Local KSN News
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) Horrific. The way a Wichita man describes conditions for his family in Puerto Rico.
William Santiago says things aren’t getting any better, still no running water or electricity at least for his family.
“People are scared. It is not right. People are scared and they are feeling desperate,” says Santiago.
His family is still picking up these pieces in Puerto Rico. His aunt lost her home to the hurricane and has taken refuge with his grandmother.
He says, short of a roof, each other is all they have.
“This my grandmother, 87 year old on November 1st. No water. No electricity. That is horrific and it is unacceptable,” says Santiago.
It’s been three weeks since the hurricane slammed the island and he says his family is still having trouble receiving support they need.
“I can say, to this day, my family has not received anything from the US government. Anything,” says Santiago.
They keep up on Facebook messenger when his family can get Wi-Fi he just sent a 13 pound box full of supplies to them.
As time passes, Santiago is concerned that Americans on the mainland will simply forget about this tragedy.
“What is the right thing to do? The right thing is to help these people.”
SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Cornell Antoine McNeal, the man charged with the brutal rape, beating, murder and setting on fire of a Wichita woman in Fairmount Park was in court on Friday.
Evidence shows McNeal attacked victim Letitia Davis, 36, as she walked through Fairmount Park from a friend’s home in November 2014. Davis died from her injuries more than a week after the attack.
McNeal was in Judge Warren Wilbert’s chambers as his defense answered questions regarding his competency to stand trial. McNeal’s defense said they want their own physician, a Dr. Logan, to evaluate McNeal at Larned State Hospital, a psychiatric facility.
“I don’t feel like it is fair to Mr. McNeal to drag him screaming and kicking to a second set of evaluations as it may be,” McNeal’s defense said Friday.
When Judge Wilbert asked questions of McNeal, he continued his habit of closing his eyes and not responding.
“Mr McNeal this is your opportunity to object and if you choose not to do so, I’m going to construe your acquiescence or your silence to be acquiescence at your attorney’s request,” Judge Wilbert said. “Seeing no response from Mr. McNeal, this request pending examination from state hospital will be charged to the defendant for speedy trial purposes between Monday October 16 and Monday December 18.”
McNeal has a hearing set for December 15th and a holding date for December 18 is set for a jury trial.
McNeal’s right hand was wrapped in a gauzy splint. His attorneys refused comment on the matter.
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — The home of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz burned to the ground in the deadly California wildfires but his widow escaped, her stepson said Thursday.
Jean Schulz, 78, evacuated before flames engulfed her hillside home Monday and is staying with a daughter, Monte Schulz said.
The Schulzes built the California split-level home in the 1970s and the cartoonist lived there until his death in 2000.
“It’s the house he died in. All of their memorabilia and everything is all gone,” Monte Schulz said.
He had not heard from his stepmother and learned about the disaster from his brother, Craig Schulz, who also lost his Santa Rosa home in the fire.
“The fire came by at, like, two in the morning,” Monte Schulz said. “Everything’s gone.”
Fires in the Northern California wine country have killed at least 26 people since they began Sunday.
Monte Schulz said he had not visited his stepmother’s home in recent years because he lives more than 300 miles away in Santa Barbara. He wasn’t sure what might have burned.
“Obviously stuff from my dad and their life together, all gone,” he said.
Schulz usually worked at an outside studio and most of his original artwork and memorabilia are at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, which escaped the flames.
But the loss of the house itself is painful, Monte Schulz said.
“I had memories of being in that house. I never lived there but I visited all the time,” he said. “That time of our lives is now completely erased.”
Schulz had long ties to Santa Rosa and to Sonoma County. He and his first wife, Joyce, built a home in the city of Sebastopol in 1958. The airport in Santa Rosa Airport is officially titled the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport and features bronze sculptures of the Peanuts characters. Its logo is Snoopy flying on top of his doghouse.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (WDIV) – Security camera footage shows a quick scramble to stop a carjacker at an Allen Park, Michigan gas station Thursday.
The video shows the suspect enter a car while the victim was pumping gas.
As he drove away, the car’s owner jumped in the vehicle. She was hanging out of the car as the suspect kept driving.
A fuel tanker driver who was in the parking lot saw the car driving away.
“I see the car pull off, and it yanks the hose away from the pump, and I’m like what the hell is going on?” he said.
When the car passed his truck, he jumped into action.
“I go up to the side door and she’s fighting with him. I said, ‘Is he trying to steal your car?’ and she says, ‘Yes, he’s trying to steal my car.’ I say, ‘Put in park, put it park,'” he said.
The truck driver was able to grab the suspect by the shirt when the car stopped, but he was able to get away.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas investigators offered a new version of events Friday in a shifting timeline surrounding the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history as they described how the gunman opened fire on nearby airport jet fuel tanks and on police officers arriving at the massacre.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo held a highly anticipated news conference alongside the top FBI agent in Las Vegas amid questions about whether police could have done more to stop gunman Stephen Paddock on Oct. 1.
They provided no new information about Paddock’s motivation as he killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 at a country music festival. Forty-five people remain hospitalized in critical condition, Lombardo said.
The sheriff said an autopsy has been performed on Paddock, and the coroner observed “no abnormalities” in his brain. He said the brain has been shipped to a facility to do a microscopic evaluation.
Lombardo confirmed that Paddock intentionally opened fire on jet fuel tanks at the nearby Las Vegas airport and said he took shots at arriving police officers, possibly to keep them at bay as police rushed to his room.
But nearly two weeks after the massacre, questions remain unanswered.
What drove Paddock to open fire on the country music festival? Police and the FBI say they’re still at a loss to explain his motive but said they have found no signs that he had ideologies or connections to any groups.
Why did Paddock stop firing into the concert? Authorities do not know, but police apparently had not reached his hotel room by that point.
In a chronology provided Monday, Lombardo had said Paddock started spraying 200 rounds from his suite into the hallway of the Mandalay Bay at 9:59 p.m. Oct. 1, wounding an unarmed security guard in the leg.
He said Friday that the security guard came to a barricaded stairwell door at 9:59 and wasn’t shot until around 10:05 p.m.
About that time, the gunman unleashed a barrage of bullets on the festival crowd. Then he killed himself with a gunshot to the head.
Lombardo’s newest version of events aligns with that Mandalay Bay officials said Thursday. They had disputed whether six minutes actually passed between the first shots in the hallway and the start of the concert rampage and said Paddock may have wounded the security guard within 40 seconds of firing into the crowd.
Earlier this week, lawyers had questioned why police and security weren’t able to stop Paddock sooner when authorities said six minutes passed between the bursts of gunfire.
Lombardo also pushed back against criticism of his office over whether more could have been done to stop the shooter.
“In the public space, the word incompetent has been brought forward. I am absolutely offended with that characterization,” he said.
The 10-minute attack on the crowd began at 10:05 p.m., when the 64-year-old real estate investor and retired accountant began firing more than 1,000 rounds from two bashed-out windows, police said. Police didn’t arrive on the 32nd floor until 10:17 p.m., two minutes after he had stopped shooting, according to Lombardo.
The wounded guard, Jesus Campos, used his radio to call for help, the statement said. A maintenance worker, Stephen Schuck, has said he also called for help on his radio, asking a dispatcher to call the police because someone was shooting a rifle on the 32nd floor.
It’s not clear what Mandalay Bay maintenance and security workers did with those messages by the guard and maintenance worker.
The timeline given by police earlier this week differed dramatically from the one they gave last week: that Paddock wounded Campos after he had opened fire on the crowd. Campos was called a hero whose presence outside Paddock’s suite stopped the concert carnage.
As authorities seek answers, they are lacking one important investigative tool. There are no surveillance cameras in the hallways at the Mandalay Bay.
The FBI, which is leading the investigation, again pleaded for the public’s help.
“We continue to ask you if you have factual information in furtherance of this investigation, please call us. If you know something, say something,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse said.
Court officials on Thursday released copies of two search warrant applications that police submitted to a judge who approved a raid on Paddock’s home in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. The documents list items that investigators were seeking, including guns, explosives, computers, medications and personal records.
DETROIT (AP) — Ford is offering to inspect and repair about 1.3 million civilian versions of its Explorer SUV at no cost to owners in response to complaints of exhaust fumes leaking into passenger cabins.
The company maintains the vehicles are safe, but says it will do the work because some customers are concerned.
Ford says it will send letters to owners of 2011 through 2017 Explorers starting the week of Nov. 13. Dealers will check for leaks in rear lift gate gaskets and seal them if necessary. They’ll also reprogram the air conditioning to let in more fresh air.
Spokesman Mike Levine says the work will be done regardless of mileage or whether the SUVs are under warranty.
U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints of exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide inside Explorers.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump assured a high-profile gathering of Christian conservatives on Friday that his administration will defend religious organizations, promising a return to traditional American values while again subtly stoking the fire he helped ignite over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
“How times have changed, but you know what, now they are changing back again, just remember that,” Trump told the cheering crowd.
Trump, the first sitting president to address the Values Voter Summit, ticked off the promises he’s fulfilled to evangelical Christians and other conservatives, pledging to turn back the clock in what he described as a nation that has drifted away from its religious roots.
He bemoaned the use of the phrase “Happy Holidays” as a secular seasonal greeting and vowed to return “Merry Christmas” to the national discourse.
He noted, as Christian conservatives often do, that there are four references to the “creator” in the Declaration of Independence, saying that “religious liberty is enshrined” in the nation’s founding documents.
“I pledged that in a Trump administration, our nation’s religious heritage would be cherished, protected and defended like you have never seen before,” Trump said. “Above all else in America, we don’t worship government. We worship God.”
Trump praised his repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which limited political activity or endorsements by religious groups that received tax exemptions, as well as his administration’s effort to expand the rights of employers to deny women insurance coverage for birth control. The White House has also issued sweeping guidance on religious freedom that critics have said could erode civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Trump waded again into the cultural war that has captured his attention in recent weeks, declaring to loud applause that “we respect our great American flag,” a not-too-subtle reference to his repeated denunciations of NFL players who have taken to kneeling during the national anthem.
But Trump also struck several empathetic notes, offering condolences to the victims of Las Vegas mass shooting and pledging support to the people of Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico which have been ravaged by recent hurricanes. His kind words for Puerto Rico stood in stark contrast to his tweets the day before when he declared that federal personnel would not be able to stay “forever” to help the island, which remains largely without power weeks after the storm.
The president also made a call for Congress to enact his agenda, including a tax cut by the end of the year. And he vowed again to undo the Obama health care law, chiding Congress for forgetting “what their pledges were so we’re going a little different route.” The night before the speech, the administration announced it would halt payments to insurers, a move certain to roil insurance markets.
“Our values will endure. Our nation will thrive. Our citizens will flourish. And our freedom will triumph,” Trump said.
Trump has long been an unlikely favorite of religious conservative voters.
A twice-divorced casino owner, Trump boasted about his wealth and sexual exploits on Howard Stern’s radio show and posed for Playboy covers with scantily clad women. Just over a year ago, his campaign was dealt a near-fatal blow when a 2005 Access Hollywood video emerged capturing Trump bragging about committing sexual assault.
But evangelicals largely stood by Trump, who has appeared at the Values Voters summit twice before. In 2015, with questions surrounding whether he would appeal to evangelicals over conservative candidates like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Trump held a Bible aloft and declared, “I believe in God. I believe in the Bible. I’m a Christian.'”
Trump appeared before the group against last September, a moment in the electoral stretch run usually devoted to wooing undecided voters, to instead focus on his pitch to his religious base. Though he avoided some hot-button social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, he vowed his support for Israel, an important issue for evangelicals, and said that it was the “dream” of the Islamic State for his opponent Hillary Clinton to be elected president.
SALINA, Kan. (AP) – Authorities say a suspect has been arrested in the death of a man whose body was found last month inside a car in Salina.
KSAL reports that 38-year-old Leobardo Velasquez was arrested Thursday and booked into the Saline County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of 52-year-old Raul Lopez-Vargas, of Solomon.
Salina police says the body was found in a silver colored 2003 Lincoln Town Car that was parked in a home’s driveway. Authorities didn’t say what linked the suspect to the killing.
Anyone with information is urged to call police. A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered for information.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police are investigating after two teens and a 50-year-old man in a Chevy Suburban suffered injuries Thursday evening.
It happened around 8 p.m. in the parking lots of the Spangles and Wyndham hotel located in the 200 block of East Kellogg.
According to police, the Chevy Suburban struck the teens in the parking lot of the Spangles. Police said during that time words were exchanged. The two teens left and were walking to the Wyndham hotel. In that parking lot, the man in the Suburban allegedly tried to the strike them again. He hit one of the teens.
When police arrived, they contacted the driver of the Chevy. He sustained unknown injuries and was admitted to the hospital.
The two teens were treated on scene for minor injuries and released.
Right now, police are still investigating. They will present the case to the DA once they have completed their investigation.
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas and Missouri are discussing a possible head-to-head basketball game, university officials confirmed Thursday.
KSHB in Kansas City reports the game will be held Sunday, October 22, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The teams are still awaiting approval from the NCAA.
KSHB also says the impromptu game is a benefit to raise money for victims of recent hurricanes that have hit the U.S.
Neither school can make money on the event, so all proceeds will go to relief efforts.
Kansas and Mizzou haven’t played basketball in any form since 2012, the year Missouri joined the SEC.
In 2011, Mizzou played Missouri Southern State University to benefit victims of the tornado in Joplin.
Summery weather will carry us into this Friday as highs top out in the middle 80s. A more fall-like feel for the week’s end in western Kansas as a cold front moves across the state.Friday Forecast
Storm chances increase for central and eastern Kansas into Saturday. There is a threat for severe weather, damaging wind and large hail appear to be the greatest threats.Threat Tracker
It won’t be as warm on Sunday with highs only in the 60s.Next 3 Days
Coming up on KSN News at Noon, we’ll talk about how long this weekend fall cool-down will last! Laura Bannon
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a move likely to roil America’s insurance markets, President Donald Trump will “immediately” halt payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law he has been trying to persuade Congress to unravel for months.
Before sunrise Friday morning, Trump went on Twitter to urge Democrats to make a deal: “The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding,” he wrote. “Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!”
The Department of Health and Human Services had made the announcement in a statement late Thursday. “We will discontinue these payments immediately,” said acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Medicare administrator Seema Verma. Sign-up season for subsidized private insurance starts Nov. 1, in less than three weeks, with about 9 million people currently covered.
In a separate statement, the White House said the government cannot legally continue to pay the so-called cost-sharing subsidies because they lack a formal authorization by Congress. Officials said a legal opinion from the Justice Department supports that conclusion.
However, the administration had been making the payments from month to month, even as Trump threatened to cut them off to force Democrats to negotiate over health care. The subsidies help lower copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes.
Halting the payments would trigger a spike in premiums for next year, unless Trump reverses course or Congress authorizes the money. The next payments are due around Oct. 20.
The top two Democrats in Congress sharply denounced the Trump plan in a joint statement.
“It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America,” said House and Senate Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi of California and Chuck Schumer of New York. “Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.”
In a subsequent tweet, Trump asserted, “Obamacare is a broken mess. Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves.”
The president’s action is likely to trigger a lawsuit from state attorneys general, who contend the subsidies to insurers are fully authorized by federal law, and say the president’s position is reckless.
“We are prepared to sue,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “We’ve taken the Trump Administration to court before and won.”
Word of Trump’s plan came on a day when the president had also signed an executive order directing government agencies to design insurance plans that would offer lower premiums outside the requirements of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Frustrated over setbacks in Congress, Trump is wielding his executive powers to bring the “repeal and replace” debate to a head. He appears to be following through on his vow to punish Democrats and insurers after the failure of GOP health care legislation.
Trump, in a speech to conservative activists at the Values Voter Summit on Friday, vowed to keep pressuring members of Congress to pass health care legislation.
“Congress, they forgot what their pledges were, so we’re going a little different route,” Trump said. “But you know what? In the end it’s going to be just as effective and maybe it will even be better.”
Experts have warned that cutting off the money would lead to a double-digit spike in premiums, on top of increases insurers already planned for next year. That would deliver another blow to markets around the country already fragile from insurers exiting and costs rising. Insurers, hospitals, doctors’ groups, state officials and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have urged the administration to keep paying.
Leading GOP lawmakers have also called for continuing the payments to insurers, at least temporarily, so constituents maintain access to health insurance. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is working on such legislation with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.
The cost-sharing subsidies can reduce a deductible of $3,500 to a few hundred dollars. Assistance is available to consumers buying individual policies; people with employer coverage are unaffected by the dispute.
Nearly 3 in 5 HealthCare.gov customers qualify for help, an estimated 6 million people or more. The annual cost to the government is currently about $7 billion.
But the subsidies have been under a legal cloud because of a dispute over whether the Obama health care law properly approved them. Adding to the confusion, other parts of the Affordable Care Act clearly direct the government to reimburse the carriers.
For example, the ACA requires insurers to help low-income consumers with their copays and deductibles.
And the law also specifies that the government shall reimburse insurers for the cost-sharing assistance that they provide.
But there’s disagreement over whether the law properly provided a congressional “appropriation,” similar to an instruction to pay. The Constitution says the government shall not spend money unless Congress appropriates it.
House Republicans trying to thwart the ACA sued the Obama administration in federal court in Washington, arguing that the law lacked the needed specific language.
A district court judge agreed with House Republicans, and the case has been on hold before the U.S. appeals court in Washington.
While the legal issue seems arcane, the impact on consumers would be real.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that premiums for a standard “silver” plan will increase by about 20 percent without the subsidies. Insurers can recover the cost-sharing money by raising premiums, since those are also subsidized by the ACA, and there’s no legal question about their appropriation.
Consumers who receive tax credits under the ACA to pay their premiums would be shielded from those premium increases.
But millions of others buy individual health care policies without any financial assistance from the government and could face prohibitive increases. Taxpayers would end up spending more to subsidize premiums.
Associated Press Writers Ken Thomas and Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans increased their spending at retailers last month by the most in two and a half years, driven by strong auto sales as residents of hurricane-ravaged areas replaced destroyed cars.
Retail sales rose 1.6 percent in September, after slipping 0.1 percent in August, the Commerce Department said Friday. Auto sales jumped 3.6 percent, the most since March 2015. Gas sales climbed 5.8 percent, the most in four and a half years, likely reflecting price spikes after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Even excluding the volatile auto and gas categories, sales rose a solid 0.5 percent, up from a 0.1 percent gain in August.
Consumers are optimistic about the economy, unemployment has hit a 16-year low, and wages have ticked up in recent months. That should boost spending and broader economic growth in the coming months.
Most of the gains last month were likely fueled by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which slammed into Texas, Florida and other southeastern states in late August and September.
Sales at home and garden supply stores rose 2.1 percent, probably lifted by hurricane preparation, as well as repairs and renovations in the aftermath of the storms. Grocery store sales increased 0.8 percent, the most since April 2016, likely boosted by restocking after the hurricanes hit.
Sales at general merchandise stores, which include big box retailers such as Walmart and Target, rose 0.3 percent.
Online retailers reported another healthy gain of 0.5 percent. E-commerce sales have jumped 9.2 percent in the past year, more than double the overall sales increase of 4.4 percent.
Not all stores saw a boost: Sales at furnishers, electronics and appliance stores, and sporting goods stores fell.
The retail sales report is closely watched because it provides an early read on consumer activity each month. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.
U.S. economic growth likely slowed in the July-September quarter as the hurricanes shut down thousands of businesses, employees were forced to miss work, and power was cut to millions of homes. Analysts forecast that the economy expanded at a 2 percent annual pace in the third quarter, down from a 3 percent gain in the April-June quarter.
Yet the economy is expected to rebound in the final three months of the year as rebuilding and repair work accelerates. Construction and engineering firms are expected to step up hiring as homes, commercial buildings and roads and bridges are fixed. Economists expect growth will pick up to a 2.5 percent to 3 percent pace.
Happy Friday, Kansas!
Our weekly drought monitor was updated yesterday, showing significant improvements across the state, after heavy rainfall last Wednesday and Friday. So we’ve now eliminated the severe drought category, and greatly trimmed back on the moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions.
And we have more rain chances on the way for the weekend, due to a front moving across the state. You can already see that this morning with 40s to the northwest as opposed to 60s elsewhere.
And it will continue to feel a bit more like summer for the rest of our Friday: A mild start, then a breezy, warm, mostly sunny, and slightly muggy afternoon. Grab the t-shirt and shorts today!
We shouldn’t have any problems for those Friday night football games, but after midnight we may see some non-severe storms developing in southwest Kansas, that will move northeastward through the night, potentially impacting Wichita.
We’re then looking at a better chance for storms Saturday afternoon and evening across central/eastern Kansas. There is still an Elevated Risk for severe weather from around Wichita and points toward the east, so please stay alert tomorrow!
I’ll have more details on your weekend forecast all morning on Kansas Today, or you can watch my latest video right here: http://ksn.com/2017/03/08/weather-forecast-discussion/
Have a great weekend, everybody!
~Katie the Weather Lady
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – With Jesse Ertz’s availability uncertain for Saturday’s game against TCU, Hays native and Kansas State sophomore quarterback Alex Delton is getting prepared to be the man under center for the Wildcats.
Delton performed admirably for KSU in last week’s double-overtime loss to Texas, but the competition is only getting taken up a notch this weekend against the sixth-ranked Horned Frogs. TCU vs. Kansas State kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The game will be televised on FS1.
‘Every night we prayed, please let her see the house’: organization answers prayers for tornado family
EUREKA, Kan. (KSNW) – After the July 2016 tornado ravaged the town of Eureka, many disaster-relief services came and went. It’s part of the rebuild cycle. One organization however, is still there and helping a Eureka family rebuild their dreams.
Mennonite Disaster Services is rebuilding a house, nearing completion, for Elmer and Regina Hatcher.
Shortly after the tornado, Regina was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer.
“So every night we prayed, let her live long enough to see the house,” a tearful Elmer told KSN.
Their prayers, answered. Regina’s cancer was not visible at her last appointment. She even picked out the shade of blue the house was painted on Thursday. The Hatchers are staying in an apartment space while their home comes to fruition.
Jeff Koller, regional operations coordinator for Mennonite Disaster Services likens the work his organization does to the story of the Good Samaritan.
“It’s turned into kind of a neat project because it was started, the walls and floor were all framed in a parking lot at First Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas in a weekend blitz,” Koller said.
The Hatchers are preparing to move into their new home next month. THursday afternoon, volunteers from Germany helping MDS and also inmates from Greenwood County Jail were helping build the home. Elmer was able to use his German he remembers from his Army days when he was stationed in Germany to speak to the volunteers.
“Everywhere I turn, God’s been there to help us,” Elmer said.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Karen Flateau and Phaedra have an inseparable bond. A bond Flateau feared was broken when a rare disease took her life in a different direction five years ago.
“When I became a paraplegic I was kinda crushed,” said Flateau. “I had no idea if I would ever ride again. Everyone wanted me to sell my horse and I said noooo, I am not doing that.”
While Flateau was coming to terms with her new life, now confined to a wheelchair, the organization Freedom Hooves helped her find new hope. That hope came from a 1,900 pound Draft horse, Phaedra.
“The horse mimics the movement of walking. Just like us, just like our gate, the human gate. Horses have that similar gate,” explained Misty Eldringhoff.
Eldringhoff is the development director of Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding Center. Freedom Hooves is an organization that helps children and adults with disabilities through equine-assisted therapies.
“So if you are having challenges, especially with your upper torsos down, if you’re having challenges and you can’t walk and you are wheelchair bound, once you get up on a horse and you start riding, the horse is walking, just like you would be walking out of that wheelchair,” said Eldringhoff.
Phaedra gives Flateau a chance to get back in the saddle. It’s not always an easy ride for this horse lover or those who benefit from Freedom Hooves.
“People who are disables, especially at my age deal with an awful lot of depression and sadness and isolation,” explained Flateau.
But equine therapy changes that, one ride at a time.
“It’s just the weight of the world is released. So it’s more than just gaining that muscle and that balance and core strength, it’s inside,” said Eldringhoff. “It’s personal, it’s that connection it’s that complete, it’s the experience. There’s that peace with horses.”
KSN is a proud sponsor of the Horseshoe Hoedown this Saturday benefiting Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding Center. The Horseshoe Hoedown will be at the WSU Rhatigan Student Center from 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $50 a piece.
For more information about Freedom Hooves, click here.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita, autistic teen attended his first high school dance on Saturday.
“Let’s go!” hollered Nate Younkman.
Nate Younkman, 16, spends a majority of his free time outside his west Wichita home. It’s there, his mom says he feels free.
“He’s constantly out playing, being the Chiefs in the backyard,” said Nate’s mom Jessica Neitzel. “He loves the Chiefs!”
Love, may be an understatement. Neitzel said her son, who is often seen decked out in Chiefs gear, is somewhat obsessed with the Kansas City football team. He has a special, printed-out Chiefs schedule that he writes the scores on after each game. He also brings up the team in nearly every conversation.
“It’s an everyday thing, pretty much from the time he wakes up in the morning to the time he goes to bed,” Neitzel said.
However, the Chiefs have taken a backseat to Nate’s most recent obsession, his first high school dance.
“He was super, super excited,” Neitzel said. “It fills your heart full of joy and I just thought it was so sweet of Aliya to ask him to go.”
Nate was diagnosed with autism when he was about 10-months old. He also suffers from epilepsy and microplasia. The junior had never been to a school dance, let alone asked to go to one by somebody.
“He’s one of my friends, so I chose him,” said Aliya Anthony. “I was like ‘Natey, I have a question to ask you and he’s like what and I’m like would you like to tackle homecoming with me?'”
“It was very sweet and kind and Natey’s face was just priceless during the whole thing. Of course, he instantly starts talking about the Chiefs,” Neitzel said.
Neitzel said when the day arrived for Nate to attend the dance, he was extremely prepared.
“He was up at 6 o’clock in the morning, all completely dressed with his flowers in hand and I’m like ‘Natey, it’s not until this evening!'” she said.
The night of the dance, Nate swapped his football for Aliya and some sunflowers. The pair posed for pictures and then danced the night away. When asked how the evening went, Nate grinned.
“Big time!” he said.
KSN asked Nate if he’d rather go to a high school dance or a Chiefs game.
“Chiefs game!” Nate exclaimed.
Unfortunately, Nate has never been to a Chiefs game, but his mom hopes to take him to one someday. Netizel said when Nate is not talking football he is now asking her when he will get to go to prom.
ANDOVER, Kan. (KSNW) – Remember Diesel and Abby? They are the two dogs in the doghouse for being pit bulls in a city that doesn’t allow them.
But now one of these K-9’s has a new leash on life in Andover.
“When I went and looked at it myself it just to me did not look like a pit bull,” says Captain Joseph Schroeder. “It looked like a beagle.”
Captain Schroeder, of the Andover Police Department, says when they were initially made aware of the Foley’s dogs and went to their home, the family admitted they did have two pit bulls.
But later he says the family called police and asked them to come take another look at Diesel.Diesel is a proud member of the Foley family. (Photo courtesy KSN News)
“When we look at these animals, we know that this is somebody’s pet or family member.” said Schroeder. “It is a very serious thing for us to make that determination.”
The determining factor? Captain Schroeder says there’s eight of them.
“You are looking at the ears and you are looking at mostly the muscle structure of the jaws, the neck and the shoulders,” Schroeder explained.
They use a list of characteristics, the same one Wichita Police use to determine what is a pit bull. They do not DNA test.
Characteristics like a broad, blunt wedge head, a strong under-jaw and a very muscular physique.
If a dog fits at least five of the characteristics, then in Andover, it’s considered a pit bull.
Diesel didn’t fit the mold.
“There was no doubt in my mind that it was not a pit bull. It may have some pit bull in its lineage but not enough for someone to say that that is a pit bull,” said Schroeder.
A relief for a family who gets to keep at least one of their pups.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The wildfires in California have caused thousands of residents to flee their homes to safety, as those fires continue to burn.
A Wichita native who has lived in Santa Rosa for the past five years was right in the middle of it, saying she barely made it out alive.
80-year old Maria Ortega says she was born and raised in Wichita. She says she moved to California back in 2002.
Ortega says she got a wake up call at 4:30 Monday morning that she wasn’t expecting.
“The doorbell is ringing, after the doorbell stops ringing, somebody starts pounding on the door,” said Ortega.
Ortega admits, she ignored it at first, until she started smelling smoke.
“I got out of my bed and went in the dining room and went in the kitchen and looked out my backyard and the vineyard in the back of me was in flames, at least six to eight feet tall they were coming, at least that,” said Ortega.
Ortega says she woke up her son-in-law, who was staying with her and didn’t waste any time in evacuating her home.
“I grabbed my purse and the money I had and then I checked on my pets, and the pets, I couldn’t find them,” said Ortega.
She says she hopped in her car and tried making her way out of her neighborhood.
Ortega says it wasn’t easy. Her first stop was at a nearby grocery store parking lot.
“Then I see the flames, I see these flames coming up through the trees and everything and I said this is not going to be a good area,” said Ortega.
Ortega says she eventually made it to safety. After staying with a family friend for a day, she was able to make her way back to Wichita.
Ortega says she arrived here with only her gym back in hand, the clothes on her back, and the mask she was given to wear over her face when she was evacuating the fire.
Back in California, she says her son-in-law has been back in the neighborhood she once called home.
“He is looking through the rubbish and everything and checking to see if he can find the babies, the two cats, the whole neighborhood, it just flattened it,” said Ortega.
While her home and the mementos left behind have been lost in the fire, Ortega remains optimistic, upbeat and thankful.
“You know what, I can’t replace the pictures or anything like that, but the other stuff, you know, it doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t, only thing that matters
is I’m here,” said Ortega.
Ortega admits, if she had stayed in her house 10 minutes longer, she might have not made it out alive.
KSN asked what comes next for Ortega and she said that is a question she’s trying to answer herself.
She says she doesn’t plan to go back to California and rebuild.