Fletcher Lives!

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Now that I am back from Texas, I have had a chance to see our hurricane coverage. One video clip that I saw (and apparently was featured on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" on Monday night) is of Shepard Smith (search) and me in a split screen. I am standing in a yellow slicker on one side looking forward with little or no expression and Shep is getting pushed so hard by the wind that he fell. He quickly got up and returned to the interview. I never remarked about Shep falling nor reacted for a simple reason: I could not see him. I had no TV monitor out in the rain and wind — just a camera lens to look into.

I did not know Shep fell until after the show when someone mentioned it to me. If Shep made a remark about falling as he fell or got up, I missed it with all the wind noise coming through his mike and directly into my ear. After seeing the clip, it occurred to me that the viewers must have thought it odd that I completely ignored my colleague falling and maybe hurting himself and instead stood there like a dope who didn't care. (By the way, now that Shep is safely through the hurricane, the video clip is very funny.)

Last night we had 82-year-old Fletcher Harris back on the show. He lives in Galveston (search) and refused to evacuate his city — even though the expectation was at the time of the interview that Galveston could be wiped off the map by Hurricane Rita. He was on Thursday night — the night before Rita hit landfall — and we wanted to bring him back to find out how his Friday night was and how he was doing. If you watched last night, you know what he had to say about Friday night and those who ordered the evacuation. Fletcher is a very direct man and a man who does what he wants.

Prior to our show last night, Fletcher spoke to one of my producers who booked him and said, "You guys must have a really popular show, cause I had some buddies from back in the military who saw me on there and called to check in on me... a bunch of people have been checking in on me."

I became more curious about Fletcher and asked that some research be done about him. Just as I suspected, Fletcher has a very distinguished military career. He is a hero. After reading this article, you will understand Fletcher better.

I often get requests from viewers to update stories we have covered. Sometimes the updates are significant so we do a segment on our show. Sometimes the updates are not — in our judgment — worthy of or significant enough for an entire segment on our show so I like to use the blog to update you. And sometimes the updates come when we are buried in another story or preparing for it (e.g. Hurricane Rita.) Here is a newspaper article from the Fresno Bee that was forwarded to me. Click here to read the article.

We also covered the disappearance of Erika Dalquist (search) back in 2002 and I asked one of my colleagues to remind me what happened in her disappearance. I could not recall if she had been found ... and whether she was dead. She disappeared from a bar in October of 2002 in Minnesota. My colleague sent me this article from the Duluth News Tribune (which is several months old):

Duluth News Tribune (April 20, 2005)

Erika Dalquist would have turned 24 Monday had she not been killed in 2002, allegedly by a man who remains semi-paralyzed in a prison bed who may soon enter a plea in the case.

William Myears is charged with second-degree murder in the killing. He has not appeared in court since his arraignment in June because of a medical condition that has left him paralyzed from the waist down, his attorney said.

A Crow Wing County district judge has scheduled an omnibus hearing for June 21.

Last summer Myears, 26, was arrested in Michigan, where he was working with a traveling carnival, shortly after his description aired on the "America's Most Wanted" TV program.

Because of his partial paralysis, he is in custody in Oak Park Heights prison. His care over nine months has cost Crow Wing County more than its prisoner medical care annual budget of $54,000.

"That's how much I have in my budget to pay (for medical expenses) for 150 inmates," Sheriff Eric Klang said.

Earlier this year, Myears' attorney, Greg Larson of Little Falls, asked the court to have Myears examined to determine whether he is mentally and physically competent to stand trial.

The scheduling of an omnibus hearing "historically speaking" suggests that the prosecution will be allowed to proceed, County Attorney Don Ryan said.

Larson did not return a telephone call from the Associated Press on Tuesday or calls from the Star Tribune of Minneapolis on Monday.

In January, he told the court that Myears "is physically not able to be brought up here," according to a report in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch, and could not sit even in a wheelchair for more than an hour or so without becoming dizzy. Larson said Myears also suffers from depression.

Myears could enter a plea at the June 21 hearing. There also could be motions on evidence or a request for a change of venue, Ryan said.

Dalquist was last seen alive at a Brainerd bar on Oct. 30, 2002. Investigators soon identified Myears as a suspect, and he was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter. The charge was dropped when authorities failed to find Dalquist's body.

Over 18 months, investigators and volunteers continued to comb the woods and wetlands around Brainerd. Meanwhile, Myears left Minnesota with a traveling carnival.

Last May, searchers found Dalquist's remains in a shallow grave on land east of Brainerd owned by Myears' grandparents. Authorities filed a murder charge and began looking again for Myears.

He was arrested in June, a day after Dalquist's funeral.

Myears was returned to Brainerd but Crow Wing County determined that his medical problems were "too intensive for us to handle," Klang said. He was eventually sent to the state prison hospital at Oak Park Heights, which has been billing Crow Wing County $235 a day for skilled nursing care.

We also covered the disappearance of Minnesota college student Josh Guimond (search). Josh has not been found but this is the Web site devoted to finding out what happened to him: http://www.findjoshua.com/

E-mail No. 1

I am a Rita evacuee from Southeast Texas, Vidor, Orange County, to be exact. We visited a local Red Cross today and were dismayed by what we learned. The American Red Cross has gotten no directives from the federal government on how to help us. Yes, they can help Katrina victims, but they have no idea what they can do for Rita victims. It is very distressing to turn FOX News on, or any other news channel for that matter, and hear only about oil prices and help that is still pouring in for Katrina victims. We have only heard that we cannot go home for four to six weeks. What can we do until then?
Perhaps FOX News could shoot some new footage of our area so that we can see the damage. We have seen and heard very little about Orange County.
I have seen one segment shot in Orange County about 15 times. It is the same segment over and over again and we really need news of Orange County. Any help or news would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
Vidor, TX

E-mail No. 2

I believe with the cold winter months ahead of us, individuals, families, school districts, and places of business could save a great deal of money by going to a four day work week. I am not suggesting anybody work fewer hours in a week. Just lengthen each of the four other days accordingly, and have 3 days off. This would result in less gas used driving to work, and less fuel used heating buildings in the cold winter months, November through March, and perhaps less absenteeism. With the ever-constant rise in the cost of fuel, how much more are people going to be able to afford?
Elaine Marvel
Dagsboro, DE

E-mail No. 3

Hi Greta,
I am watching this evening and used to live in New Orleans, first in New Orleans East and later in Slidell and finally Algiers.
You asked about socioeconomics. St. Bernard Parish, when I lived there, hate to say was where upper middle class Caucasian people were moving to get away from the emerging Creole middle class. They did not want to be anywhere where they might have to have a neighbor of color.
When we lived in New Orleans east, it was made up of mainly upper middle class Creole/black university educated people. Algiers was the only place I lived that was actually all classes and colors. Slidell was mostly lower middle class except Eden Isles, which was big business owners.
The racism in that city is unbelievable and the vestiges of slavery remain... For instance, when I worked as a switchboard operator... ALL employees of the hotel HAD to go in the BACK door... they would be written up if they entered from Royal Street including my friend Manfred who was the executive chef.... classism more than racism.... just keeping people in their place.
As you know if you go up and down St. Charles Avenue, there are plantation type homes. All of them have a little tiny house behind them... used to be slaves' quarters.
I do however distinctly remember that the white folks who simply did not want to live in an integrated neighborhood moved to Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish.
In many ways it was a comfort to return to Wisconsin in 1992, but Mardi Gras season comes, and I long for Louisiana.

E-mail No. 4

I haven't heard the cause of the fire that burned the bus before the hurricane yet, but I have a good guess. I am familiar with these buses (MCI) and know of several instances with a similar outcome. I believe the rear brakes "cammed over" and the heat caught the rear wheel on fire. This happens primarily due to bad maintenance. The brake shoes become very thin and when applied, the cam completely overruns the travel limit. This causes the brake to be on all the time. This bus most likely has a Series 60 Detroit engine, which is very powerful (about 500 HP) and the driver probably would not know the brake was on, since it is only on one wheel. I'd bet money that I'm right on this one!
Darryl Howell
Smyrna, GA

E-mail No. 5

My hypothesis on burning bus in Texas: back tire blew out, flapping rubber broke brake line, brake fluid is highly flammable, it spread out onto the hot manifold catching fire, thus a short time later the fuel tanks exploded about a minute apart. This bus probably ran on diesel fuel...
Gil Stafford
U.S. Coast Guard (retired)
Asheboro, NC

E-mail No. 6

My family lives in Bridge City, TX. Hurricane Rita went right over their house and no one is there to offer assistance. They currently have no electricity, water, or supplies needed. Emergency crews that have been reported there are nowhere to be seen. Looters actually cleaned out their neighbors' house at 1:30 am this morning. The authorities are not allowing residents into the area, but are also not doing anything to protect their property. I need information on how to get my family water, food, etc? I feel this situation is not being handled in the best possible way since people are being wiped out by looters rather than the hurricane. I mean basically they will lose everything after the fact of Rita. Can you direct me in the right direction to get help to my family?
Nikki Largent

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