Principal warns parents about growing trend called ‘Juuling’

A high school principal in Oregon is warning students and families about an e-cigarette that’s now popular with a lot of teens called “Juul.”

The small vaping devices are becoming a big problem all across the country, and at Sunset High School in Beaverton, parents received an email just this week about what’s known as “Juuling.”

Principal John Huelskamp wrote in the email, in part, “Juuls are the newest form of vaping and I believe are targeted directly at teens (especially girls). We are seeing them at an increasing rate here at Sunset and they are simple to convert to marijuana oil (THC).”

He went on to say, “Be it the nicotine intensity or the THC, the threat is real and growing.”

Huelskamp also included a link to a Boston Globe article about Juuling. The article explains how the specific Juul e-cigarette is sleek, tiny, and has been mistaken for a thumb drive.

FOX 12 spoke with some Sunset High School students who said they are aware of Juuling happening on campus.

“I’ve been hearing that people are bringing them to school and that it’s been a pretty big issue in the bathrooms. I don’t know, I feel people are getting really distracted by it,” said Sunset High School student Lauren Filer.

In light of the trend and school officials concerns, those students say they’ve noticed, for example, the entrance doors to the bathrooms used to be closed, but now, they’re usually kept open.

They’ve also seen teachers occasionally standing watch near bathrooms.

“Sometimes you see teachers by the bathrooms, just watching,” said Sunset High School student Jillian Jang. “Because teachers have been outside the bathrooms before and caught kids, and they get sent to the principal’s office.”

Something that makes it challenging for school officials to catch a student using the Juul – it has pods or cartridges with faint, fruity, or sweet flavors.

One student says she first heard others talking about the Juuling trend last year and thinks it became more popular because of social media.

With this weeks email to Sunset High School families, Huelskamp said it was an effort to “make sure all families are aware” of the growing threat that has been “preying on our students.”

Benefit raises money for Hopewell boy who can’t smile

Folks rallied Saturday in Hopewell to support the family of a six-year-old boy who cannot smile.

Jordan Keffer was born with facial palsey. His mother, Ashley Nelson, said that as a result, her son is unable to move the right side of his face.

Nelson described the condition in February to WTVR CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil as “facial weakness.”

The benefit, which included a motorcycle ride, bouncy houses for the kids and food, raised money for Jordan’s upcoming surgery.

“I’m really anxious about Jordan’s surgery coming up,” Nelson said. “We don’t even know what he’s going to face until Tuesday, which is our first appointment at UVa.”

That surgery will involve doctors taking a muscle from Jordan’s leg to use in his face, his mother previously told WTVR CBS 6.

Nelson said she was grateful so many members of the community came out to support Jordan.

A fund has been established to help cover the cost of Jordan’s surgery. The family has raised nearly a $1,000 so far.

Teen beating the odds after motorcycle crash

A Valley teen is beating the odds after being told he would never walk again.

On Oct. 20, 2016, 19-year-old Wyatt Tidwell was thrown from his motorcycle while going 84 miles per hour in the area of Power Road and Guadalupe Road.

“Hit the guard rail with my femur, broke that pretty good,” Tidwell said.

He also broke some bones in his back and tore 95 percent of his spinal cord.

“The me, Wyatt Tidwell, before the accident, would have been very upset, very mad and blame the world. But, for whatever reason, when I kind of came to, I was a completely different person,” Tidwell said.

The crash might have left his body bound to a wheelchair but not his spirit.

“You know, I have my ups and downs just like everybody else, but I kind of just accepted it and just rolling with it, literally,” Tidwell said.

His attitude has helped in his recovery.

Tidwell said he’s pushing the limits of his capabilities. He’s putting his legs in locked braces and using his hips to help force himself to walk.

“I’m going to keep grinding and working as hard as I can,” Tidwell said.

He also said he’s recovered about 80 percent of the use of his left arm.

Tidwell has set up a GoFundMe account to help with the medical costs.

New Orleans named fourth best city in U.S. by Travel + Leisure

For the fourth year in a row, New Orleans has been named a top five city in the U.S.

The recognition comes from Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2017. New Orleans beat out major cities including Boston, New York and Chicago for the No. 4 slot.

Savannah, Georgia, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Charleston, South Carolina, made the top three.

“New Orleans has a rich history of welcoming visitors from around the globe to enjoy our renowned cuisine and music, cultural authenticity and way of life. There are more restaurants, things to do and places to stay in New Orleans than ever before, and we are in a unique position of tremendous development and excitement gearing up for the city’s 300th birthday in 2018,” said Stephen Perry, President and CEO, New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Readers ranked cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

“As a leader in the travel industry, receiving accolades from Travel + Leisure is indeed a unique honor,” said Mark Romig, President and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. “We thank the readers who participated in awarding this honor to New Orleans and know this will help further our messaging that New Orleans is a special place to visit anytime, including during our Tricentennial year in 2018.”

Shot in the face, but alive — a survivor’s story

He told her to get on her knees and count to 10. And that’s what Sara Cusimano did. She closed her eyes and counted. “One…two…three.” She thought her attacker would run away while she counted, but instead he put the gun between her eyes and pulled the trigger.

It was one of the biggest news stories of the year. In 1994, when Sara was 13 years old, she was kidnapped as she sat in her mom’s car next to the gas pumps at a Time Saver Convenience Store in Kenner. Her mother had gone inside the store to pay for the gas.

If innocence had a name that night, it would be “Sara.” She had just finished her first day of classes as an eighth-grader at Dominican High School. She was wearing her school uniform, listening to the radio. And then she was trapped with a stranger in a speeding car.

Across the area, police scanners crackled with the report: armed man, kidnapped girl, stolen SUV heading west on I-10. Reporters from all the New Orleans TV stations scrambled to follow the chase. Current NBC anchorwoman Hoda Kotb was one of the reporters, working the night shift for WWL-TV. I was working the same shift for WDSU.

Who would get to the crime scene first? Who would get the best interviews with witnesses at the gas station, or with family members who were huddled with Kenner Police detectives? Before the 10. .pm news that night, when we all found out what had happened, I didn’t feel like a competitive reporter with the lead story. The story was so awful I felt sick.

In the evening rush hour traffic, Kenner Police lost sight of the SUV. The kidnapper, a drifter named Billy Pittman, kept his gun pointed at Sara while he drove- and she cried. One of the tires had a flat, and Pittman pulled off the interstate and into a deserted area near the airport. Then he led Sara into an overgrown field, while she begged him to let her go.

She says she tried to fight him off, but he held the gun to her head while he raped her. Then he told her to get on her knees and start counting. Before she got to “four” the bullet pierced her forehead and came out of her skull behind her right ear.

“I remember what it felt like,” Sara says in a new book about gun shot survivors. “I remember my body flying backward and slamming into the ground.”

A Kenner Police officer found Sara lying in the field, bleeding profusely. She was incoherent, and the officer called for an ambulance. The ordeal was over in a couple of hours. But not for Sara.

Today, she talks easily about her recovery: the temporary paralysis, the multiple surgeries, the damage to her hearing, and worst of all, the PTSD.

But when I interviewed Sara at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans a few months after the shooting, she was just a teenager who didn’t want to be known as “that girl.” She said very little and seemed relieved when the interview was over.

“I wanted to ignore it, I wanted life to go back to the way it was,” she says. “I didn’t want people to treat me differently, and there’s kind of no getting around it. Life is different. And it’s okay to accept that and go from there.”

Part of that acceptance, was agreeing to share her story in the new book called “Shot.”

The book is a compilation of photographs of 101 shooting survivors from across the country.

In the book’s preface, photographer and author Kathy Schorr writes that her motivation to tell survivors’ stories began with her own “encounter with a gun during a home invasion.” Later, she says she realized that people killed by gunfire often “become ‘folk’ heroes in neighborhoods decimated by shootings.”

Schorr writes that she wanted her book to be “focused on the others – the survivors of gun violence. Where were their tributes? Who thought of their trauma?”

For Sara, that trauma has never gone away. The scar on her forehead is barely visible — just a thin, pale line between her eyebrows, mostly hidden by her bangs. But physically and emotionally she says she’s still damaged by the shooting. When Schorr asked her to be one of the survivors featured in “Shot,” she hesitated. In the end, Sara agreed to let Schorr take her photograph in the place where she was attacked, the deserted lot that she had not gone near since the shooting.

It was “one of those things that you think you’d never be able to handle,” she says.

“You would just kind of collapse and not do it. And you do it, and you realize that you’re okay… You put one of those demons to rest.”

Another way Sara has been trying to “go full circle” in her recovery is by reaching out to people who were part of the story the night she was shot. When she sent me an email a few weeks ago to tell me about the new book, it was the first time I had heard from her since the shooting 23 years ago.

“Gun violence remains such an unfortunate part of New Orleans, ” she wrote in the email, “that sometimes people really just need to see the true picture of what gun violence leaves behind.”

Of the 101 shooting survivors profiled in “Shot,” at least one — also from the New Orleans area — died before the book was published.

Deborah Cotton, a music reporter and blogger, was hit by a stray bullet during a shooting at a second line in the 7th Ward on Mother’s Day in 2013. Cotton initially recovered, but after multiple surgeries she died this year– almost four years to the day that she and 19 other people were shot in a gun fight between rival gangs.

Kathy Schorr says she hopes her book “will act as a catalyst for people to address the life and death issues of gun violence.” But she emphasizes that she’s hoping for “dialogue,” not confrontation, pointing out in the book’s preface that some of the book’s survivors are gun owners themselves, and one was a member of the National Rifle Association.

Sara Cusimano has become a member of the Louisiana chapter of “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America,” advocating for gun regulations and survivors’ rights. She met parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, and she recently wrote an editorial in The New York Daily News about the shooting of U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the congressman from Metairie who remains in serious condition at a Washington hospital.

“I know firsthand the journey he and the other survivors will face long after the news cameras go away everyone else moves on,” she writes. “This time we must transform our anger and grief into action that will change the course of our nation’s dialogue on gun violence for good.”

Virginia Aquarium to release four rehabilitated sea turtles

It’s back to the ocean for four rehabilitated sea turtles!

On July 10 at 9 a.m., the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s Stranding Response Team will release the turtles behind the Neptune Statue at 31st Street.

The turtles are some of the most common species in Virginia’s coastal waters, including Kemps ridley, loggerhead and green sea turtles.

The public is welcome to come to the release.

“If you see a stranded, entangled or hooked turtle, call the Stranding Response Team’s 24-hour hotline (757) 385-7575,” the aquarium said. “If a turtle is hooked, bring it up onto the pier or boat using a net; do not attempt to remove the hook yourself or cut the line. If you cut the line, leave 2 feet attached. Keep the turtle contained in a quiet, shaded area until the team arrives.”