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)
FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses
The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.
New FDA Authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.
The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.
Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.
Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.
Hazy Recommendations, For Now
Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.
The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.
In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.
However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.
An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.
Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
Paris Hilton Urges Lawmakers To Crack Down on Abusive Teen Treatment Facilities
The heiress alleges that she was a victim of abuse in these types of centers for two years and wants to ensure that no child suffers through the same experience.
Paris Hilton Details Abuse Within “Troubled Teen Industry”
Socialite and entrepreneur Paris Hilton spoke outside of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to support the Accountability for Congregate Care Act, which is set to be introduced in the near future.
Hilton joined Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to advocate for the legislation, which aims to create a “bill of rights” for children in treatment and behavioral centers.
The heiress has alleged that she spent two of her teenage years in these types of facilities and was subject to rampant abuse. She is far from alone.
During a press conference, Hilton said that one night when she was 16, she woke up to two large men in her bedroom forcing her out of her house. She said she screamed for help because she thought she was being kidnapped, but her parents watched as she was taken away to a “troubled teen” program.
“Like countless other parents of teens, my parents had searched for solutions to my rebellious behavior,” she explained in an op-ed for The Washington Post this week. “Unfortunately, they fell for the misleading marketing of the ‘troubled teen industry’ — therapeutic boarding schools, military-style boot camps, juvenile justice facilities, behavior modification programs and other facilities that generate roughly $50 billion annually in part by pitching ‘tough love’ as the answer to problematic behavior.”
Hilton said she was sent to four different facilities where she was “physically and psychologically abused.”
“I was strangled, slapped across the face, watched in the shower by male staff, called vulgar names, forced to take medication without a diagnosis, not given a proper education, thrown into solitary confinement in a room covered in scratch marks and smeared in blood and so much more,” she explained during the press conference.
“At Provo Canyon School in Utah, I was given clothes with a number on the tag. I was no longer me, I was only number 127,” she continued. “I was forced to stay indoors for 11 months straight, no sunlight, no fresh air. These were considered privileges.”
Goals of the Accountability for Congregate Care Act
Hilton claims that a lack of transparency and accountability has allowed this structure of abuse to thrive for decades. In some cases, she said it has taken children’s lives. Now, she wants Congress and President Joe Biden to act.
“This bill creates an urgently needed bill of rights to ensure that every child placed into congregate care facilities is provided a safe and humane environment,” Hilton said of the Accountability for Congregate Care Act.
“This bill of rights provides protections that I wasn’t afforded, like access to education, to the outdoors, freedom from abusive treatment, and even the basic right to move and speak freely. If I had these rights and could have exercised them, I would have been saved from over 20 years of trauma and severe PTSD.”
Foster children, children being treated for mental disorders, and other children in youth programs would be impacted by the bill.
Hilton was one of several survivors and advocates who fought for the legislation on Wednesday. Rep. Khanna thanked them for using their stories to fight for change.
“No child should be subjected to solitary confinement, forced labor, or any form of institutional abuse,” he wrote. “Thanks to Paris Hilton, my colleagues & the survivors & advocates who joined us today to discuss how we can hold the congregate care industry accountable.”
While only Democratic legislators are currently sponsoring the bill, Hilton called for a bipartisan effort to fight for the rights of children.
“Ensuring that children are safe from institutional abuse isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue,” Hilton said. “It’s a basic human rights issue that requires immediate attention.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (NBC News)
Surgeons Successfully Test Pig Kidney Transplant on a Human
The procedure has been hailed as a major scientific breakthrough that could eventually open the door to a renewable source of desperately needed organs.
Surgeons at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute revealed Tuesday that they temporarily attached a kidney from a genetically modified pig to a human patient and found that it worked normally.
The operation was the first of its kind and could one day lead to a vast supply of organs for those who are in severe need. According to the Associated Press, more than 90,000 people in the U.S. are in line for a kidney transplant. Each day, an average of 12 die while waiting.
With the family’s consent, the groundbreaking procedure was performed on a brain-dead patient who was kept alive on a ventilator.
According to the surgeons, the pig used was genetically engineered to grow an organ that wouldn’t produce a sugar that the human immune system attacks, which would then trigger the body to reject the kidney.
The organ was connected to blood vessels on the patient’s upper leg, outside the abdomen, and it was observed for over 54 hours, with doctors finding no signs of rejection.
Concerns and Hurdles Ahead
While the procedure was successful, this doesn’t mean it’ll be available to patients anytime soon. Several questions about long-term functionality remain, and it will still have to go through significant medical and regulatory hurdles.
Details of the procedure haven’t even been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal yet, though there are plans for this.
Experts are also considering the ethical implications of this type of animal-to-human transplant. For some, raising pigs to harvest their organs raises concerns about animal welfare and exploitation. Such medical procedures have already earned criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.
“Pigs aren’t spare parts and should never be used as such just because humans are too self-centered to donate their bodies to patients desperate for organ transplants,” PETA said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
On the other side of the debate are people like Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the N.Y.U. Langone Transplant Institute who performed the breakthrough procedure in September.
“I certainly understand the concern and what I would say is that currently about 40% of patients who are waiting for a transplant die before they receive one,” he told BBC.
“We use pigs as a source of food, we use pigs for medicinal uses – for valves, for medication. I think it’s not that different.”