Federal Flight Deck Officers: The airline pilots trained to shoot hijackers

Thousands of US airline pilots carry guns in the cockpit. Why do they do it – and how are they trained?

Every year, hundreds of American pilots head to Artesia, New Mexico, to learn new skills.

The training lasts 56 hours, spread across five days. Up to 48 people are in each class.

They are normal pilots, working for normal airlines: Delta, for example, or United, or Southwest.

But they’re not learning about new planes, or new rules. They’re learning how to shoot hijackers.

Seventeen years ago, in the space of 74 minutes, four American planes were hijacked. The date was 11 September 2001.

A year later, the Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act was passed, allowing US pilots – working for US airlines – to carry guns in the cockpit.

The first class of Federal Flight Deck Officers, as the gun-carrying pilots are known, graduated in April 2003. Classes have run ever since.

Despite that, the programme isn’t widely-known. Last month, when talking about teachers having guns, President Trump said “a lot of people don’t understand” that some pilots are armed.

So what are the chances of your pilot packing heat?

The US government does not reveal how many pilots are armed, only saying “thousands” have been trained. The names of those involved are kept secret.

The BBC spoke to one American pilot who estimates around one in 10 of the United States’ 125,000 commercial pilots is armed. “Maybe less,” he says.

The programme is voluntary. Training is free – as is the gun – but armed pilots aren’t paid extra. Most people in Artesia take annual leave to be there.

“I’ve met hundreds of them,” says Eric Sarandrea, deputy director of the Federal Air Marshal Service, which oversees the programme. “The first words out of my mouth are ‘thank you’.”

Sarandrea – who was working across the street from the World Trade Center on 9/11 – says the majority of FFDOs are, like him, ex-military (he spent four years as a US army paratrooper).

“They are patriots,” he says. “They’re concerned about the safety and security of their passengers. They really take it to heart.”

Training begins in the classroom, before moving to a shooting range. Students learn to shoot from seating and standing positions, and prepare for hijackers trying to steal their gun.

The pilots are trained not to be drawn out of the cockpit – “They want that door bolted shut, get the aircraft on the ground,” says Sarandrea – and they also learn the rules on storing the guns.

Inside the cockpit, pilots carry the guns in a hip holster. Outside, they must be transported in locked boxes.

“Their [the pilots’] authority lies within the flight deck,” says the deputy director. “They can’t be walking around to the stores or the malls with the firearm on their person.”

Armed pilots must be in it for the long haul. After graduating in New Mexico, the FFDOs have training every six months. And, every five years, there’s a two-day refresher.

All this, and not an extra cent in their wages.

“There’s not much we can do for them apart from say ‘thank you’,” says Sarandrea. “We send them a certificate of appreciation every five years. When they retire, we give them a memento.”

A US plane has not been hijacked since 9/11, so an FFDO has never used their weapon deliberately. (In 2008, a pilot shot a hole in the cockpit while trying to stow his gun).

But globally, there have been 55 plane hijackings since 2001.

In the US, some high-risk flights – those going to risky places, or carrying passengers on watch-lists – have armed air marshals. The marshals, who have at least four months’ initial training, stay in the cabin.

The armed pilots are another layer of protection, and a cheaper one. In 2013, the pilots’ union Alpa said it cost the government $17 to put an FFDO on a flight – compared to $3,000 (£2,100) for a marshal.

Sarandrea says both air marshals, and armed pilots, are an important deterrent for terrorists who dream of another 9/11.

“I stay in touch with counterparts around the world, and we believe there’s a cycle to it,” he says. “With Isil, and Al-Qaeda, there’s a fixation on aviation. For me – and it’s a personal opinion – it’s the crown jewel [for terrorists].

“Get on board an aircraft, take control of it, you’ll be the number one terrorist organisation in the world.”

No other countries arm their pilots, as far as Sarandrea knows, and some countries don’t accept armed pilots on their territory. But most do.

“If you want to be on the visa waiver programme [allowing easier access to the US] you need an air marshal agreement in place,” he says. “For the most part, we don’t have a challenge.”

But what about passengers who object? People who don’t want guns in the cockpit? Travellers who worry about an armed pilot with mental health problems, or worse?

“The TSA [the government agency] is very strong on perpetual vetting,” says Sarandrea.

“Anyone with access to aviation or transportation, there’s continual vetting that goes on. And we don’t just work closely with the FFDOs – we also talk to the airline.

“So if an airline says ‘Hey, we have a challenge with this employee,’ they know who their FFDOs are, so they will contact us.

“If there’s a concern, we pull them out of the air, and we take their equipment. We do that very quickly – no matter where they are in the world.”

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    The pilots’ unions support the programme – the main one, Alpa, wants the government to increase funding from around $20m to $25m a year – and the courses are over-subscribed.

    Bill Cason has been a pilot for more than 20 years, and is president of the Federal Flight Deck Officers Association – although, because of the programme’s rules, cannot say whether he is an FFDO himself.

    Cason says the volunteer officers represent “what is best in our national character”. The training is rigorous, Cason says, in order “to deter, and ultimately defeat, another 9/11 style attack against the flying public and our precious cargo”.

    And that 74-minute period, on a September day 17 years ago, will not be forgotten soon.

    “It’s still something that’s in the back of the pilots’ mind,” says Sarandrea. “They think ‘I might have to be concerned with this’. And you never know.”

Remington: Oldest US gunmaker files for bankruptcy

The oldest gun manufacturer in the US, Remington Outdoor, has filed for bankruptcy in the wake of slumping sales.

The firm, founded more than 200 years ago, filed for bankruptcy protection to cut a deal with its creditors.

Remington’s chief financial officer said the company’s sales dropped significantly in the year before its bankruptcy, court papers show.

The filing comes amid fresh demands for greater gun control in the US.

A shooting at a Florida high school in February has revived the debate on gun control, and on Saturday hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of US cities.

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    Some US retailers have raised the age limit for certain firearms purchases to 21 or stopped stocking semi-automatic weapons.

    The FBI processed a record number of background checks on gun purchases during the election year in 2016, but the rate of background checks plunged following Mr Trump’s election.

    Analysts say more Americans were buying guns two years ago because they feared a possible Hillary Clinton presidency could usher in gun control policies.

    It is thought that gun sales slowed after Mr Trump took office because firearms enthusiasts generally do not fear a Republican president will try to deprive them of their constitutional right to bear arms.

    Remington, best known for its rifles and shotguns, was founded in 1816.

    After it emerged a Remington rifle was used in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, victims’ family members filed a lawsuit against the gunmaker.

    In court papers filed in Delaware, Remington’s chief financial officer, Stephen Jackson, said the company was having difficulty meeting requirements from its lenders as a result of declining sales.

    During the bankruptcy process, the company will stay in business.

    In most US Chapter 11 bankruptcy processes, the debtor proposes a reorganisation plan to maintain its business and pay creditors over a period of time.

Spy poisoning: Russian diplomats expelled across US and Europe

The United States and its European allies are expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in a co-ordinated response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK.

US President Donald Trump has ordered 60 Russian diplomats to leave the country.

Germany, France, Ukraine, Canada and various European countries have also expelled envoys.

Russia called the moves a “provocative gesture” and vowed to retaliate.

Russia denies any role in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, southern England. The pair remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

The US action is also the biggest move against Russia since the Cold War era and the hostilities with the then Soviet Union.

The Russian foreign ministry said the moves demonstrated a continuation of a “confrontational path”.

“It goes without saying that this unfriendly act by this group of countries will not go without notice and we will react to it,” its statement said.

Who is expelling diplomats?

The UK announced it was expelling 23 Russian diplomats earlier this month.

Various countries announced they were making the same move in solidarity on Monday. These are:

  • US: 60 diplomats
  • EU countries: France (4); Germany (4); Poland (4); Czech Republic (3); Lithuania (3); Denmark (2); Netherlands (2); Italy (2); Estonia (1); Croatia (1); Finland (1); Latvia (1); Romania (1)
  • Ukraine: 13
  • Canada: 4

    Why are they doing it?

    President of the European Council Donald Tusk said 14 EU states had decided to expel Russian diplomats as a direct result of a meeting, held last week, about the Salisbury poisoning.

    “Additional measures, including further expulsions within this common EU framework are not to be excluded in the coming days and weeks,” he said.

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      The US state department said in a statement: “On March 4, Russia used a military-grade nerve agent to attempt to murder a British citizen and his daughter in Salisbury.

      “This attack on our Ally the United Kingdom put countless innocent lives at risk and resulted in serious injury to three people, including a police officer.”

      It called the attack an “outrageous violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and breach of international law”.

      The US is expelling 48 envoys at the Russian embassy in Washington and 12 more at the UN in New York. It will also order the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.

      Remarkable show of solidarity

      By Jonathan Marcus, BBC diplomatic correspondent

      This is building into the most serious diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West since Moscow’s seizure of Crimea.

      Whatever the denials, Britain’s allies have clearly accepted its view that the use of a military grade nerve agent in Salisbury was “highly likely” the work of the Russian state.

      The collective expulsions from the US and 14 EU member states is a remarkable show of solidarity with Britain, even more so because it comes at a time when UK-EU relations are strained due to the Brexit negotiations.

      Donald Tusk’s note that there could be “additional measures” is a signal to Moscow as it considers how it will respond.

      It is a significant diplomatic victory for Prime Minister Theresa May – concerted action has now followed the strong rhetorical support from its allies. It also marks a significant toughening of the Trump administration’s stance towards Moscow.

Stormy Daniels ‘told to leave Trump alone’ over affair claims

An adult film actress has said she was threatened to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Donald Trump in 2006.

Stormy Daniels told CBS News’ 60 Minutes programme that a man approached her in a Las Vegas car park in 2011.

The stranger allegedly said “leave Trump alone”, then looked at her young daughter and added: “It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

Mr Trump denies having had an affair with the actress.

His lawyers are seeking $20m (£14m) in damages from her, saying she broke a non-disclosure deal signed before the 2016 presidential election.

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    What exactly did Stormy Daniels say?

    In the highly anticipated interview, which aired on Sunday evening, Stormy Daniels said she was approached by the man in the car park in 2011 after having agreed to sell her story to a magazine.

    But the magazine did not publish the story after legal threats from Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, 60 Minutes reported, citing former employees. The interview was finally published in InTouch magazine earlier this year.

    “I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter,” she said.

    “A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story’. And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom’. And then he was gone.”

    President Trump has not directly responded to the interview but tweeted on Monday about “fake news”.

    After the programme aired, a lawyer representing Mr Cohen said he had nothing to do with the alleged threat, accused the actress and her lawyer of defaming him and demanded a public apology.

    Skip Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump

    So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate. But through it all, our country is doing great!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2018


    End of Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump

    What is alleged to have happened in 2006?

    Stormy Daniels told CBS that her only sexual encounter with Mr Trump took place after he invited her to dinner in his hotel suite.

    She said he had shown her a magazine with his picture on the cover and she had jokingly smacked his bottom with it.

    “He turned around and pulled his pants down a little, you know [he] had underwear on and stuff, and I just gave him a couple swats,” she said.

    After they talked for a while, Mr Trump allegedly told her, “You remind me of my daughter”. Stormy Daniels was 27 at the time.

    “You know – he was like, ‘You’re smart and beautiful, and a woman to be reckoned with, and I like you. I like you,” she said.

    • Read the full transcript

      She said that although she had not been attracted to Mr Trump, she had had unprotected sex with him, adding: “I didn’t say no. I’m not a victim.”

      Mr Trump, she added, had suggested she might appear in his TV game show, The Apprentice, and she thought of the encounter “as a business deal”.

      Stormy Daniels’ lawyer has suggested they have evidence of the affair but when asked if any videos, text messages, emails or pictures exist, she said: “I can’t answer that right now.”

      What about the money?

      Stormy Daniels told CBS she later accepted $130,000 in “hush money” from Mr Cohen just before the 2016 election because she was concerned for the safety of her family.

      Mr Cohen confirmed in February he had privately paid her the money but did not say what it was for. Mr Trump’s critics have suggested the money might amount to an illicit campaign contribution.

      Mr Cohen said last month that neither the Trump campaign nor the Trump Organization were parties to the transaction.

      Stormy Daniels told 60 Minutes she was risking a million-dollar fine by breaking the agreement and speaking out on national television “because it was very important to me to be able to defend myself”.

      Why does this matter?

      Given Mr Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct, infidelity and infamously boasted about grabbing women’s genitals, there have been questions asked about why this particular scandal matters, when it involves what Ms Daniels says was consensual sex.

      But Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told the BBC his client’s case was different to others’ because of “acts of intimidation and the tactics that have been used to silence my client”.

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        “I think that is very problematic and it should be very disturbing to not only the American people but anyone in western civilisation,” he added.

        “That is not how people in power should conduct themselves.” It is also believed that Mr Trump could be called to testify in depositions if Stormy Daniels’ court case proceeds.

        Who else is accusing Mr Trump?

        Stormy Daniels is one of three women who have taken legal action that could damage Mr Trump.

        Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who claims she had an affair with Mr Trump between 2006 and 2007, has filed a lawsuit to invalidate a confidentiality agreement with tabloid newspaper the National Enquirer.

        She says she was paid for her story but the newspaper – published by a company run by a friend of President Trump – never ran it.

        Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, accuses Mr Trump of sexually assaulting her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007.

        Ms Zervos says that he groped her and “began thrusting his genitals” during a meeting to discuss employment opportunities.

        While president-elect, Mr Trump dismissed the allegations against him and said that Ms Zervos and other accusers were “sick” and driven by fame, money or politics.

        Ms Zervos filed a defamation law suit against Mr Trump in January 2017, but his lawyers argued that as the president he could not be sued.

        A judge in New York has now overturned that decision.

March For Our Lives: Six key takeaways from the US gun control rallies

It was the biggest gun control protest in a generation. Hundreds of rallies were staged across the US and beyond as marchers filled the streets calling for the implementation of tighter measures following the deadly mass shooting at a Florida school in February.

That incident not only ignited the #NeverAgain movement, but also Saturday’s mass demonstrations, which took place under the banner of March For Our Lives and were led by a rally in Washington DC attended by some 200,000 demonstrators, according to CBS News.

With events not just in the US but as far afield as London, Paris, Mauritius, Tokyo, Stockholm, Sydney, Geneva and Berlin, the day was made up of powerful messages delivered by articulate students and children, most of whom have already in some way experienced gun violence.

  • In pictures: Marches across the US and worldwide

    Here are six key moments from some of the biggest US rallies since the Vietnam War era.

    1. Survivor shows the power of silence

    One of the most emotionally charged moments came when Emma Gonzalez, one of the student survivors of the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, took to the podium in Washington DC.

    Others present at the march in DC included the actor George Clooney, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, director Steven Spielberg, author Stephen King, TV host Ellen DeGeneres, late-night show host Jimmy Fallon and singer Cher.

    Skip Twitter post by @TheEllenShow

    Watching everyone marching and speaking up is so inspiring, and so powerful. Keep going. You're changing the world. #MarchForOurLives

    — Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 24, 2018


    End of Twitter post by @TheEllenShow

    6. Signs that grabbed attention

    Signs carried by protesters included strong messages criticising lawmakers who oppose tougher laws, with many also attacking the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful US gun lobby.

    Skip Twitter post by @feministabulous

    #MarchForOurLives pic.twitter.com/nkmzIslZgD

    — Liz Plank (@feministabulous) March 24, 2018


    End of Twitter post by @feministabulous

    Others included powerful statements that highlighted the need for a rethink on current gun control laws and the sort of devastation that certain types of automatic weapons can inflict.

    Skip Twitter post by @PCC_Car

    #MarchForOurLives Philly One of many signs here. pic.twitter.com/5V9v60KY32

    — Robert Rosenthal (@PCC_Car) March 24, 2018


    End of Twitter post by @PCC_Car

    There were also signs that carried humour and impact in equal measure.

Obituary: The 9/11 rescuers who died a day apart, 17 years on

When Thomas Phelan and Keith Young died within a day of each other last week, it was as a result of cancer, from which both had been suffering.

But the underlying cause of the firefighters’ deaths was the event which they both witnessed up close 17 years earlier: the 11 September attack on New York.

Phelan and Young’s names will not be added to the official tally of 2,977 people killed in the attacks, which also targeted the Pentagon and a plane that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Their deaths were, however, a result of what happened at the World Trade Center that September morning.

According to records maintained by the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York (UFANYC) union, theirs were the 172nd and 173rd deaths of firefighters to have occurred because of 9/11-related illnesses, and the sixth and seventh so far this year.

Keith Young joined the FDNY in 1998 and was stationed in Midwood, Brooklyn on the day of the attacks, when 343 firefighters were killed.

He joined the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero, which went on for nine months afterwards.

While no emergency workers died during the recovery efforts, working in Ground Zero soon took its toll. The first 9/11-related death of a firefighter registered after the disaster is that of Gary Celentani, who took his own life 14 months after losing many of his close friends.

Many others, like Young, were struck down with cancer attributed to the effects of being at the site.

He first fell ill in December 2015, three years after his wife Beth died of breast cancer aged 47, and underwent surgery to remove a large tumour from his pelvis.

After his treatment, he retired from duty, but died aged 53 on Saturday 17 March.

“He fought so hard and kept believing in miracles,” his daughter Kaley wrote on Facebook after his death. “There are so many adjectives we could use to describe my dad: funny, smart, kind. He was just an incredible human.”

While working for the FDNY, he became well-known for his skills in the kitchen, and received a degree in culinary studies.

In 2003, he published a book, Cooking With The Firehouse Chef, and he went on to win two titles on the Food Network television show Chopped.

He leaves two daughters and a son, and his funeral took place on Saturday.

Skip Instagram post by kaleyyoung

Heaven is so lucky to have the most incredible angel. I love you so much Dad, thank you for being the world’s greatest father and best friend. Mom must be so happy to have you in heaven with her ♥️ until we meet again xoxo @firehousechefky

A post shared by kaley young (@kaleyyoung) on Mar 17, 2018 at 5:15pm PDT


End of Instagram post by kaleyyoung

According to the CDC, just under 70,000 people who helped during 9/11 have applied for medical aid after the disaster, as have about 14,300 people who were in New York City at the time.

Among the main illnesses treated are chronic coughs, asthma, cancers and depression.

In January 2011, the Zadroga Act – named after a police officer who died of a lung disease – was signed into law, authorising a fund for monitoring, treatment and compensation for 9/11 survivors. So far, close to $3.3bn has been paid out.

New York’s Committee for Occupational Safety & Health says that about 6,000 of the 9/11 first responders are now living with cancer, with thousands more suffering breathing problems or mental health issues.

Many, it said, had “suffered severe exposure to numerous WTC-derived contaminants”.

Gerard Fitzgerald, of the firefighters’ union the UFANYC, told the BBC that of the 10,000 active firefighters and 6,000 retirees who attended Ground Zero on or after 9/11, about 2,000 had gone on to suffer some form of cancer.

He fears the alarming rate of cancer cases among New York firefighters could soon increase substantially. It’s feared that 9/11 first responders were exposed to significant amounts of asbestos, but cancers caused by asbestos exposure rarely emerge until 15 years later.

“We are living proof of the 9/11 effects, of that toxic soup we were breathing in,” said Mr Fitzgerald, who arrived in Manhattan just after the second tower fell, before staying for 40 more hours.

“Every time, the thought goes through your head – could it be me next? Is it inside me? But you can’t live like that.”

Naomi Wadler – the girl inspiring America?

Naomi Wadler is only 11 – but her strong voice at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, DC, is still reverberating across the US.

The fifth grader from Alexandria, Virginia, said she represented African-American girls ignored by the media and suffering from gun violence.

Last week, she co-led her elementary school’s walk-out, joining a national movement seeking stricter gun controls in the wake of 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month.

Naomi told the Guardian newspaper her school’s walkout was longer – it was also honouring 17-year-old Courtlin Arrington who died in a school shooting in Alabama on 7 March.

The elementary school’s principal was not initially “completely supportive” of Naomi and her friend Carter Anderson’s efforts, but was won round after observing their determination.

Here is what Naomi Wadler said at March for Our Lives, inspiring those in the crowds and watching from home:

“Hi [giggles]. My name is Naomi and I’m 11 years old.

Me and my friend Carter led a walk-out at our elementary school on the 14th. We walked out for 18 minutes, adding a minute for Courtlin Arrington, an African-American girl who was the victim of gun violence at her school, after the Parkland shooting.

I am here today to represent Courtlin Arrington. I am here today to represent Hadiya Pendleton. I am here today to represent Taiyania Thompson, who at just 16 years old, was shot dead at her home here in Washington, DC.

I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper [cheering and applause], whose stories don’t lead on the evening news.

Skip Twitter post by @ShoStanback

Yes, Naomi Walder! Speak for all of the Black women who've been killed in gun violence! This sweet 11 year old is giving me LIFE! #BlackGirlMagic #saytheirnames #neveragain #MarchForOurLives

— Sho (@ShoStanback) March 24, 2018


End of Twitter post by @ShoStanback

I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant beautiful girls full of potential [cheering and applause].

It is my privilege to be here today. I am indeed full of privilege. My voice has been heard. I’m here to acknowledge their stories, to say they matter, to say their names because I can. And I was asked to be.

For far too long, these names, these black girls and women have been just numbers. I’m here to say “Never Again!” for those girls too. I’m here to say that everyone should value those girls, too.

People have said that I am too young to have these thoughts on my own. People have said that I am a tool of some nameless adult. It’s not true.

My friends and I might be still be 11 and we might still be in elementary school, but we know, we know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong.

Skip Twitter post by @jencolamonico

My white 6yo watching #NaomiWadler in awe… “that girl is going to be president some day.” #NeverAgain

— Jennifer Colamonico (@jencolamonico) March 24, 2018


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Skip Twitter post by @TessaThompson_x

Naomi Wadler is my President.

— Tessa Thompson (@TessaThompson_x) March 24, 2018


End of Twitter post by @TessaThompson_x

We also know that we stand in the shadow of the Capitol, and we know that we have seven short years until we too have the right to vote.

So I am here to honour the words of Toni Morrison: if there is a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.

I urge everyone here and everyone who hears my voice to join me in telling the stories that aren’t told – to honour the girls, the women of colour who were murdered at disproportionate rates in this nation.

I urge each of you to help me write the narrative for this world and understand so that these girls and women are never forgotten. Thank you.”

Skip Twitter post by @KrownCityKing

The single most powerful political speech of 2018…was just delivered by an ELEVEN year old girl! Her name is #NaomiWadler. You’ll hear from her again. #MarchForOurLives

— Krown City King (@KrownCityKing) March 24, 2018


End of Twitter post by @KrownCityKing

Skip Twitter post by @SymoneDSanders

Naomi Wadler is currently standing in the gap for all of the black girls and black women who are victims of gun violence. All the black girls and Black women who don’t get a hashtag and who don’t become front page news. Thank you Naomi. #MarchForOurLives

— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) March 24, 2018


End of Twitter post by @SymoneDSanders

Uber self-driving crash: Footage shows moment before impact

Police have released two videos showing the moments leading up to a fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber car in Tempe, Arizona, on Sunday.

In the 14-second video, the autonomous vehicle is seen failing to slow down before hitting Elaine Herzberg, 49, who is walking her bike across the road.

One video shows dashcam footage of the impact. The other, an Uber operator monitoring the car’s controls.

Uber has suspended self-driving tests in North America following the crash.

In footage released on Wednesday by the Tempe police department, the human Uber operator sitting inside the Volvo appears to be looking down at something while the vehicle is travelling in autonomous mode.

Moments later, the woman appears visibly shocked as she looks up to see Ms Herzberg crossing the highway in their path seconds before impact.

“The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine’s loved ones,” Uber said in a statement.

“Our cars remain grounded, and we’re assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can,” the statement added.

Police said the accident happened on Sunday night, adding that Ms Herzberg had not been using a pedestrian crossing.

Ms Herzberg was taken to a local hospital following the collision but died of her injuries.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board earlier said they would be investigating the incident in Tempe.

While self-driving cars have been involved in multiple accidents, it is thought to be the first time an autonomous car has been involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian.