The latest local news

LIVE BLOG: Tracking an icy combo of rain and snow

WQAD News -

Freezing drizzle is causing a glaze of ice to form on area roadways. Freezing rain and snow are likely as we head into the afternoon. Significant accumulations of snow are possible north and west of the Quad Cities in the evening with a glaze of ice possible south. Use extra caution if you’re headed out and be sure to leave plenty of room to stop.

Fans save Iowa referee suffering from cardiac arrest during basketball game

WQAD News -

DES MOINES, Iowa - A seventh-grade boys basketball game in Iowa turned into a life-or-death situation when a referee collapsed on the court. But thanks to parents in the stands, he is alive and talking.

“I like the comradery. Hopefully being a mentor to the younger players," Bernie Rangel told WHO. Rangel is a longtime Iowa referee, officiating six different sports for 30-plus years. But on Thursday night, for the first time, he didn’t make it to the end of the game.

“As soon as the horn blew, I took the ball,” Rangel explained. “I went from tossing the ball to the bench area, and from [there] I remember nothing. It was just complete nothing.” Rangel collapsed, his heart stopped beating.

“As officials we are trained to make hundreds of split decisions in any given night, but this one, I was just racing,” friend and fellow referee Jamie Bruggeman said. “My heart was racing. I just went into panic mode almost, but I tried to stay as calm as I could because I knew as soon as he hit the floor it was serious.”

Bruggeman immediately ran to the crowd and yelled for help. Luckily, in a matter of seconds Rangel was surrounded.

“I was at the right place, at the right time, with the right people that brought me back,” Rangel said.

At least three nurses, a police sergeant, and an emergency medical technician (EMT) were all in the stands watching their sons play when they raced onto the court.

“It’s kind of the nurse’s intuition,” Melanie Hermann, a nurse at UnityPoint Health in Des Moines said. “I think everybody who responded had that same feeling, because everybody jumped in so quickly. [We] realized that this was very serious and there was something that we needed to do to help him.”

It was cardiac arrest. But thankfully CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) shocked Rangel’s heart back to beating. An outcome doctors say could’ve been much different.

“They said ‘if you were anywhere else you would not be here. They actually, well, saved your life,’” Rangel said.

“It was a great ending,” Ames Police Sergeant Mark Watson said. “A lot of times we don’t see that being on patrol. I’m usually four or five minutes away from a call, so it’s neat to have everyone respond this way, being so close and everything just falling into place.”

Many are using the term heroes, but for these nurses and first responders, they say they were just doing what they are trained to do. But for Rangel, they mean so much more.

“I thought [I] must of had a guardian angel,” Rangel said. “How could these individuals come all together, professional nurses, [an] EMT who knew CPR. It gave me a second chance at life.”

Rangel says he is forever grateful for everyone who played a role in saving his life. He does need to have surgery to put a defibrillator in his heart, but doctors say with time he should be able to ref again.

Nurse Hermann says having that AED so quickly made all the difference in making sure Bernie is still with us today. Bernie is now out of surgery and is recovering.

Former employee accused of stealing from Iowa City church

WQAD News -

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A 23-year-old woman has been accused of stealing from an Iowa City church.

Authorities say Markell Leach, who lives in Iowa City, is charged with felony theft and unauthorized use of a credit card. Court records don't list the name of an attorney who could comment for her.

Records say Leach was issued a church credit card while working for First Baptist Church from June 2016 through April this year. She's accused of making about 1,400 unauthorized and fraudulent personal transactions totaling around $50,000.

Most parents still rely on myths like these to avoid colds

WQAD News -

As with many other aspects of parenting, when it comes to preventing colds, most parents trust the advice passed down by their own parents and grandparents.

To prevent colds, seven out of every 10 parents interviewed in a new poll reported using strategies with little to no scientific evidence, such as telling their kids not to go outside with wet hair. This was the finding by researchers at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan, who asked more than 1,000 parents with kids between the ages of 5 and 12.

Parents are also using methods backed by science to prevent colds, such as teaching handwashing and personal hygiene, avoiding others who are sick, and household cleaning. But 70% also reported believing in “folklore strategies” to prevent colds, and another 51% reported relying on multivitamins and supplements, which have not been shown to prevent colds in children.

“These were likely started before people knew that germs were actually the cause of diseases like the common cold. As a result, families tried a lot of things to keep each other as healthy as possible,” wrote the authors in the report.

Dr. Katherine Williamson, a pediatrician in Orange County, California, and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said she is not surprised to hear many parents still turn to these strategies, especially in this era of information overload.

“I wonder if it’s a return to the times before the internet and before all these drug companies were out there,” Williamson said.

Here are some of the strategies used by parents in the report, and what is known about them:

Myth: Going outside with wet hair can make you sick

The reality is that going outside with wet hair does not make you sick. Williamson explained that in order to catch a cold, you need to be exposed to an infectious agent, and although wet hair may make you chilly, it does not attract or make you more susceptible to infectious agents responsible for the common cold.

Myth: Being exposed to cold air can cause a cold.

Although the cold weather coincides with the time of the year when colds peaks, Williamson explained the correlation does not mean one causes the other, emphasizing again the need to be exposed to a virus in order to catch a cold.

It’s what we do when it gets cold out, rather than it being cold, that causes colds, explained Dr. Sorana Segal-Maurer in a previous CNN interview: “When the weather turns cold, we all run indoors where air is recycled,” she said. “And we’re often in close quarters with other people and viruses. We all sneeze on top of each other.” Segal-Maurer is chief of the Dr. James J. Rahal Jr. Division of Infectious Disease at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital.

Myth: Using multivitamins and supplements can prevent a cold.

Children who are otherwise healthy and eating a balanced diet don’t need additional vitamin supplementation, explained Dr. Michael Russo, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It has never been shown to have any effect on prevention,” he said, “so parents can save the money.”

When asked about the parents and grandparents who remember multivitamins being helpful in prevention, Russo explained, “We all remember the times when they did work, but don’t remember all the times when they didn’t work.”

At least 91 people killed, dozens injured in Mexico gasoline pipeline explosion

WQAD News -

(CNN) — At least 91 people were killed in central Mexico after a ruptured gasoline pipeline exploded Friday evening, Omar Fayad, governor of the State of Hidalgo, said Tuesday.

The death toll has risen since Sunday, when officials said the explosion had killed 79 people and injured 66.

Fayad said some of the injured are minors who will receive treatment at Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas.

Alejandro Gertz Manero, general prosecutor of Mexico, said Saturday night that the investigation has just started but that a “preliminary belief” is that static electricity from the clothing of people around the pipeline may have caused the blast.

He noted a large number of people were around the pipeline, some of whom were wearing clothes made with synthetic fibers that could “generate electric reactions.”

He said no arrests have been made and that witnesses will be interviewed Sunday.

The fire resulting from the pipeline explosion has been extinguished, Mexican Secretary of Public Security Alfonso Durazo said on Twitter, and rescue teams have begun to recover bodies.

Residents in the immediate vicinity of the pipeline, which runs from the cities of Tuxpan to Tula, have been evacuated, State oil company Pemex said.

Pemex said an investigation into the cause of the blast was underway. The company initially had said the explosion was caused by illegal taps in the pipeline. The governor of the State of Hidalgo, Omar Fayad, called on the community not to steal gasoline.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who visited Tlahuelilpan and met with officials at a command center, said pipelines will be monitored to avoid fuel theft.

“To guarantee that there are no fuel shortages, it has been fundamental the participation of the armed forces, the military, marines and federal police,” he said. “If necessary, we will re-enforce the surveillance strategy. Another method will be the increase of fuel transportation capacity.”

He said his administration is working to acquire and buy fuel tanks to increase fuel by 25%.

The explosion comes as gas stations in several Mexican states and the country’s capital have been running dry for nearly two weeks.

The López Obrador administration closed key pipelines in an effort to crack down on fuel theft, which the Mexican leader said cost the country an estimated $3 billion last year.

Drivers in Mexico have grown desperate.

Family members take turns waiting in long lines for gas. Some comb social media for clues about which stations are open. Others have simply decided to leave their cars at home.

Pemex said a new gas distribution system will have long-term benefits that outweigh any short-term cost. Pemex said the explosion would not affect gasoline distribution in Mexico City.

Authorities have blamed fuel theft for previous explosions in Mexico. In 2010, a pipeline blew up in the state of Puebla, leaving 28 people dead and scores injured.

Man ‘just grew close’ with 5-foot, 60-pound emotional support alligator

WQAD News -

YORK, Pa. – When you think of emotional support animals, you probably think of dogs, cats or other household pets. But one Pennsylvania man has made global headlines because of his emotional support alligator, Wally.

"He was only about maybe 20 inches when we got him, he was 14 months old," Joie Henney told WPIX. Wally is now 5 feet and weighs about 60 pounds.

Henney, who used to host a fishing and hunting television show, rescued his now 3-year-old alligator in 2015. He thought he would keep him as a pet, but after suffering with depression after the deaths of several of his friends, Henney found that being with Wally also made him feel better.

“The longer I've had him, he just grew close to me," Henney said. "He took care of the problem. So we got him registered as an emotional support [alligator]. We got a letter from the doctor stating that it worked."

After a month-long training period, Wally is now housebroken. He lives with another alligator, Scrappy, in a 300-gallon pond in Henney’s living room.

He began taking Wally to schools, senior centers and other educational events in his community. That’s when Henney said he noticed that his alligator was also helping others, especially children with special needs.

While the gator has never tried to bite or attack anyone, Henney says people have to be careful around him because he is a wild animal. Henney also warns people that they should not try to keep alligators as pets in their homes.

"He does well with me, but I guess now where I get a lot of my support from him is seeing what he does for other people," Henney said.

Today: Heavy snow for some, ice accumulations for others

WQAD News -

A nasty combination of freezing rain and snow will overspread the area today. Winter Storm Warnings are in place for Cedar, Clinton, Jackson, Dubuque, Jo Daviess, and Carroll County. All other areas are under a Winter Weather Advisory. Precipitation will begin from west to east during the late-morning and early-afternoon hours as temperatures rise near the freezing mark. Because the 32-degree point is right over the Quad Cities during the peak heat of the afternoon, there is high confidence of more snow to the north and an icy mix to the south.

As far as accumulations go, most of it will occur during the nighttime hours tonight.

Where it stays all snow, the amounts could be quite significant...possibly on the order of 5-9 inches. The best chance for this to occur will be from Iowa City through Clinton and up to Rockford and Milwaukee. 

Where there is a mixture of freezing rain and snow, there will be more slush. Ice accumulations up to a few tenths are possible from Dixon to Burlington, right over the US-34 corridor.

I really think our forecast runs the risk of being interpreted incorrectly. This will be a very different weather day between Galena and Galesburg. That's because of that pesky rain-snow (32 degree) line.

Bottom line: Don't travel this afternoon and tonight for areas north of the Quad Cities, unless it's essential. Don't get the false sense of security that this is a dud just because you're not seeing much this afternoon. Keep in mind that this lasts until about 6:00am Wednesday morning.

We'll be here to cover it all between now and then.

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen

In the Kitchen with Fareway: Instant Pot Ideas

WQAD News -

It's one of the most popular kitchen appliances right now - the Instant Pot!

On Tuesday, January 22nd during Good Morning Quad Cities, Dietitian Caitlyn Ferin from Fareway Food Stores showed us five things you can make in your Instant Pot:

  • Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • Rice
  • Dried Beans
  • Meat (Frozen or Fresh)
  • Potatoes

To enter Fareway's contest to win an Instant Pot and a $25 Fareway gift card, visit their Facebook Page or Instagram Page. The winners will be announced on January 29th.

Neighbors worried about proposed hog confinement in Mercer County

WQAD News -

VIOLA, Illinois-- Some people living south of Viola say their community is peaceful and quiet. But driving through you notice dozens of white signs with red lettering reading, "No hog confinement near our family homes."

People are worried a proposed hog confinement facility just a mile away could change their homes for the worse.

"Some people in the area have been here 50, 60 years," says one neighbor sitting around Mychele Mack's kitchen table Monday, January 21.

Mack has been rallying her neighbors against the hog confinement. Proposed by Bradley Colton Welch, it would bring 2,400 hogs to the area. But neighbors say it will also bring pollution and health problems.

"Which it's his property, he should be able to do what he wants," Mack says. "But it's actually going to affect everyone around him... It will pollute the well. It will pollute the air. It can cause asthma and bronchitis more often in people living around those fumes."

Only neighbors living within a quarter mile of the confinement were notified. Mercer County could have held a public comment period if the proposed facility would house at least 2,500 hogs, but the facility will keep just 100 short of that.

Neighbors say there's little they can do to stop the project.

"We're just really nervous about all the things that can happen," Mack says.

News 8 reached out to Welch for comment but he declined.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture says Welch's notice of intent to construct has been accepted but the construction plan is being reviewed.

The Bureau Chief of Environmental Programs Warren Goestch tells News 8 the paperwork Welch has submitted is a "pretty standard application." Goestch says confinements have to meet standards to ensure manure and water don't come into contact.

But neighbors say they're worried an accident or lack of upkeep at the facility could let manure and chemicals run-off into the waterways.

Goestch says facilities are inspected throughout the building process but are not inspected after completion.

Neighbors are also worried about dust from the manure.

"That dust will get in the air and it will travel for miles," says Robert Young, whose parents live closest to the proposed confinement.

He says dust is blown off of the manure, getting contaminates into the air and water.

"(My parents are) going to be confined to their home," he says. "They won't be able to hang their clothes out on the lines for fear of the wind change. They won't be able to leave their windows open."

Other neighbors say their property values will take a hit from being so close to a hog confinement.

Several neighbors have written letters to the editors to bring awareness to hog confinements and the problems they can pose. They say raising awareness is the only way they can hope to stop the project.

The Department of Agriculture says construction can start after the construction plan is approved.

This $1.3M home is yours with a winning essay and $19

WQAD News -

When Canada’s Alla Wagner tried and failed to sell her home in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, she took inspiration from the movie The Spitfire Grill and came up with a writing competition of her own.

The contest has a $19 entry fee and involves participants submitting a 350-word letter explaining why they should win the $1.3 million house in Millarville. Among other things, the 5,000-square-foot home features a wine cellar and scores of windows to accommodate the mountain views.

In an interview with CTV Calgary, Wagner said she is banking on the competition generating sufficient entrants to offset the minimum asking price.

In fact, the main condition of the contest is that it must attract at least 68,000 entries. If this does not happen, the competition will be canceled and all the entry fees refunded. If it does, though, the entries will be whittled down to 500, from which an independent panel of judges will select the winning letter.

The competition is set to run for three months, although this may be extended to six months. For full details of the competition and all the relevant rules, see this Facebook page.

“I know that it’s going to be a beautiful story in the end,” says Wagner.

(What’s no longer hot in real estate: homes on golf courses.)

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You’re All Going to Die,’ Cruz Laughs in Chilling Video

Taco Bell-obsessed viral star treated to 5th birthday party at her favorite restaurant

WQAD News -

ROCKFORD, Mich. – A 5-year-old Michigan girl whose overjoyed reaction Christmas morning went viral, got the royal treatment from her favorite place on Earth – Taco Bell.

When Natalie Grove wrote her letter to Santa Claus, she only asked for one thing: a Taco Bell gift card.

"All she wrote was ‘Taco Bell gift card, love, Natalie,'" says her mom, Sarah Grove.

Sarah caught Natalie's reaction to getting her Christmas wish on video and it's since been seen around the world after WXMI first shared her story on December 26.

"It just took off from there," Sarah said.

Even network TV shows and foreign online publications picked up Natalie's story. The buzz was enough to get the attention of Taco Bell's corporate office, which sent Natalie a box of Taco Bell merchandise.

In the seven years she's worked for Taco Bell, area coach Tranquility Sampier said she's never met anyone as excited as Natalie. She decided to invite Natalie to celebrate her fifth birthday at the Taco Bell in Rockford.

“To be able to build this relationship with our guests as well is amazing. We’re so excited," Sampier says.

Taco Bell provided balloons, decorations and even a giant foam taco hat for Natalie's party.

"I like being at Taco Bell," said Natalie, who added that she wants to work for one of the restaurants when she gets older.

At least 1 hurt after ‘multiple shots’ fired at suburban Illinois mall, police say

WQAD News -

ORLAND PARK, Ill. — Police responded to the scene of a shooting at a mall in Orland Park, Illinois Monday evening that left at least one person wounded, reports say.

Police confirmed to WGN News gunshots were fired inside Orland Square Mall around 6:30 p.m. A 19-year-old man was shot outside an H&M store and critically injured, Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy told WBBM Newsradio.

Shots fired Orland Square shopping mall in Orland Park. Police on the scene. Heard multiple gunshots around 6:40 pm and spotted mall customers running on the lower level. More to come.

— Tahman Bradley (@tahmanbradley) January 22, 2019

The mall is located in Orland Park, which is about 20 miles south of downtown Chicago.

WGN anchor Tahman Bradley happened to be inside the mall and said he heard multiple shots fired and saw shoppers running.  He said a customer reported seeing police inside the mall.

First video from inside Orland Square Mall as police respond to reported shooting. Witness tells me she saw paramedics performing CPR on 1 person. (h/t @tahmanbradley ) @WGNNews

— Ben Bradley (@BenBradleyTV) January 22, 2019

No arrests had been made as of 8:30 p.m.

This is developing story.

Farmers look past uncertainty toward the future at QC Farm Show

WQAD News -

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Attendance was strong at the Quad Cities Farm Show in Rock Island, vendors said, despite uncertainty weighing on farmers' minds.

More than 200 agricultural companies are represented at the 28th annual farm equipment show at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island, according to organizers. Vendors say there has been a lot of interest from farmers browsing the equipment and products on display, even as they expressed concerns about current economic conditions.

"There's definitely uncertainty, but there has always been uncertainty in ag," said Mike Brokaw, Vice President of Blackhawk Bank & Trust, one of the exhibitors.

Farmers are worried about grain prices and tariff issues in the ongoing trade war with China, he said.

"The last three to four years since the high prices of 2012 have been stressful for farmers," he said. "Everyone is trying to hold things together."

Add to that the current government shutdown, in its 30th day Monday, some farmers say they are concerned it goes on for much longer.

Offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Farm Service Agency have been closed as part of the shutdown, affecting those waiting on loans to be serviced or approved.

"Most people have trouble with working capital. That's your short term type money. That seems to be disappearing from a lot of farmers fast. It's a big concern for all of us," Brokaw told WQAD News 8.

"Most farmers pretty well take it in stride. They are frustrated. But they find a ways to work around it. Farming, it's a way of life and people are gonna figure out a way to stay in it if they at all possibly can," he said.

Farmers hit by the tariff dispute originally had until January 15 to apply for relief but FSA offices closed amid the shutdown. The agency subsequently made January 17, 18 and 22 available for farm loan activities on a limited staff availability basis. The deadline to apply will be extended by the number of days the FSA is closed due to the shutdown.

In Eastern Iowa, agencies in Dewitt, Maquoketa, Mt Pleaseant and Tipton will be open Tuesday. In Illinois, offices in Cambridge, Morrison, Monmouth, Galesburg and Ottawa will be open. Check the FSA website for a full list of service centers operating during the limited availability.

The farm show wraps up Tuesday.

YOUR HEALTH: Why kids just won’t stop vaping despite the risks

WQAD News -

STANFORD, California – More than 3.5 million U.S. teens used e-cigarettes last year.   That's one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students.

Stanford University researchers found most kids don't realize the very serious health risks they are facing.

Christian Hernandez knows you probably don't approve of his  Juul habit.

That's the popular e-cigarette that delivers a hefty dose of nicotine in kid-friendly flavors.

However, Christian isn't concerned, even after hearing the warnings.

"If I think about other things I could put in my body, I'd rather have just nicotine and or Juul then everything else."

And that behavior is why Stanford University Developmental Psychologist Bonnie Halpern-Felsher worries teens don't fully understand the true harm of Juul.

"It has about 41, 42 milligrams of nicotine per pod. So that's equivalent to one to two packs of cigarettes," said Halpern-Felsher.

According to a new study by Halpern-Felsher, adolescents who use Juul do so more often than those who use other vaping devices.

"We also found that adolescents and young adults who were using Juuls reported being more addicted."

We talked with Junior, who wishes not to have his face shown.  He said he felt the effects of Juul quickly.

"I got lightheaded at first," he said.

"I just didn't know what to do with myself for a cool minute or so, and then I just kept on taking more hits."

"My parents don't really know what it is," said Christian.  "They just think it's a flash drive."

Halpern-Felsher isn't convinced that restricting sale will make a difference.

She's trying to reach kids before they start with a prevention toolkit.

"We have reached over a hundred seventy thousand youths throughout the country."

An impressive number, but Christian has a warning.

"I don't see myself quitting vaping."

While Juul maintains that its products are meant for adults only, Stanford researchers say they found a landmine of ads and social media posts that indicate otherwise.

In November of 2018, after federal regulators declared youth vaping an epidemic and demanded action from companies, Juul announced its decision to pull its flavored products from stores and remove its social media presence

  • Gone from retail stores are its mango, fruit, creme and cucumber flavored pods
  • Age verification is needed for online sales of the flavors
  • It will delete its Facebook and Instagram accounts and halt promotional posts on Twitter

But still it's also ultimately up to kids to stop using the product.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Moline police say 8 cars have already been stolen in 2019

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois  --  Moline police reported that 127 cars were stolen from the city in 2018. In 2019, eight cars have been stolen as of January 21.

"If you average that out for the year, we're going to again be over 100 for the year," Moline Detective Michael Griffin said.

On Sunday, January 20th, police say four juveniles stole a vehicle in Moline, before crashing into a Rock Island railroad crossing.

Moline police say they see a spike in vehicle thefts during winter months.

"Don't go outside and warm your car up," Detective Griffin said. "You're not warming it up for yourself, you're warming it up for juvenile car thieves. They are going to have a warm joy ride and you're going to have a cold walk to call police."

"I think it's probably hard to break the habit," Moline resident Jim Rutherford said. "I think people feel safe in their own community and I think it's really hard to change."

Moline police say breaking the habit of keeping keys in your vehicle is the only way to stop the crime. You can also receive a citation if you leave your vehicle running and unattended on a public street.

"It continues to increase," Detective Griffin said. "We continue to warn people about the dangers of leaving an unoccupied vehicle running, because they are getting stolen at an alarming rate."

Seven of the eight stolen vehicles this year had keys left inside them.


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