Keyless ignitions may be contributing to deaths across the United States

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 11:34 PM

VIDEO: Keyless Ignition May Be Contributing to Deaths Across The US

Constance Petot didn't think twice about the push button starter on her car until it almost killed her and her toddler last Valentine's Day.

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"He just went completely limp in my arms. It's the most terrifying moment in my entire life," said Petot.

The busy mom was ending her work day with a conference call as she was pulling into the garage of her parents' Florida home, where she was staying.

"As I came in I wanted the garage door to be closed when the conference call started so I went ahead and pushed the button to close the door," Petot said. "And I think in my head I just told myself I had pushed this button instead of that button."

The mistake sent carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas, flooding through their home as she got 13-month-old Parker ready for bed.

The car was still on after Petot left the garage.

"My son woke up around 12:30 a.m. and was screaming," Petot recalls.

She got out of bed to pick him up.

Petot thinks her son, Parker, may have had a headache because she now knows the level of carbon monoxide at the time was high enough to have killed them within about 20 minutes.

"Once I got dizzy, I knew I needed to get out of there," Petot said. "And walked down the stairs, opened the garage door and saw that the taillight was on."

WSB-TV investigation has tracked more than two dozen injuries and deaths around the country connected to cars with keyless ignitions being left on, with families left wondering how this could happen.

Cars with keyless ignition have no key and are designed to start with the push of a button. But it is also easier to forget to turn off the car.

The family of Bill Thomason and Eugenia (Woo) Thomason say the couple likely never realized their mistake. Their Toyota Avalon ran inside their closed garage for 32 hours as they slept.

"We know that they went to bed that night and didn't wake up the next morning," said Will Thomason, who now lives in Atlanta.

His brother Dave Thomason also lives in the metro area, and they both rushed to Greenville, South Carolina, to get to their parents, but it was too late.

"By the time they were found they were essentially brain dead," said Will Thomason. "You can't prepare for something like this."

The sons say the active retirees had just renewed their wedding vows after 50 years and adored their five grandchildren, who they won't get to see grow up.

"Oh, it's been just absolutely terrible," said Dave Thomason. "We all know that people can get killed in car accidents due to different things, but a car sitting alone, basically doing nothing but running?"

The brothers said their pain is worsened by the number of times they've now heard the same story, with reported deaths and injuries connected to running cars around the country.

The Thomason family has filed a lawsuit against Toyota, which has already settled with several of the other families.

"Hell yeah, that makes me angry. I mean, we've lost our parents," said Will Thomason.

"Nobody is in the car, it's been running for however long. The car should have an automatic cutoff. I mean, to me that's a very easy fix," said Dave Thomason.

Records show since 2011 the federal government has been studying the need for an external alert to be placed on cars that have button ignitions, but has yet to require car companies to do anything to include an external alert.

"There's probably 25 other things that car makers do ... for safety. Well, this is a life and death safety thing and it seems to me that this is an easy thing for them to address, and they aren't addressing it," Will Thomason said.

WSB-TV tested more than a dozen of the most popular cars to see what happens when you leave them running and walk away with the key fob.

Most of the cars had a dashboard display that notes that the key fob has left the vehicle. Some even emit a low interior sound, similar to the one that reminds drivers to fasten their seat belts. 

However, if a driver has left the vehicle, he or she wouldn't see that display or hear that warning. Very few of the cars made an exterior noise.

The loudest warning came from the Chevy Impala, which utilizes the car's horn.

Petot didn't hear the three low beeps her car made and she's lived with the guilt ever since.

"I absolutely take responsibility for what happened," she said. "And I think that it could happen to anybody."

But she said the price for being distracted or forgetful should not be death.

"We were incredibly lucky. We absolutely wouldn't be here," Petot said while watching Parker play in their new Marietta home. "He is definitely my little hero Valentine."

Petot said the day they moved in to their new home she purchased carbon monoxide detectors for each of the rooms.

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Cam Newton surprises Special Olympics athletes with shopping spree

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 11:21 PM

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 31:  Cam Newton (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 31: Cam Newton (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton surprised 20 children from Special Olympics North Carolina at a surprise shopping event at a Dick’s Sporting Goods in Barclay Downs, North Carolina, on Monday afternoon.

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Each child got a $200 gift card and spent time shopping with Newton, who served as a personal shopping consultant to the children and helped them buy fun sporting goods. Dick's Sporting Goods and the Cam Newton Foundation sponsored the event as part of their efforts to inspire and enable youth sports.

The Special Olympics athletes are participating in the Mecklenburg County Spring Games this week. More than 1,300 Special Olympics athletes are competing in this year’s Spring Games, which include track and field, motor sports, softball and swimming events.

“You see a lot of smiles on these children’s faces and that's contagious,” Newton said.

https://twitter.com/CoreyWSOC9/status/988550497652092928?tfw_site=wsoctv&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wsoctv.com%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Fcam-newton-surprises-special-olympic-athletes-with-shopping-spree%2F737222180

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Disney offering hiring bonuses while unions prepare to return to the bargaining table

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 11:45 PM

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - OCTOBER 01: Walt Disney World Resort (Photo by Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - OCTOBER 01: Walt Disney World Resort (Photo by Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)(Handout/Getty Images)

Walt Disney World is looking to hire more than 3,500 new workers, even offering “hiring bonuses” of up to $3,000 for some positions. 

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It all comes as the unions that represent 38,000 Disney workers get set to go back to the bargaining table next week. 

Unionized workers have been locked in contract talks since last summer -- and since then, they’ve staged demonstrations and gone back to the bargaining table several times, but still have no deal. 

"How can Disney justify giving $3,000 bonuses, when you have 19,000 plus workers making under $11 an hour?” asked Angie McKinnon, a representative of UNITE HERE LOCAL 737.

Union leaders were meeting Monday afternoon as they prepare to head back to the bargaining table one week from Tuesday. 

Union workers voted down Disney’s most recent offer of a 3 percent raise for most workers, with a minimum 50-cents-an-hour raise. 

And union bosses are upset that Disney won’t pay a $1,000 tax-cut bonus to union members -- unless they accept that deal. 

"A lot of them are still waiting on the tax, the money that Disney promised to give them from the tax cut,” said McKinnon. 

“As is the case with all aspects of an employee's compensation package, federal law requires that we negotiate the payment of that bonus with the unions, which we are in the process of doing,” a Disney spokeswoman said. 

As Disney now tries to hire thousands more full- and part-time cast members, the company is able to pay the hiring bonuses because the new cast members won’t be covered by the union contract until after they’re hired. 

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Company recalls certain ice pops sold in 15 states

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 10:49 PM

(File photo)
(File photo)

A frozen novelty manufacturer is voluntarily recalling certain ice pops that are sold in 15 states for possible listeria contamination.

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According to US Recall News, Ziegenfelder Co., of Wheeling, West Virginia, is recalling about 3,000 cases of Budget $aver Cherry Pineapple Monster Pops and Sugar Free Twin Pops because of the possible health risk. 

The ice pops were distributed to retail grocers in 15 states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

The ice pop products were delivered between April 5 and April 19, US Recall News reported.

The Cherry Pineapple Monster Pops carry the UPC code 0-74534-84200-9, and have lot codes D09418A through D10018B.

The Sugar Free Pops carry the UPC code 0-74534-75642-9, and have lot codes D09318A through D10018B. 

So far, there are no reported illnesses or incidents involving the products.

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Pompeo nomination clears hurdle after another late GOP switch

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 10:13 PM

For the second time in a week, late decisions by a pair of GOP Senators provided the margin of victory for a nominee of President Donald Trump, as after fears of a rare confirmation rebuke, Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday got in line behind the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State, setting up a vote later this week for his confirmation in the full Senate.

The key votes were delivered by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – who last week made a late switch to help salvage the nomination of Mr. Trump’s choice to run NASA – and by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who had talked for weeks that he would never vote to shift the CIA Director over to the post of Secretary of State.

But after a late lobbying effort by President Trump, Paul stuck with the White House on Pompeo.

“I have changed my mind,” Paul said at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Back in March when the President fired Rex Tillerson from the Secretary of State’s job, Paul had made clear he was not going to vote for Pompeo, worried the CIA chief was too set on excessively using U.S. military force around the world.

Labeling Pompeo a “neocon,” Paul had said at the time that he would not vote for the CIA chief, worried that Pompeo was too much like the Republican Party that strongly backed with war in Iraq on Saddam Hussein.

“I simply cannot support Pompeo’s nomination to be our chief diplomat,” the Kentucky Republican made clear.

But after talks with Pompeo and the President, Paul gave in.

The late changes saved the GOP from an embarrassing foreign policy setback for the President – at a time when he is hosting the French President, and will later in the week receive the German Chancellor.

“He is extremely qualified for the position,” the President’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued for Pompeo, as she joined GOP Senators in reminding Democrats of the bipartisan votes for past Secretaries of State.

“John Kerry was confirmed 94-3. Hillary Clinton was confirmed 94-2. Condoleezza Rice was confirmed 85-13. Colin Powell was confirmed unanimously by voice vote,” Sanders told reporters.

The turn of events came hours after the President had blasted Democrats for delaying many of his nominees, by stretching out debate time on the Senate floor, leaving little time for work on legislation.

While the President accurately nicked the Democrats for slow-walking many nominations on the Senate floor, certain high-profile choices like Pompeo, Jim Bridenstine for NASA, and Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell have been held up in the Senate not because of Democrats – but because of a lack of unity among Republicans.

For example, Grenell’s nomination was sent to the Senate floor back on January 18. While Democrats did object to action in March, there has been no effort by Senate Republicans to hold a vote – which likely means there aren’t fifty votes for his nomination.

When Monday began, that was in question for Pompeo as well, but the support of Paul, Flake, and a handful of Democrats, means the President will get his Secretary of State.

“The President deserves to have a Secretary of State that agrees with him or her, in general, on a foreign policy direction,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as he argued for Pompeo’s approval.

There was a bit of irony, as Rubio last week had been one of the holdouts on the President choice to run NASA – a reminder, that with a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, and the absence of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Republicans can’t afford to lose more than one vote on anything in the U.S. Senate.

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