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Detroit-area Police Cruiser Strikes, Kills Pedestrian

Charles Phillip



TAYLOR, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit police cruiser struck and killed a pedestrian in the roadway early Monday while the officer driving the car looked for an address, Michigan State Police said.

The collision occurred around 1 a.m. in the city of Taylor, state police said.

A preliminary investigation indicates a Taylor Police Department officer was responding to a call for service and driving at posted speeds with no emergency equipment activated, state police said. While the officer looked for the address on his left, he struck a pedestrian.

The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

No charges have been filed.

A review of the in-car camera is pending along with further investigation, medical examiner reports and a prosecutor’s review.

The officer and the victim have not been identified.


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Grand Rapids Couple Recounts ‘air Raid Every Day’ in Ukraine

Charles Phillip



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids couple working to help children in Ukraine has returned home after providing training to mental health professionals and educators in the country that continues to fight a Russian invasion.

Tim Friesen and his wife Tammy Friesen is back from Lviv in western Ukraine, which saw missile attacks when they arrived earlier this month.

Tim Friesen is a psychologist and founder of the nonprofit Twelve12:Hope. He went to Ukraine to help set up programs to counsel children going to trauma. He was able to see the progress that could be made in a short amount of time.

“Many of the children in the orphanage that came to the training, some of them had been in the east part of Ukraine in an orphanage,” Tim Friesen said.

Tim and Tammy Friesen work to help orphans in Ukraine. (Tim Frisen/Twelve12:Hope)

Helping Ukrainians, Grand Rapids couple waits out bombing

The Friesens arrived when the country was going through a new wave of missile attacks.

“We had an air raid every day except the last day. The air raid didn’t come to our closing time of coffee and cake, so we went. The last day was the only day that we had the regular program out of the bomb shelter,” Tim Friesen said.

Tim and Tammy Friesen work to help children in Ukraine. (Tim Frisen/Twelve12:Hope)

Tim and Tammy Friesen work to help children in Ukraine. (Tim Frisen/Twelve12:Hope)

He noticed the affects the missile attacks had on him.

“In the middle of the night I would wake up to a certain sound and it sounded like the first sound that would indicate an air raid and it puzzled me for a long time and finally I figured out it was actually a church bell ringing,” Tim Friesen said.

The war has disrupted the education system in the country, with many children unable to go to school.

“Millions of people, I think, are displaced now so they’re living in another city without their friends and they’re learning virtually and I think it’s pretty isolating,” Tammy Friesen said.

The Friesens were amazed by the determination of the Ukrainians, who are also thankful for the support.

“They’re so grateful for it and just continue to hope that the West will keep up the support and not get weary of it,” Tammy Friesen said.


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‘Gamechanger’: Free Mobile App Helps Visually Impaired Shop at Meijer

Charles Phillip



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There’s a mobile app that helps blind and visually impaired people shop. In honor of Blindness Awareness Month, one user explained how it has impacted him.

Casey Dutmer receiving shopping assistance on his phone from a representative on the Aira app.

Casey Dutmer has been totally blind since birth. Navigating grocery stores used to be much easier growing up.

“When I was young, everything was a lot different. You had your big stores but you also had a lot of smaller stores and you could go in a store and ask the clerk for help and most of the time
you could get it because it was a locally-owned store,” he said. “It was more personal and service oriented.”

As the stores grew larger with more products, the experience became more difficult for shoppers like Dutmer.

Recently, he’s been depending on another source for direction.

“I’m ready when you are,” the representative on the phone said.

“I’m ready,” Dutmer responded.

The service is through Aira (Artificial Intelligent Remote Assistant). It’s a mobile app designed to help the blind and visually impaired access their daily needs.

Through the app, users are connected with a remote agent. Meijer partnered with the developer in the summer of 2020 to make the app accessible to blind and visually impaired shoppers for free. It can be used at all of its stores.

The representative on the app guides the users through their cell phone cameras to help them shop for items around the store.

Dumter begins shopping while being assisted on where to go in the store.

“We are thrilled to connect and partner and expand our reach and make sure everyone else what they need within their reach,” Katherine Lee Baker, the manager for diversity and inclusion at Meijer, said.

As Dutmer began to shop, the representative gave him various commands to direct him where to go, like, “continue forward, your path is clear.”

“It’s a real gamechanger,” Brad Kaufman said.

Kaufman works with the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Grand Rapids. He’s enjoying witnessing his clients become more independent.

“We want people to understand that blindness is not a life-ending issue. Independence and gainful employment and other things that are taken for granted in the sighted world is very possible for those who are blind and low vision,” he said.

Though Dutmer is unable to see, he says the agents show him a different perspective and provides assurance for he and his family.

“I didn’t know there were so many different products. I knew there were a lot of products but there were a lot of things I had never heard of that the agent would read off to me,” he said. “It’s a comforting app for my wife, who is excited and who really believes if I go somewhere
and get tangled up she doesn’t have to worry.”

Beauty brand Cleanlogic is partnering with the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired this month.

A portion of proceeds from the purchase of Cleanlogic products at Meijer stores will be given to ABVI to support a new employment initiative program, which will launch in 2023.

“ABVI’s employment initiative is designed to help reduce the drastically high unemployment rate among blind and low-vision individuals in Michigan and beyond,” Cassaundra Wolf, the ABVI board chair, said. “We are truly grateful to partners like Cleanlogic for their support in our efforts to help individuals living with low vision or blindness thrive in a sighted world.”

Cleanlogic Co-Founder Isaac Shapiro added, “We look forward to elevating our common purposes to help drive the unemployment rate amongst the blind and visually impaired communities.”

To download the Aira app, visit

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Miracle Marathoner: 12-year-old Finishes GR Half Marathon 4 Months After Bad Crash

Charles Phillip



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With tears in their eyes, 12-year old Timmy Fanco and his family crossed the finish line at the Grand Rapids Half Marathon.

The start of the 13.1 mile race began four months ago when Timmy was unresponsive in a coma at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. He was in a terrible T-bone accident on June 10.

Doctors told his family there was a chance he wouldn’t survive.

After he did, they said it’s likely he’ll remain in an unresponsive state for the remainder of his life. He had suffered bilateral fractures of his femurs, a broken jaw, wrist and arms, and had a level-three traumatic brain injury that impacted the brain stem.

Miracle marathoner: Boy battles back to run 4 months after serious crash

As Timmy began to defy the diagnosis, he started to regain his movements slowly. Then came his words. And one of the first thoughts out of his mouth according to his mother, Liz Fanco, was “how many weeks until the half marathon?”

“He was very insistent with his therapist and with his orthopedic surgeon that, ‘I’m running a half marathon on October 16th. So I need to be able to use my legs by then,” Liz Fanco said before the race.

The Fanco family poses after the Grand Rapids Half Marathon. (Courtesy Liz Fanco)

On Sunday, Timmy pushed through the cramps, the pain in his hips caused by the anchors that hold the two metal rods in his femurs, and the fact that his training was limited due to the accident and the amount of weight baring he could put on himself.

“For me, it felt like the culmination of Timmy’s recovery,” his mom said. “Even though he’s not 100% back to pre-accident ability, this race was the goal he set his sights on as soon as he woke up from the coma. He signed up for it last October, the night before he ran the 221 half marathon. He was determined to do it and my job was to support that goal, help him train, and be there to guide him through the process.”

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At around mile 4 was the first moment of emotion. They were running on Monroe, across Michigan Street and could see the children’s hospital. Timmy pointed out to his mom that was the hospital where he spent the early days after his accident. He spent a combined six weeks between Helen DeVos and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. That’s when Liz Fanco says she first cried.

“I looked at the lights all lit up on the 8th floor and just lost it emotionally. Four months ago yesterday he was still laying in a coma in one of those rooms and there he was next to me, racing me across the street and waving to the police officers directing traffic,” Liz Fanco said.

Timmy Fanco with his nurses at Mary Free Bed and his medal from the Grand Rapids Half Marathon. (Courtesy Liz Fanco)

Timmy and his parents near the finish line. (Courtesy Liz Fanco)

There were some very hard miles along the way and some stopping they had to do to stretch out tight, cramped muscles. But the most powerful moment came at mile 11. Timmy was physically spent. This was the furthest distance he had run since the accident and there was still 2.1 miles to go. Off in the distance he noticed a group of school buddies holding signs and cheering him on. It was just the boost he needed to get to the finish.

“They ran and walked with him from mile 11 until just before the finish line,” mom said. “When his legs were about to give out from cramps, they helped carry him. It was amazing to see a bunch of 11- to 12-year-old boys supporting their friend, physically and emotionally, like that.”

Timmy Fanco is 12. He was in a terrible car accident 4 months ago — Doctors told his family he may not live, may not walk, may not be responsive for the rest of his life. This is video of him today FINISHING the Grand Rapids Half Marathon!

— Casey Jones (@CaseyJ_WOODTV) October 16, 2022

Timmy’s next race will be the Zombie Dash Halloween 5k at Cannonsburg. The next race the Fancos plan to do as an entire family is the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. Timmy hopes by then he’ll be able to run start to finish without any breaks. He starts training for that with his mom on Tuesday.

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