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Teen Who Ran Over 6 Cyclists Outside Houston Walks Free

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The cyclists claim the teenager was intentionally trying to blow exhaust smoke in their faces when he hit the group.


16-Year-Old Under Investigation

An unnamed 16-year-old boy in Texas who walked free after hitting six cyclists with a pickup truck over the weekend is currently under investigation, the Waller County Police Department said Tuesday.

The incident took place Saturday morning when a group of cyclists were training for a Triathalon outside of Houston.

According to cyclist Chase Ferrell, about 75 miles into the ride, a black diesel pickup truck intentionally slowed down and swerved into his lane before accelerating to blow smoke in his face — a move called “rolling coal.”

The driver then tried doing the same to a group of six cyclists who were riding ahead of Ferrell, but that time, he hit them.

“The reason he couldn’t stop is because he was accelerating to blow more diesel fuel on these cyclists,” Ferrell told Fox 26 Houston. “He ended up hitting 3 people before his brakes even started.”

“I thought someone was dead,” he added. “I heard a lot of crunching. I heard brakes. Tires screeching. People screaming.”

There was no reason for this to happen. It wasn’t like he was on his phone. [He] definitely meant to try and scare these people, intimidate them in some way, and made a mistake and ran them over.”

Four of the six cyclists were hospitalized, including two who had to be airlifted. 

Ferrell also told The Houston Chronicle that the teen got out of his car but appeared more concerned about himself than the stability of the cyclists he hit. At one point he even asked out loud, “Do you think I’m going to jail?”

According to Ferrell, the 16-year-old’s parents showed up within minutes of the incident, and Waller Police were on the scene shortly after. The officers questioned the boy but did not make an arrest, letting him walk free without charges.

Law Enforcement Officials Respond

In the statement announcing the investigation, Waller Police Department did not explain why the teenager was not arrested at the scene.

“Waller Police Department is continuing their investigation and upon completion, will submit all information and generated reports to the Waller County District Attorney’s Office for review,” the department said. 

“After examining the facts of the incident, the District Attorney’s Office will determine what criminal charges may be warranted.”

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis also told Fox 26 that he had not yet seen evidence explaining why the teen was not arrested.

“I’m waiting for the investigation [report] to get here so we can make those determinations to seek justice,” he said. “I’m very troubled by what I’ve read. If what I read was true, we’ve got some issues.”

Mathis said in an interview with ABC 13 that possible charges could include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He noted that the evidence will be presented before a grand jury likely sometime this fall, and they will decide whether to indict the teen. 

However, the official Facebook page for the Waller County District Attorney’s office made a post on Wednesday that seemed to imply that there might be more the police could do. In that post, the DA’s office said “rolling coal [is] AT A MINIMUM an assault” that “is easily elevated to a jail eligible offense.”

“Waller County law enforcement agencies all across the county are being reminded today of the availability of these and other charges which can be brought against individuals acting in such a criminal manner,” the post continued.

Houston attorney Rick DeToto, who is representing the teen and his family, defended his client’s actions on Wednesday in a statement to The Chronicle.

“My client is a young man in high school with college aspirations. He’s a very new and inexperienced driver. This was a serious accident but did not involve any criminal intent,” he said. “He immediately called 911, helped with the injured and cooperated with police. The family prays for the speedy recovery of the riders involved and we look forward to cooperating with investigators.”

DeToto refused to answer follow-up questions as to whether or not he was disputing the rolling coal allegations. 

See what others are saying: (Fox 26 Houston) (The Houston Chronicle) (ABC 13)

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Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances

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Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.


One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down

After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.

The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.

Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.

A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.

The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.

In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.

The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.

A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.

Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye

“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.

Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.

Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.

“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.

When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.

“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”

On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.

On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.

Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)

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U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide

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India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.


One Million Dead

The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.

Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.

The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.

By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.

The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.

The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.

The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.

People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.

Fifteen Million Dead

On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.

Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.

Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.

The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.

“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.

Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.

See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)

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Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”

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Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.


New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer

Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.

“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”

Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.

Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”

“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.

Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.

Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.

“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”

Mysterious Escape

Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.

Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.

Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.

It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.

During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”

At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.” 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (ABC News) (NPR)

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