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Traffic deaths increased among Black people more than any other race during pandemic: Study

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(NEW YORK) -- The number of Black people killed in traffic crashes rose 23% in 2020 compared to the year prior, according to early estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Out of the 38,680 people that were killed in traffic crashes last year, 7,494 of them were Black -- the highest percentage increase out of any race. White people had the largest number of traffic deaths last year at 29,092, but the number increased by just 4% from the year prior.

The pandemic made the problem worse -- Black traffic fatalities, as a proportion of all fatalities, increased the most during lockdown, from March to December, according to NHTSA's data.

Destiny Thomas, an urban planner and founder and CEO of the California-based Thrivance Group, believes there are two main contributing factors.

"These are the communities that were our essential workers across the country," Thomas said. "Black folks in particular were more likely to suffer the negative impacts of compounding the location of disparity. Being a city worker means that you're at greater risk because you're on the road more than everyone, but it's also high-stakes driving. These are people who are getting paid hourly rates. If you're late three minutes, you're more likely to lose your job, and of course during a time of economic downturn and insecurity that pressure makes you make different types of decisions on the road."

The second factor, she explained, is lack of infrastructure.

"We live in communities that for generations, for decades, have been under invested," Thomas said. "Everyone during the pandemic was driving faster because the roads were not as congested. So the implications for that in a community that has no functioning signal, less crossing opportunities, uneven pavement or unexpected community-wide construction [are worse]. There are still entire communities that don't have sidewalks. These things make sort of a perfect storm for increased fatality rates in Black families."

In a separate study published Tuesday, the Governors Highway Safety Association analyzed data from 2015 through 2019 and found that traffic crash fatalities "disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and People of Color."

The report is the first national analysis of this topic in more than a decade, according to the association.

"We conducted this analysis with the aim that it will help to inform decisions about highway safety planning, traffic enforcement and safety education so that we can have a baseline of what we need to do to better serve some of these communities and reduce crashes," Russ Martin, senior director of policy and government relations at GHSA, said in an interview with ABC News.

The data showed American Indian and Alaskan Natives were most likely to die in a traffic crash. Black people had the second-highest rate of traffic deaths.

The GHSA said to address the inequality in traffic safety, states and communities should prioritize infrastructure investments in underserved communities and ensure diverse representation in transportation leadership.

"I think we also need to better engage these communities in the planning as well. We want to have people from communities involved in the highway safety planning process," Martin said. "We want to hear these diverse voices."

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Veteran celebrates 90th birthday by skydiving

Courtesy of Skydive Utah

(ERDA, Utah) -- U.S. Army veteran Joseph Dale Jaramillo proved that you're never too old to fulfill a dream.

On his 90th birthday, Jaramillo jumped from a plane at 14,000 feet on Saturday in Erda, Utah.

Jaramillo said that when he had served as an Army private first class in the Korean War, he wanted to enlist in the Army's 101st Airborne and jump from planes.

He said he didn't make the cut due to his weight.

"I signed up for the 101st Airborne. I only weighed 128 pounds. I had to weigh 140 pounds," said Jaramillo.

Jaramillo would go on to serve for five years with the 1st Cavalry Division. He earned a Purple Heart after he was hit in the arm with shrapnel while helping save five fellow servicemen from a foxhole, his family said.

Even after the war had ended, he said he always envied the 101st Airborne and decided that it was time to do something about it.

"I'm so excited to jump," Jaramillo said from the plane. "I'm going to holler all the way."

Equipped with a professional skydiver and his family's support, Jaramillo finally took the leap.

He told "World News Tonight" on Tuesday that he had waited 70 years for that moment and would happily do it all over again.

"I've been thinking about diving out of a plane all these years ... and finally I got it over with!" said Jaramillo. "It was so peaceful."

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Two men charged in 2-year-old's fatal shooting on Detroit interstate

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(DETROIT) -- Two young men have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 2-year-old Brison Christian on a Detroit interstate, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Darius Evonte Lanier, 19, and Eugene Meredith Hubbard, 21, allegedly mistook the family for someone else based on the make and color of the truck, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said.

"I feel like none of us, none of my family, was supposed to make it out of that trip," Brison's father, Brian Christian, said at a news conference Tuesday. "I keep replaying the incident in the back of my mind."

"I just kept saying, 'Man, what did I do for someone to want to kill me and my family?'" he said.

"The Christian family were completely innocent victims," Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement Tuesday.

Brison, his parents and his 9-year-old brother BJ were in their truck on Interstate 75 after BJ's basketball practice Thursday night when they heard gunfire, according to prosecutors.

The father pulled over and saw Brison shot in the head and BJ shot in the arm, prosecutors said.

Brison, the nephew of a Detroit police officer, was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

BJ was hospitalized in serious condition and later released, police said.

The suspects allegedly fled the scene and were arrested on Saturday, prosecutors said.

Detroit Interim Police Chief James White on Tuesday announced a new initiative called Operation Brison, in which Detroit police will work with neighboring agencies to patrol the freeways for road rage and other acts of violence.

"This is unacceptable," White said at the news conference. "We will never forget little Brison. We will never forget what happened to him."

The interim chief vowed to use all technology available to "constitutionally get violent offenders off the street."

"If you do a drive-by," White said, "we have over 100 crime analysts ... we're going to pull video from every source we can ... we're going to identify who's doing this violence."

Besides first-degree murder, Lanier and Hubbard are also charged with three counts of assault with intent to murder, one count of discharge from a vehicle causing death, one count of discharge from a vehicle causing injury, two counts of discharge from a vehicle and eight counts of felony firearm, prosecutors said.

They were arraigned Tuesday afternoon and are due back in court July 6, prosecutors said.

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Indiana students sue over COVID-19 vaccine requirement

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(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) -- Students at Indiana University filed a federal lawsuit Monday, suing the school over its COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

The lawsuit alleges that the university violates students' rights as well as Indiana's vaccine passport law. The recently passed law prohibits state and local governments from creating or requiring vaccine passports. In the lawsuit, the students claim that they are being coerced into vaccination and that if they do not comply, they face "the threat of virtual expulsion from school."

The lawsuit argues that with the United States' outbreak receding, universal vaccination at the school isn't necessary. "As the numbers continue to decline, such draconian measures as requiring all students to be vaccinated is not reasonable," it reads.

Earlier this month, school administrators announced that students would have to verify their vaccination status with the school unless they applied for a medical or religious exemption. Those without exemptions can have their class schedules canceled, their student IDs deactivated and won't be allowed to participate in on-campus activities, according to the lawsuit.

"The requirement for all Indiana University students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated before the return to school in August remains in place," Chuck Carney, university spokesperson, told ABC News in a statement in response to the lawsuit. "As part of IU’s response to the ongoing pandemic, the vaccine mandate is helping to support a return to safe and more normal operations this fall," he added.

"The university is confident it will prevail in this case," Carney said.

The lawsuit comes after a group of Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Indiana University President Michael McRobbie last month, asking him "to reconsider and rescind" the mandate. Days later, the state attorney general issued a non-binding opinion stating that public universities are “arms of the state” and therefore they must abide by the law banning vaccine passports.

"Following release of the Indiana attorney general’s opinion, our process was revised, with uploading proof of vaccination no longer required," Carney said. "The attorney general’s opinion affirmed our right to require the vaccine."

Indiana lags slightly behind the national average in vaccinations. As of Monday, 44% of residents had received at least one dose, and 40% were fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, 53% of Americans have gotten at least one shot, and 45% are fully vaccinated.

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Veteran officer among three dead in Colorado shooting, police say

Arvada Police Department

(DENVER) -- Three people are dead, including a veteran police officer, following a shooting in a Denver suburb on Monday afternoon, authorities said.

The incident unfolded at around 1:15 p.m. local time in Olde Town Arvada, the downtown district of Arvada, Colorado, about 10 miles northwest of the state's capital. The Arvada Police Department said one of its officers, identified as Gordon Beesley, was responding to a 911 call about "suspicious" activity when he was shot and killed. Then more 911 calls came in at around 1:30 p.m. about shots fired and a fallen officer, according to police.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that the officer was hit by gunfire while confronting a suspect, but it was unclear what caused the confrontation.

Another individual, believed to be a good Samaritan, was also shot and taken to a local hospital, where they later died, police said. Meanwhile, the suspected gunman was shot and killed at the scene, according to police. Their identities have not been released.

Authorities are not searching for anyone else in connection with the deadly shooting and there is no threat to the public, police said. A shelter-in-place order that was in effect for the immediate area where the incident happened has been lifted.

Beesley, the slain officer, was a 19-year veteran with the Arvada Police Department and was also a resource officer at the city's Oberon Middle School. He was working patrol while school was out for the summer, according to police.

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Mother, father and 14-year-old son die in early morning house fire

ABC News/WPVI-TV

(POTTSTOWN, Pa.) -- A family of three -- including a mother, father and their teenage son -- have all tragically died in an early morning house fire that enveloped their home.

The incident occurred at approximately 2 a.m. early on Monday, June 21, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania -- about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia -- when a fire swept through the family’s home and a neighbor who noticed the blaze alerted a police officer who happened to be in the area at the time, according to ABC News’ Philadelphia station WPVI-TV.

"From our window of our house I could see some flames coming out of there, but there was a lot of smoke. There was a lot of smoke," neighbor Christopher Azukas told WPVI in an interview following the incident.

Azukas told WPVI that it was his daughter who initially noticed the fire and alerted the authorities.

"She just ran out and flagged him down and said that there was a fire going on in that house over there," he said.

Fire crews soon arrived on scene and attempted to rescue the family inside the burning home but were unsuccessful. Authorities, however, were able to save the people living in the home attached to the one where the fire started.

The Montgomery County Coroner's Office have so far only identified the father -- 48-year-old Joseph Norton -- and confirmed that he was pronounced dead from smoke and soot inhalation at Pottstown Hospital. The mother’s name along with her 14-year-old son’s name has not yet been released, according to WPVI.

Azukas said the family mostly kept to themselves but that he would often see them spending time together in their yard.

"[The teenager] was heavily into baseball so I'd see him out back sometimes in the backyard, sometimes practicing baseball and stuff like that,” Azukas told WPVI. “I'd see him and his father go off to the games on weekends and everything, but that was really about it.”

An investigation into how the fire began is underway and even though it is currently unclear what could have started the fire, officials told WPVI that they have an idea of how the blaze began but are not ready to release it at this time.

Authorities, however, did confirm to WPVI that it does not appear the home the family were living in had any working smoke detectors which may have been a contributing factor to the spread of the fire.

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Grand Canyon backpacker dies in extreme heat from possible heat-related causes

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(NEW YORK) -- A backpacker who was hiking through the Grand Canyon over the weekend has died from what park rangers believe to be heat-related causes as the high temperature where she was walking hit 115°F.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, June 20, when backpacker, 53-year-old Michelle Meder of Hudson, Ohio, was on a multi-day backpacking trip from Hermit to Bright Angel Trail and the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a report of a backpacker experiencing heat illness on the Tonto Trail near Monument Creek, according to a statement from the National Park Service (NPS).

“Hiking down the Hermit Trail on June 19, [Meder] became disoriented and later unconscious,” the NPS said in a statement regarding the incident. “On June 20, responding rangers determined Meder to be deceased; the cause of death is believed to be heat-related. On June 20 the high temperature at Phantom Ranch was approximately 115°F (46°C).”

The National Park Service warned in the statement that hiking in extreme heat can lead to “serious health risks including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia, and death,” and that hikers need to be aware that, should they run into trouble while hiking, efforts to help them could be delayed during the summer months due to “limited staff, the number of rescue calls, employee safety requirements, and limited helicopter flying capability during periods of extreme heat or inclement weather.”

An investigation into Meder’s death is now being conducted by the NPS in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner to determine what exactly happened.

“Park Rangers at Grand Canyon National Park are strongly urging visitors to Grand Canyon, especially inner canyon hikers and backpackers to be prepared for excessively hot days in the coming weeks,” said the NPS. “In the summer, temperatures on exposed parts of the trail can reach over 120°F (49 °C) in the shade. Park rangers do not advise hiking in the inner canyon between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Most of the people who need emergency medical help in the canyon due to heat illness are hiking between these hours.”

Grand Canyon trails do not close due to inclement or hot weather and the NPS advised that there are ways to safely traverse the trails as long as you are prepared, well-acclimated to the climate and elevation, have the appropriate gear and have prior experience hiking in steep, desert terrain.

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Man charged with violating Endangered Species Act after allegedly stealing lemur from San Francisco Zoo

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(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A California man accused of stealing a rare lemur from the San Francisco Zoo could spend up to one year behind bars for violating the Endangered Species Act, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Cory John McGilloway, 31, of Los Angeles, allegedly kidnapped a 21-year-old male ring-tailed lemur named Maki from the San Francisco Zoo's Lipman Family Lemur Forest on Oct. 13, 2020, according to prosecutors. Maki was reported missing the next morning and investigators discovered evidence of a forced entry to his enclosure, triggering a frantic search for the animal, which zoo officials described as "highly endangered" and requiring "special care." The zoo, which is home to just four ring-tailed lemurs, also announced a $2,100 reward for information leading to Maki's safe return.

Two days after the alleged theft, a woman recorded video of a man -- whom prosecutors believe is McGilloway -- walking a lemur -- thought to be Maki -- on a leash on Treasure Island, about two miles off San Francisco's mainland shore. Later that day, a 5-year-old boy spotted Maki unattended at a playground in Daly City, about 10 miles southwest of San Francisco. The lemur, who was hungry, dehydrated and agitated, was rescued and returned to the San Francisco Zoo, prosecutors said.

That night, police arrested McGilloway in San Rafael, about 18 miles northwest of San Francisco. Police were responding to a report of shoplifting when they allegedly saw McGilloway driving a stolen dump truck, according to prosecutors.

McGilloway made an appearance at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California via video link from a Los Angeles jail on Monday. He was arraigned on one misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act, a federal offense. If convicted, he could have to pay as much as $50,000 in fines in addition to facing up to a year in prison.

ABC News has reached out to McGilloway's public defender for comment.

Native to Madagascar, the world's second-largest island nation, ring-tailed lemurs are listed as "endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Almost a third of all lemur species in Madagascar, located off Africa's southeast coast, are considered "critically endangered" -- just one step away from extinction -- with 103 of the 107 surviving species threatened with extinction, mainly due to deforestation and hunting, according to the IUCN.

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Officer among three killed in Colorado shooting: Police

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(ARVADA, Colo.) -- Three people are dead, including a police officer and the alleged suspect, following a shooting in Arvada, Colorado, on Monday afternoon, according to the Arvada Police Department.

Police said a 911 call about suspicious activity was placed around 1:15 p.m. local time Monday. By 1:30 p.m., police received 911 calls about gunfire and an officer hit, police said at a press conference Monday night.

An officer was struck by gunfire when he confronted the alleged suspect just before 2 p.m., law enforcement sources tell ABC News. It's unclear what caused the confrontation at this time, the sources said.

Late Monday night, authorities identified Officer Gordon Beesley as the deceased police officer. Beesley was a 19-year veteran with the department and was a school resource officer at a local middle school. During the summer, he worked patrol while school was out.

Another person, who police described as a "Samaritan," was shot and killed.

There are no other reports of injuries, and no names have been released.

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8 hospitalized after tornado rips through Chicago suburb: 'Like a bomb went off'

Facebook/Ryan Cox Puraleski

(NAPERVILLE, Ill.) -- An EF-3 tornado tore through the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois, Sunday night, damaging over 130 homes and leaving 22 houses uninhabitable, fire officials said.

"It was like a bomb went off with all the debris in the streets," Ryan Puraleski told ABC News.

Eight people were hospitalized following the late-night twister. One person was critically injured but has since been upgraded to fair condition, Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said at a news conference Monday.

Some people had to be pulled from their rubble-filled homes, he said.

Everyone is expected to survive, Puknaitis said.

The tornado also downed power lines, leaving about 450 customers without power.

Severe weather, including 11 tornadoes, also struck Alabama, as Tropical Storm Claudette slammed the South.

An EF-2 tornado struck East Brewton, Alabama, injuring 20 people, according to the National Weather Service. East Brewton police said two of the injured were life-flighted to hospitals.

At least three storm-related deaths were reported in Alabama this weekend.

In Tuscaloosa, a 24-year-old man and his 3-year-old son were killed when a tree fell on top of their house, according to Capt. Marty Sellers of the Tuscaloosa Police Department.

In Fort Payne, a 22-year-old woman drowned in floodwaters Saturday night, DeKalb County coroner Tom Wilson told ABC News.

ABC News' Alice Chambers, Max Golembo and Rachel Katz contributed to this report.

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Groups call for DOJ to prosecute unruly passengers to 'fullest extent of the law'

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(NEW YORK) — A coalition of airline lobbying groups and unions are calling for the Justice Department to prosecute unruly passengers "to the fullest extent of the law" following a sharp increase in incidents on flights.

"The federal government should send a strong and consistent message through criminal enforcement that compliance with federal law and upholding aviation safety are of paramount importance," the letter said.

The group cited a law that prohibits assault or intimidation of flight crew members, which can result in a fine or imprisonment.

"Making these prosecutions public will put a spotlight on the serious consequences when breaking the law and will act as an effective deterrent against future onboard disruptions," the coalition wrote.

Steve Dickson, the FAA administrator, signed an order earlier this year directing his agency to take a "zero-tolerance" approach to incidents with unruly passengers.

"Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way," Dickson said at the time.

There have been 3,000 unruly passenger incidents so far this year -- 2,300 of which were over mask wearing, according to the FAA.

The agency has identified 394 cases this year where passengers have potentially broken the law by "interfering with the duties of a crew member." That's 2 1/2 times the number of incidents investigated in 2019.

When asked how many people had actually paid the proposed fines this year for violating federal law, Dickson said they were "still in the very early stages."

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11-year-old boy, dad shot while sitting in car in violent attack caught on video

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(DETROIT, Mich.) — Three people, including an 11-year-old boy and his father, were sitting in a car when they were shot and injured in a violent triple shooting caught on video, Detroit police said.

The boy, his father and the third passenger, a 30-year-old man, were all hospitalized in stable condition after the Sunday morning shooting, police said.

The victims were parked and sitting in a Chevy Suburban when, at about 8 a.m., a black Chrysler 300 pulled up next to them and stopped, police said.

A gunman then got out of the passenger side of the Chrysler and immediately sprayed bullets at the victims' car, before jumping back into the Chrysler and fleeing.

Police are looking for the Chrysler driver as well as the gunman.

Authorities ask anyone with information to call the 6th precinct at 313-596-5640 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-Speak Up.

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Two-year-old boy shot dead on Detroit interstate

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(DETROIT) -- Multiple arrests have been made after 2-year-old Brison Christian, the nephew of a Detroit police officer, was gunned down on an interstate, authorities said.

Brison and his family were traveling on Interstate 75 in Detroit when shots were fired at 9:45 p.m. Thursday, Michigan State Police said.

Brison's father, Brian Christian, said he saw a man holding a gun in a passing car, according to ABC Detroit affiliate WXYZ.

Brison's parents pulled over and noticed both of their children were shot, police said.

Brison, who loved SpongeBob and Oreos, was "bleeding from his head with his head down," Christian told WXYZ.

Brison was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

His 9-year-old brother was hospitalized in serious condition and later released, police said.

“The hardest thing ever is for my son to be literally dying in my arms and me being a father and I can't protect him," Christian told WXYZ.

"I wanted with everything in me to see him grow up," Christian said.

https://twitter.com/detroitpolice/status/1406370661644357634?ref_src=tw… been recovered but they declined to comment to ABC News Monday on how many people were arrested Saturday or on a possible motive.

"This heinous crime has sent shockwaves throughout our community and our department is devastated and mourning," Detroit Interim Police Chief James White said in a statement.

"I am devoted to bringing local law enforcement leaders together at the table to put an end to the senseless violence plaguing our community," White said. "Little Brison deserved a chance to grow up."

State police said local and federal law enforcement are helping with the ongoing investigation.

"We are still asking anyone with information about this shooting to contact 734.287.5000 or 855.MICH-TIP," state police said.

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9-month-old baby drowns in bathtub in Father’s Day tragedy

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(NEW YORK) -- A 9-month old baby has died after reportedly drowning in a bathtub on Father’s Day.

The incident occurred at approximately 2 p.m. at a family home in Pink Hill, North Carolina when Lenoir County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded to a call to reports of a child not breathing, according to a statement published by the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office.

But when EMS officials arrived at the home they found that a 9-month-old child had drowned in the bathtub.

Family members along with EMS personnel attempted life-saving measures on the child but were unable to resuscitate the infant, authorities said.

“Any loss of a child is a terrible tragedy, especially on a special event such as Father’s Day,” Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram said in a statement released on social media. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family for their loss.”

The Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office have confirmed they will conduct a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine if there was any criminal wrongdoing or negligence involved in this case.

Police have said that they will not be releasing the name of the victim or the family until their investigation into the incident is complete.

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Waitress abducted and assaulted after chasing 5 people who ran out on $70 bill: Police

ABC News/WPVI

(NEW YORK) -- A waitress was allegedly abducted and assaulted by a group of five people after chasing them down when they walked out on their $70 bill.

The incident occurred at approximately 11:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, at the Nifty Fifty’s in Turnersville located in Washington Township, New Jersey, when police say the 20-year-old waitress was taken away in a vehicle for a short time after confronting a group she had served in the restaurant, according to ABC News’ Philadelphia station WPVI.

Surveillance footage obtained by WPVI shows the woman being pulled into the White Dodge Durango as one person flees the vehicle before it pulls away with the waitress inside.

"They pulled her into the vehicle and assaulted her inside the vehicle," Washington Township Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik told WPVI in an interview following the incident. "The vehicle headed north on Route 42, made a U-turn and was heading south towards Monroe Township, and pushed her out of the vehicle.”

It was then that authorities say the woman was able to run back to Nifty Fifty’s and immediately call the police.

She suffered a number of bruises and a possible concussion during the assault and abduction, according to WPVI. She was taken to a local hospital, treated for her injuries and released.

"Say it ain't so," John Hill, an employee at Nifty Fifty’s told WPVI. "As an employee, that makes me feel bad and mad at the same time."

"This is such a family restaurant; oh, this is crazy," customer Stacie Garris-Oliver of Lindenwold, New Jersey, told WPVI.

The suspects involved in the case were last seen driving a white Dodge Durango on Rt. 42 south near Monroe Township and are still at large.

Gurcsik said that rather than chase people who run out on their bill, employees should try to take down the license plate of their vehicle instead and report it to the authorities. Police said employees should try to take down the license plate of customers who dine without paying and call authorities.

Said Gurcsik: "Do not chase after accused suspects and confront them yourselves."

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