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13-year-old dies trying to save disabled dad from fire, father also killed

A 13-year-old Oklahoma boy perished in a house fire Wednesday morning as he tried unsuccessfully to save his disabled father from the flames and smoke.

The boy and his father, James Cummins, 60, were in their rural Love County home when the fire broke out. According to the Daily Ardmoreite, space heaters may have started the blaze. 

Officials with the Oklahoma Fire Marshal’s Office told the newspaper that the family had electricity at the time of the fire, but their propane for the double-wide mobile home’s heating system had run out. The boy’s mother and a sibling had left to buy more, and the family was using three space heaters to heat the home while they were gone.

Love County deputies and firefighters responded to the fire, but were unable to get inside due to debris and the fire’s intensity, Love County Sheriff Marty Grisham told the Ardmoreite

“Family members stated the father was paralyzed, so the boy went to help him get out, and they both succumbed to smoke inhalation,” Grisham said

Fire investigators determined that the fire started in the living room, but the extent of the damage made it impossible to say for sure if the space heaters caused the blaze, or if the fire was electrical in nature. 

>> Read more trending news

Judah Shepard, an investigator with the Fire Marshal’s Office, said precautions should be taken any time a space heater is used.

“They need to be at least 3 feet from any combustible material and not operated while plugged into an extension cord,” Shepard said

About 25,000 house fires in the United States each year are attributed to space heaters, according to Consumer Reports. An average of 300 people die as a result of those fires. 

The majority of those fires are caused when the heaters are placed too close to curtains, bedding or upholstered furniture. 

Aside from keeping a heater at least 3 feet away from combustibles, the publication recommends always using a heater that carries a safety certification. Certified heaters have labels with the UL mark from Underwriters Laboratories, the ETL label from Intertek or certification from CSA International. 

A portable heater should also have shut-off features, such as a sensor to shut the heater off if it overheats and a switch to shut it off if it is tipped over. 

The heater should be placed on a hard, level surface and it should be kept away from children and pets. It should be turned off when the user leaves the room or goes to bed, and the home should have working smoke detectors.

Vladimir Putin takes dip in freezing water to observe Epiphany

Russian President Vladimir Putin submerged himself in freezing water in celebration of Epiphany, a holiday in Orthodox Christianity that celebrates Jesus’ baptism.

The Associated Press reported that Russian TV stations and reporters were present as cameras caught Putin dunking and crossing himself in Lake Seliger in the northwestern region of Russia. The lake was frozen and a hole was cut into it so that Putin could take part in the tradition.

>> Read more trending news 

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the temperature of the water was 21 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to The Washington Post, the tradition involves a ceremony that purifies the spirit. Although Peskov said Putin has taken part in the tradition in the past, Friday was the first time he did so publicly. The publication said the fanfare may have been an effort to appeal to religious voters as Russia’s presidential election is in March.

More than 500,000 Russians dipped themselves into man-made or natural pools of water across the country to mark the observance of Epiphany, according to Russia’s Channel One TV network. Unlike the West, where the day, known as Three Kings’ Day in the United States, is celebrated Jan. 6, Russians observe on Jan. 19, following the Gregorian calendar.

Flu virus spread by breathing, study finds

Most people believe that the influenza virus is spread through the coughs and sneezes of infected people, but new research published Thursday suggests that the flu virus is spread more easily than previously thought.

>> Read more trending news

Medical professionals believe that the virus is spread most often by “droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But researchers studying how the virus spreads recently found large amounts of the virus in the breath of people suffering from the flu, according to the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health.

>> Related: Influenza surveillance map: Where is the flu in my state? 

The researchers -- from the University of Maryland, San Jose State University, Missouri Western State University and the University of California, Berkeley -- published their findings Thursday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We found that flu cases contaminated the air around them with infectious virus just by breathing, without coughing or sneezing,” said Donald Milton, professor of environmental health in the University of Maryland School of Public Health and lead researcher for the study.

Milton and his team examined the virus content in the breath of 142 people who were diagnosed with flu as they were breathing normally, speaking, coughing and sneezing. Researchers found that a majority of those who participated in the study had enough of the infectious virus in just their regular, exhaled breath to possibly infect another person.

A review of the data collected from the coughs and sneezes of infected participants showed that neither action appeared to have a large impact on whether or not the virus was spread.

>> Related: 11 things parents need to know about the flu, the vaccine, how long kids need to stay out of school  

“People with flu generate infectious aerosols (tiny droplets that stay suspended in the air for a long time), even when they are not coughing and especially during the first days of illness,” Milton said.

The study’s authors said the results highlighted how necessary it is for people who have the flu to stay at home.

>> Related: What is the H3N2 flu and how bad is flu season this year? 

“The study findings suggest that keeping surfaces clean, washing our hands all the time, and avoiding people who are coughing does not provide complete protection from getting the flu,” said Sheryl Ehrman, the dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San Jose State University. “Staying home and out of public spaces could make a difference in the spread of the influenza virus.”

Prince William debuts new haircut, people suggest beard

Prince William debuted a lower haircut while visiting Evelina London Children's Hospital on Thursday.

The heir apparent to the British throne has been visibly losing his hair for years, and it appears this new, very low cut is the 35-year-old’s way of embracing it.

>> Read more trending news 

E! News reported that the royal was supporting the Step Into Health program that works to employ veterans in the National Health Service. According to a report from the British tabloid The Sun, the cut was done after William got advice from wife Kate Middleton’s hair stylist, Richard Ward. Joey Wheeler, who works with Ward, did the cut for 180 pounds, or $250, according to the tabloid.

Twitter users had mixed reactions to William’s new look, and some suggested he grow a beard.

In the past, William and his family have joked about his hair loss. After the birth of his son, William told the press outside St. Mary’s Hospital that George had “way more hair than me, thank God!”

The Dutchess of Cambridge joked about her husband's lack of hair while watching a sheepshearing demonstration in Australia in 2014.

“The prince was interested in the alpaca, and as I showed it to them, the princess said he should put it on his head,” farmer Lyn Crejan said, according to People. “She said, ‘You need it more than me,’ and pointed to his head and he laughed.”

2 arrested after infant, 4-year-old dumped along freezing roads

Authorities have captured two teens they say stole an SUV with two children inside before abandoning them in below freezing temperatures.

>> Read more trending news

Khyree Swift, 17, and an unidentified 16-year-old have been charged with kidnapping, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said. Investigators said they tracked a stolen iPad to the home of one of the suspects, WSB-TV reported.

>> On AJC.com: SUV thief dumped little girl, 1-month-old baby along freezing roads

Swift was arrested Friday by Riverdale police, according to jail records. He appeared in court later in the day and was denied bond, WSB-TV reported.

Swift told a judge he doesn’t understand the allegations against him, according to the news station. His family told WSB-TV that Swift had nothing to do with the crime.

It is not clear when the other teen was captured.

Swift and the 16-year-old are accused of taking Precious Wilmer’s 2009 Chevy Equinox about 5 p.m. Wednesday from a QuikTrip on Riverdale Road.

Wilmer left her daughters, 1-month-old Ava Wilmer and 4-year-old Arya Davenport, in the SUV with the engine running while she went inside the convenience store, Clayton County police Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said.

She came out of the store and saw her car being driven away with her children in the back seat, police said. 

The girls were later found miles apart. 

Georgia State University police Chief Joseph Spillane found Arya walking on the shoulder of a roadway near I-285 and Riverdale Road, police said.

Channel 2 photojournalist Brian Ferguson found Ava in the middle of South Fulton Parkway, still strapped in her car seat.

>> On AJC.com: Children carjacked in Atlanta saved by passers-by in frigid weather 

At the time, the temperature was in the 20s, but it felt like the single digits.

The girls appeared to be OK, but were taken to Southern Regional Medical Center as a precaution. 

Atlanta police later located Precious Wilmer’s SUV on Metropolitan Parkway. 

In addition to kidnapping, Swift faces charges of theft by receiving stolen property, cruelty to children in the first degree and theft by taking.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writers Steve Burns and Raisa Habersham contributed to this report

Trump cancels Florida trip as government shutdown looms

President Donald Trump will not make a planned trip to Mar-a-Lago today because of a looming federal government shutdown, a White House official told The Palm Beach Post on Friday morning.

>> Read more trending news

Trump was scheduled to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport tonight for a weekend trip that included a Saturday fundraiser for his 2020 re-election campaign at Mar-a-Lago. The official who confirmed today’s travel is off did not address the president’s plans for the remainder of the weekend.

Trump was planning to make the 12th Palm Beach visit of his presidency. But Congress has not reached a spending agreement to keep the federal government operating past midnight.

Saturday is the one-year anniversary of Trump taking office. The Trump campaign recently announced a “special sweepstakes” in which a winner will get to attend dinner Saturday at Mar-a-Lago with Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.

James Comey to teach ethical leadership course at College of William & Mary

Former FBI Director James Comey will teach an ethical leadership course for his alma mater, Virginia’s College of William & Mary, starting in the fall, the school announced Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Comey, who was dismissed as director of the FBI by President Donald Trump in May 2017, was named an executive professor in education at William & Mary on Friday. School officials said he will teach ethical leadership during the fall 2018, spring 2019 and summer 2019 semesters with Drew Stelljes, an executive assistant professor of education and assistant vice president for student leadership at William & Mary.

“Our students will benefit significantly from his experience and wisdom,” William & Mary President Taylor Reveley said in a news release. “He understands to the core of his being that our leaders must have an abiding commitment to ethical behavior and sacrificial service if we are to have good government.”

>> Related: Comey told Trump 3 times he was not under investigation

The course will be taught predominantly in Washington, D.C., at the William & Mary Washington Center, school officials said. One class will be live-streamed to students in Washington, D.C., and taught at the William & Mary School of Education in Williamsburg, Virginia.

"I am thrilled to have the chance to engage with William & Mary students about a vital topic — ethical leadership,” Comey said in a news release. “Ethical leaders lead by seeing above the short term, above the urgent or the partisan, and with a higher loyalty to lasting values, most importantly the truth. Building and maintaining that kind of leadership, in both the private sector and government, is the challenge of our time.”

>> Reports: Trump's controversial decisions in office under scrutiny by Mueller

Comey ran the Richmond, Virginia, division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia f om 1996 to 2001, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. During that time, he also worked as an adjunct law professor at the University of Richmond, the news site reported.

President Barack Obama appointed Comey as director of the FBI in September 2013.

He faced criticism during and after the 2016 presidential election for his handling of an FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time in office. His decision to release a letter to Congress informing lawmakers of newly uncovered Clinton emails just weeks before the election had a strong impact on the vote, according to analysts.

>> Related: FBI opens investigation into new Clinton emails

Comey said two days before the election that nothing new or incriminating was found in the emails.

Comey was fired by Trump amid an ongoing investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to Trump campaign officials.

>> Related: Trump tweets: 'I am being investigated for firing the FBI director'

In congressional testimony, Comey said he felt the president tried to get him to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign less than a month into his tenure after it was revealed that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with Russian officials.

>> Related: Read James Comey’s complete testimony before the Senate committee

The White House denied that the dismissal was related to the Russia investigation, although Trump later told NBC News that he had “this Russia thing” on his mind when making the decision.

Comey earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and religion at William & Mary in 1982.

Man who dove off his fishing boat when motor boat crashed into his vessel files $372k lawsuit

A fisherman who had to jump into the Columbia River to avoid being crushed in a boating crash has filed a lawsuit against the person who was captaining the other vessel.

Clatsop County Sheriff’s Department said that the motor boat driver, Marlin Lee Larsen, 75, was sitting down while driving his boat and that he couldn’t see over the dash when he crashed into the fishing boat that Bryan Maess, 47, and two other friends were on, Oregon Live reported.

>> Read more trending news 

A GoPro camera captured the crash that happened in August. Christopher McMahon, one of Maess’ friends, waved his arms and yelled, trying to get Larsen’s attention. When that didn’t work, and it was apparent that the larger boat was going to crash into theirs, Maess, McMahon and Roni Durham jumped into the water.

Investigators found that if they had not abandoned ship, the friends would have been injured or even killed.

Maess, however, was injured by jumping into the water and being hit by debris, including injuries to his ankle, leg and arm, vision problems and headaches. He still wears a knee brace, according to the lawsuit, in which he is suing Larsen for $372,500, Oregon Live reported.

McMahon and Durham have not filed suit yet, but have started the process. Both are said to have suffered hypothermia and cuts. Durham claims she has suffered psychological trauma and hasn’t been on a boat since the accident.

Larsen’s son-in-law was on the boat driven by Larsen at the time of the crash. He told police that he warned Larsen to pay attention and that he had seen his father-in-law on his cellphone in the past, including the day of, but not at the time of, the accident.

Larsen told Oregon Live that he wasn’t using the device while he was driving the boat and that the allegations were “fake news.” He also said that the lawsuit, in his opinion, was not necessary since the other people were not hurt badly.

Larsen also has a criminal case filed against him, in which he has pleaded not guilty to reckless operation of a boat, fourth-degree assault and recklessly endangering the lives of others, Oregon Live reported.

Police: Man angry over chicken dinner puts wife’s hand in hot frying oil

An Oregon man is behind bars after sheriff’s deputies said he put his wife’s hand in hot frying oil.

Jeremiah Crothers is also accused of nearly suffocating his baby son, KATU reported.

Police said Crothers covered his 7-month-old son’s mouth and nose until the baby’s legs turned blue, Oregon Live reported.

>> Read more trending news 

According to police, Crothers’ wife hit her husband in the head with a frying pan to get him to let go of their child, KATU reported.

Later, police said, Crothers complained that his wife didn’t season the chicken she was preparing for dinner and then grabbed her hand and put it in the oil she was using to fry the chicken, KATU reported.

When police arrived, they said Crothers was not there, but they saw what they said were burns on the victim and the baby had signs of strangulation and a bruise on his head, Oregon Live reported. Crothers was arrested the next day in St. Helens. Crothers has been charged with attempted murder, strangulation, assault, coercion and attempted assault.

A judge set bail at $217,750.

Man arrested after stealing idling car with toddler inside

A man is accused of stealing a woman's car Thursday night with her 2-year-old son inside.

>> Read more trending news

D'Jerry Cassamajor faces several charges, including larceny of a motor vehicle, child abuse and kidnapping.

Police said Cassamajor stole the woman’s Hyundai Santa Fe after she left it running and walked into the Super Wok restaurant in north Charlotte to order food. 

After realizing her car and child were gone, the woman called friends and then 911.

“I seen a lady out there yelling and I caught the tail end of a car leaving,” one witness said. “She was worried like any mother should be..”

Officers said that after speeding away, Cassamajor wrecked the car a few blocks away, leaving the toddler in the snow.

Family members were already rushing to the crash scene and ultimately helped police make the arrest by holding Cassamajor down until officers arrived.

“As soon as we came down the street right here, he jumped out and we started chasing,” one family member said.

The Department of Social Services has been notified due to the fact that the child had been left in the car unattended.

“You don’t ever expect that to happen, but of course, you jump into to action mode because you think, ‘What if that was my child?’” a family member said.

Cassamajor is expected to face a judge on Monday.

The boy was not hurt, police said.

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