By Sabrina Garone
March 9. marked the beginning of the Paralympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. A record 567 athletes representing 49 countries will compete in 80 medal events across six sports.
The games have also broken the record for the number of spectators with over 280,000 tickets sold.
According to the Olympic website, “The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is committed to enabling Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and to developing sport opportunities for persons with a disability from beginner to elite level.”
“In addition, the IPC aims to promote the Paralympic values, which include courage, determination, inspiration and equality.”
With 68 athletes, the United States has the largest representation and will compete in all six sports; alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, para-snowboarding, and wheelchair curling.
The games will conclude on March 18.
NYC Helicopter Crash
On March 11 around 7 p.m., a helicopter crashed into the East River in New York City killing five passengers. The pilot was the only survivor.
A video taken at the scene shows the helicopter landing in the water with its blades still spinning, and then and turning onto its side.
Rescue crews were on the scene within five minutes.
“It took a while for the divers to get these people out. They worked very quickly, as fast as they could,” said New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro in a news conference. “The five people besides the pilot were all tightly harnessed, so these harnesses had to be cut and removed to get these folks off of this helicopter, which was completely submerged at the time,” he said.
Richard Vance, the helicopter pilot, told investigators that “a tether from a passengers harness wrapped around the fuel shutoff lever, which had accidentally cut off the fuel supply to the engine resulting in engine failure.”
The helicopter was owned by Liberty Helicopter Tours, and was hired for a private photo shoot.
Deadly Package Explosions in Austin
On March 12., one teenager was killed and two women were severely injured after opening explosive packages left outside their homes in Austin, Texas.
According to authorities, the United States Postal Service has reviewed their records, and did not deliver these packages through their system.
“…we have no specific ideology or victimology behind this, and it will remain an ongoing investigation while we pursue any and every lead,” said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley in a news conference.
The first explosion occurred at 6:45 a.m., when the teenage boy found a package on his doorstep, and opened it in the kitchen. He was killed, and another female was injured.
The second occurred at 11:50 a.m., after a 75-year-old woman found a package outside her home which detonated. She is currently in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Police believe that these may be linked to a similar explosion that occurred in Austin on March 2. where another victim was killed by the explosion. That case has since been reclassified as a homicide investigation.
Manley warned Austin residents, “any package that you are not expecting or that looks suspicious, call us.”
Winter Storm Quinn
On Wed. March 7, Winter Storm Quinn brought almost 3-4 feet of heavy, wet snow and heavy wind gusts across the Northeast, causing more than one million power outages.
Widespread thundersnow was reported in the New York City area, parts of New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and southern New England Wednesday afternoon and early-evening, along with snowfall rates up to 3 inches per hour.