BOYNTON BEACH — It had all the potential to go terribly wrong — a woman falls unconscious at the wheel of her car, which starts slowly rolling into oncoming traffic at a busy intersection in Boynton Beach during rush hour.
Laurie Rabyor, 63, of West Palm Beach, left work at CityShade Company in Boynton Beach shortly before 5 p.m. May 5 when she passed out while driving.
But at least eight people jumped out of their cars to stop traffic — and Rabyor’s car — saving her from crashing at the intersection of Congress Avenue and Woolbright Road.
“It’s so nice to know there’s people out there that actually care and will do the right thing,” Rabyor said.
The eight good Samaritans were honored Friday in a ceremony at the Boynton Beach Police Department headquarters. It was the first time Rabyor had seen them since the incident.
“I don’t even know how to thank them all,” she said.
Those who were honored were Juan Chavez, Jr., of Boynton Beach, DaVida Peele of Delray Beach, Robin Fox of Wellington, David Formica of Boca Raton, Marko Bartolone of Boynton Beach, Michael Edelstein of Boynton Beach, Jannette Rivera of West Palm Beach, and Muriel Vaughns of Boynton Beach.
Boynton Beach police said video of the incident has been viewed more than 40 million times worldwide.
The so-called good Samaritans said there might have been as many as 20 people who helped at one point or another.
Rabyor said she’s moved that people will help a stranger. And she was especially moved by the group’s diversity.
“You see all the nationalities,” Rabyor said. “There was a Black woman, there was a Jewish man, there was a Spanish woman, a Latino. They were all over the place.
“And here I am just a little old white lady and they all came together to help me and I thought that was wonderful … They all just came together to do it.”
Videos and 911 calls released by the Boynton Beach Police Department this week showed the group’s efforts to prevent a tragedy and their quick-thinking save by shattering Rabyor’s window with a dumbbell to get inside the car. In a stroke of luck, one of the bystanders was a nurse.
The video shows Rabyor’s gray sedan drifting from the northbound lanes at an angle into oncoming traffic in the southbound lanes.
Rivera, a co-worker, was the first one to lend assistance. She’s the person in the video who got out of her car waving her arms and running after Rabyor’s car as it entered the intersection. Rivera, Rabyor’s co-worker for three years, said she and Rabyor don’t usually leave work at the same time. Asked why they were together at the same traffic light at the same time on that particular day, Rivera was stumped.
“I really don’t know,” she said. “God put us together.”
One 911 caller described what he saw.
“I was at the intersection of Congress and Woolbright … And somebody slowly crossed the intersection. It looked like they were passed out or their car was just going, like, idling 5 mph, across the intersection diagonally,” he said to the line operator.
Another caller described an “elderly woman that is unconscious at the wheel” as people were holding her car.
As Rabyor’s car inched slowly toward others, another person tried to help. In the video, a blue car pulled up into the lane directly where Rabyor’s car was going. A white car in the next lane swerved out of the way. The cars, then feet away from potential impact with Rabyor’s car, started to back up.
A third person came to help. Then a fourth, a fifth, a sixth and a seventh person came as some started to push their weight against the front of Rabyor’s car.
Chavez, the person in the Army uniform in the video, said when he saw the incident unfold “there was no doubt in my mind I needed to do something.”
Chavez said with a smile, “After I saw the video I thought, ‘This is pretty stupid.’”
Vaughns provided the dumbbell. Formica smashed the window. Edelstein tried to smash a window with his bare hand but was unsuccessful.
Many of the good Samaritans treated their heroics with humor.
“I was the fool that jumped in front of the car and tried to punch the window out,” he said.
“I got to play real-life Frogger,” Chavez said, referring to the 1980s-era video game in which players attempt to safely hop an animated frog across busy lanes of traffic.
Peele, a postal worker, helped stop traffic while the others attempted to stop the car. She was upset that people initially blew their horns in frustration because they couldn’t proceed through the intersection.
“I used a few choice words I won’t say now to the people that started blowing,” she said.
Bartolone was across the street at a convenience store.
“I’ve got to say when I first saw what was happening I had a different perspective on it,” he said. “I saw a lady chasing a car through an intersection in South Florida, waving her hands, and I thought, ‘Wow, she’s really mad at that other driver.’
“And then I saw [Rivera] waving her hands screaming for help and I thought maybe she needs help.”
Bartolone doubted he couldn’t stop the car by himself.
“But then I see Chavez in his uniform running across the intersection, and I thought, ‘Well, with a couple of people we can probably stop the car,’” he said. “And then I thought, ‘I’m not getting in front of that car,’ but I ended up getting in front of the car anyway.”
The group was able to stop the car’s slow roll toward other cars and smashed a window open.
They got the passenger-side door open and then the driver’s door. They moved the car into a gas station parking lot.
Fox, a nurse, called 911 got out of her car to get closer to the driver. Someone in the background of the call shouted for people to move out of the way.
“Her pupils are equal,” Fox tells the operator once the car was stopped. “Laurie, Laurie, take a look at me … She’s nonverbal right now. Laurie, can you squeeze my fingers? Can you squeeze my fingers? Can you squeeze my fingers here?”
On Friday, each of the eight good Samaritans received a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolate-covered pretzels, a plaque, a challenge coin from the Boynton Beach Police Department, and a six- to eight-day Caribbean cruise along with a backpack and a $2,000 gift card from Royal Caribbean.
As for Rabyor, she spent two days in the hospital after the incident. A combination of new blood pressure medication and fasting in preparation for a colonoscopy had caused her to pass out, but she doesn’t remember anything about the episode. At the hospital, doctors adjusted blood pressure medicine again. She’s due to see her primary physician Wednesday to see if her medication is working correctly.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) – It’s time for the trial of a former Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy who was caught on camera getting violent with an inmate as lawyers for both sides gave their opening statements.
The victim in this case, David O’Connell, also testified in court, Wednesday afternoon.
The incident took place back in January 2019 at Broward Health North in Pompano Beach when former deputy Jorge Sobrino was caught on camera punching O’Connell while he was handcuffed to a hospital bed.
Sobrino is being charged with misdemeanor battery, which could land Sobrino a year in jail if he is convicted.
State prosecutors argued that Sobrino went too far since O’Connell was handcuffed to the bed.
“You will see, on video, deputy Sobrino closes the door, they start arguing with one another, he [Sobrino] tells him sit down, he goes over to lift his legs down, he is sitting, but he lifts his legs on the bed, and he jabs him, he punches him one time to the left side of his face,” said prosecutor Christopher Killoran.
Sobrino’s defense attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, argued that he was legally able to use force on O’Connell.
“A police officer, and in this case, is allowed to punch a suspect or somebody in custody in the face,” said Schwartzreich. “They’re trained to do it, and whether you like or not, and use of force, it’s not pretty, but it’s lawful. A use of force, while not pretty, it’s legal.”
The trial is expected to end within a day or so.
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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed sharply lower on Wall Street Wednesday as dismal results from Target renewed fears that inflation is battering U.S. companies. The S&P 500, the benchmark for many index funds, fell 4%. Target lost a quarter of its value, dragging other retailers down with it, after saying its profit fell by half in the latest quarter as costs for freight and transportation spiked. That comes a day after Walmart cited inflation for its own weak results. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,164 points, or 3.6% and the tech-heavy Nasaq pulled back 4.7%. Treasury yields fell as investors sought safer ground.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 1,100 points Wednesday, as big earnings misses by Target and other major retailers stoked investors’ fears that surging inflation could cut deeply into corporate profits.
The broad sell-off erased gains from a solid rally a day earlier, the latest volatile day-to-day swing for stocks in recent weeks amid a deepening market slump.
The S&P 500 fell 4% as of 3:16 p.m. Eastern. The benchmark index is now down more than 18% from the record high it reached at the beginning of the year. That’s shy of the 20% decline that’s considered a bear market.
The Dow was down 1,143 points, or 3.5%, at 31,502, and the Nasdaq fell 4.6%.
“A lot of people are trying to guess the bottom,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. “Bottoms occur when there’s nobody left to sell.”
Retailers were among the biggest decliners after Target plunged following a grim quarterly earnings report.
Target lost a quarter of its value after reporting earnings that fell far short of analysts’ forecasts. In a sign of the impact of inflation, particularly on shipping costs, Target said its operating margin for the first quarter was 5.3%. It had been expecting 8% or higher. The company also said consumers returned to more normal spending habits, switching away from TVs and appliances and buying more toys and travel-related items.
The report comes a day after Walmart said its profit took a hit from higher costs. The nation’s largest retailer fell 7.2%, adding to its losses from Tuesday.
The weak reports stoked concerns that persistently rising inflation is putting a tighter squeeze on a wide range of businesses and could cut deeper into their profits.
Retailers had some of the biggest losses. Dollar Tree fell 15.4% and Dollar General slumped 11.8%. Best Buy fell 11.6% and Amazon fell 7%.
Technology stocks, which led the market rally a day earlier, were the biggest drag on the S&P 500. Apple lost 5.9%.
All told, more than 95% of stocks in the S&P 500 were down. Utilities also weighed down the index, though not nearly as much as the other 10 sectors, as investors shifted money to investments that are considered less risky.
Bond yields fell as investors shifted money into lower-risk investments. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.89% from 2.97% late Tuesday.
The disappointing report from Target comes a day after the market cheered an encouraging report from the Commerce Department that showed retail sales rose in April, driven by higher sales of cars, electronics, and more spending at restaurants.
Stocks have been struggling to pull out of a slump over the last six weeks as concerns pile up for investors. Trading has been choppy on a daily basis and any data on retailers and consumers is being closely monitored by investors as they try to determine the impact from inflation and whether it will prompt a slowdown in spending. A bigger-than-expected hit to spending could signal more sluggish economic growth ahead.
The Federal Reserve is trying to temper the impact from the highest inflation in four decades by raising interest rates. On Tuesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell told a Wall Street Journal conference that the U.S. central bank will “have to consider moving more aggressively” if inflation fails to ease after earlier rate hikes.
Investors are concerned that the central bank could cause a recession if it raises rates too high or too quickly. Worries persist about global growth as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine puts even more pressure on prices for oil and food while lockdowns in China to stem COVID-19 cases worsens supply chain problems.
The United Nations is significantly lowering its forecast for global economic growth this year from 4% to 3.1%. The downgrade is broad-based, which includes the world’s largest economies such as the U.S., China and the European Union.
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COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States – and could get even worse over the coming months, federal health officials warned Wednesday in urging areas hardest hit to consider reissuing calls for indoor masking.
Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for masking and other infection precautions.
“Right now, the increases are concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest. (But) prior increases of infections, in different waves of infection, have demonstrated that this travels across the country,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, at a White House briefing with reporters.
For an increasing number of areas, “we urge local leaders to encourage use of prevention strategies like masks in public indoor settings and increasing access to testing and treatment,” she said.
However, officials were cautious about making concrete predictions, saying how much worse the pandemic gets will depend on several factors, including to what degree previous infections will protect against new variants.
Last week, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha warned in an interview with The Associated Press the U.S. will be increasingly vulnerable to the coronavirus this fall and winter if Congress doesn’t swiftly approve new funding for more vaccines and treatments.
Jha warned that without additional funding from Congress for the virus would cause “unnecessary loss of life” in the fall and winter, when the U.S. runs out of treatments.
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He added the U.S. was already falling behind other nations in securing supplies of the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines and said that the domestic manufacturing base of at-home tests is already drying up as demand drops off.
President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he would be requesting $22.5 billion in additional funds to fight the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and address pandemic-caused issues in the supply chain.
Jha said domestic test manufactures have started shuttering lines and laying off workers, and in the coming weeks will begin to sell off equipment and prepare to exit the business of producing tests entirely unless the U.S. government has money to purchase more tests, like the hundreds of millions it has sent out for free to requesting households this year.
That would leave the U.S. reliant on other countries for testing supplies, risking shortages during a surge, Jha warned. About 8.5 million households placed orders for the latest tranche of 8 free tests since ordering opened on Monday, Jha added.
The pandemic is now 2 1/2 years old. And the U.S. has seen — depending how you count them — five waves of COVID-19 during that time, with the later surges driven by mutated versions of the coronavirus. A fifth wave occurred mainly in December and January, caused by the omicron variant.
The omicron variant spread much more easily than earlier versions.
Some experts are worried the country now is seeing signs of a sixth wave, driven by an omicron subvariant. On Wednesday, Walensky noted a steady increase in COVID-19 cases in the past five weeks, including a 26% increase nationally in the last week.
Hospitalizations also are rising, up 19% in the past week, though they remain much lower than during the omicron wave, she said.
In late February, as that wave was ebbing, the CDC released a new set of measures for communities where COVID-19 was easing its grip, with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals.
Walensky said more than 32% of the country currently live in an area with medium or high COVID-19 community levels, including more than 9% in the highest level, where CDC recommends that masks and other mitigation efforts be used.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending travelers get tested for COVID-19 as close to the time of departure as possible.
In the last week, an additional 8% of Americans were living in a county in medium or high COVID-19 community levels.
Officials said they are concerned that waning immunity and relaxed mitigation measures across the country may contribute to a continued rise in infections and illnesses across the country. They encouraged people — particularly older adults — to get boosters.
Some health experts say the government should be taking clearer and bolder steps.
The CDC community level guidelines are confusing to the public, and don’t give a clear picture of how much virus transmission is occurring in a community, said Dr. Lakshmi Ganapathi, an infectious diseases specialist at Harvard University.
When the government officials make recommendations but do not set rules, “it ultimately rests on every single individual picking and choosing the public health that works for them. But that’s not what is effective. If you’re talking about stemming hospitalizations and even deaths, all of these interventions work better when people do it collectively,” she said.