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US Driver Charged For Mowing Down 2 Children Dead In Apparent Suicide

New York Police Department said that it appeared to be a suicide.

The scene in Park Slope, Brooklyn, on the afternoon of March 5 was, as one witness said, like “something you see in a horror movie.” A white Volvo sedan sailed through a red light, hitting two mothers who were crossing the street with their young children. It left behind the crushed remnants of a baby stroller and a child’s Velcro shoe.

Paramedics rushed 1-year-old Joshua Lew and 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein to the hospital, but it was too late: The children had already died. Their mothers, Lauren Lew and Ruth Ann Blumenstein, were both injured. Blumenstein, a Tony Award-winning Broadway actress who performs under the stage name Ruthie Ann Miles and had jokingly referred to herself as a member of “the Park Slope Stroller Mafia,” was seven months pregnant. In May, just before her due date, she lost the unborn child.

This week, the death toll continued to grow. The Volvo’s driver, Dorothy Bruns, 44, was found dead in her Staten Island home on Tuesday afternoon. While the medical examiner has yet to determine a cause of death, the New York Police Department said that it appeared to be a suicide. Bruns, who was facing a potential 15-year prison sentence, had been found lying on her bed with empty prescription bottles and a note indicating that she felt she could no longer go on living, police told The Washington Post.

Bruns had a history of being ticketed for running red lights and speeding in school zones. After the crash, local media outlets reported that she suffered from multiple sclerosis and occasional seizures. In May, she was charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and assault. Prosecutors alleged that a neurologist had previously told Bruns to stay off the road because of her history of seizures, and said that an off-duty police officer had witnessed her “foaming at the mouth” immediately after the crash.

“She is the last person that should have been in a car, but . . . she continued to drive, and unfortunately two families lost children because of the defendant’s selfishness,” Kings County Assistant District Attorney Craig Esswein told a grand jury in May, according to the Brooklyn Paper. Bruns’ attorney, on the other hand, contended that her physician had cleared her to return to work, knowing that her job delivering specialty phones to the deaf involved driving. He described the crash as a “horrific accident.”

Bruns was due back in court on Nov. 20, according to the New York Post . At a June bail hearing, her attorney said that she had been attacked by a mentally ill inmate while incarcerated on Rikers Island. In September, she was released on a $75,000 bond. Her attorney, David Jacobs, told the Brooklyn Paper that he didn’t believe her death was related to setbacks in the court case.

Unintentionally causing someone else’s death can be an isolating and life-altering experience, the New Yorker reported last year. “Accidental killers” – often drivers who inadvertently hit a pedestrian or cyclist – “report experiencing symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder: flashbacks, hallucinations, nightmares, and what’s known as ‘moral injury,'” writer Alice Gregory noted. But there are virtually no self-help books, support groups or specialized therapists to help them with their memories or their guilt.

Local officials categorized Bruns’ death as yet another tragedy in the already-devastating saga. “This was an extremely painful case from moment one and I wish none of it had come to pass,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at a Wednesday news conference.

If March’s fatal crash had any positive outcome, it renewed focus on traffic safety as residents immediately rallied to demand safer streets. The week after the crash, de Blasio proposed legislation that would require family members and physicians to inform the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles if they knew someone had a health condition that would prevent them from driving safely. Over the summer, city officials worked to redesign the intersection where the crash took place, and Brad Lander, Park Slope’s city councilman, introduced a bill aimed cracking down on drivers with multiple red-light and speed camera violations.

“Really saddened by the apparent suicide of Dorothy Bruns,” Lander wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “We need a world with far more room for the kind of accountability that offers change, healing & redemption. Promise to pursue #RecklessDriverAccountabilityAct in that spirit.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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Kim Kardashian, Kanye West Donate $500,000

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and their three children were evacuated in California wildfire.

Washington: 

Kim Kardashian and her rapper husband Kanye West are doing their bit to help California rebuild, as the state grapples with the most destructive wildfire to date.

Kim Kardashian, who recently appeared on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’, announced two donations of USD 200,000 each- one going to the Wildfire Relief Fund and the other to the California Fire Foundation.

The 38-year-old also expressed gratitude to the firefighters who saved their homes. “We’re so grateful to them. Honestly, we couldn’t do it without them,” she said, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

The reality TV star also donated USD 100,000 to a firefighter who lost his house in the Woolsey fire while helping to save other homes. “We obviously have all the firefighters that have helped, but to know that you lost your home, Kanye, Yeezy and Adidas wanted to donate to you guys $100,000 so that you guys can begin to pick up the pieces,” she explained.

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and their three children were among thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes after California was hit with the deadliest wildfire in its history. The blaze had moved towards Malibu and the Pacific Ocean, prompting evacuations in Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Malibu and other neighbouring regions.







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Sri Lanka’s Largest Mass Grave Discovered With 230 Skeletons In Mannar Town

Apart from human remains, porcelain, ceramic and metal objects were also found. (Representative)

Colombo: 

Over 230 skeletons have been found in a mass grave discovered earlier this year in Sri Lanka’s Mannar town that has turned out to be the country’s biggest such site.

A court has ordered detailed excavations at the site – a former co-operative depot near the main bus terminus – after human remains were found by workers digging foundations for a new building in August, reports the BBC.

It is still not clear who the victims were or how they died.

“We have excavated more than 230 skeletons so far,” professor Raj Somadeva, a forensic archaeologist from the University of Kelaniya near Colombo who is leading the team at the site, told the BBC today.

“According to my experience this is the largest mass grave ever excavated,” he added.

He said apart from human remains, archaeologists also found porcelain, ceramic and metal objects, in addition to some jewellery worn by the victims.

“The bones are scattered and (it’s) very difficult to trace the stature of the bodies,” Mr Somadeva said, adding “some bones were missing… It’s chaotic.”

The town of Mannar is dominated by ethnic minority Tamils and community leaders say hundreds of people from the region went missing during the decades-long conflict between Sri Lankan security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.

While Mannar remained mostly under army control during the civil war, Tamil Tiger rebels dominated its surrounding areas and many other parts of the district.

A number of mass graves have been unearthed in Sri Lanka’s former war zone since the conflict ended.

The remains of 96 people were discovered in 2014 at a site in another part of Mannar – adjacent to Thiruketheeswaram, a prominent Hindu temple.







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South Korean Pastor Jaerock Lee Raped Followers, Said Was Carrying Out God’s Order

Accusations that Jaerock Lee was abusing his power to have sex with women have circulated 20 years (AFP)

TOKYO: 

The controversial leader of a South Korean megachurch, Jaerock Lee, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday for raping eight female followers, after telling them he was carrying out “an order from God.”

Lee is the head of the Manmin Central Church, which claims to have 133,000 followers and 10,000 branch and associate churches around the world.

Lee has long been a controversial figure: he was ejected from the Christian Council of Korea in 1999 for his “heretical” beliefs and was branded a “cult leader” by the Korean Ministry Association after claiming he was sinless and exempt from dying.

“The victims who attended the church since childhood believed that obeying Lee as a god-like figure is the path to heaven,” the court said in its verdict. “Apparently the victims were psychologically positioned to be powerless to disobey Lee, and Lee took advantage of their status to commit the crime.”

The court said Lee even denied “objective facts” during the investigation and had shown no regret in the courtroom. It said Lee, 75, was around 50 years older than his victims.

“The victims believed him to be a divine being who wields divine power,” the court said. “They would have accepted Lee’s behavior as a divine act rather than a sexual one, and gave up questioning him thinking that it would constitute a sin.”

Accusations that Lee was abusing his power to have sex with female followers have circulated for two decades. In 1999, around 300 of his supporters stormed a Korean television station after it broadcast a critical documentary about Lee’s claims he could cure illness: his sect had previously obtained a court order preventing the Munhwa Broadcasting Corp. from screening a story about Lee’s sex life.

Lee was also invited to preach all over the world, with his church claiming he performed miraculous acts of healing.

“At each overseas crusade, countless have received God’s healing of such incurable and terminal diseases as AIDS, cancer, and the like on the spot when Rev. Dr. Lee prayed not by placing his hand on each of the sick but merely for all from the pulpit,” the Manmin church said on its website.

In August, South Korean cult leader Shin Ok-ju was arrested on her return to Seoul from Fiji, amid accusations she had stranded hundreds of followers there for years after predicting famine would strike the Korean Peninsula and subjected them to violent rituals. A video later emerged of her beating followers and ordering them to strike each other.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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