‘Katrina Girl’ rescued by Air Force para-rescuer to follow him into military service

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 3:25 PM

Lashay Brown, 3, hugs Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney, as she is relocated to the New Orleans International Airport on Sept. 7, 2005, after Hurricane Katrina flooded her family's home.
U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce
Lashay Brown, 3, hugs Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney, as she is relocated to the New Orleans International Airport on Sept. 7, 2005, after Hurricane Katrina flooded her family's home.(U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce)

When then-Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney received a tight hug and brilliant smile from a 3-year-old Hurricane Katrina survivor whom he plucked from a rooftop with her family, he expected that he would never see her again. 

Nearly 12 years after the sweltering September 2005 day that he said goodbye to the grateful child, they have forged a bond so strong that the girl, LaShay Brown, plans to follow Maroney’s footsteps into the military. 

LaShay, 14, of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, also had Maroney escort her to her JROTC ball Saturday night at Bay High School. 

“It would be nobody else that could bring me here, and it would be more special to him,” LaShay told WLOX in Biloxi

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Maroney credits that long-ago hug from LaShay with “rescuing him.” The para-rescuer, who was battling PTSD at the time, was a week into his rescue mission in New Orleans when he was lowered from a helicopter onto a roof where two parents and five children, including LaShay, had been stranded for days. 

Maroney, now a staff sergeant, recalled the rescue in 2015 for the Air Force Times, which was among dozens of publications that helped him find the little girl whose grin had stayed with him for a decade. The girl, whose name he never got, seemed fearless that day, he told the Times. 

As her mother cried on the helicopter, LaShay rubbed her back to comfort her. 

“It’s OK,” Maroney recalled her telling her mother. “We’re safe. Don’t worry.”

When the helicopter dropped off the family at the airport, which was being used as a staging area for evacuees to be moved out of the broken city, LaShay wrapped her arms around Maroney’s neck and hugged him in a moment captured by an Air Force photographer. 

That photo, which ended up on everything from military coins to Burger King place mats, represented for many the strength and resilience of Katrina survivors. It made its way into Mahoney’s heart, and it accompanied him on subsequent tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he said it gave him hope during difficult moments. 

“If not for her hug and smile that day, my life would probably be a lot different,” Mahoney told WLOX

As the 10th anniversary of the deadly storm approached in 2015, Mahoney, who had since become a master sergeant in the Air Force Reserve, began trying to find the little girl. Thanks to a viral campaign people called #FindKatrinaGirl, he and LaShay were reunited on an episode of the television show “The Real.” 

Since then, Mahoney has become close to LaShay and her family. His encouragement led her to join the JROTC at school, so it was natural for her to ask him to escort her to the ball. 

“I’m going because I would do anything to repay the hug to LaShay and her family,” Mahoney told People last week. “They mean as much to me as my own.”

His guidance also led to LaShay’s decision to join the military after graduation. Maroney supports that decision, he told People. 

“I am proud of her no matter what she does and will support her in everything she does,” Maroney said. “I think she understands service, and I believe that she will do great things no matter what she chooses.”

Dashcam video shows woman tripping over pants while running from police

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 10:16 PM

(WSBTV.com)
(WSBTV.com)

A felony suspect tried to make a run from police, but her clothes did her in.

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WSB-TV received dashcam video of the suspect running from a car. Her pants eventually fall down, and then, so does she.

A Norcross, Georgia, police officer pulled over a Toyota Camry this week after running its plates and discovering its owner was wanted on several charges. 

Police said driver Dayana Maldonado then took off.

The chase was on until Maldonado pulled into a bus maintenance yard at the end of a dead end street and tried to run. Her pants dropped and she fell to the ground -- not once, but twice.

That allowed for officers to catch up and take her into custody. 

“Can you pull up my pants please, sir,” Maldonado said in the video. “This is so embarrassing.”

Police said Maldonado was wanted on several felony probation violations, including burglary. She now faces several additional charges as well. 

Maldonado remains in jail as of Friday afternoon, held without bond. 

Those old Precious Moments figurines could be worth hundreds of dollars

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 9:09 PM

Some Precious Moments figurines may sell for hundreds of dollars for collectors.
Jean L. via Flickr (Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))
Some Precious Moments figurines may sell for hundreds of dollars for collectors.(Jean L. via Flickr (Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)))

If you collect Precious Moments figurines, you may be sitting on a small fortune. Some of the company’s earliest offerings can sell for hundreds of dollars online.

Precious Moments was founded in 1978 and originally featured 21 collectibles. “God Loveth a Cheerful Giver,” one of the so-called Original 21, retailed for $15 at the time. Today, it’s worth a lot more than that.

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According to a report from Today.com, the “God Loveth a Cheerful Giver” figurines have been valued at more than $2,000, although they usually go for less than half that amount. One sold on eBay for $250 in October 2017.

“God Loveth a Cheerful Giver” features a little girl giving away puppies. Kansas City Star reported that was discontinued in 1981.

The most valuable ones are in excellent condition; even the smallest cracks or chips can dramatically reduce their value, according to Woolvey Fine Antiques & Collectibles.

While “God Loveth a Cheerful Giver” is by far the most valuable Precious Moments figurine, others have also fetched more than their original price. According to Today.com, certain limited edition collectibles and ones “from the peak of the Precious Moments craze” in the late 1970s and early 1980s can sell for more than $100 on eBay.

Kelly Ripa gets into the Halloween spirit by dusting off a past costume

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 7:23 PM

Kelly Ripa (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
Noam Galai/WireImage
Kelly Ripa (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)(Noam Galai/WireImage)

Kelly Ripa can’t wait for Halloween, and she showed off how excited she is by sharing a throwback photo from one of her favorite years.

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“#tbt 2010,” she wrote alongside of a picture of her dressed up as the iconic Cher. “If I could turn back time I’d be Cher every damn day.”

Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos, caught the “Live! With Kelly and Ryan” star in another spell of Halloween excitement earlier this week. The actor shared an adorable picture of Ripa sitting on a large pumpkin on Instagram.

I call this photo. “Me punkin on me pumpkin” Enjoy....

A post shared by Mark Consuelos (@instasuelos) on

“I call this photo. ‘Me punkin on me pumpkin,'” he captioned the cute snap. “Enjoy….”

On Thursday, Ripa and co-host Ryan Seacrest shared a sneak peak at their Halloween special, both channeling “Game of Thrones” characters in order to make sure fans know that “Halloween is coming.”

Florida teacher accused of having sex with girl, 15, multiple times at school

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 4:50 PM

Florida Teacher Allegedly Has Sexual Relationship With 15-Year-Old Girl

An Oviedo, Florida, teacher who is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl was arrested Thursday, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bob Kealing said Jaclyn Truman, 30, had sexual contact last year with a 15-year-old Paul J. Hagerty High School student multiple times at school.

“Investigators conducted a recorded interview with Truman, who is cooperating with the investigation,” Kealing said.

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The victim told investigators that the two had sexual encounters five to 10 times from March to May 2016, an arrest report said.

Seminole County Public Schools spokesman Michael Lawrence said Truman worked at the school as a long-term substitute teacher at the time of the alleged relations.

Lawrence said Truman most recently worked at Lake Howell High School, but she was placed on paid administrative leave Oct. 4 after the alleged incident was reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Lawrence said Truman had a clean record and no reports of prior incidents. He said the school district performed background checks on her before hiring her as a full-time teacher.

"During that time frame, the teacher had already turned in (her) resignation to the district, which actually was effective and final yesterday," Lawrence said. "Therefore, this individual is no longer an employee of SCPS."

Deputies said Truman surrendered Thursday at the Sheriff's Office. She was booked into the John E. Polk Correctional Facility on two counts of lewd acts on a minor. A judge set her bond at $40,000.

Deputies said they’re looking into the possibility that Truman has other victims. Anyone with information about other possible incidents is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 407-665-6650.