<![CDATA[NBC New York - Breaking News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/breaking http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usWed, 25 May 2016 11:27:44 -0400Wed, 25 May 2016 11:27:44 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[5 Women Die in Limousine Fire on Calif. Bridge]]> Mon, 06 May 2013 06:34:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/limofirenew.jpg

Five women in their 30s died Saturday night when a stretch limousine burst into flames on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge over the San Francisco Bay, police confirmed to NBC News.

Four other people in the limo escaped with burn and smoke inhalation injuries, California Highway Patrol Officer Art Montiel said. The car's driver was unhurt. 

Montiel said the women were "probably killed by the fire," though the cause of death has not been confirmed, NBC News reported.

Witnesses told NBC Bay Area the white Lincoln Town Car was not involved in an accident prior to catching on fire. It was not clear what could have sparked the flames. 

The car was driving from Alameda to Foster City, Montiel said.

When asked if an "explosion" had occurred, Montiel told NBC News it was unconfirmed, however he did say the "vehicle was partially engulfed."'

A viewer named David Solomon sent in the picture above that he said of was of the limo.

The fire was first reported around 10 p.m. in the third lane of westbound state Highway 92, according to the California Highway Patrol. 

The bridge, located about 20 miles southeast of San Francisco, connects San Mateo and Alemada counties. The westbound lanes were closed for several hours.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Photo Credit: David Solomon]]>
<![CDATA[White House Press Secretary Discusses Conn. School Shooting]]> Fri, 01 Nov 2013 12:55:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/whitehouse4.jpg White House Press Secretary Jay Carney discusses Friday's mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

<![CDATA[Ex-Rutgers Student Convicted of Invasion of Privacy, Bias Intimidation]]> Fri, 16 Mar 2012 23:44:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/THOMPSONRUTGERSRAVIVERDICTWRAPPKG11PM_4311495_722x406_2211083294.jpg The former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate's encounter with another man has been convicted of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation in a case that drew attention to anti-gay bullying nationwide.]]> <![CDATA[Bystanders Save 10-Year-Old Hit by Taxi]]> Thu, 07 Jul 2011 08:48:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/kid+hit+new.jpg

A 10-year-old boy who was thrown through the air and pinned under a parked car after being hit by a taxi last night in Harlem will survive, thanks to the bystanders who acted quickly to help save him.

Minutes before the accident, Jaden Torres and other kids were playing near the intersection of Broadway and La Salle Street at about 7:30 p.m., police and witnesses said.

Suddenly, Jaden darted across the street just as the cab was approaching that section of the roadway, bystanders said.

The taxi couldn't stop in time, and hit the child. The impact threw the boy into the air and he ended up pinned under a parked car. Fortunately, four bystanders came to his rescue.

"It was horrific, because I have a 10-year-old myself," said Sabrina Johnson, who was one of those who helped save the child.

Johnson said her friends and two other men lifted the back of the car that had Jaden pinned. A doctor who lives nearby happened to drive up just then, she said.

As the four lifted the car, the doctor checked on the unconscious boy. Several people called 911. The child's mother came running out.

"I told his mother to go to him," said Johnson. "I told her to speak to him, to tell him she was there."

"She was devastated, devastated," Johnson added. "I mean, you're home, you're in your house, somebody runs in the house and tells you your child has been hit by a car. And then the trauma to his head ... I'm surprised she didn't pass out. If it was my child, I would have."

As paramedics rushed Jaden to the hospital, police interviewed the driver of the cab. He was cleared of wrongdoing. Investigators say it was an accident.

Police said the boy is in serious condition at Harlem Hospital and is expected to survive.

Photo Credit: NBCNewYork]]>
<![CDATA[Aguilera Selling Former Osbourne Pad]]> Fri, 27 Apr 2012 16:49:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ChristinaAguileraC.jpg Christina Aguilera’s Beverly Hills mansion is on the market for a cool $13.5 million. The 10,000 square foot crib was the former home of rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon. It is also where they filmed their MTV reality TV show "The Osbournes." View the listing.]]> <![CDATA[NJ Bus Crash Kills 2]]> Mon, 14 Mar 2011 23:45:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SIEGALBUSAXAERIALSVO_2993714_722x406.jpg The bus run by super Luxury Tours, Inc, was heading southbound on the new jersey turnpike when it got into an accident near exit 9.]]> <![CDATA[Friendly Fire Cop "Devastated"]]> Mon, 14 Mar 2011 12:44:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/OFFICERBREITKOPF.jpg

The MTA police officer who shot and killed a plainclothes Nassau County officer in a case of mistaken friendly fire is "devastated" and inconsolable, according to a published report.

The Daily News said the 33-year-old officer, Glenn Gentile, has been on the force at least six years. He comes from a police family, with a twin brother who is also an MTA officer and a father who was a Nassau detective.

Officials believe Gentile shot dead plainclothes officer Geoffrey J. Breitkopf, 40, as he approached the Massapequa Park house where police were responding to an incident.

The tragedy unfolded after police answered a 911 call at around 8:20 p.m. for a suspicious person walking around with weapons. 

Arriving officers confronted Digeronimo on the street but he ran into his parents’ home and barricaded himself inside a bedroom, police said. Officers rushed inside, evacuated the home and called for assistance, police said.

Suddenly, Digeronimo emerged from the room and lunged at officers with a knife, police said. Officers fired at him, and he died at the scene.

Seconds later, authorities believe Gentile arrived and opened fire on Breitkopf, a 12-year veteran, member of an elite special operations team and volunteer firefighter.

Breitkopf was in plain clothes and carrying a rifle, the Daily News said.

Gentile "is devastated," an unnamed police source told the newspaper. "He comes from a police family. He is heartbroken."

<![CDATA[Bus Driver Had Driving Arrest]]> Thu, 15 Nov 2012 00:38:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ophadellwilliamscombo.jpg

The driver of the bus that crashed on I-95, killing 15 people on its way from a Connecticut casino back to Manhattan, has a criminal record that includes an arrest for driving with a suspended license and possession of three police radio scanners.

NBC New York obtained a photo of the driver, Ophadell Williams, along with detailed information about his criminal past. The photo was confirmed by law enforcement officials and neighbors along his block in Bushwick.

Williams has not been charged with any crime related to the crash and officials stress the investigation is still in its early stages.

Williams blew a .00 in a blood-alcohol test at the scene and voluntarily offered blood for a more precise blood alcohol test, officials said. Authorities have said they are examining what Williams did in the 72 hours prior to the early morning crash, and have indicated the investigation could turn into a criminal matter.

The New York State Inspector General will look into how Williams was able to obtain and retain a commercial driver's license, given his criminal and driving history, Governor Cuomo said.

The tour bus company, World Wide Tours, has declined repeated requests to comment on the driver's history and its hiring procedures.

Williams told police that he took a nap on the bus in a casino parking lot in the hours before picking up passengers for the trip back to Chinatown, investigators said.

It also appears that Williams did not keep his driver's log up to date as he was required, officials briefed on the case said. Police wanted to check that log to see how much time he was spending on the road and what kind of breaks he was receiving between trips.

Williams arrived at the Mohegan Sun Casino around 11 p.m. to drop off passengers, said sources who are working to piece together a timeline of the horrific crash.  According to those sources who recounted the driver's story, Williams then drove to another lot and took a nap until he was called back to pick up the group for a trip to New York at 3 a.m.

Investigators said he arrived at the front door of the casino around 3:15 a.m and departed at 3:45 a.m.

The bus crashed in the Bronx, skidding into a highway sign post, which entered through the front window and sliced the bus from front to back along the window line.

One official familiar with the case said investigators are looking into whether the driver fell asleep behind the wheel of the bus  -- or was somehow not paying attention just before the 5:30 a.m. crash.

Wiliams' criminal record includes the June 2003 arrest for driving with a suspended license. He was also charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle and possession of the police scanners.

Police records show Williams was also charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors as an adult, including pleading guilty to one charge of manslaughter.

Documents show Williams served prison time from 1992 through the time he was paroled in 1994 on the manslaughter charge. 

He also had past arrests for grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property in 1998 and went back to prison, documents show.  He was released from parole in 2004.

Another past arrest was for "intent to obtain transportation without paying" -- which records show he pleaded guilty to a violation back in 1987.

As NBC New York first reported, some passengers said the bus seemed to be drifting in and out of lanes hitting rumble strips on the side of the highway.  Some told police they feared the driver was tired or distracted.

State police said the bus may have been speeding faster than the 55 mph limit.

Police said they also found the driver of the tractor trailer who the bus driver allegedly claimed had cut him off.  That truck driver said the tour bus was ahead of him drifting in and out of lanes, officials briefed on the case said.  

The driver's wife, Holly, told the Daily News that Williams "feels like he's at fault."

"But I told him it's not his fault -- it's an accident. He feels upset that a lot of people died on his bus."

He has not responded to NBC New York's repeated requests for comment.

The National Transportation Safety Board said at a briefing Sunday that the bus, which was carrying 31 passengers from the casino to Manhattan's Chinatown, slid for 480 feet before it came to a stop.

In addition to the fatalities, seven other passengers were critically hurt. Ten out of the 19 injured have been treated and released. St.  Barnabas Hospital said it had discharged Williams Sunday night.

Doctors at Jacobi Medical Center remain optimistic about its six remaining patients.

"These people are very, very badly injured. Many of them are still on respirators... but we have an expectation that they should survive," said Dr. Sheldon Teperman, Chief of Jacobi's Trauma Service.

State police released the names of some of the deceased along with partial information about their gender, age and where they lived :

Aquinio, Miguel - M - 55
Eng, Kam Ming - M - 81 - NYC
Eng, Yuk Chun - F  - NYC
Garcia, Jose - M - NYC
Lee, Bing Fong - F - Brooklyn
Lee, Don - M - 76 - NYC
Mei, Biqin - F
Tran, Ninh - F
Wang Jian Hua - M 40 -
Wong, May Lin - F - NYC
Wong, Ock Thling - M - 83 - NYC
Xian, Yang T. M  - NYC
Yeh, Michael - M - 65 - Brooklyn
Two victims remain unidentified at this time.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dramatic Photos: Devastation in Japan]]> Fri, 18 Mar 2011 11:27:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ap-british-oil-cleanup.jpg A magnitude 8.9 earthquake slammed Japan's northeastern coast Friday, unleashing a 13-foot tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland and prompting a "nuclear emergency."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[No Indictment For Cops In Pace Shooting: Westchester DA]]> Tue, 15 Feb 2011 08:50:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/AP101018123774.jpg

A Westchester County grand jury has concluded its investigation into the police shooting death of Pace University football player Danroy Henry Jr. and has found "no reasonable cause" for an indictment, the district attorney said.

The attorney for the family, Michael Sussman, said the lack of an indictment "sends a clear message to every single parent who has a young person of color at college to be very afraid."

Henry, 20, was shot and killed when police fired at his car as he drove away from a bar in Mount Pleasant. Police had been called to a disturbance after the Pace homecoming game.

Henry's family, of Easton, Mass., had demanded a murder indictment against the officer who acknowledged shooting Henry. The young man's father, Danroy Henry Sr., said Monday that the family did not believe Westchester authorities did their job, and vowed to push the Justice Department to look into the case.

"We firmly believe that we have a good handle on what happened that night," Henry said. "And frankly if I presented the evidence without a law degree and just a little bit of intelligence, I could have gotten an indictment."

The Westchester County District Attorney's office said in a statement that the grand jury's investigation included testimony from 85 witnesses and a review of more than 100 exhibits such as aerial photographs, ballistics evidence and surveillance film.

The four police officers who responded to the initial disturbance call also testified, including Officer Aaron Hess, the officer who fired the fatal bullets.

A lawyer for Hess has said Henry's car hit Hess, threw him onto the hood and kept going. Other witnesses contradicted that account.

Henry's mother, Angela, said "There's plenty of video that shows police officers with their guns drawn, pointing them at unarmed college students. That in itself should be enough for someone to say this is not proper training. This can't happen. We're here to show you that this fight has just begun. We're not stopping. We will fight for number 12, our son."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Power Restored at Newark Airport But Delays to Linger]]> Mon, 07 Feb 2011 17:40:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/107789327.jpg

An electrical equipment failure plunged all three terminals at Newark Liberty International Airport into darkness, officials said, and left about 20,000 PSE&G customers without power, too.

The outage occurred at about 2:30 p.m., while a PSE&G crew was upgrading equipment at a switching station in Elizabeth, N.J. The failure affected PSE&G customers in Hillside, Elizabeth, Union, Newark, Roselle, Linden, Kenilworth and Irvington, as well as the airport.

By 4 p.m. all power had been restored, acccoring to PSE&G.

A spokesmen for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says flights are still taking off and landing, but the outage is affecting operations at Terminals A, B and C. The AirTrain -- which connects the airport to local public transportation -- is not running, officials said.

"There’s just a lot of people just standing around," said Danielle Weitzman, 20-year-old Rutgers student from Malborough who was heading home from Florida. "Everyone got off the plane by the baggage carousel."  

Two AirTrains were stuck with passengers in the train, and there were reports of people stuck in elevators, according to MSNBC. Port Authority officials confirmed that the Air Train shut down with people on board and locked inside.

Officials told NJ.com that some flights were impacted, but didn't provide details. One passenger said the airport wasn't totally shut down.

"I'm looking at planes taking off and landing," traveler Bill Waslh told CNBC as he boarded an American Airlines flight for Dallas -- after a 30-minute delay.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Belgian Man Runs 365 Marathons in 365 Consecutive Days]]> Sat, 05 Feb 2011 17:00:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/20110205+Marathon+Champ.jpg

Belgian Runner Stefaan Engels completed his 365th marathon in as many days in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, setting a Guinness World Record in the process.

The so-called “Marathon Man” logged a 9,569 miles in the past year as he finished the 26.2-mile races in seven countries.

“For me, it is an experiment for myself, an experiment with my mind to find out what is possible,” Engels told Canada's National Post in September, after he had finished number 207. “After eight months, I think this is possible.”

It turns out Engels was right.

The 49-year-old obliterated the previous record held by Japanese runner Akinori Kusuda who completed 52 marathons on consecutive days in 2009.

For Engels, it was the second time he made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2008, he earned the honor for finishing a record 20 Iron Man triathlons in a single year.

Selected Reading: USA Today, Agence France-Presse, National Post

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Egypt in Crisis: Complete Coverage]]> Tue, 01 Feb 2011 14:38:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/013011+Egypt+protest.jpg

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[More Phone Calls Revealed in Escort Slay]]> Fri, 28 Jan 2011 14:53:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*121/new+four+killed.jpg

The 16-year-old sister of a dead escort whose body was among the four discovered on a Long Island beach received six taunting phone calls from a person using her missing sister's cell phone, according to a published report.

 The Daily News reported Friday that Melissa Barthelemy's sister, Amanda, received her first call on July 16th, 2009, just four days after her sister was last seen.  
While police officials originally said Barthelemy's family received only three calls, the family announced that they received multiple calls--always to the teen sister.  The last one was received on August 26th.  
"It wasn't something that should have been said to a 16-year-old," Barthelemy's mother said, adding that the calls made the sister feel "terrible."
The announcement was made in a press conference held by the victim's family on Thursday in Amherst, NY.
Police say most of the calls, which referred to Melissa Barthelemy as a "whore," came from the Midtown area, near Madison Square Garden and Times Square.  They couldn't pinpoint an exact area, however, because the caller hung up too soon.
Cops aren't sure whether the caller is the same man suspected in the murders of Barthelemy and three other women – one from New York, one from Connecticut and one from Maine – who all had posted craigslist ads for escort services prior to vanishing.

<![CDATA[Nassau County Budget Taken Over By State]]> Wed, 26 Jan 2011 20:56:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/Nassau-County-Buses.jpg

Crime rates are low, public schools are generally excellent, parks are well-kept.  The average property tax bill last year was $11,500, nearly the highest in the country.

But wealth has not insulated Nassau County from financial troubles afflicting local governments across the country.  And on Wednesday, their budget woes hit a new low.
A state oversight board seized control of Nassau County's finances Wednesday afternoon, citing their failure to balance its $2.6 billion budget despite multiple warnings.  This is only the second time a county has been taken over by New York State.
The unanimous 6-0 vote by the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority, a state watchdog group, gives the state veto power over the county's budget, labor contracts, and other major financial commitments. 

County Executive Edward Mangano, who lobbied hard to prevent the takeover, decried it as unnecessary and premature. He said county attorneys would review the decision before proceeding with a likely legal challenge. "I will take the necessary legal steps to protect our residents from property tax increases," he said in a statement.

Mangano insisted the budget, ratified by the county legislature and comptroller, is balanced.

"If they wanted to run Nassau County, there is a process, get elected," Mangano said.

Nassau's struggles date back at least a decade, when the watchdog group was first created.  In 200,  Nassau county faced fiscal difficulties that required a $100 million state bailout after years of little or no tax hikes  The current takeover could eventually lead to a wage freeze for thousands of county employees.
"These are the real world consequences of the worst recession in 70 years, and the federal and state response to it,'' said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University. ``Unlike presidents and congressional leaders, mayors and county executives live with the consequences.''
Minority Leader Diane Yatauro said, “This is a sad day for Nassau County. A state fiscal oversight board has decided to take control of our finances. We are entering uncharted waters."
A June 2010 survey by the National Association of Counties found 65 percent of responding counties reported between $100,000 and $5 million in budget shortfalls.
"Things are pretty dim,'' said Jacqueline Byers, association's director of research and outreach.
We're waiting with bated breath to see how much worse it gets in 2011.''
Nassau County Minority Leader Diane Yatauro, who is a member of the Nassau County Legislature, said that today was a "sad day for Nassau County."
"We are entering uncharted waters," she said.  NIFA control will alter how we conduct our business.  It will affect the lives of our workforce and our residents."
She went on to urge her colleagues in the Legislature 

<![CDATA[Chevy Volt Wins Top Car Honor At Detroit Auto Show]]> Mon, 10 Jan 2011 18:00:15 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/chevy+volt-6401.jpg

The Chevy Volt—a plug-in hybrid vehicle that can go up to 375 miles without recharging its battery—was named the top North American car of the year at the Detroit Auto Show Monday.

Chevrolet calls the plug-in Volt “a full-performance electric vehicle.” Unlike hybrids like the Toyota Prius, the Volt is designed to travel long distances on electric power alone, and can even travel 35 miles without tapping its gas reserves.

The Hyundai Sonata sedan and the all-electric Nissan Leaf finished behind the Volt when judged by 49 automotive journalists from Canada and the United States. The judges considered factors like handling, driver satisfaction, and innovation when making their picks, according to the New York Times.

Detroit was the latest honor for the eco-friendly vehicle, which gets 40 miles per gallon on the highway when running on fuel. It was already named the 2011 Green Car of the Year and Motor Trend Magazine’s 2011 Car of the Year.

The all-new energy-efficient Ford Explorer won the North American truck of the year award. So far, neither the Volt nor the Explorer have the sales numbers to match their accolades, but that didn’t dissuade the judges from casting their votes.

“Even though the sales aren’t there yet, it’s sort of a chicken-and-egg thing,” judge Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com, told Bloomberg’s Craig Trudell. “We have to go there, but the sales aren’t there yet.”

Driving emissions-free for most commutes means a little pain upfront. The Volt will set you back $41,000. Even with a $7,500 federal tax credit for plug-in hybrids factored in, the Volt is more expensive than most of its competitors.

Innovation, not price, was the major concern for General Motors in designing and marketing the car.

“Since development began, we believed the Volt had the potential to transform the automotive industry,” GM CEO Dan Akerson said in a statement.

The Volt continues to rack up the trophies. Earlier this year, Ward’s AutoWorld named its drivetrain one of the 10 best of the year, and Car & Driver named the Volt one of the best 10 cars of the year.

Aside from its “top car” honors, the plug-in hybrid was given a “breakthrough technology” award by Popular Mechanics.

The Volt is currently available only in California, the New York metropolitan area, Washington D.C. and Austin, Texas. It will be on sale nationwide in the next 12 to 18 months.

Selected Reading: Bloomberg, New York TimesCrain's Detroit Business

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Portuguese Model in Custody Following Times Square Hotel Slay]]> Mon, 10 Jan 2011 07:53:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*143/HOTEL+MURDER+STILL+copy.jpg

A male model who had recently been a contestant on a Portuguese reality TV show was taken into police custody hours after his companion, a celebrity Portuguese television journalist, was found castrated and bludgeoned to death in a New York City hotel.

The journalist, 65-year-old Carlos Castro, had arrived in the U.S. in late December in the company of his young boyfriend, the model Renato Seabra, to see some Broadway shows and spend New Year's Eve in Times Square, according to a family friend.

There had been some friction between the two men toward the end of the trip, but nothing to suggest that anything horrible was about to happen, said the friend, Luis Pires, the editor of the Portuguese language newspaper Luso-Americano.

"I think that they were a little bit upset with each other, for jealousy reasons," Pires told The Associated Press.

The couple saw the musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" and took in the movie "The Black Swan." But when it was time to meet Pires' daughter for dinner Friday night, Seabra suddenly emerged in the lobby of the InterContinental New York Times Square hotel acting strangely, Pires said.

"He told my daughter, 'Carlos will never leave the hotel again,'" Pires said.

He said his daughter, distraught, fetched a hotel manager. Security guards opened the door to the room and found the body at about 7 p.m.

By then, Seabra had left the hotel but was detained by police hours later after he sought care Saturday at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, not far from the hotel. He was being evaluated Sunday at Bellevue Hospital Center, across town. No charges had been filed against Seabra as of Saturday afternoon, the New York Police Department said.

Police said the victim suffered serious head trauma. The medical examiner's will determine the cause of death.

Seabra was a contestant last year on a Portuguese TV show called "A Procura Do Sonho," or "Pursuit of a Dream," which hunts for modeling talent.

He didn't win the show but did get a modeling contract with an agency founded by fashion designer Fatima Lopes, who developed the show and was a judge on it.

Lopes expressed her shock to Portugal's Correio da Manha's newspaper on Sunday.

"He never talked about his private life, he was a quiet boy and perhaps the shyest of all contestants in 'In Search of the Dream.' He was very calm and polite, she said. "This whole thing seems surreal to me."

Seabra had always been interested in fashion, he told the Independente de Cantanhede newspaper in September.

"I have entered this world, and I don't want to leave it because I see I can be successful," he said.

Castro, who also was a columnist in Portugal, was admired there for his bravery in coming out as a gay man and "revealing the feminine side of his personality," said Rui Pedro Tendinha, a film critic who knew Castro.

He was a high-profile public figure as a TV personality, Tendinha said.

"The way he died is causing a big commotion in Portugal," he said.

The organizer of Lisbon Fashion Week, Eduarda Abbondanza, said she knew Castro from his coverage of Fashion Week. Abbondanza said that when she fell seriously ill, Castro "was always there for me, calling me every time, checking up on me."

On a trip to Rome, Castro even bought Abbondanza a rosary that the pope had blessed. Abbondanza said that when she heard about Castro's death, she took the rosary to a church to pray.

"I only wish I could have helped him the way he helped me," Abbondanza said. "He had a huge heart. Only a human being with a heart like that could have done what he did for me."

Designer Ana Salazar, considered a fashion pioneer in Portugal, recalled Castro's role as one of the country's first social columnists.

"I was both in his best- and worst-dressed lists in the '80s," she said.

She said she was shocked by his death.

"It's like something out of a horror movie," she added. 

A guest at the InterContinental, Suzanne Divilly, 40, told the Daily News she heard the two men arguing in their room during the day Friday.

"There was a lot of noise, talking," she said. "You could hear them arguing in the corridor and even in our room."

Pires described Castro as having "kind of a Liberace style. Eccentric, but very well-known." He said he had been on Portuguese TV since he was a teenager, had written several books and was friends with the former president of Portugal, Mario Soares.

The young model and older journalist had been dating each other for a few months, he said.

"My wife and my daughter were with him for the past three or four days," Pires said. "My wife told me that he was a very nice kid. Very polite. I think this must have been a crime of the heart."

"This was a 21-year-old kid, looking for fame. He (Carlos) probably saw him watching girls, or something."

News of the murder rattled the town of Cantanhede, population 38,000, in the central Portuguese district of Coimbra, where Seabra was born and where his family lives.

His sister, Joana Seabra, is a doctor and chairwoman of the local political committee of the Social Democratic Youth of Cantanhede. Calls to her home and surgery went unanswered Sunday, and no one was picking up the phone at the number listed as belonging to the family where the suspect's mother, Odilia Seabra is believed to live.

Seabra's childhood friend Lurdes Silva told the local Diario de Coimbra newspaper in Sunday's editions that she was stunned by the allegations.

"He entered the fashion world in the hope of changing his life. Dreams are easy at our age," she said. "He was looking for a dream and found a nightmare" She said the two shared an interest in racing pigeons.

"The news has hit Cantanhede like a bomb," Casas de Melo, an organizer of the Cantanhede racing pigeon association. He told Diario de Coimbra Seabra was "a spectacular young man.


<![CDATA[EMS Chief Demoted One Week After Blizzard]]> Thu, 06 Jan 2011 08:04:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/172*120/107809997.JPG

The man in charge of ambulances during the blizzard was bounced from his job, the FDNY announced late Wednesday. 

John Peruggia, the chief of the Emergency Medical Service, was relieved of his command--the first head to roll over the city's woeful response to last week's blizzard.

There may be other changes within the EMS command structure, a source told NBCNewYork.

Peruggia, who ran the EMS for the past six years, also apparently has other issues, according to a second source.  The Conflict of Interest Board is allegedly examining a trip he had taken. 

Peruggia could not be reached for comment.

FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano said Peruggia will "continue his career with the department in a new role to be determined."

His replacement is Chief Abdo Nahmod, a 25-year veteran of the department.  In announcing the change, Cassano also said EMS chief will be elevated from a three to a four-star position.

Patrick Bahnken, head of the Union of Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics, said he had a good working relationship with Chief Peruggia, and that while EMS suffered major setbacks during the storm, "I can't assume it rests with just this one man."

The storm overwhelmed the city's emergency response system.  Scores of ambulances were mired in waist high drifts and in some cases took hours to response to calls.  The city's 911 system fielded 49,478 calls on Monday, the first full day of the storm.  It was the sixth highest total for a single day since the city began keeping statistics. There were 38,000 calls the following day.

Among the storm emergencies was a pregnant Brooklyn woman whose still born birth is being blamed on the slow response.  She called 911 several times last Monday saying she was in labor.  A dispatcher deemed her call a lower priority and paramedics didn't arrive at her Crown Heights home for some nine hours.

<![CDATA[Obama Signs 9/11 Health Bill ]]> Sun, 02 Jan 2011 18:15:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/WR+Obama.jpg

President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill to provide aid to survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks and first responders who became ill working in the ruins at the World Trade Center.

The bill was one of the last measures Congress passed before adjourning in December. Some Republicans were concerned with how to pay for the bill and they tried to block the measure. But they dropped their opposition after lawmakers struck a compromise to reduce the costs

The bill was formerly known as the James Zadrogra bill, named for a former NYPD Detective who died of a respiratory disease in 2006 after spending days at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11th attacks.  He was the first uniformed officer whose death was attributed to his exposure to toxins at the site. 

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who weeks ago vowed to work through the holiday season to make sure the bill was passed, commended the President earlier today on signing the law.

"Today’s victory is for the first responders, fire fighters, police officers, every family and every volunteer who never gave up and made sure that Congress fulfilled its duty to the 9/11 heroes," she said in a statement.

"We will always remember your sacrifice, and stand united behind you.”

The $4.2 billion measure will be paid for with a fee on some foreign companies that get U.S. government procurement contracts

Obama signed the bill from Hawaii, where he's vacationing with his family.