

With the hammer in the quarter- and half-cock positions, the gun "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger," the report stated.

With the hammer fully cocked, the gun "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional," the report stated.

With the hammer de-cocked on a loaded chamber, the gun was able to detonate a primer "without a pull of the trigger when the hammer was struck directly," which is normal for this type of revolver, the report stated.

In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos in December, Baldwin said he didn't pull the trigger on the gun.

"The trigger wasn't pulled," he said. "I didn't pull the trigger."

In a statement, Luke Nikas, an attorney for Baldwin, said: "The critical report is the one from the medical examiner, who concluded that this was a tragic accident. This is the third time the New Mexico authorities have found that Alec Baldwin had no authority or knowledge of the allegedly unsafe conditions on the set, that he was told by the person in charge of safety on the set that the gun was 'cold,' and believed the gun was safe."

"The FBI report is being misconstrued," the statement continued. "The gun fired in testing only one time -- without having to pull the trigger -- when the hammer was pulled back and the gun broke in two different places. The FBI was unable to fire the gun in any prior test, even when pulling the trigger, because it was in such poor condition."

The attorney for Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was in charge of all the weapons on the Rust set, said the FBI's report contradicted Baldwin's claim that he didn't pull the gun's trigger.

"These new filings demonstrate various production members' attempts from the very beginning to shirk responsibility and scapegoat Hannah, a 24-year-old armorer, for this tragedy," attorney Jason Bowles said in a statement to ABC News. "Hannah was tasked with doing two jobs including props assistant and the very important job as armorer but not given adequate time and training days to do so despite repeated requests or the respect required of the armorer's position and responsibilities."

The forensic report is part of a criminal investigation into the on-set shooting. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, which is leading the homicide investigation, received the report and other FBI documents related to the shooting earlier this month, the sheriff's office said Thursday.

The documents have been reviewed by the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator, which has classified Hutchins' death as an accident, a postmortem report obtained by ABC News shows.

"Death was caused by a gunshot wound of the chest. Review of available law enforcement reports showed no compelling demonstration that the firearm was intentionally loaded with live ammunition on set," the report stated. "Based on all available information, including the absence of obvious intent to cause harm or death, the manner of death is best classified as accident."

The local district attorney has yet to make any charging decisions in the case. Detectives are awaiting phone records from Baldwin as part of their investigation, the sheriff's office said Thursday.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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