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Slain officer’s colleagues escort daughter to school on 1st day back after dad’s death

Colleagues of a longtime California police officer gunned down in the line of duty earlier this month escorted his 8-year-old daughter to school on her first day back following his death.

More than a dozen officers showed up Monday morning to take Vanessa Vega to school. Vanessa’s father, Jose “Gil” Vega, was one of two Palm Springs officers slain Oct. 8 while responding to a domestic disturbance. The Palm Springs Police Department shared photos on Facebook of the smiling elementary school student greeting the officers.

Several PSPD officers surprised Officer Gil Vega's 8 year old daughter Vanessa by picking her up from home and taking her to school today.Posted by Palm Springs Police Department, CA on Monday, October 24, 2016

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KTLA in Los Angeles reported that Vanessa earned a standing ovation when she spoke at her father’s Oct. 18 memorial service. The girl told stories about how her father taught her to run, but always lost to her when they raced.

She also recalled him teaching her baseball and karate.

Vega, a 63-year-old father of eight, was months away from retirement when he was killed. The other slain officer, 27-year-old Lesley Zerebny, had just returned from maternity leave after giving birth to a daughter.

The suspected gunman, 26-year-old John Hernandez Felix, was taken into custody following a 12-hour standoff with police. The Los Angeles Times reported that Felix, an alleged gang member, was wearing soft body armor and was equipped with multiple high-capacity magazines when he surrendered.

He has been charged with two counts of murder of a police officer and one count of attempted murder of a police officer for a third officer who was injured in the shooting, but survived. 

Mother says toy machine at pizza shop dispensed medication

A mother in New Hampshire said a machine designed to give children a treat was more like a pill dispenser at one pizza shop.

Courtney Jones was with her 7-year-old daughter Allyson when they put a quarter into the toy machine at Rochester House of Pizza Friday night, and received a container of pills.

“I put all three quarters in the first two were toys and then the third one when it first came out I thought it was candy and I didn't let her have it and I said hold on let me look at his and I opened it up and I realized it was medication,” Jones said.

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Police said they are investigating how the pills, which appear to be blood pressure medication, got into the machine.

“There was one capsule and then there was three pills and one of the pills was broken in half,” Jones said.

Jones said her daughter knew not to ingest the pills, but she worries other kids may not know.

“She says I wouldn't want that that's not candy. She's seven she's old enough to know but had she been younger maybe she wouldn't have known,” Jones said.

Rochester House of Pizza owners said an outside company fills the machine, and that company is unsure how the pills turned up. Jones hopes it never happens again.

“I hope that another child doesn't get one of those capsules filled with medication and accidentally eat them,” Jones said.

That machine has been removed from the shop, but Jones said she has been told the supplier of the toys and treats buys them in bulk from out of state.

That's why she's afraid they'll end up somewhere else, too.

WFXT reached out to that supplier Monday night but could not make contact.

Report: Most pickup trucks have poor headlights

A new report released Tuesday says most late model pickup trucks have poor headlights.

The study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at the way the headlights on 11 pickup trucks performed as they drove straight and on curves.  Seven of the 11 they tested were rated as "poor."

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Researchers say poorly designed headlights on pickup trucks can cause glare or temporarily blind other drivers.

They evaluated how the light illuminated stretches of road and found the Honda Ridgeline was the only pickup to get a “good” rating, while the Chevy Colorado was at the bottom of their list for clear visibility.

The IIHS also factored in truck's high beams, LED lights and reflectors.

The group says automakers are already trying to make headlight improvements.

Earlier this year, they tested midsize cars and SUVs and found most those vehicles had poorly rated headlights as well.

See the full report at this link.

Pregnant woman carjacked, dog stolen

A pregnant woman who was carjacked in Tacoma this past weekend is pleading for help finding her dog that was stolen along with her SUV.

"I thought he was going to kill me," Ive Elske said.

Ive Elske was in her Hyundai Santa Fe at Dawson's Bar and Grill dropping off her brother about 5:45 p.m Sunday.

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She was parked in the alley when she said a carjacker opened the door and put a gun to her head. Else struggled with the attacker and knocked away the gun.

The carjacker got in her SUV and drove off with Elske's pug mix, Layla, inside. 

Elske is desperate to get her back. She was in the process of moving to her boyfriend’s house and had her SUV full of belongings. 

She recently relocated from Arizona. All Elske is worried about is getting Layla back.

On Monday Elske was getting her cellphone replaced in case someone finds Layla and calls the phone number on her license.

Tacoma police recovered the gun, it was an airsoft. The stolen car is a 2008 Silver Hyundai Santa Fe with an Arizona cancer survivor plate BMW 6510.

If you spot the SUV or the dog, you are asked to contact the Tacoma Police Department.

Sisters under federal investigation after admitting to burying father's body in back yard

Two Lake County sisters are under federal investigation after officials said they were suspected of collecting their dead father's Social Security checks for years.

Deputies said the pair confessed that their father died five years ago, and they panicked and buried him in the back yard of his Eustis home on Parkcrest Drive.

A case file against Susan Kort and Sarah Kort for improper disposal of a deceased body has been sent to the State Attorney’s Office. 

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The body of 94-year-old Merlin Kort was found in a shallow grave in September, officials said.

Many neighbors, including Jamie Osborne, said they were “very shocked.”

Investigators said many relatives had not talked to Kort in a while and were concerned.

"The sisters stated that he moved up north, and that he was staying with relatives," said Fred Jones of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said they later got a tip that Kort's body was buried on the property, which was fenced and covered with trees.

Deputies said they believe Kort’s body had been there between four and five years.

"I never knew he lived back there," said Osborne.

Deputies said the sisters claimed he died of natural causes, but instead of calling to report it "they panicked and they didn't know what to do and so they buried his body in the back yard." 

But no one knew Kort was dead. Mail continued to be delivered to Kort's home, which included his Social Security checks.

The U.S. Inspector General's Office has not returned WFTV’s call for comment.

"Yeah, and to be your father, you don't do that. You just don't treat your father like that," said Osborne.

Deputies said the sisters said Kort had health issues.

Investigators said they did not find anything that leads them to suspect foul play.

Dog abandoned for being fat has a new home

A 12-year-old dog named Leila, who someone left at the Cobb County, Georgia, animal shelter after her weight made her “inconvenient,” has found a new home.

At 61 pounds, it’s been hard for Leila to get up and down steps, so her past owners gave her up. Cobb County animal shelter volunteers posted a message about Leila’s heartbreaking plight the other day.

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“Leila’s previous ‘family’ left her at Cobb County Animal Control on Oct. 20 because they said it had become inconvenient since Leila had become so heavy she can no longer easily go up and down the stairs to take herself outside to potty.

Leila is so very sweet and looks like a beautiful young pup. You’d never know by looking at her that she has 12 years of life behind her.

We hope that someone sees what a beauty this girl is and snaps her up. Exercise and diet could help this beauty slim down. Her previous humans said she is GOOD WITH KIDS. Please share Leila to help her get out of the shelter!”

Apparently someone got the message. A subsequent post reported the happy news that Leila now has a new home.

UPDATE:  10-24-2016LEILA HAS BEEN ADOPTED!____________________________________AFTER 12 YEARS, HER FAMILY SAID SHE...Posted by Helping Cobb County Animals on Saturday, October 22, 2016

However, lots of other pets are still waiting. If you’re interested, the Cobb County Animal Shelter. The number is 770-499-4136.

Shelter hours for adoptions are Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays 2 to 5 p.m.

Students make teacher's World Series dream come true

An Ohio teacher is having a World Series dream come true, and it's all thanks to his students.

Richard Gage is a huge fan of the Cleveland Indians, and students realized that he should be at the game when the Indians take the field for the Series, WKBN reported.

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So they set up a GoFundMe account to make sure he could see his team live.

"There are a lot of people like me over the past 25 years who he has had such a huge impression on that putting this out there we could probably get it done pretty swiftly," former student John Miley said.

In less than 72 hours, more than 100 people donated enough money to reach $2,500 goal, WKBN reported.

Many also left notes for their former teacher.

"I would just say to all the people who helped make this possible, thank you so much, you make me realize my life has true meaning," Gage said.

Gage will be at Game 2 Wednesday night.

7 things to know now: 4 killed at amusement park; Obamacare going up; keeping babies safe

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Four killed at park: A day at an Australian amusement park turned deadly when four people were killed on a ride that malfunctioned. Two men and two women died on the Thunder River Rapids ride. Authorities are trying to determine why two people were pitched from one of its rafts and two others either trapped under the water or actually in the ride. The accident took place at Dreamworld, a park in Queensland.  

2. Man jumps hold kids: A man holding his two children jumped from a New Jersey interstate overpass Monday. The man was found dead near where he jumped, but the children survived the incident that happened near the Wanaque River in the northern part of the state.  

3. Fogle’s ex sues: The former wife of Jared Fogle, who starred in commercials for the Subway sandwich chain, is suing the company saying executives knew her husband was a pedophile but failed to alert authorities. Katie McLaughlin divorced Fogle after he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and having sex with minors. "A responsible corporation would take immediate action when hearing of this behavior, even if it was only allegations," the lawsuit reads.  

4. Obamacare going up: The price of premiums for the Affordable Care Act are set to rise nearly 25 percent next year, according to a government report. Premiums for the plan known as Obamacare are increasing at the same time large insurers have announced they are leaving the program because of massive losses from customers who are sicker than anticipated. 

5. Keeping infants safe: The American Academy of Pediatrics says you can protect children from sudden infant death syndrome by keeping them close during the night. The AAP is recommending that parents keep their sleeping babies in the same room with them at night, preferably for a full year, but at least until the baby is 6 months old. They warn, however, that infants should never sleep in the same bed as adults or other children. About 3,500 babies die of SIDS each year in the United States. 

And one more

A Texas family is looking for help to find their daughter, a college student, who disappeared two weeks ago. Zuzu Verk, 22, was last seen out with friends and her boyfriend on Oct. 12. Verk’s father says her boyfriend has refused to help authorities in the search.  

In case you missed it

This is what football can do to a child's brain after just one season

The results of a new study may have some parents rethinking whether they allow their children to play football.

>> Watch the news report here

Three million children in the U.S. play in tackle football programs. While many doctors and scientists have taken a look at the impact of concussions, new research by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center studied the impact of less-serious blows to the head that are common during games.

The study included 25 players between the ages of 8 and 13 and was centered on a youth program in Winston-Salem, N.C. Each boy was outfitted with a helmet that measured the severity and frequency of head blows.

“This is important, particularly for children, because their brains are undergoing such rapid change, particularly in the age category from maybe 9 to 18. And we just don’t know a lot of about it,” Dr. Chris Whitlow, a lead researcher, told NBC News.

Researchers say their findings indicated that even at this young age, the boys were receiving pretty hard hits.

The doctors then performed MRIs on the players and determined there were some changes in the brain’s white matter, the tissue that connects the gray matter of the brain.

“We have detected some changes in the white matter,” Whitlow said. “And the importance of those changes is that the more exposure you have to head impacts, the more change you have.”

Young players who did not have concussions were also found to have been impacted by repeated hits. Brain changes were found even after a single season of playing the sport.

>> Read more trending stories

So far, doctors are not cautioning parents against letting their children play football since there are still some unclear areas following the study. Doctors don’t know if these changes will continue as the boys play football. They also don’t know what long-term impact the repeated blows to the head will have on the players.

Still, some parents say the sport is worth the risk — for now — because of the joy it brings to their children. Football also encourages their kids to stay on top of their grades.

Kindra Ritzie-Worthy has two sons who play football. She says they take their footballs everywhere they go. One even sleeps with his ball.

“Worth the risk?” she told NBC. “I say absolutely.”

The study is published in the journal Radiology.

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