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USA: Limo Crash Kills 20 in Upstate New York; Nation’s Deadliest Accident in 9 Years

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SCHOHARIE, N.Y. — It was an intersection of two highways, one a steep downhill road, that residents had long warned was notoriously dangerous.

On Saturday afternoon, their worst fears were realized: A limousine lost control, careening through the intersection and striking an empty car. The crash killed all 18 people in the white limousine and two pedestrians in an accident that left deep tire tracks in the ground and a small upstate New York town reeling.

“That limo was coming down that hill probably over 60 miles per hour,” said Jessica Kirby, 36, the manager of the Apple Barrel Country Store, where she said customers were hit near the parking lot. “All fatal.”

“I don’t want to describe the scene,” she added. “It’s not something I want to think about.”

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/nyregion/wedding-limo-crash-schoharie-ny.html

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" .... Federal investigators arrived on Sunday and were scouring the scene for clues about the cause of the crash. The New York State Police said autopsies were underway on all the passengers and the driver of the limousine, including toxicology, though they cautioned that the investigation was in its early stages..... "

The only reason you autopsy accident victims IS toxicology.

These people  often "partied" together.

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18 people died in the limo (17 passengers, plus the driver), which was reportedly traveling at high speed down a country road, when the road dead-ended into a cafe parking lot, then a ravine.

This was a Ford Excursion stretch-conversion “party bus” style limo, so we can assume 17 passengers were not wearing seat belts while partying in the back.

Two pedestrians were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and were struck and killed, when the limo was said to have blazed through the stop sign at Route 30 and 30A, continuing past the perpendicular roadway, hitting a parked car, then careening down a shallow ravine, where it came to rest, apparently right-side-up, (based on photos of the scene).

Eyewitness accounts said the limo may have been going as fast as 60MPH when it hit the ravine, so you can imagine the kind of forces passengers would suffer (hitting a wall of Earth at 60MPH, while not wearing seatbelts).

There was no evidence of fire in the photos that have been released to the press to this point.

This NY Post article has video of a tow truck pulling the mangled limo out of the ravine, as well as a quick clip of the path the limo cut in the grass as it left the roadway.

You can see how the front of the vehicle is utterly destroyed, and we would assume all the passengers flew forward upon the abrupt impact, suffering fatal trauma.

Limo had unlicensed driver, failed inspection before deadly crash

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    • By Nicole
      MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida family is speaking out days after an 83-year-old, wheelchair-bound woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver on her way to church in Miami.
      Margaret Ruiz’s loved ones are seeking solace in their faith. “You can’t avoid these things that happen in life, but we have to believe, and we have to have trust and love and faith,” said Lucy Ruiz, the victim’s sister.
      Lucy, 73, said she is still in shock over how her older sister was killed. “It’s very upsetting to hear that. So sudden,” she said.
      Grainy surveillance video captured her as she traveled on her electric wheelchair down the sidewalk, near Northeast 62nd Street and Second Avenue, moments before, police said, she was struck by a four-door, dark-colored sedan, Wednesday evening.
      “If she were here, I would just tell her how much I love her,” said Lucy.
      Margaret, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, was heading to religious services at the time of the hit-and-run.
      The surveillance footage shows the car involved in the crash fleeing from the scene.
      Margaret leaves behind five children. One of her sons, Barry Pantoja, arrived to South Florida from New York with his entire family on Monday.
      “She was my whole world for many years, and she loved her family very much,” he said.
      Pantoja said his mother was a devoted mother and an esteemed member of her faith community. “She was loved, and she really appreciated, in so many ways, the way people extended themselves to her and her congregation,” he said.
      Pantoja said Margaret moved to Florida to live with her sister. Over the years, she became isolated from her family and never returned to her home in New York.
      Relatives said Margaret eventually fell on hard times and became homeless. She later moved into an affordable housing community.
      Lakeisha Ware, Margaret’s case manager, helped the elderly woman transition off the streets.
      “It’s hard because you have to have a mother. She is somebody’s mother. She’s somebody’s grandmother,” said Ware. How can you do that to a person and not look back?”
      Amid their grief and pain, Margaret’s family hopes to see her again. “As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we believe in a resurrection, and I actually look forward to the day I see my mother again,” said Pantoja as he held back tears. “It’s the hope we all hold in our faith, and it’s the only thing that keeps us from being totally devastated.”
      If you have any information on this hit-and-run, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.
      http://wsvn.com/news/local/family-of-elderly-woman-killed-in-miami-hit-and-run-speaks-out/
    • By Nicole
      by DANIELLA SILVA, RIMA ABDELKADER, ANDREW BLANKSTEIN, EMILY PANDISE and PETE WILLIAMS
      A gunman opened fire inside a rural Texas church on Sunday, killing about 25 people and injuring at least another 10, officials said.
      "Approximately 25 people" were deceased, including the gunman, following the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackett told NBC News.
      A single shooter walked into the church and opened fire, Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. said earlier Sunday.
      Law enforcement officials identified the gunman as Devin Patrick Kelley, age 26, of neighboring Comal County.
      Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/several-casualties-reported-texas-church-shooting-n817751
    • By Nicole
      Purchaser will turn 21 Clark St. into seniors housing called The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights
      By Lore Croghan
      Brooklyn Daily Eagle
      The Jehovah's Witnesses have sold one of the grand jewels of their real-estate portfolio for about $200 million.
      The Towers, a former Brooklyn Heights Historic District hotel where the Dodgers lived and presidents gave speeches, will now be turned into seniors housing by its purchaser.
      Built in the 1920s, the Leverich Towers Hotel, as it was originally known, has colonnaded towers on its four corners like a Venetian palazzo — a really big palazzo.
      The 16-story, 313,768-square-foot property at 21 Clark St. played host in its heyday to the highest-paid Brooklyn Dodgers.
      Only the stars of Brooklyn's since-departed baseball team were allowed to live in its splendid suites during baseball season. Other players lived elsewhere, including the Hotel Saint George in Brooklyn Heights.
      President Harry Truman spoke at The Towers.
      Advertisements called it “The Aristocrat of Brooklyn Hotels.” It was designed by Starrett & Van Vleck, the architecture firm that also designed Manhattan flagship stores for Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.
      Later, the Watchtower, which owned the Towers for four decades, used the Clark Street property as a residence and dining hall for more than 1,000 people who worked at its nearby world headquarters.

      Here's The Towers' grand staircase, which echoes the grandeur of its early days as a hotel.
      Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors is the purchaser
      The Jehovah's Witnesses put the former hotel, which has frontage on Willow and Pineapple streets, up for sale in May 2016.
      The purchaser, Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors, plans to transform The Towers into seniors housing and rename it The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights.
      “Meticulously maintained since its inception in the late 1920s, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights epitomizes a Class A property with a unique redevelopment opportunity: To introduce modern, luxury living for seniors in Brooklyn and Manhattan,” Al Rabil, Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors' managing partner and CEO, said in a press release.
      The new owner is “committed to upholding the property's unique legacy,” Rabil said.
      The Boca Raton-based investment firm is the real-estate private equity arm of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors L.P.
      Watermark Retirement Communities, a nationwide operator of seniors housing communities, is partnering with Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors on The Towers' redevelopment.
      The sale deed for the Towers has not yet appeared in city Finance Department records.
      But according to the Wall Street Journal — which was the first to report The Towers' sale — the price was about $200 million.

      The Watchtower paid $1,992,229.08 for The Towers in 1975, Finance Department records indicate.

       

      The Towers' rooftop terrace has views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.
      Watchtower property sell-off moves closer to finish line

      The sale of The Towers brings the Jehovah's Witnesses a big step closer to completing their years-long effort to liquidate their once-vast property portfolio in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.
      The sell-off was precipitated by their decision to move their world headquarters to the upstate New York town of Warwick.

      “For those of us who lived in Brooklyn Heights, we'll remember The Towers not just as a landmark building but as a beautiful and comfortable home,” Watchtower spokesman David Semonian said in a statement.
      “With this most recent transaction, we close another chapter of our history in Brooklyn,” he said.
      Other buyers of the religious organization's properties include the Kushner Cos., which spent about $1 billion with investor partners on Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO Watchtower purchases.
      The firm was headed by Jared Kushner until he stepped aside to serve as senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.  
      http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/2017/11/1/jehovahs-witnesses-sell-towers-storied-brooklyn-heights-hotel
    • By Nicole
      A Madera police dispatcher who is a church elder is charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl he mentored, Fresno police reported.
      Fresno police received an anonymous tip on Sept. 20 about Martin Ramos, 43, and launched an investigation, Sgt. Daniel Macias said.
      Investigators learned that Ramos was an elder at a Jehovah’s Witnesses church in the 4000 block of West McKinley Avenue. There, he met a teen girl and her family three years ago.
      Ramos mentored the girl, and the two communicated through text messages. At one point, the two exchanged “inappropriate” photos and their relationship turned physical, Macias said.
      During the course of the investigation, police learned Ramos worked as a dispatcher with the Madera Police Department.
      Ramos was arrested Sept. 21 and cooperated with police.
      He is charged with felony oral copulation, possession and distribution of child pornography and misdemeanor child molestation. Ramos pleaded not guilty to all charges earlier this month and is out on bail. He is due back in court in November.
      Brianna Calix: 559-441-6166, bcalix@fresnobee.com, @BriannaCalix

      Martin Ramos FRESNO POLICE DEPARTMENT
      http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/crime/article181155966.html
    • By Nicole
      Almost every major U.S. city has seen years of decline in bus ridership, but Seattle has been the exception in recent years. Between 2010 and 2014, Seattle experienced the biggest jump of any major U.S. city. At its peak in 2015, around 78,000 people, or about one in five Seattle workers, rode the bus to work.
      That trend has cooled slightly since then, but Seattle continues to see increased overall transit ridership, bucking the national trend of decline. In 2016, Seattle saw transit ridership increase by 4.1 percent—only Houston and Milwaukee saw even half that increase in the same year.
      Read more: https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2017/10/how-seattle-bucked-a-national-trend-and-got-more-people-to-ride-the-bus/542958/
    • By Nicole
      NORTH STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A Voluntown man is facing charges after police say he disrupted services at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in North Stonington.
      Police say 34-year-old Paul Johnson was carrying a pair of wire cutters and was intoxicated when he entered through the doors of the building.
      According to officials, Johnson was threatening and causing alarm to the nearly 104 members inside.
      Authorities say he tried to cut the sound system as the service was going on. Members then surrounded Johnson and prevented him from cutting the wires.
      Johnson was arrested and was transported to a local hospital. He is facing charges of Criminal Trespassing in the 1st Degree, Breach of Peace, and Threatening.
      http://wtnh.com/2017/10/08/police-intoxicated-voluntown-man-disrupts-prayer-service/
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