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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Houston area flu cases spike!

THE CHRON: If you've been putting off your annual flu shot, don't delay any longer: Texas is already being hit hard this flu season.
Houston-area hospitals have seen a spike in the number of emergency room visits for flu-like symptoms, said Porfirio Villarreal, spokesman for the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. During the week of Nov. 18, about 1,580 visits to emergency rooms were attributed to flu-like illnesses, compared with just 249 visits during the same week last year, Villarreal said.
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization or even death, the CDC says.
Every flu season is different, and even healthy people can get very sick from the disease and spread it to others. From 1976 to 2007, estimates of U.S. deaths each year due to flu ranged from 3,000 to 49,000.
"Flu is predictably unpredictable," said Dr. Gail Demmler-Harrison, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Texas Children's Hospital and pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine. "There's no cause for alarm but cause for action. People should get themselves vaccinated so it doesn't get any worse."
National Influenza Vaccination Week, a campaign established in 2005 to counter the notion that December is too late to get a vaccination, ends Saturday. Once a vaccine is administered, it takes about two weeks to develop immunity.
Although the influenza season usually peaks in February, 48 states and Puerto Rico have reported cases, with rates rising quickly nationwide, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.
Along with Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are also reporting high levels of activity.
In Houston, Texas Children's Hospital has seen an early start to the season with 123 confirmed cases of Type A influenza and 32 cases of Type B, compared with just two Type A cases in the same span last year, Demmler-Harrison said.
Everyone who is at least 6 months old should get a flu vaccination, but the CDC says it's especially important for these groups:
» People at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get the flu, including those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease.
» Pregnant women.
» People 65 years and older.
» People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Man killed after slamming into tow truck

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas – A driver died late Wednesday night after they slammed into the back of a tow truck stopped in the shoulder lane of I-45 near Highway 242, deputies said.
The crash happened just after 10 p.m., according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
A deputy searching a stopped vehicle called for a wrecker, and several showed up and parked on the interstate’s shoulder lane.
As they waited, deputies said the 36-year-old driver of a Honda Accord slammed into the back of one of the tow trucks at full speed.
The driver of the Honda died on impact. The tow truck driver, a resident of Spring, was sent to the hospital in stable condition.
Deputies said the tow trucks all had their overhead lights on. They weren’t sure why the Honda’s driver was in the shoulder lane.
The impact was so great, the wrecker slid about 30 feet while still in park.
Deputies did not release the identity of the car’s driver

Monday, October 8, 2012

Execution blocked man condemned for the 2000 abduction, rape and strangling of a 12-year-old girl.

HOUSTON -- A federal judge has blocked this week's scheduled execution of a Montgomery County man condemned for the 2000 abduction, rape and strangling of a 12-year-old girl. U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas ruled Monday that attorneys for 44-year-old Jonathan Green weren't properly allowed at a state competency hearing to present testimony from mental health professionals who treated him. The hearing was two years ago. Atlas also says a judge who found Green competent for execution relied on an order drafted by prosecutors, that Green's lawyers had no opportunity to object and that at least one legal standard in the ruling was incorrectly applied. Green was set to die Wednesday in Huntsville for the slaying of Christina Neal. Green lived near Neal's family in Dobbin, about 45 miles northwest of Houston.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Services held for fallen firefighter.

Funeral services were held Monday morning for an Atascocita volunteer firefighter who died during a training exercise in Beaumont.

Captain Neal Smith died last week from injuries he received during a specialized training course at the east Texas-area fall 'Smoke Diver' School.

The funeral got underway around 10am at the First Assembly of God in Humble. It began with a huge procession including about 150 fire trucks. One of those was carrying the body of Captain Smith. His family stood nearby as his flag-draped casket was brought down from the fire truck.

Captain Smith, a five-year veteran of the Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department, was undergoing training earlier this month in Beaumont. Something went wrong and he died from his injuries suffered in a fire training field exercise.

The 46-year-old was surrounded by family when he was taken off life support.
Training for firefighters can be just as risky sometimes as fighting fires. According to the US Fire Administration, last year eight firefighters died during training.

A Georgia firefighter also became ill during the exercise but is recovering. The accident is under investigation.
Captain Smith is survived by his wife and two children.
(Copyright ©2012 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Man investigate for poisoning boy with salt - forcing him to watch horror flicks

A Houston man is accused of pouring salt down the throat of 4-year-old Angel Maldonado and torturing him on a number of occasions.
Rolando Tomas Mendez, 21, was charged with injury to a child this week after a year-long investigation.
Angel was rushed to Memorial Hermann Hospital Northeast after vomiting and losing consciousness on September 28, 2011. He was then airlifted to Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital. Doctors there said he could’ve died if they’d waited any longer.
Poice questioned Angel's mother and Mendez, her live-in boyfriend. He is not the boy’s father, but does have a 2-year-old daughter with the mother.
Mendez told police he was keeping both kids while their mother worked the first day of her new job. He said after feeding them, he noticed Angel had vomited in the bedroom and bathroom.
The child’s mother said she noticed her son was walking sideways and was unable to keep his balance so she ran and picked him up. As she rushed her son to the hospital, she noticed his bottom lip was blue and hanging down.
Mendez told the mother he had given the boy a piece of lemon with a little salt on it and fed him spaghetti, but denied doing anything wrong to the child.
Doctors, however, said the child had elevated levels of sodium and had to be either poisoned with salt or deprived water. After numerous tests, they determined there were no underlying medical conditions that could explain the sodium levels.
When Angel returned home, relatives say he would often cry uncontrollably and had developed a fear of the salt shaker. His grandmother said he’d say "no touch, that’s bad" when someone would reach for the shaker at the dinner table.
They put two and two together and called police.
Angel told investigators that "Lando" was mean and often forced him to eat "a lot of salt" when he got mad. The boy showed how Mendez would tilt his head back and shake the salt directly into his mouth. He also said Mendez would place him into scorching hot baths.
"I was real, real mad. I didn’t know what to do," said Alberto Maldonado, Angel’s father.
Angel's paternal grandmother was also interviewed. She told investigators the child told her that Mendez would lock him in the closet and make him watch scary "Chucky" movies.
Mendez told police he did let the child watch the "Chucky" movie with him, but said he never locked him in the closet or poured salt down his throat.
He refused to take a polygraph examination.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stranger danger!

There is an important conversation that parents should have with their school-age children if they haven't already, particularly if your student is in Humble Independent School District.Officials in Humble say children need to be especially cautious of people they do not know after several recent incidents.

At the neighborhood pool, this Labor Day weekend was as it should be, but Shannon Fairchild and his kids remember what happened just across the street last Wednesday morning.

"My daughter was in line at the bus stop and they noticed it," Fairchild said. "Luckily, some parents noticed the stranger with binoculars, lurking. And they called the cops."
Investigators arrested Brandon Brown and charged him with indecent exposure. It happened within a few blocks of Oaks Elementary.

"It's ridiculous kids can't go to school without having to worry about going to school," Mindy Snell said. "Going to school used to be fun."

Neighbors are angry because this wasn't a rare occurrence. In fact, it's just one of four "stranger danger" incidents to hit Humble ISD in the past week.

That same Wednesday afternoon, a seventh grader was approached by a man in a car. It happened in an area near Timberwood Middle School and Eagle Spring Elementary.

"It does seem like the last few weeks there has been incidents," Michelle Boorn said. "I don't know what else we can do other than watch out for each other."

Then last Thursday at Deerwood Elementary, a Houston police officer reported that a man 18-20 years old was acting suspicious. The man reportedly asked the officer for the location of the nearest elementary school.
The fourth incident happened Friday when a dark blue SUV slowed down and a man leaned out, trying to talk to two Humble Middle School students. Officials said the girls immediately ran away, so they did not hear what he said.
"Oh no, here we go again," Boorn said. "All we're trying to do is keep an eye out for each other, keep an eye out for the kids."
Fortunately, no children were harmed in any of the incidents. Parents tell us they are more vigilant than ever and are teaching their kids to stay safe.
"It's really good that schools are getting out the message and what the kids need to know," Fairchild said.
Humble ISD principals have sent alerts to parents, warning of the incidents and encouraging them to discuss stranger danger rules with their children.
The district suggests you go over the following with your kids:
  • Walk to and from school in groups.
  • If anything unusual occurs, tell an adult immediately. Parents and teachers need to know right away what happened.
  • Never talk to strangers or accept rides from them.
  • Don't panic. If you are afraid or have a problem, call a parent or a trusted adult.
  • Arrange for immediate access to neighbors and other trusted adults who could answer questions or be contacted in an emergency.
  • Tour the neighborhood with your child to identify safe and dangerous circumstances and places.
  • Never tell people at the door or phone callers that you are home alone. Say your parents are busy and offer to take a message.
  • Keep your house key hidden. Don't give it to anyone and don't keep it in a visible place that would tell people you are going home to an empty house.
  • Never get into a car, enter a home, look for a lost pet, and accept candy or toys from an adult, unless your parents know what you are doing and have given you their permission first.
  • Tell a trusted adult parent, teacher or counselor if anyone ever makes you feel uncomfortable. When children are abused, it often is by someone they know and trust.
If you see suspicious behavior, let school officials know. Call 911 for emergencies or call appropriate law enforcement authorities.
(Copyright ©2012 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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