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    Democrats looking to win over the U.S. House of Representatives in November have a keen eye on Florida's 26th Congressional District, where a well-liked Republican who agrees with Democrats on plenty of issues is struggling not to be defined by two positions where the parties dramatically disagree: health care and taxes.

    Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo is seeking a third term in a district that runs from Miami's Hispanic southern suburbs down to the Florida Keys. He's out in front on some progressive issues not typically embraced by his fellow Republicans, like climate change and protecting "Dreamers," young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children without documentation.

    "These are local issues for us in South Florida. We don't debate these issues in theory, we see them," Curbelo said.

    Curbelo's a political rarity: a moderate Republican in the middle of a district that heavily supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. She beat President Donald Trump by 16 percentage points but Curbelo won by 12 points.

    "This is a community that I think wants representatives to get things done," said Curbelo, who has regularly distanced himself from Trump on issues from immigration to trade and said he did not vote to elect him.

    But the congressman has real opposition in the election. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, an immigrant and former medical school administrator who lost her bid to win a seat in Florida's Senate in 2016, is making another run at politics, ready to jump into the partisan divide that is Washington, D.C.

    This article, part 7 in a series, examines one of the key battleground races for control of the House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Carried by grassroots momentum, Democrats must take 23 seats from Republicans to win the balance of power. They are contending with Republicans' experience, organization and an outspoken but polarizing president.

    Health care, including Curbelo's position on "Obamacare," is the main reason Mucarsel-Powell is running for Congress, she said.

    "When I saw that Congressman Curbelo took that vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act in a district that has the second largest number of people that get their health care through the ACA ... I knew that at that moment I had to step in," she said.

    Health care is a prominent issue for tens of thousands of people in the district, which did have the second-most enrollees in "Obamacare" as repeal was being debated, according to data compiled by the nonprofit health policy anaylsis and news outlet Kaiser Family Foundation. (It has since dropped to third, behind two other Miami-area districts.)

    "Mucarsel-Powell trying to hit him on the health care issue is probably a smart idea ... probably the one issue that might resonate with those Democratic voters," Florida International University political science professor Kathryn DePalo said.

    While Curbelo's vote helped the House pass the Affordable Care Act repeal effort, which was narrowly defeated in the Senate, the congressman did see positive aspects to the law, like keeping young people on their parents' plan until they're 26 and guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

    Many Democrats in tough races across the country are campaigning on Republicans' attempted health care repeal, and many are also campaigning on the Republicans' successful tax reform bill, including Mucarsel-Powell.

    Curbelo and other Republicans argued it would boost the economy and help the middle class but Democrats said it would help the rich more than the middle class or the poor.

    "There is nothing moderate about being on the Ways and Means Committee and writing a tax bill that benefits the wealthiest Americans in this country while leaving middle-class families behind," Mucarsel-Powell said.

    Democrat Maria Luisa Castellanos, who lives in Kendall, said Curbelo's vote for the tax cut made her so mad she volunteered for Mucarsel-Powell's campaign.

    "I called his office and I told him that if he voted for that bill that I would make it my purpose to help whatever opponent he was up against when the elections came because I thought it was so outrageous,” she said, adding that she was equally outraged over his vote on the Affordable Care Act.

    "He doesn't really care about his constituents, he only cares about big business and the people that contribute to his campaign," Castellanos said.

    Curbelo defends his votes on both taxes and health care.

    "Shame on anyone who defends the status quo on health care in this country," he said, adding his vote was part of a bipartisan push to build a more accessible, more sustainable health care system.

    And Curbelo insisted his challenger is out of touch when it comes to tax reform, because members of the community appreciate keeping more of their money in their pockets.

    "I understand if you are wealthy, if you live in a mansion like my opponent does, all this tax relief may not be that important to you," he said.

    West Kendall resident Tony Figueroa said that Curbelo's bipartisanship is what he likes most about him. 

    "He understands his district, so he really makes an effort to listen to all sides," he said.

    A publicist and board member of the Miami Young Republicans, Figueroa said Curbelo's first term in office helped him show voters "how he was just that much different from Trump."

    The voters of the 26th District are almost evenly split between Democrats, Republicans and independents, and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as a toss-up.

    DePalo sees it as the Democrats' best opportunity to pick up a seat in the area, more so than neighboring District 27, where Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is vacating her seat, leaving a free-for all between Democrat Donna Shalala and Republican Maria Elvira Salazar.

    But Curbelo is likable, DePalo noted. "When you have somebody who is trying to paint him as this 'Trump-light,' or doesn't care about the folks in the district, it doesn't really ring true."

    Unlike most Republicans in tough races this year, Curbelo has held himself at arm's length from Trump. Nov. 6 will determine whether that's enough to keep him in Congress.

    NBC's Asher Klein and Gavrielle Jacobovitz contributed to this report.

    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

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    A good Samaritan who stopped to check on two cars involved in an early morning collision on State Route 94 was killed when she was struck by a third vehicle and then run over by a fourth early Thursday. 

    The woman, who has not yet been identified, stopped to check on a Honda Civic and a Mercedes-Benz involved in a crash in eastbound lanes of SR-94 near 28th Street.

    "The victim and a driver stopped to assist, so they were two good Samaritans," California Highway Patrol Sgt Sophia Mosqueda said.  

    While she was talking to the driver of the Mercedez-Benz, a Jeep struck the car and the woman standing outside the vehicle, Mosqueda said.

    The woman was thrown across the freeway into westbound lanes where she was then struck by another vehicle.

    Mosqueda said that vehicle has not been accounted for and they have no description to go off of. 

    The occupants of the Mercedes and the driver of the Jeep were transported to the hospital with unknown injuries. 

    CHP is investigating whether alcohol is a factor in any of the collisions. 

    Both directions of SR-94 were shut down for several hours for the investigation. At 5 a.m. Thursday, only two lanes of westbound SR-94 were open. 

    This is the second time this week that a good Samaritan was killed attempting to assist a disabled vehicle. 

    On Saturday, a Navy sailor was shot after he stopped to assist what he thought was a disabled vehicle on a Mountain View-area freeway on-ramp. 

    "I am sure that people appreciate good Samaritans, we appreciate good Samaritans but 911 – everybody has access to a cell phone," Mosqueda said. "Its probably the safest response for everybody if you want to help."

    No other information was available.

    Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

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    The mother of three children who died while crossing a busy street to get to their school bus had complained to her kids' school district about the hazard years before her children were tragically killed, her friend and neighbor told NBC 5.

    Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation said in a statement that beginning Thursday, the bus stop on State Road 25 will be relocated into Meiser Park following the death of twin 6-year-old boys and their 9-year-old sister. 

    In addition, school Superintendent Blaine Conley said a transportation safety review committee will examine all bus stop locations "to ensure our children are transported safely." 

    But some residents say the change came too late. 

    Heather Crispen said her family friend, the mother of the children fatally struck Tuesday while boarding their school bus, had fought for years with their school district to have the bus pull into the trailer park where they lived. Instead, the children were forced to cross a busy stretch of road. 

    "They told us because they were not a special needs child, they were not going to pull into the park," Crispen said, noting that her own children were just steps ahead of the four children hit by a pickup truck on North State Road 25 in Rochester, Indiana. "It could have been prevented a long time ago... shouldn't have to come to her losing half her family for the school to do something about it." 

    The crash happened around 7:30 a.m. in Fulton County near 4600 N. State Road 25, according to Indiana State Police. 

    Authorities said the children were at their bus stop, crossing the street with the stop-arm on the bus out when a vehicle hit the kids.

    Nine-year-old Alivia Stahl and 6-year-old twins Xavier and Mason Ingle were killed. 

    "The parents are destroyed. They're never going to see their kids again," said Elgin Ingle, the uncle of the three children killed. "The surviving daughter has no siblings anymore and mother had to run to the aid of children as they lay there lifeless on the concrete. They're doing as bad as you'd expect a parent to be doing." 

    Eleven-year-old Maverick Lowe was also injured in the crash and airlifted to a hospital in Fort Wayne. 

    “We would like to thank those who have prayed for our family and the families of those involved in yesterday’s tragedy," the boy's parents wrote in a statement released by Indiana State Police. "Maverik is currently in stable condition. Our family is focused on his recovery at this time and requests privacy as we heal together.”

    It was a crash state police said was unlike any other they'd seen.

    A 24-year-old woman has been charged in the deaths of the three children.  Alyssa Shepherd was charged with three counts of reckless homicide and one count of passing a school bus and resulting in bodily injury.

    She was reportedly cooperative with police, picked up at her place of employment and later released on $15,000 bond. It was unclear if she had an attorney. 

    "I just can't imagine the pain that family is going through," Sgt. Tony Slocum with the Indiana State Police's Peru District. "The one thing I'd like to tell people - we all have a responsibility to share the road in a safe manner. I don't know why this crash - why this person did not see the stop arm extended but we all need to pay a little more attention because it's all our responsibility to make sure our children get to and from school safely."

    There were no children on the school bus at the time of the crash. 

    The accident happened near Rochester, about 92 miles southeast of downtown Chicago. 

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    A 21-year-old woman was killed Wednesday night when a robber jumped in a car, demanded to be driven and then - in front of two children - shot her twice in the head before fleeing with cash, according to Chicago police.

    The incident took place at around 9:22 p.m. in the 2200 block of North Long Avenue in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood on the city's Northwest Side, officials said.

    Authorities said Maria Coronel was a passenger in a parked vehicle, with another woman in the driver's seat and two children in the back, when an unknown male jumped in the backseat of the car and ordered the driver to begin driving.

    They traveled a few blocks east, stopping near the intersection of West Belden and North Lawler avenues, where officials said the suspect shot Coronel twice in the head before exiting the car and running away with an unknown amount of cash he took from her.

    Coronel was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

    No one is in custody in connection with the shooting, according to police, who continue to investigate.

    Photo Credit: Network Video Productions

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    Activist and writer Shaun King announced Thursday that he is bringing back Frederick Douglass' 19th-century abolitionist newspaper — with the blessing of Douglass' family.

    The North Star, started by Douglass and Martin Delany in 1847, will be resurrected online, with a news app, a website, podcasts, and a nightly news broadcast, King wrote in a Medium blog post. He added that he received the "blessing and permission of the family of Frederick Douglass."

    "We’re not just here to change the news — we aim to change the world," King said.

    King and friend Ben Dixon are first building a launch team at and hope to have 100,000 people on board by Nov. 15. The team then plans to start a public membership drive with the goal of having 25,000 members by the end of 2018.

    The North Star became "one of the most influential African American anti-slavery publications of the pre-Civil War era," according to Britannica. The paper was named for the star that escaping slaves used at night as a guide to freedom. Its motto read: “Right is of no sex—Truth is of no color—God is the Father of us all, and we are brethren.”

    In his blog post, King honored the way Douglass and Delany utilized The North Star, writing, "they knew they needed a newspaper that represented the cause of liberation with urgency, clarity, heart, and soul."

    "We need that right now," King wrote. "This past week proved that to me. And we’re going to build it together."

    King is a civil rights activist known for his work on social media. Earlier this year, he founded the Real Justice PAC, which aims to help fill district attorney positions with "reform-minded prosecutors" who are "committed to using the powers of their office to fight structural racism and defend our communities from abuse by state power."

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Activist Shaun King, left; abolitionist Frederick Douglass, right.Activist Shaun King, left; abolitionist Frederick Douglass, right.

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    A son of a Long Island man who vanished in 1961, leaving his wife and children alone to grapple with the mystery of his disappearance for decades, says he feels relieved by the discovery of bones in the same home this Halloween.

    "We felt abandoned as kids but he was here the whole time," Steven Carroll, who was just 5 when his father George disappeared, told News 4 Thursday. 

    Steven Carroll and his brother Michael stumbled upon a skeleton in their basement Wednesday; bones they believe belong to their long missing father. 

    Steven Carroll says his mother told him and his siblings very little about what had happened until just before her death in 1998. The family never filed any missing persons report and there is "no record" of police involvements in his disappearance, Suffolk County police say.

    He and his siblings all have different theories about their father's disappearance, Carroll said, though he declined to share some of the differences in speculation.

    Though they never knew what happened to their father, police say that for reasons that remain unclear the family had always thought he might be buried in the home he lived in on Olive Street in Lake Grove. That home is now owned by Michael Carroll, Steven's brother. And it was that bizarre hunch that prompted the next generation -- George Carroll's grandsons -- to start digging in the basement. It was an excavation project that tooks months -- and they hit the remains, which sat below concrete, on the spookiest day of the year.

    Police say a DNA test will need to be performed to confirm the body in the basement is George Carroll, but they suspect foul play in the death of whoever was found in that cellar after so many years.

    The family believes it is George Carroll for sure. If that turns out to be the case, his sons want to give their father, a Korean War veteran, a proper burial at Calverton National Cemetery, Steven Carroll said.  

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    The hit musical "Wicked" is back in San Diego, and if you still don't have your ticket - don't worry! 

    Broadway San Diego and "Wicked" are holding a lottery for a limited number of $25 orchestra seats. 

    The musical, based off the novel by Gregory Maguire, follows the story of the "Wicked" witch Elphaba and her bubbly friend Glinda the "Good" in the Land of Oz, years before Dorothy arrives. "Wicked" just celebrated 15 years on Broadway, too, with a special on NBC featuring special guests and original cast members.

    The in-person lottery starts two and a half hours before every performance. If you want to enter, you'll have to head to the San Diego Civic Theater's Ticket Office in Downtown San Diego. There, you can put your name in a lottery drum. 

    Thirty minutes later, theater staffers will draw names. A limited number of winners will win $25 orchestra seats. You must pay for the tickets in cash. 

    Each person can only win a limit of two tickets. Anyone who wants to enter must also have a valid photo ID when submitting the entry form and when purchasing tickets if you are selected as a winner. 

    "Wicked" runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 25 at the San Diego Civic Theater. To learn more, click here. If you'd like to buy tickets, click here

    Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
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    Jackie Burns as Elphaba, Wicked Emerald City Tour, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.Jackie Burns as Elphaba, Wicked Emerald City Tour, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

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    An HIV-positive man accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl was arrested Wednesday in Davie, Florida, police said.

    William Charles Bell, 55, was charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child between 12 and 16 years old, one count of using or allowing a child to engage in sex and one count of causing or allowing the use of computer pornography by a minor, jail records showed.

    Police said Bell had unprotected sex with the underage girl, and that there could be more victims.

    "This animal victimized a 14-year-old girl that he was having sex with over the course of a few months," Davie Police Sgt. Mark Leone told reporters Thursday morning.

    An arrest report said the sexual encounters took place at Bell's trailer in Davie between August and October 2018.

    The report said Bell admitted to having sex with the girl on several occasions and to photographing the victim in the nude.

    Leone said that when Bell was arrested officers found multiple images of child pornography on his phone, including some showing him sexually battering the young girl.

    The girl was being tested to see whether she had contracted HIV, Leone said.

    Bell was being held without bond Thursday, jail records showed. Attorney information wasn't available.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

    Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office

    William Charles BellWilliam Charles Bell

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    The Department of Defense has selected five San Diego military bases to act as support installations for some of the thousands of troops expected to deploy to the U.S.-Mexico border. 

    More than 7,000 U.S. service members will be stationed at Base Support Installations (BSIs) in California, Arizona and Texas to provide support to U.S. Customs and Border (CBP), according to U.S. Northern Command.

    The deployment, named "Operation Faithful Patriot," is in response to a caravan of migrants making their way hundreds of miles through Mexico to reach the United States' southern border. 

    President Donald Trump said Wednesday the number of military troops deployed could reach 15,000. 

    "We'll go up to anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 military personnel on top of Border Patrol, ICE and everybody else at the border," he said.

    Among the San Diego Base Support Installations (BSIs) are Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Naval Base Coronado, Naval Base San Diego and Naval Base Point Loma.

    The DoD has also selected Naval Air Facility El Centro in California as a sixth support base. 

    There were no reports on how many service members would be stationed at California BSIs but about 200 National Guardsmen are still stationed in San Diego to assist CBP operations at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. They are expected to be stationed there through March.

    On Thursday, thousands of Central American migrants resumed their trek through Mexico, facing a journey of about 900 more miles before they reach the nearest United States port of entry where they hope to seek asylum.

    There were four caravans in total that altogether represent just a few days' worth of the average flow of migrants to the United States in recent years.

    Similar caravans have occurred regularly over the years and passed largely unnoticed, but Trump has focused on the latest marchers seeking to make border security a hot-button issue in next week's midterm elections.

    He is expected to give remarks on immigration from the White House Thursday afternoon, two White House officials told NBC News.

    No troops from San Diego-area bases would be deployed to the southern U.S. border, according to U.S. Northern Command.

    Service members stationed at military bases in North Carolina, Colorado, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky and Kansas will be providing support along the southern border. 

    The DoD will also be responsible for providing temporary housing for CBP and military personnel, helicopters that will support the movement of CBP officers on the ground, engineer battalions that will erect vehicle barriers and fencing and medical units to transport and triage patients. 

    The Associated Press' Sonia Perez D. contributed to this report

    Photo Credit: Operation FAITHFUL PATRIOT

    Army Col. Edward Hayes, Logistics Officer, Task Force 51 Army North, gives in-processing brief to the 89th Military Police and 541st Engineering Company in support of Operation FAITHFUL PATRIOT at Lackland AFB, TX., on October 31, 2018. The Headquarters Company, 89th Military Police Brigade, and 541st Engineering Company, 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Knox, KT., who are deploying Soldiers, will provide a range of support including planning assistance, engineering support, equipment and resources to assist the Department of Homeland Security along the southwest border.(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)Army Col. Edward Hayes, Logistics Officer, Task Force 51 Army North, gives in-processing brief to the 89th Military Police and 541st Engineering Company in support of Operation FAITHFUL PATRIOT at Lackland AFB, TX., on October 31, 2018. The Headquarters Company, 89th Military Police Brigade, and 541st Engineering Company, 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Knox, KT., who are deploying Soldiers, will provide a range of support including planning assistance, engineering support, equipment and resources to assist the Department of Homeland Security along the southwest border.(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

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    A Point Loma elementary school was tagged with two swastikas overnight Wednesday and police are investigating the incident, the San Diego Unified School District said. 

    The graffiti was found written with surf wax in the parking lot of Loma Portal Elementary School Wednesday morning, according to a letter sent the same day to family members from Principal Mark Morici.

    Both the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego School Police Department were notified and investigating the incident.

    The letter did not say if patrol would be increased at the school as a result. 

    Morici called the graffiti "concerning" and said the "hateful action" will not be tolerated. 

    "I want to assure you that there is no place for hate at Loma Portal. We focus each day on kindness, positivity, and inclusivity so that all students and families feel a sense of belonging to the LP community," the letter read.

    Anyone with information related to the case was asked to call SDUSD police at (619) 291-7678.

    No other information was available.

    Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

    Photo Credit: Google Maps

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    A suspected smuggling boat was seized on the shores of Imperial Beach Thursday morning and several people allegedly linked to the vessel were arrested, officials said.

    The small boat could be seen ashore near Imperial Beach and Coronado avenues at around 7:45 a.m.

    Michael Scappechio, of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told NBC 7 that eight people were taken into custody after the boat was beached. The boat was believed to have been carrying undocumented immigrants.

    No further details were immediately released.

    Photo Credit: OSTV

    This boat, suspected of carrying undocumented immigrants, washed ashore in Imperial Beach Thursday morning.This boat, suspected of carrying undocumented immigrants, washed ashore in Imperial Beach Thursday morning.

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    We have lift-off! A San Diego-based Navy vessel deployed this week for a mission with NASA that will set the groundwork for the agency to recover its Orion space exploration vehicle on its return from space. 

    Amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha left Naval Base San Diego on Tuesday to join the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to test the recovery process of a replica Orion spacecraft, designed to carry astronauts on missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. 

    Orion is preparing to power the "most powerful rocket in the world" into space and travel about 280,000 miles during Exploration Mission-1, the longest and fastest space exploration mission ever conducted -- more than 1.3 million miles in about three weeks, according to NASA. 

    Navy amphibious specialists, Navy divers and Air Force weather specialists make up NASA's Landing and Recovery Team, which will retrieve the capsule and the crew after splashdown and return them both to land, according to NASA.

    During training, Navy divers will practice inspecting the spacecraft for hazards, and hook up tow lines. Then, NASA engineers will tow the capsule into the recovery ship and transport Orion back to Naval Base San Diego. 

    The Navy in partnership with NASA's Exploration Ground Systems launched training in January to begin prepping Orion for space travel. So far, their tests have been conducted on a replica spacecraft. 

    Ultimately, Orion will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and be recovered off the coast of Baja, California.

    The agency said Orion will enter the atmosphere traveling at 25,000 mph. As it re-enters, Orion will slow to 300 mph. Then, parachutes will deploy, slowing the spacecraft to approximately 20 mph before it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, about 60 miles off California’s coast.

    The mission, slated for sometime next year, will pave the way for flights with astronauts beginning in the early 2020s, according to the space agency. 

    Photo Credit: NASA
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    Furry slap bracelets sold exclusively at Target stores were recalled due to a laceration hazard following reports of injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    About 22,500 bracelets were recalled Wednesday over concerns that the bracelet’s metal wristband could "pierce the fabric around it, exposing sharp edges and posing a laceration hazard to young children." Five injuries of minor cuts to hands or wrists have been reported.

    The bracelet, distributed by Fantasia Accessories, sold for about $5 each at Target stores nationwide and Target’s website.

    The bracelets are geared toward children and feature furry critter, such as a panda, unicorn and heart, on a slap bracelet design.

    The CPSC is asking consumers to “immediately stop” using the bracelets, take them away from young children and contact Fantasia Accessories via 800-624-4826 to receive a free replacement product.

    For more information on this recall, click here.

    Photo Credit: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

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    Two Carlsbad police officers killed in traffic collisions in the line of duty will forever be remembered in their community with newly-installed street signs paying tribute to their service.

    The Carlsbad Police Department announced this week the addition of two memorial street signs dedicated to Officer Wesley “Wes” Fox and Officer William “Billy” Jack.

    The signs read, “In Memory of Officer Wesley Fox” and “In Memory of Officer Billy Jack,” and include the dates each officer died.

    They are located in the areas where the officers each were killed in separate traffic crashes: Fox’s sign can be found on El Camino Real at Chestnut Avenue, while Jack’s sign stands at Faraday Avenue at El Camino Real.

    The Carlsbad Police Department said Fox died on Feb. 13, 1978, as he responded to a report of a burglary in the industrial park area. It was raining heavily that day and Fox’s police car spun out on the slick roads, crashing with another car.

    The police department said Fox was the first officer to die in the line of duty since Carlsbad incorporated in 1952.

    Jack – who worked as a motor officer – was killed in a crash on Sept. 1, 1991. The department said Jack was proud of his work as a motor officer and was known by many as “the nicest guy you ever met.”

    Photo Credit: Carlsbad Police Department/Facebook
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    Officer Wesley Fox’s sign can be found on El Camino Real at Chestnut Avenue, while Officer Billy Jack’s sign stands at Faraday Avenue at El Camino Real.Officer Wesley Fox’s sign can be found on El Camino Real at Chestnut Avenue, while Officer Billy Jack’s sign stands at Faraday Avenue at El Camino Real.

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    Parents, you might want to take the kids to LEGOLAND next year for their birthday: the colorful theme park in San Diego’s North County plans to offer children 12 and under free admission in 2019 on their birthday. 

    The freebie is part of the park’s own birthday celebration as it turns the big 2-0 next year. The yearlong party will also boast new attractions and entertainment as LEGOLAND California Resort reflects on how far it’s come in just two decades.

    When the park opened in 1999, it featured 12 rides and a miniature town built entirely of LEGOs known as “Miniland USA.”

    Today, the LEGOLAND brand has grown to include the Sea Life Aquarium, LEGOLAND Water Park, LEGOLAND Hotel and the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel that opened earlier this year. Now, the Resort is home to more than 60 rides, shows and attractions, all geared for families with children ages two to 12.

    In addition to the free admission offer, LEGOLAND plans to kick off its big birthday with something dubbed “The LEGO Movie Days” on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 and Feb. 23 and Feb. 24, 2019. During those dates, visitors can enjoy taking photos with characters from the movie, plus activities like scavenger hunts, LEGO building and a yet-to-be-announced attraction that will open as “The LEGO Movie 2” hits theaters.

    In the spring, the park will debut a new short film at the LEGO Showplace Theater called “LEGO City 4D: Officer in Pursuit,” which follows LEGO characters as they try to save the city.

    For its littlest fans, LEGOLAND will recreate the DUPLO Playtown, an interactive zone where tots can slide, hide, play and even hop on a mini express train.

    Finally, LEGOLAND will introduce a new show, “LEGO Friends Live Show and Character Dance Party” at the new Miniland Stage, where guests can keep the party moving with lots of singing and dancing.

    The free birthday admission offer begins in January 2019 and lasts all year long. For more information on LEGOLAND’s 20th birthday celebration, click here.

    Photo Credit: LEGOLAND California Resort
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    All year long in 2019, LEGOLAND California Resort will offer free admission to kids age 12 and under on their birthdays.All year long in 2019, LEGOLAND California Resort will offer free admission to kids age 12 and under on their birthdays.

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    As we begin the flu season, San Diego County health officials report the number of influenza cases in the region is down 60 percent from this time last year. 

    A total of 129 flu cases have been reported in San Diego County through Oct. 27, officials said Thursday. 

    The region is seeing 60 percent less than the 318 cases reported at the same time last year. 

    Even so, officials said now is the time to get a flu vaccine. 

    “People should not become complacent. It’s too early to determine what impact this year’s flu season is going to have,” Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer said in a written news release.

    In San Diego County, the 342 residents who died of flu-related causes during the 2017 to 2018 flu season represent a nearly 300 percent increase over the city's 87 deaths during the 2016 to 2017 flu season.

    There have been no deaths in San Diego County in the 2018-2019 flu season. 

    There are a number of clinic locations throughout San Diego County offering the influenza vaccine. Click here for the most updated list from the county. For more information, call (866) 358-2966.

    Officials say you can avoid getting sick by following these steps: 


    • Wash hands thoroughly and often
    • Use hand sanitizers
    • Stay away from sick people
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Clean commonly touched surfaces
    • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others

    For many, the flu season means a trip to the drug storeFor many, the flu season means a trip to the drug store

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    The number of homeless veterans across the U.S. declined more than 5 percent over the past year after a slight rise in 2017, the departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs announced Thursday.

    The decrease shows the federal government is making progress in its nearly decade-long efforts, but the problem poses a challenge in areas such as California where the cost of housing is high, officials said.

    The number of homeless vets dropped to about 38,000 -- about half of those counted in 2010, according to an overall count of the homeless taken in January.

    As many as 64 communities and three states -- Virginia, Delaware and Connecticut -- effectively ended veteran homelessness. That means all homeless veterans in those areas had been offered homes, even if some didn't accept them.

    Homelessness among female veterans fell by 10 percent from just a year ago.

    "Our nation's approach to veterans' homelessness is working," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said.

    The Obama administration in 2010 set a goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015, but Carson said the Trump administration will not set a specific date to reach that goal.

    "The date would be as soon as possible, I don't think I could be more specific than that," he told reporters.

    Officials largely credit the progress to an approach started under the Obama administration. It centered on a program called the HUD-VA Supporting Housing Program, which Congress boosted funds for in 2008.

    It gives homeless veterans permanent housing while also providing them a case manager and clinical care services. The old way tried to treat mental health issues and drug and alcohol addiction and require people to get treatment as a requirement to qualify for a home.

    Officials attributed the small uptick in 2017 largely to the high cost of housing in Los Angeles, which has the second-largest homeless population in the U.S. and the largest homeless veteran population.

    HUD said veteran homelessness decreased from 2017 to 2018 in California.

    San Diego County saw a decrease of 9 percent in all veteran homelessness, according to the annual report by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless. The survey also showed a 21 percent decrease in unsheltered homeless veterans from a year earlier.

    In April 2017, NBC 7's Gene Cubbison reported the population of homeless veterans in the city of San Diego had dropped 29 percent since special housing programs were launched in 2013.  

    Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said he plans to visit Los Angeles this week to meet with local officials and charities to discuss what further support is needed in their efforts. He would like to see an even bigger drop in the numbers.

    "It's not good enough, but it is better," Wilkie said of 2018 numbers.

    Stand Down is one program that targets the community of homeless veterans in our nation's cities.Stand Down is one program that targets the community of homeless veterans in our nation's cities.

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    Elliott Lott said he heard the sound of water dripping from outside of his Del Mar home in early September. He went outside to check where the sound came from.

    He found a small trickle of water flowing from the top of the Kenmore hot water heater. He found a service number on it for Sears. He says he went inside and called Sears for help. They said a technician would be out the following day to look at the unit.

    “The guy came out and he looked at the water heater and said, ‘Well, you need a new water heater. This one shot but the good news is it's under warranty,” Lott told NBC 7 Responds.

    Good news, he said.

    Lott said the technician told him that before he could install the new unit, however, that Lott would have to place a concrete pad down for the hot water heater to rest on. He also needed to build a shed to house the unit.

    Lott hired a company to install the pad and the shed and then waited for the technician to arrive with the new hot water heater.

    But he said the technician never came.

    He called Sears again.

    “I called and they said it was pending approval. I asked them what they meant by pending approval and if they realized the hot water heater was laying out in the courtyard, that their technician told us to remove it,” Lott said.

    Lott said that the representative told them that the warranty was under a different last name.

    Lott said he was aware, that he and his wife rented the house.

    He said they needed a receipt in order to move forward.

    They asked him to call back when he got a copy of the receipt and warranty 

    In the meantime, Lott and his wife Marci were left without hot water.

    “No fun. It isn’t great,” said Lott. “You just don’t realize how important hot water is until you don’t have it.”

    Lott called the homeowner in Hawaii. She said she had no idea where the warranty or the receipt would be, if she even had it at all.

    Lott called Sears back. He said they told him that they could not honor the warranty without a proof of purchase.

    “We had no reason to think that the what the technician was telling us then could be wrong, Lott said. “We relied on the word of the technician.. We had no reason to doubt his word and then because of that it just spiraled out of control.”

    That’s when Lott and his wife Marci contacted NBC 7 Responds for help.

    NBC 7 Responds contacted Sears. Within a day a representative from Sears called Marci and Elliott to let them know their new hot water heater was on its way.

    In a statement, a spokesperson for Sears writes, "At Sears, the satisfaction of our members is our top priority. Our member services team resolved Ms. Ancil’s situation by replacing her water heater. We hope she remains a loyal Sears customer and Shop Your Way member.”

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    A baby blue bus rolls up to a Sacramento child care center, and out comes Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom clad in a black cape, a Batman mask obscuring half his face and an Orange plastic jack-o'-lantern in one hand.

    "The things we do for votes," says Newsom, a Democrat and the front-runner in Tuesday's election for California governor, before handing out Halloween candy to a shark, a Batman, a fire man, a princess and a variety of Disney characters.

    Rounding up votes is the singular focus for Newsom and his Republican rival, businessman John Cox as they make a final push to win over undecided voters and ensure their supporters cast a ballot.

    Both are rolling through the state in brightly colored buses, stopping for selfies and rallying their party's faithful in California's major media markets.

    "It's nice seeing (politicians) acting like regular people, seeing the human side" said Denae Pruner, a 33-year-old state worker in Sacramento, said as Newsom handed out candy Wednesday. Her 1-year-old daughter dressed as an angel squirmed in her arms.

    With much of the nation gripped by the fight for control of the U.S. House, so too are the candidates for governor in a race that's often taken a backseat to the congressional races that will determine whether Democrats gain the power to investigate President Donald Trump and thwart his legislation.

    The Newsom and Cox campaigns are both steering their buses toward the state's most hotly contested congressional districts in Southern California and the Central Valley to campaign with the candidates there.

    Cox began his final push Thursday with an early morning interview with a conservative radio host in Sacramento. Without the money to match Newsom's avalanche of television ads, Cox is looking for free opportunities to reach his supporters.

    He expressed confidence, despite polls showing him with a double-digit deficit. As people get to know him, he said, they'll like what they see.

    "People are ready for change," he told reporters outside the radio station before hopping on his lime-green bus for a trip to Vallejo, then Santa Barbara.

    For his closing argument, he's sticking with a message he's been hammering for months — California is too expensive, and it's the fault of politicians and interest groups invested in keeping it that way.

    "The cost of living has just been so elevated by the political class that people can't afford it," Cox said told reporters.

    For Newsom, the final pitch is focused on educating children in the first three years of life and on his pledge to stand up to Trump. He's has largely ignored his rival, focusing his attacks on the president.

    When he was done handing out candy Wednesday, it was time to the talk to the press. Newsom removed his mask and changed from a Batman T-shirt to a pressed shirt and blue coat, the costume of a politician. He wasn't keen on the television image of him talking about the serious issues confronting California while dressed like a superhero.

    "A bully calls you out, you gotta push back," he said of Trump. "We don't have to be navel gazing. We're not a small isolated state. This is California."

    Despite his pricey proposals, from universal health care to a big boost in spending for early-childhood education, he insisted he'll maintain the fiscal discipline for which outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown is known.

    "I'm not profligate," he said repeatedly. "I'm committed to prioritizing."

    Cox scoffed at that idea, saying the state already has a bloated budget.

    "The people of this state want change, they want an end to tax and spend," he said. "They want a chance to have a nice house and that's what I'm going to be talking about."

    Polling has showed Newsom with a comfortable lead — 49 percent to 38 percent in a Public Policy Institute of California survey last month, with a 3.6 point margin of error. He's also in much better shape to reach voters, with a whopping $15 million in the bank on Oct. 20, compared with Cox's $570,000, according to their most recent campaign finance reports.

    Cox is targeting cable television, online streaming services and radio. He's also done a number of one-on-one interviews with local television stations.

    An independent group — whose donors include Los Angeles developer Geoff Palmer, venture capitalist Floyd Kvamme and his wife, Jean Kvamme — has bought digital ads with inflammatory messages. One criticizing a San Francisco needle exchange program ends, "Gavin Newsom for Governor? Are you on crack?"

    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    A Chula Vista homeowner checked his security camera to see how trick-or-treaters handled the bowl they left on the front porch Wednesday.

    “I would hear the security camera go off every now and then and I just happened to say, 'You know what, let's take a look at the camera,' Laurence Lector told NBC 7.

    Lector and his wife left the bowl full of candy at their home on Baywood Circle so they could go trick-or-treating with their own children.

    What he saw on the video was a group of older children tackling the bowl.

    “Just brutal really,” Lector said laughing. “I was like, 'Wow, you guys really wiped it out!'

    The couple wasn’t as angry as they were disappointed. They had expected the candy to be gone when they returned home.

    “But the way they did it is what really shocked me,” Lector said.

    “I think what struck me the most was the little kids that were with them,” he said.

    However, they kept watching and saw additional footage that showed there are still good kids out there.

    An hour later, the couple watching the video via their mobile phone saw another group of children approach the home.

    “We thought, 'Okay, so what are they going to do about it? Are they going to walk away?” Cherryl Castro-Lector said.

    On the video, one child can be heard calling for a parent.

    “Let's leave them a little bit of candy,” a woman tells the children.

    “I was really touched by that,” Laurence said.

    The children go to the Lectors’ next-door neighbor and get more candy to put into the once-empty bowl.

    “Oh my God, we felt like humanity had been restored,” Cherryl said.

    “There are kids in our community in Eastlake who are just good and kind-hearted.”

    The couple said they posted the videos to Facebook not to shame the children who took the candy but to show how there are children who will do the right thing. 

    Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Lector Family

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