Times Square car attack: Bystanders tackled, held driver after car hit 23 pedestrians

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 10:33 AM

A Planet Hollywood bouncer and a traffic agent jumped into action Thursday after a car plowed into pedestrians near Times Square, tackling the driver and holding him until police could respond, according to multiple reports.

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“I saw a car driving down 7th Avenue on the sidewalk, and it was smoking,” Ken Bradix, who runs security at the Times Square Planet Hollywood, told WNYW. “(The driver) was screaming – no particular words – but he was screaming and flailing his arms in all kinds of directions.”

Police confirmed Thursday that police and civilians worked together to apprehend Richard Rojas, 26, a U.S. Navy veteran and Bronx resident.

Police said Rojas hopped his car onto a sidewalk near Times Square on Thursday and traveled three blocks, hitting 23 people before crashing. An 18-year-old tourist visiting from Michigan died in the crash. Her sister, 13, was also injured but authorities said she was expected to recover.

Rojas has a history of drunken-driving arrests. Friends told The New York Times he was dealing with growing paranoia. Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that Rojas was hearing voices and expected to die.

>> Related: Car strikes pedestrians in Times Square: Latest updates

Rojas tested negative for alcohol, but authorities told the AP detailed drug tests were ongoing.

Photographs emerged Thursday of Rojas appearing to shout near his wrecked car. He ran through the street before he was tackled, The AP reported.

“It was somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction,” Bradix told WNYW. “I did what any civic-minded person would do.”

Rojas was charged Thursday with murder, 20 counts of attempted murder and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide. He remained jailed Friday.

Senate health care bill: What is in it, when it will be released; where you can read it

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 7:25 AM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks following a closed-door strategy session, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 20, 2017. Sen. McConnell says Republicans will have a

On Thursday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will release a draft of the Senate’s health care bill. 

The draft, already slammed for being prepared behind closed doors, is said to be similar to the House health care bill, but will dramatically roll back taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act, according to a story from the Washington Post.

Here is what is known about the bill.

Where can I read it?

The draft of the bill is being released to senators Thursday at 9:30 a.m.  ET. The Senate will release the draft to the public after that.

What’s in it?

According to The Washington Post and The Associated Press, the draft of the bill will include: 

The bill would repeal most of the taxes that pay for the Affordable Care Act.

Subsidies to help purchase insurance would still be available. Those subsidies would be determined by income and the amount of premiums people pay. Americans earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. According to the draft, assistance will be capped for those earning 350 percent of the federal poverty level beginning in 2020.

The plan would eliminate waivers that have allowed insurers to boost premiums on some people with pre-existing conditions.

It allows for federally subsidized health care plans that cover abortion but cuts funding for Planned Parenthood for at least one year.

The Senate bill would also impose annual limits on the federal Medicaid funds that would go to each state.

The Senate would end the tax penalties the ACA implemented for people not buying insurance and certain employers not offering coverage.

Who is writing it?

According to McConnell, he initially chose a 13-member group to work on the bill. In the past weeks, McConnell's office has taken the lead drafting bill.

According to Sen. Mike Lee, (R-Utah), in a Facebook video, "It's apparently being written by a handful of staffers who are members of the Republican leadership in the Senate.”

According to other senators, staffers from the Senate Finance and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee are drafting it, the Washington Examiner reported.

What is the timeline?

The draft is to be released at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. A vote is expected to be called on the bill before next week’s July 4 congressional recess.

Can Democrats stop the bill? 

The bill cannot be filibustered because it requires only a majority vote to pass. On Monday, Democrats held the Senate floor and gave a series of speeches slamming the process and the bill. 

Can Republicans stop it?

Yes, they can. If three GOP senators vote no.

Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate. Assuming no Democrat is going to vote yes, if two Republican senators vote no, the vote ends in a 50-50 tie. Vice President Mike Pence can vote yes to break the tie and pass the bill.

What happens if the Senate passes the bill?

If the bill passes, the House must do one of two things: vote to pass the Senate bill as it is, or go into negotiations with the Senate to get a compromise bill. If they negotiate a compromise bill, that bill must then be voted on and passed by both the House and the Senate for it to become law.

Thursday marks World’s Largest Swimming Lesson

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 7:09 AM

File photo: A child takes a break from swimming on a hot afternoon at the Astoria Pool in the borough of Queens on the opening day of city pools.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Since summer is officially here, what better time is there than now to learn how to swim safely?

Thursday marks the eighth annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson. Pools all over the world will be teaching kids and their parents water safety skills and showing how teaching children how to swim can save lives by preventing drowning.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that drowning is the main cause of unintended, injury-related death for children in the United States in the ages of 1-4. It’s second for children under the age of 14.

It isn’t just children who have difficulty swimming. The American Red Cross says that more than half of Americans can’t swim or don’t have basic swimming skills.

That’s where the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson comes in. The event promises to have more than 20,000 hours of water safety training in one day, in 20 countries over the course of 24 hours.

To find a participating location near you, click here.

Woman says her Lyft driver attacked her

Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 @ 10:47 PM

A woman says her Lyft driver assaulted her, leaving her with bumps and bruises. A witness saw it happen and helped her call 911.

The victim, Kerri Bush, said the attack happened in Atlanta on June 9.

Bush said from the moment the driver pulled up he had an attitude. Seconds later, she said, he attacked her.

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Bush said she needed medical attention after she claims her Lyft driver assaulted her along the street.

“The look in his eyes, I have never seen that,” Bush said.

While her physical wounds are healing, Bush said she’s still distraught over the incident.

“I have never had anyone attack me like that,” Bush said. “He grabbed me and was holding me. I'm kicking him, screaming, crying.”

Bush said she left work at Lenox Square Mall and needed to get home to get ready for her second job, so she asked her boyfriend to order her a Lyft.

She said things didn’t go well from the moment the driver pulled up in his silver Infiniti.

“He told me I could not have a drink in his car.” Bush said. “At the time, I was like why not? Because I saw a drink in the front seat of his car. He proceeded to tell me this is his car. Take the drink out.”

She said she threw the drink away, but things escalated when he got out of the car.

“He's threatening to punch me, telling me to leave. I call 911. This man snatches the phone from my face and throws it in the middle of traffic,” Bush said. “The man pushes me from the trunk of his car, to the hood of his car and I just slide in the street.”

Moments later, she said, he jumped into his car and took off. She said she reached out to Lyft, but they weren't helpful.

“Safety of the Lyft community is our top priority,” a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement. “This type of violence is completely unacceptable and we take any incident like this very seriously. The driver in this incident has been permanently deactivated from the Lyft platform. We stand ready to assist law enforcement in any investigation.”

Bush said she's happy he is no longer driving for Lyft, but she said she's ready to file assault charges against the man.

Atlanta police are investigating the case. 

Prince Harry opens up about Diana's funeral, doesn't think any royals want to be king or queen

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 6:59 AM

Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via G

When he was just 12 years old, Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, died in a car accident, and participating in her highly publicized funeral is something the now 32-year-old royal will never forget.

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“My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television,” he recalled the emotionally difficult moment to Newsweek. “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.”

>> PHOTOS: Prince Harry through the years

Harry went on to live several years in “total chaos” as he tried to deal with his grief, acting out and ignoring his emotions. But finally one day, he realized he needed professional help and decided he wanted to “to fix the mistakes” he felt he was making. Now, he sees his position as royal as a “force for good” and enjoys getting to help other people going through tough situations.

>> Pippa Middleton ties the knot with James Matthews in ‘almost royal’ wedding

"My mother died when I was very young. I didn’t want to be in the position I was in, but I eventually pulled my head out of the sand, started listening to people and decided to use my role for good,” he said. “I am now fired up and energized and love charity stuff, meeting people and making them laugh. I sometimes still feel I am living in a goldfish bowl, but I now manage it better. I still have a naughty streak, too, which I enjoy and is how I relate to those individuals who have got themselves into trouble.”

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As he and brother Prince William prepare to take on more royal responsibilities, they want to make sure to “carry on the positive atmosphere that the queen has achieved for over 60 years” by continuing Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy of charity work.

>> PHOTOS: Charming Princess Charlotte, Prince George at Trooping the Color parade

“We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy,” Harry said. “We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people […] Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”

Read more here.