Olney family sues Germantown nursing home, claims staff let their mother fall to her death

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — An Olney family filed a wrongful lawsuit Wednesday against a Germantown assisted living facility over the death of their 78-year-old mother, saying that staff allowed the woman to wander to her death.

“I was very angry,” said Heather Davis Stokes, as she and sister Pamela Davis Edward gave a tearful account of learning that their mother, Barbara Jones-Davis, died last July.

“I feel betrayed,” said Edward. “Who exactly is at fault for a death that should not have happened?”  

Jones-Davis was a resident at Wesley Enhanced Living on Green Street in Germantown. Her family moved the retired bill collector and jewelry dealer into the facility in 2017.

The sisters say their mother had been diagnosed with dementia and low vision, and was known to wander from her Olney Home. The family took two years to research facilities and decided that Wesley was the best place.

“It had cloth napkins,” said Pamela, “there were so many activities that she could get involved – art, dance, spiritual – it was a beautiful place.” 

According to the complaint filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Wesley staff, as well as U.S. Security Associates, were negligent in their care of Jones-Davis. The suit alleges that the 78-year-old wandered out of the facility on the evening of July 8, 2018.

A video from Wesley shows Jones-Davis wandering out of the assisted living facility and walking around. 

“Barbara wandered for over 23 minutes, blind and disoriented,” said Daniel Jeck, a Philadelphia lawyer who represents the family in the lawsuit. “Wesley negligently failed to provide Miss Jones-Davis with a wander guard bracelet that day.”

The suit alleges that Wesley staff may have ignored alarms from the open door and did no search once they became aware it was open. The complaint points out that the property had no fence, which allowed a wandering Jones-Davis to fall off of a retaining wall at the edge of the property and drop nearly two stories to the cement below. She died hours later of a head injury.

“They told us nothing,” said Pamela.

Jeck says the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services had noted four other wandering incidents at the facility in 2016, a year before Jones-Davis moved in.

“Nothing happened to those residents. But they were found alone and unsupervised, people with dementia,” he said. “The family is filing this lawsuit for change, change at an institution where similar incidents had occurred before this unfortunate death, before someone gets hurt of even killed.”

The lawsuit includes claims for negligence, gross negligence and wrongful death against both Wesley Enhanced Services and U.S. Security Associates, Inc.

A spokesman for Wesley Enhanced Living issued the following statement via email:

“At Wesley Enhanced Living, we are committed to the safety and wellbeing of our residents and staff. We remain deeply saddened by this resident’s passing, and we have expressed our condolences to her family. Out of respect for the family, and because this is a legal matter, we cannot provide additional details.”

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Penn State to collect $733K from Sandusky’s defunct charity

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Penn State will collect hundreds of thousands of dollars left over from the defunct charity for youth founded by convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky, settling claims from a threatened civil lawsuit.

The university and the state attorney general’s office both confirmed this week that an agreement was reached recently.

The university said it also will receive additional payments from entities that ensured The Second Mile, although the terms are confidential.

When Penn State took steps in 2017 to sue The Second Mile it did not spell out why it was going after it and Jack Raykovitz, who was the charity’s president when Sandusky was arrested in 2011.

Penn State President Eric Barron, in the Capitol Wednesday, did not explain what motivated the settlement.

“Always you work through settlements,” Barron said. “That’s what we did, we worked through settlements.”

The attorney general’s office said it will file a final accounting with the Centre County Orphans Court in the next two months to document transferring $733,000 to Penn State.

READ: Sandusky gets new sentencing but loses request for new trial 

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said the deal was made between Penn State, The Second Mile and Raykovitz and noted the attorney general’s office was not part of the negotiations.

Neither Raykovitz nor lawyers for him and The Second Mile Inc. returned multiple messages seeking comment over the past two days.

It’s not clear which insurer Penn State will collect from. In March 2013, a federal judge in Harrisburg ruled that Federal Insurance Co., which had issued a policy to The Second Mile, did not have to cover Sandusky individually for damages related to child molestation.

A spokeswoman for Federal Insurance parent company Chubb declined to comment, and lawyers who represented Federal in the federal court case did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The money represents a fraction of the costs to Penn State of the Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, including more than $100 million to settle with those who said they were abused by Sandusky, along with other legal claims, a federal fine, litigation costs and related expenses.

Sandusky founded The Second Mile in 1977 to help at-risk youth, and its board included many prominent business, political and civic leaders. Prosecutors argued Sandusky used the charity as a way to find children he would later abuse, and victims testified at his 2011 trial about their involvement with The Second Mile.

A judge in March 2016 allowed The Second Mile to dissolve after its lawyers said the scandal had dried up fundraising and made it impossible to continue.

At its peak, the charity said it was serving some 100,000 children annually through camps and fundraisers. It maintained a headquarters on a busy commercial street in State College and operated in other parts of Pennsylvania.

Sandusky was retired as Penn State’s longtime defensive football coach when he was charged with sexual abuse of children, and was convicted of 45 counts in 2012.

He is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence and last month was granted a new sentencing by an appeals court that said mandatory minimum sentences had been misapplied in his case.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 

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Nonprofit serving people infected with HIV starts crowdfunding campaign

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A well-known HIV wellness center in Philadelphia has launched a crowdfunding campaign in a desperate attempt to stay financially afloat. 

“We are 30 to 60 days away from closing our doors,” said Sarina DiBianca, executive director of Siloam Wellness center. 

DiBianca says they need to raise upwards of half a million dollars in 30 days to stay afloat.  

“Everyone comes here and gets their daily services, whatever that be, for free. We also have Lunch and Learns, we have a food pantry. Well, all of these things take funds,” DiBianca said. 

READ: Weeks after 2030 HIV pledge, report shows US headway stalled 

She says the gap between donations, grants and the cost of providing services has grown so wide that they’ve reached the breaking point.  In a last ditch effort to keep the doors open, DiBianca has started a GoFundMe campaign.

The center is hoping to raise $500,000. 

“We would like to raise two years of operating cash,” she said. 
 
Siloam provides counseling, education, food and other services to more than 30,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS.    

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Gov. Tom Wolf to sign bill expanding law that strips criminals of state pensions

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Gov. Tom Wolf says he will sign a bill heading to his desk that will make it harder for state officials and employees convicted of crimes to keep their state pension.  

The first bill of the Pennsylvania legislature’s current two-year session set to become law is a bill, sponsored by Senate Republican John DiSanto, that closes a loophole that saw public officials pleading guilty to lesser job-related offenses in order to keep their pensions. 

“Over the past ten years, state retirement boards have identified potentially hundreds of such instances. It’s obvious to me – and all the honest, hard-working citizens of Pennsylvania – that lawbreakers violating the public trust should not receive lifetime pension benefits from taxpayers,” DiSanto said. 

READ: Energy pipelines take center stage in Pa. Capitol 

The bill will strip pensions from state employees convicted of job-related offenses classified as felonies or that carry prison terms of more than five years. In declaring his support for the bill, Gov. Wolf also urged lawmakers to enact more ethics reforms.

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Sara Packer testifies in trial of man she conspired with to kill foster daughter

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Sara Packer, the foster mother who’s struck a deal with prosecutors regarding her role in the murder of her adopted daughter, Grace Packer, took the stand in Bucks County on Wednesday. 

Attorneys for Jacob Sullivan, Packer’s boyfriend at the time of Grace’s killing, argue that Packer was the driving force behind the murder. And they say, since she has an agreement for life in prison, Sullivan should be sentenced to life in prison, not the death penalty.

Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub, through an agreement with the defense, read the reasons why they are giving Packer life without parole.

He says while Jacob Sullivan gave a full confession, including how he physically choked Grace Packer to death, Sara Packer did not confess and, in Weintraub’s words, the case against her was weak.

RELATED: Jury hears Jacob Sullivan hospital bed confession tapes

He also says that, while Packer conspired in the crimes, she did not physically rape or assault the girl.

And because she conspired, and she was present for the actual murder, since she didn’t actually kill her, the death penalty would not apply.

Some jurors dabbed at their eyes as a statement written by Grace Packer’s brother Josh was read by the Abington detective who first handled the case after Sara Packer reported her daughter missing.

READ: Life without parole or death? Jury deliberates man who raped, killed girl, 14

He wrote that he wants his sister to be remembered so, in his words, people watch out for kids so a loss like hers never happens again.

If his sister was told that, by giving her life, she could save many others, she would have simply asked what she needed to do, he wrote.

Sullivan pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, a jury will now decide between death row and life in prison without parole.

Packer will plead guilty after Sullivan’s fate is decided.

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Comcast, AT&T behind effort to stop robocallers before they reach you

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Nearly 48 billion robocalls were made last year, and nearly half the calls we’re getting on our cell phones are spam, according to estimates cited by a recent government report. To combat this, Comcast is leading a new effort to build a robocall roadblock. 

If it works, you might want to raise a martini glass to the Philly company, which is partnering with AT&T on the technology.

It uses what’s known as SHAKEN (Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs) and STIR (Secure Telephony Identity Revisited), tortured acronyms for a caller ID verification system which ensures the number you see is the number that’s really calling.

The standards provide a certificate of authenticity for each line. It’s checked by the incoming carrier before your phone rings.

RELATED: FCC: Nearly half the calls you receive this year will be spam 

That’s not to say a spoofed call won’t get through. Depending on how this is rolled out, you may see a notification on your screen that the number is unverified.

This isn’t a panacea: for instance, a call you don’t want still could come from verified digits.

Comcast and AT&T say a real-world test between their networks was successful. Over the next several months, other providers will try the same thing.

READ: BEWARE: Robocalls targeting survivors of clergy sex abuse 

In late 2018, T-Mobile announced it was the first to be ready to implement SHAKEN/STIR standards.

The Federal Communications Commission wants all major phone, wireless, and VoIP providers on board before the end of the year.

AT&T and Comcast jointly head the working group developing the technical standards for SHAKEN/STIR.

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Time-honored coffee can determines Philly candidates’ May primary ballot position

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney got a good omen for his re-election bid. He pulled the first ballot position in today’s lottery for candidates in the May primary. 

The race where ballot position will be crucial, though, is city council at large, where 34 candidates are currently running.
Wednesday’s lottery could make or break some campaigns.

The lottery is full of drama, excitement and quaint charm. An election worker holds a venerable Horn and Hardart coffee can above the candidate’s eye level, so they can’t see the number as, one by one, they’re called up to pull out a raffle ball that could change their destiny.

“It’s absolutely an advantage in the larger races,” said attorney Adam Bonin. He said he thinks it’s not the best way to set ballot positions.

“It should be randomized somehow, but as much as possible, so one candidate doesn’t have an advantage in a city this large,” he said.

His ideas would take a change in state law. So, for this primary, at least, the candidate who drew ballot position No. 1 in the at-large race, Adrian Rivera Reyes, went from relatively unknown to frontrunner.

“I guess I got lucky, right?” he said. 

Another big break went to Deja Lynn Alvarez, the city’s first transgender candidate. She’ll be listed second on the ballot. But incumbent Allan Domb got a bad break, picking No. 13.

“I think it’s okay,” he said. “I look at it this way: If people want me to serve, then they’ll elect me.”

The ballot won’t be set until challenges are heard. Some candidates may also drop out voluntarily by then.

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$38 million worth of cocaine seized at Port of Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Federal authorities have taken in quite a haul of cocaine at the Port of Philadelphia. 

Sources say it took nearly a full day to process the 450 bricks of cocaine — weighing nearly 1,200 pounds with a street value of $38 million, according to sources.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection only confirmed that it was a multi-agency operation at the port, where they discovered “alleged contraband inside a shipping container” aboard the MSC Desiree.

The Desiree, a Portugal-flagged container ship, was traveling from Peru to the Netherlands. Its previous ports of call on this leg were Panama and the Bahamas.

The case has since been turned over to Homeland Security investigations. 

READ: More than 600 pounds of pot seized at Philadelphia port

Earlier this month, border agents seized a nearly 615-pound shipment of marijuana at the Port of Philadelphia, en route from Puerto Rico to an address in North Jersey. The shipping container was filled mostly with rice, but drug-sniffing dogs found 252 marijuana bricks tucked underneath. It had a street value of about $2.5 million.

Also this month, authorities at the Port of New York and New Jersey seized about 3,200 pounds of cocaine on a container ship, worth an estimated street value of $77 million.

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Philadelphia firefighter dies suddenly while on duty at Philadelphia International Airport

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia firefighters are mourning the death of one of their own.

Michael Bernstein, 46, suffered a “medical emergency” while on duty at Philadelphia International Airport Wednesday, according to a statement from the Philadelphia Fire Department

He was rushed to Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, where he later died.

All City of Philadelphia flags will be flown at half-staff for 30 days.

“Michael bravely served our city for 22 years and served our country in the U.S. Navy,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a statement. “We are humbled by his dedication, and we will always remember his sacrifice.”

“Each emergency responder stationed at the Airport is a part of our family,” added Chellie Cameron, CEO of Philadelphia International Airport, in a statement, “and we stand by to support our colleagues during this time of loss.”

Bernstein worked at several companies around the city during his 22-year career. He is survived by his wife, three children, parents, and other family members.

Fire officials say funeral arrangements are pending.

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It’s the first day of spring: ‘Free Rita’s Day’

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It’s here. Wednesday, March 20, is the first day of spring

Celebrate that 50-degree weather in true Philadelphia style with a free cup of Rita’s Italian ice. For omne day only, from noon to 9 p.m., customers can indulge their summertime hopes and dreams at their local Rita’s. Find the closest one on this map.

The company says they gave away almost 1 million cups last year, and they expect this year to do the same. 

There’s also a chance to win free Rita’s ice for a year. Superfans can post a water ice selfie to social media using the hashtag #RitasFirstDayofSpringContest

It’s kind of a long hashtag, but it’s worth it, right?

Participating Dairy Queen locations are also giving away free small vanilla soft-serve cones today.

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Philadelphia City Council at-large candidate challenges nominating petitions of 30 of his opponents

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Candidates for Philadelphia city offices picked ballot positions Wednesday for the May primary the old fashioned way: picking raffle balls out of a Horn and Hardart coffee can.

But some of the candidates will still have one more hurdle to clear before getting on the ballot.

There are an unusually vast number of candidates for City Council at-large, so ballot position will be very important. Late Tuesday, however, most of them learned they have another problem. In an odd move, one of the 34 candidates has challenged the nominating petitions of 30 of his opponents.

“I should definitely be successful in court,” said Devon Cade, a former Licenses and Inspections employee. He said he used artificial intelligence to analyze the signatures of his competitors.

“My analysis that came out was that most of them were not authentic, were not genuine,” he said.

This is a make-or-break move for Cade. He believes he has an air-tight case against every single one of his opponents. If he’s wrong, he’ll have 30 very, very angry opponents. 

“Once I got a copy of everyone’s filed petitions, I had it evaluated and looked at and it gave me a very, very accurate read out,” he noted, “and that’s when I put the challenge in.”

There are other challenges to five of the at-large candidates, as well as city commissioner candidates, several district candidates — including City Council President Darrell Clarke — and the incumbent register of wills. 

But the ballot position lottery goes on, regardless of challenges. The challenges will be heard by common pleas judges beginning Monday. Cade said he’ll ask for judges outside the jurisdiction, since he used to be a city employee. 

There were 17 other ballot challenges also to be decided.

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With mumps on the rise at Temple University, some students petition to temporarily close campus

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Cases of the mumps continue to rise at Temple University.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health said there are now a total of 67 cases of the mumps or mumps exposure in the area. 

Of those 67 cases, 12 are confirmed, while 55 more are probable. Sixty-four of those infected are city residents, while three live in the suburbs. 

READ: More mumps cases reported at Temple

In response to the growing number of cases, a petition has circulated online for Temple University to temporarily close until the situation is taken care of. The petition has already received more than 5,600 signatures in its first few days. 

There is a large number of students with autoimmune diseases at Temple who are at a much greater risk of developing the mumps. Even the slightest exposure to the infection could put students with these compromised immune systems at risk for not only developing the mumps, but worsening their pre-existing conditions,” the petition read. “This outbreak makes Temple an unsafe environment for all students and faculty, but especially students and faculty with autoimmune diseases. … The fact is, as long as Temple continues to stay open, and classes and activities continue to be held, this outbreak will not cease.”

Mumps are most commonly associated with puffy cheeks, swollen salivary glands and a sore jaw. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said other symptoms may include a fever, loss of appetite, headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue.

While it usually clear up in a few weeks, some rare cases can lead to serious problems, like swelling in the brain or spine, meningitis, or permanent damage like deafness. 

Symptoms may not show up for two or three weeks after infection, making it easy to spread.

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Pair of double shootings overnight leave 2 dead, 2 critically injured

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Police are investigating a pair of double shootings: one in Kensington Tuesday night, which left two men dead, and the other Wednesday morning in West Philadelphia, where two men are in critical condition.

Police say the first shooting happened at F and Ontario streets in Kensington around 11:30 p.m., where an 18-year-old man was found with a gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to Temple University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

While police were there, a second victim was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest. The 26-year-old man also died a short time later. 

Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said the person who drove the second victim to the hospital is being interviewed as a potential witness, and the car is being held as possible evidence. Detectives are also reviewing security camera footage from businesses in the area to see if any of them have information that could help their investigation.

Later, around 3 a.m., two 33-year-old men were taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center after being shot near the intersection of 61st and Market streets. 

One man was shot in the stomach; the other in the leg and hip. Both are in critical condition.

A stray bullet also hit a nearby car. Police say little evidence, however, was found at the scene.

Both shootings are under investigation.

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With coyote on the loose in Radnor Township, police urge caution

RADNOR TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A coyote was spotted Tuesday on the Main Line, and authorities are warning people in the area to be extra vigilant over their pets.

Radnor Township police said anyone who happens to see or come across a coyote should give them a call so they can check it out.

They received a call Tuesday afternoon from someone who lives in the area of Abrahams Lane and Church Road, where the coyote was spotted in the caller’s backyard.

Police saw it, as did Animal Control Officer Bill Gallagher.

“It was a coyote, there’s no question about it,” he said. The coyote ran off and hasn’t been seen since. 

Gallagher said people who live near where the animal was spotted should stick close to their pets when outside, but there’s no need to worry about a coyote attacking people.

“They’re probably more afraid of people than people are of them,” Gallagher added. “They definitely don’t want to mix with the people.”

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As spring approaches, here are ways to help keep wildlife safe and out of rehab centers

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa (KYW Newsradio) — As wildlife rehabilitation experts in the Philadelphia area gear up for the start of their busy season, there are things people can all do – or not do – to keep animals out of the rehab center and in the wild. 

From the whimpering of newborn red foxes to the clacking of a great horned owl warning you are a little too close for comfort, the Philadelphia Metro Wildlife Center in King of Prussia is starting to receive sick, injured and orphaned animals.

Michele Wellard, the nonprofit’s assistant director, says earlier this month, an owl was found ensnared in a soccer net on a Northeast Philadelphia field. 

“So we had to cut that all off him, treat the wounds he got from struggling, treat him for dehydration, give him a few free meals and in a couple of days we test flew him and he was ready to be re-released back to his family,” she said. 

Wellard asks, if possible, for soccer nets be taken down when not in use. 

Also to help keep wildlife safe, she says before doing yard work, sweep the area for possible. Look for rabbit, squirrel or bird nests before trimming or mowing, and if you’re weed whacking, be on the look out for turtles.

READ: Philadelphia Zoo brings back nostalgic Zoo Key to upcoming exhibit 

She also says if you find a baby bird has fallen out of its nest, you can put it back in there; the mama bird won’t smell your sent.  

“Gently put it back in the nest. It’s an old wives’ tale that the parents will reject the baby,” she said. 

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