WQAD News

Jurors examine evidence against Davenport civil rights commissioner accused of sledgehammer attack

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Jurors have begun examining the evidence against a Davenport Civil Rights Commissioner accused of having attacked her ex-boyfriend with a sledgehammer.

Latrice Lacey is charged with three counts of domestic abuse and one count of first-degree harassment. Her case went to jurors at 11 A.M on Friday.

In trying to get a guilty verdict on all counts, Scott County Assistant Attorney Samuel Huff must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Lacey attacked her ex-boyfriend Clyde Richardson last April 30 outside his workplace on Pershing Avenue, with intent and with a dangerous weapon.

“She showed up there for one reason, to confront him, not talk to, to confront,” Huff told jurors in closing arguments.

“You swing a hammer at someone’s head, you mean to cause injury.”

He urged jurors to review the video that recorded it all: “You see exactly how she swings it.”

But Lacey’s defense attorney, Murray Bell, said it was Richardson who had been the aggressor: “He couldn’t control himself. In fact, what you see is  pattern: rage, rage, rage, ‘I’m sorry let me apologize to you.’ Rage, rage, rage, ‘I’m sorry let me apologize to you.'”

Witnesses testified Richardson choked Lacey and damaged her car in the months leading up to the confrontation.

“He couldn’t control himself, he couldn’t control his rage. So she goes to a public place with a witness, with the security camera, to meet his request to talk to her, to get it stopped. And he attacks her,” he said.

Bell says she acted to protect herself and a friend who was with her.

“She was acting in self-defense. She was justified,” he said. “She got the hammer after he was on top of her, in the car, and said, ‘I’m gonna kill you!'”

Richardson, Lacey’s ex, never took the stand.

But Huff told jurors, “From day one I told you he wasn’t gonna be here.”

“That makes things difficult. What makes things less difficult is the video recording of this incident,” he said.

The prosecution had the opportunity to leave jurors with the last word: “This was not justification, it was retaliation, plain and simple. She had had enough and she was going to handle it the way she wanted to.”

Lacey could face several years in prison if convicted.

Police looking for man who kicked 78-year-old woman in the face on New York City subway

NEW YORK — Authorities are searching for a man seen in cellphone video kicking a woman’s face and body several times on a New York City subway train, police said Friday.

On Sunday, March 10, at about 3:10 a.m inside of the Nereid Avenue/ White Plains Road subway station in the Bronx, a man approached a 78-year-old woman who was seated, and began to punch and kick her numerous times in her face and her body, police said.

The horrendous assault was captured on cellphone video.

The disturbing footage shows the man kicking the seated victim six times, twice in the head and four times in her upper body, before walking off the subway yelling, “Now Worldstar that!”

The woman, who was seen with several bags, tried to block the kicks with her left hand, while stunned passengers watched, the video showed.

  • Warning: Video of the attack, seen below, may be difficult to watch for some viewers.

The man left the No. 2 train at the station and fled on foot.

The woman rode the train one more northbound stop and exited at the Wakefield-241 Street /White Plains Road station, where she was met by EMS.

She suffered multiple bruises and was bleeding from cuts to the face, police said.

She was treated on scene by EMS and refused further medical attention, according to police.

Many who saw the clip posted to Twitter by @BKLYNRELL1 blasted the passengers on the train for recording the incident instead of coming to the woman's aid.

"For everybody asking me if this is my video. No, and if I was there it was not going down like that. He was not getting away," @BKLYNRELL1 tweeted. "New York City has to get better with 'minding our own business.' See something say something goes for everything."

The man is described as being 40 years old, 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, with a black goatee.

He was last seen wearing a black jacket, black knit cap, long black and white checkered scarf, metal framed glasses and black pants.

City offers bounty to anyone who cuts down Bradford pear trees

FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas — The City of Fayetteville is offering a bounty on Bradford pear trees this spring.

Bradford pear trees are considered an invasive species in Northwest Arkansas. They spread quickly and choke out the area’s native trees, shrubs, and flowers. The city says native tree species are more beneficial to the environment and wildlife.

To spread awareness and discourage the spread of invasive trees, the city will give one native tree to each person who cuts down a Bradford pear on their property within city limits.

The City of Fayetteville says they will not be able to cut down your tree. They say property owners should cut their own tree or hire a company.

To qualify, residents should take a picture of their cut-down Bradford pear tree while they are in bloom from mid-March to early April. Then bring the photograph to one of two locations (listed below) or email the picture to urbanforestry@fayetteville-ar.gov. The city asks that you include your name, address, and phone number.

Trees will be given away on a first-come-first-serve basis. One hundred native trees will be available; species include American plum, flowering dogwood, eastern redbud, hawthorn and serviceberry.

Amtrak to Burlington, Mount Pleasant delayed as a result of “historic” floods

Starting March 21, Amtrak will be suspending trains to Burlington and Mount Pleasant as a direct result of “historic” flooding.

Amtrak has detoured its California Zephyr onto Union Pacific Railroad tracks in order to keep trains running between Omaha and Chicago.

They have not released an estimate for when trains will be running in Southeast Iowa again.

Amtrak says the suspensions are due to historic flooding affecting railroad tracks throughout the state.

The suspensions are also affecting other Iowa and Illinois communities, customers can contact Amtrak to change or cancel their train reservations without fees.

“Amtrak will gladly waive additional charges for customers looking to change their reservation during the modified schedule by calling our reservation center at 800-USA-RAIL.” 

Tesla is accusing a former employee of stealing self-driving tech and giving it to a Chinese rival

(CNN) — Tesla is accusing a former employee of stealing intellectual property worth hundreds of millions of dollars and sharing it with a Chinese rival.

The electric car maker filed a lawsuit in the United States on Thursday, alleging that engineer Guangzhi Cao stole key details from Tesla’s self-driving car project and took them to Xiaopeng Motors, a Chinese electric vehicle startup. Elon Musk’s company is seeking damages and to stop Cao from using the information.

Tesla says Cao uploaded complete copies of the company’s self-driving source code to his personal Apple iCloud account. He took more than 300,000 files and directories, according to a complaint filed in US District Court in California.

After accepting a job with Xiaopeng, Cao then deleted 120,000 files from his work computer and disconnected his iCloud account from it, the complaint says. He then repeatedly logged into Tesla’s networks and cleared his browser history before leaving Tesla in early January.

Cao now works at XMotors, Xiaopeng’s US subsidiary.

Xiaopeng said in a statement that it has started an internal investigation but is unaware of any alleged misconduct by Cao, adding that it did not ask him to “misappropriate trade secrets, confidential and proprietary information of Tesla.”

“XMotors fully respects any third-party’s intellectual property rights and confidential information,” it said.

Cao could not immediately be reached for comment.

Chinese efforts to get hold of American companies’ tech secrets are a sensitive issue. It’s one of the main reasons cited by the Trump administration for launching a trade war with China last year.

The Tesla lawsuit is the second time in less than a year that someone hired by Xiaopeng has been accused of stealing self-driving trade secrets from a big US tech firm.

In July, engineer Xiaolang Zhang was arrested and charged with stealing trade secrets from Apple’s self-driving project. Xiaopeng said that no Apple-related information was transferred to the company, and that Zhang had been dismissed. Zhang has pleaded not guilty.

Xiaopeng has so far raised 100 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) from some of Asia’s biggest tech companies, including Alibaba, Foxconn and Xiaomi. It started selling its first and only electric vehicle, the XPeng G3, in China in December. The SUV includes a self-driving feature called X-Pilot. Tesla’s self-driving feature is called Autopilot.

Tesla is accusing the Chinese company of blatant theft, saying in the complaint that it “has transparently imitated Tesla’s design, technology, and even its business model” and that XMotors currently employs at least five of Tesla’s former Autopilot employees, including Cao.

“Tesla believes Cao and his new employer, XMotors, will continue to have unfettered access to Tesla’s marquee technology, the product of more than five years’ work and … hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, which they have no legal right to possess,” the complaint says.

The US company is suing Cao for punitive damages and seeking a court order to prevent him from retaining and using Tesla’s trade secrets and confidential information.

There’s a lot of Tesla already inside Xiaopeng’s car, according to Tu Le, founder of research firm Sino Auto Insights.

“The XPeng G3 is in a lot of ways a poor man’s Tesla Model X,” he said.

Googling ‘Florida man’ is the latest internet fad

(CNN) — Florida has earned a reputation for being home to some colorful characters — most notably the “Florida man.”

He isn’t actually a single person but rather a trope of all the Florida men who’ve made headlines for doing something … unusual.

And he’s now starring in the latest internet fad: the “Florida man” challenge, in which you Google “Florida man” and your birthday to see what crazy news story from the state pops up.

From botched robberies to deadly cockroach-eating contests, it seems like there’s a wild story about a Florida man for every day of the year.

But what is it about the Sunshine State that generates so many nutty stories?

There are several theories:

  • Florida’s strong public records laws, which let journalists easily report on wild crime stories
  • The state’s large and varied demographic. which is conducive to some strange occurrences
  • The weather, which some say could play a part

But beneath it all, there’s sometimes a deeper element at play in many of these “Florida man” stories — one, that’s no laughing matter.

Easy access to public records

Thanks to Florida’s strong public records laws — also known as Sunshine Laws — it’s easy for journalists to get their hands on police incident reports and churn out attention-grabbing stories.

“Florida has got one of the broadest public records laws in the country,” says Barbara Petersen, president of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation.

You can access basic crime information almost in real time, Petersen added.

“As soon as that incident report is filed (by law enforcement), we can go and make a public record request and get it.”

A huge, diverse population

The wacky headlines also might have to do with a huge, diverse population interacting under sometimes suffocating humidity.

“People don’t recognize how huge Florida is. The number of people per square mile is highly compacted,” says Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, in St. Petersburg, Florida. “When you put more people in a place, you’re going to end up with more crazy stuff.”

Florida’s population stands at more than 21 million people. On top of that, the state had more than 126 million visitors in 2018. And while it’s a big state, most people are concentrated along the coastline or near the big theme parks, said Florida journalist Craig Pittman, who wrote a book on Florida’s quirks.

The sunny weather

To top it off, it’s hot and sunny year-round, so people are always out and about.

“Eventually, they’re going to end up chasing each other around with machetes and arguing (about) whose dog pooped on whose lawn,” Pittman said.

The real tragedy behind many of the stories

While the internet challenge may be fun, there may be more to the story.

“It’s OK to laugh at the funny stuff that happens here, but bear in mind the flip side, too,” Pittman said. “Not every ‘Florida man’ story is laugh-out-loud funny. Some of them have real tragedy behind them.”

When he did the challenge, Pittman said, all the stories that popped up “were sad, really.”

While not applicable in all cases, mental health problems often played a role, Tompkins said. Mental health is a huge issue in Florida, which ranks at the bottom of all states for mental health funding, according to the Florida Policy Institute.

“When the work of journalists basically pokes fun at crime and activities that no reasonable person would be involved in, it’s on us to get beyond the snicker and laugh and sneer and look at if there’s a bigger issue,” Tompkins said.

“It would be wrong to think that Florida has some crazy crime rate — our violent crime rate is actually dropping,” he said. “What is very high, however, is the epidemic of mental health.”

Family of infant severely burned by coffee at San Diego resort awarded $6M

SAN DIEGO – The family of an infant burned by hot coffee at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in 2016 was awarded nearly $6.5 million by a federal court jury.

The family claimed a waiter placed a pot of hot coffee within the reach of their 9-month-old infant.  The baby pulled the pot and spilled hot coffee on herself, suffering third-degree burns, according to KSWB.

Following the incident, Hadley Deruyver, now 3, underwent several surgeries and will require several more surgeries as she grows. Her skin will be permanently scarred and hardened.

“We would gladly trade any dollar figure to not have had Hadley gone through this,” her father, Chris DeRuyver, told KSWB Wednesday. “Every time she looks in the mirror she’s going to know this happened."

The jury found Omni and negligent and awarded Hadley Deruyver $5.6 million in damages for past and future medical expenses as well as pain and suffering. The jury also awarded Hadley’s mother, father and two brothers, who witnessed the incident, a total of $879,000 in damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

“We were disappointed that the Omni failed to accept responsibility for its employee’s clear negligence and instead turned on its own customers,” stated lead trial attorney John Gomez. “We hope that today’s verdict causes Omni to take the safety of its guests much more seriously.”

Omni defended the claim by blaming the baby’s parents and nanny for failing to supervise and protect the child.

‘There’s a big dog!’: Neighbor films burglar fleeing from pooch through second-floor window

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — On Tuesday, one pooch took it upon herself to save the day when a burglar busted into her owner’s home.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) said the man broke through the first-floor window of a home on Orange Street. Once inside he met Roxy, a large, 90-pound dog, and she was determined to thwart the crook.

"Super proud of her, tried to tell everyone I could," said Roxy's owner Donnie Massing. "I tried to brag about her as much as I can."

Neighbors who saw the crime called 911 before hitting record on their phone. Police said the suspect ran upstairs to avoid the dog and tried to escape from a second-floor window.

"When he was trying to climb out of the window, he had one leg out of the window, and then I guess Roxy was trying to pull him back in the house," Massing said.

The suspect eventually broke free, and is seen in video falling down while yelling, "There's a big dog!" Police arrived as he hit the ground.

“It's a big relief knowing that the guy got caught, and won’t be around here any particular time soon,” Massing said.

IMPD arrested the suspect after first responders treated him for head and hand injuries. It is not known if Roxy caused those injuries.

Studio 8 features The Attic Recording Studios in Geneseo

GENESEO, Illinois -- There a recording studio at the top of the Geneseo House that's making big sound waves in the Quad City music community.

The Attic Recording Studios is co-owned by Jose Urquiza and Nathan Walker. This unlikely duo met doing what they love doing - playing music.

"I sing for a band based in the Quad Cities called 'Three Years Hollow,'" Urquiza said.

Walker is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. The two met on the road as they toured, and they found they both had a passion for music production.

Now, they record both local and national bands. One band, Elisium, is from Virginia, but recently moved to Geneseo to work closer with Urquiza and Walker. Elisium was the first band to sign on with The Attic's label. Their music is featured in the video above.

Watch the video for the full story.

Two men face murder charges in connection with Burlington death investigation

Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment

BURLINGTON, Iowa — Warrants were issued for two men wanted in connection with a death investigation out of Burlington.

On Friday, March 22, police arrested 26-year-old Majestic Alexander Malone and were looking for 25-year-old Markell “Kellz” Dishe Price, according to a statement from the Burlington Police Department.

Police said both men were wanted on warrants out of Des Moines County stemming from the March 17 death of 59-year-old Edward “Eddie” Breuer.

Breuer died shortly after being found badly injured in the 400 block of Acres Street. That same day, 49-year-old Stanley Baldwin was taken into custody, charged with willful injury.

Police say Price is considered armed and dangerous and described him as standing 6-feet tall and weighing 225 pounds.

If you have any information, you’re asked to call the Burlington Police Department at 319-753-8375 or CrimeStoppers at 319-753-6835.

NAILED IT OR FAILED IT: Create Lightning Indoors

Spring is HERE, the snow is GONE, and now we just need some LIGHTNING to GREEN things up!

Yes, you read that right. Lightning actually makes our grass green! We don't have any storms in our forecast today - Friday, March 22nd - so we are making our own storm in the studio by creating lightning indoors for NAILED IT OR FAILED IT.

All you need are five items - an aluminum tray, pencils with erasers, thumbtacks, Styrofoam plates, and wool. Click here for the instructions.

Now, I have to deal with the fact that we are sometimes going to FAIL, so that's why I'm including our attempt from Good Morning Quad Cities below. I made a few crucial mistakes and after getting some great help from our viewers and watching a million videos (including this one), I realized we need an aluminum tray that does not have a coating. Also, we need to tape down the plate. And my husband's wool socks may just be the secret weapon. Click the video above to see our second attempt on News 8 at 11am and to learn more about why we need lightning to green up our yards!

Whether we NAILED IT OR FAILED IT, you can never FAIL the Cocktail of the Week. To keep with this week's theme, I made Andrew and Electric Lightning Martini! You'll need:

  • 1/2 Oz. Vodka
  • 1/2 Oz. Coconut Rum
  • 1/2 Oz. Blue Curacao
  • 1 Oz. Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Lemon Wedge Garnish

Instructions: Shake up the vodka, rum, and blue curacao. Stir in the soda. Pour into martini glass. Garnish with lemon wedge. Cheers!

Saturday is your day! Soggy Sunday… Big swing in temperatures next week

Flood warnings continue along several area rivers including the Mississippi and Rock. Crests are occurring now and will continue this week. Be prepared for road closures and detours in these areas.  Second crest still on track for parts of the Mississippi River by the Sunday-Monday time period. For more information on river levels go to https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=DVN

Great end to the work week with plenty of sunshine swimming in that blue ocean sky and temperatures once again jumping into the 50s this afternoon.

After a frosty night with temperatures in the upper 20s comes another round of full sun and highs around the mid to upper 50s for your Saturday.  This weekend’s best will be followed by our next system that is still on track to bring our next round of light rainfall on Sunday.

Expect some spots of light rain during the morning before the coverage becomes widespread later that day into the night.  Amounts still appear to range between a tenth to a quarter of an inch.  Naturally, this will hamper temperatures just a bit with highs in the lower 50s.

Strong cold front will spill quickly from the north by Sunday night slowly ending the shower chance before dawn Monday.  Colder winds will be felt to start the week with 40s for both Monday and Tuesday before temperatures soar into the 60s heading into the following weekend.  The price we’ll pay will be an increasing chance for showers and even a few thunderstorms.   Hopefully, not the drenching variety.

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

Download the News 8 Weather App — for iOS, click here and for Android, click here

Download the free News 8 App — for iOS, click here and for Android, click here

 

Credit card skimmers reported in Galesburg have impacted dozens, pulled more than $18,000

GALESBURG, Illinois — Dozens of people in Galesburg were the victims of fraudulent charges because of credit card skimmers that took their information.

According to the Galesburg Police Department, about 33 people endured a total loss of $18,400 in the operation, as of Thursday, March 21.

The reports came in early March 2019, according to previous reports. Police said customers from multiple financial institutions were impacted.

Related: Red flags that can help you avoid having your financial info stolen by a skimmer

Police said the skimmers were likely at one or more businesses in Galesburg.  There are no suspects at this time.

The FBI continues to investigate this operation as well as other skimmer reports across the country.

Pigs on the loose! Truck carrying 3,000 piglets overturns on Illinois highway

CASEY, Ill. -  Illinois drivers are being warned to watch out for the possibility of escaped piglets following a crash Friday morning.  A truck caring thousands of piglets overturned on Interstate 70 between Casey and Greenup, about 135 miles northeast of St. Louis.

According to Illinois State Police District 12 Facebook post, nearly 3,000 piglets are loose near milepost 127. The circumstances surrounding the crash are unclear at this time. However, troopers warn that some piglets may be wandering loose and drivers should be vigilant.

No injuries have been reported and all lanes are open.

71-year-old cancer survivor breaks world record for planking

MINNETONKA, Minn. - A senior citizen who recently finished cancer treatment broke the world record for planking.

71-year-old Andy Steinfeldt didn't even know what a plank was a few years ago - and now he holds the Guinness World Record for the exercise, according to Lakeshore Weekly News,

Steinfeldt joined a gym a few years back and reportedly was put through a series of exercises to make sure he was fit enough to use the equipment without supervision.

He told the newspaper he was supposed to hold the plank for 30 seconds but ended up planking for 10 minutes before gym officials stopped him.

Then, last year on his 70th birthday he reportedly held a plank for 35 minutes, which was the longest he'd gone without stopping.

Now, to celebrate his 71st birthday on March 19, Steinfeldt held a plank for 38 minutes, which is believed to be the longest abdominal plank held by someone in his age group.

The old record for his age was 36 minutes and 58 seconds.

Steinfeldt said at one point he didn't think he'd be able to beat the previous record.

“I recently went through radiation treatments for cancer to the abdomen, and I think that zapped some energy because I actually planned to do [plank] for longer, but the last 10 minutes or so were pretty much a struggle,” Steinfeldt told the newspaper.

He reportedly added that if there weren’t TV cameras and a small group of people watching, he “probably wouldn’t have made it.”

He says he did this to help motivate others to overcome challenges while maintaining a positive attitude.

“I plan to keep this going for a long, long time,” Steinfeldt told the Lakeshore Weekly News.

He reportedly plans to celebrate his birthday every year from now on by holding an abdominal plank for as long as he can.  He says his goal moving forward is to beat his time from the year before.

Illinois lawmakers seeking to double state gas tax, raise $2 billion for infrastructure

SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) -- There’s a $2 billion gas tax increase on the table at the statehouse to pay for infrastructure projects, but some warn such a move will hurt lower-income families the hardest. There’s also an effort to give municipalities more ability to impose their own gas taxes.

State Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, said motorists should expect a push to double the state’s gas tax from .19 cents a gallon to .38 cents heading into the home stretch of spring session. An amendment to Senate Bill 103 would also increase the annual vehicle registration fee by $50, and $130 more for electric vehicles.

A fact sheet from the International Union of Operating Engineers says those increases along with doubling the fee on drivers’ licenses and increasing truck registration fees by $100 would raise an additional $2 billion.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, said increasing the motor fuel tax will hit working families.

“That especially hurts lower-income folks who are just trying to make ends meet,” Sosnowski said.

Sandoval said a separate bill he expects to be heard next week in committee would allow for local governments to impose a gas tax on top of the state’s gas tax for local roads and infrastructure projects.

That measure, an amendment to Senate Bill 582, would allow non-home rule communities to impose their own motor fuel tax, but there are no caps.

“They have a better understanding of what’s important to them than perhaps what’s in Springfield,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said despite studies like a recent WalletHub report showing Illinois is already the highest taxed state in the nation, taxpayers should get on board with the idea.

“I believe that if we want to be a leader on our infrastructure as well as provide some relief to local communities in regards to some of their institutions, I think they would appreciate a capital bill that’s financed with newer forms of revenues,” Sandoval said.

Sosnowski said Illinoisans already pay some of the highest taxes in the country.

“We’re hearing a lot about more taxes and not about how do we save money,” Sosnowski said.

Related: Environmentalists, shoppers differ on Illinois bag tax

Sosnowski said state government could work to consolidate operations, end poorly performing grant programs and find other efficiencies, rather than just increasing taxes.

Port Byron not-for-profit thrift store closes, services suspended

PORT BYRON, Illinois -- Ann's Helping Hands, a community thrift store, has closed, according to a Facebook post on the organization's Facebook page.

The store served the Riverdale School District, giving families household items, kids clothes, shoes and more to families in need in exchange for small donations. Disaster victims received goods for free.

News 8 reported in 2018 that the store was at risk of closing. Their lease was set to expire early 2019 without a chance to renew.

Read: Nonprofit faces possible closure if they can't find a new location

In the 20 years the shop's been in business, they've moved nine times, most recently settling at the city limits of Port Byron on Route 84.

The organization has set up a GoFundMe campaign. Their goal is to raise $250,000.

Related: Pay It Forward: Ann's Helping Hands

Warrant issued after Apollo building suffers $65,000 in losses

BURLINGTON, Iowa -- Police have issued a warrant for at least one suspect after a string of thefts and vandalism at the Apollo Building.

The planned luxury condos have seen setbacks in the thousands of dollars. Building owner Brian Anderson said thefts and graffiti total up to $65,000, a price he is fronting himself.

Read: String of burglaries impacting Apollo building renovations

The city of Burlington sold the building to Anderson the building back in 2017. He plans to turn the space into luxury condos. He had said he planned to have the first 10 open in late 2018.

Now, police say they have at least one suspect, caught on security cameras on the property. Officials are not releasing the name of that person.

Police also told News 8 they are searching scrap shops to try and recover the stolen items.

This is an ongoing story. News 8 will bring you updates when more information is made available.

Sound the Alarm exceeds goal, hundreds of families to get new fire alarms

QUAD CITIES -- The results are in!

"Sound the Alarm" will serve 294 appointments to freely install new smoke detectors in Quad City homes. That's more than their original goal of 280.

The executive director of the Red Cross says she's also in the process of setting up online appointments. Learn more on their website, here.

Those who already have fire alarms may sign up to get a free battery replacement.

"Sound The Alarm" is a one-day event sponsored by WQAD News 8 where the American Red Cross and local volunteers help people in the community get the fire-safety equipment they need.

Related: Why the American Red Cross wants to install smoke alarms in your home

Men find ‘magic fridge’ full of ice cold beer in flooded Nebraska field

BUTLER COUNTY, Nebraska — Kyle Simpson and Gayland Stouffer were cleaning up after the devastating floods in Nebraska when they spotted a small black box in the distance. It just sat there, a dark contrast on a wet and muddy field.

Curious, they walked over to the box, untangled it from the soggy brush and realized it was a fridge. When they opened it, they found a stack of Busch Light beers, Simpson said.

Not just beers, but ice-cold ones, Simpson said. The kind they’d wished for after a day spent slogging through mud, washouts and waist-deep murky water in an area hit by floodwaters near the Platte River.

“It was one of those days and a bright spot in a crappy day,” Simpson said.

For those of you that don't know, our state of #Nebraska is going through record flooding. Sometimes though, the world sends you a break. These guys went to their #DuckCamp and found a fully-stocked #BeerFridge. #NebraskaStrong #Flood2019 pic.twitter.com/t8FvdqVQ3g

— Fat Boy Wild Game (@gameseasonings) March 19, 2019

They opened the fridge and cracked open a couple of beers. Then they took some photos and sent them to friends, some of whom posted them on Facebook, he added.

Fridge to go back to owner — minus a few beers

Simpson said they found the fridge Sunday after spending St. Patrick’s Day cleaning up flooding debris around his duck hunting lodge and bunkhouse in Butler County.

Floodwaters from last week’s bomb cyclone overwhelmed levees and left a wide swath of the Midwest swamped. The flooding destroyed homes, killed crops and livestock, and cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

At first, they were not sure the beers were real or how they had survived the wrath of the storm. “It was quite unusual to find a full fridge of beer lying in the field,” Simpson said.

Hours after the Facebook post, Brian Healy, the fridge’s owner, contacted them and Simpson said he promised him he’d return the fridge when the washed-out roads were accessible.

“It’s ready to go minus a few beers,” he said.

Healy said the fridge floated about 3.5 miles from their home and had previously survived a 2007 fire, according to Simpson.

Devastating floods kill crops and animals in the state

The discovery of the fridge stands out in a state hit hard by the effects of heavy snow and rain, with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts calling it the “most widespread disaster” the state has ever had.

Read: Military dropping hay from helicopters for cows stranded by floodwater

Farmers and ranchers in the Midwest have especially suffered heavy losses. Officials expect the initial farm damage tab of $400 million to crops and $400 million in lost livestock will be exceeded, Nebraska Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Christin Kamm said.

In parts of Nebraska and Iowa, farmers had little time to escape the floodwaters that rushed over their lands last week. So many left their livestock and last year’s harvest behind.

Across parts of the Midwest, the flooding drowned hundreds of livestock, ruined stored grain and turned fields into lakes.

Pages