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These 3 eye conditions could be predictors of Alzheimer's, study says

Mental confusion, sleeplessness and mood swings have all been linked to Alzheimer’s disease but the health of your eyes could also be a predictor, according to a new report

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Researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine recently conducted a study, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, to explore eye conditions that may be associated with the brain illness.

To do so, they examined 3,877 adults aged 65 and older who were a part of the Adult Changes in Thought database. During the five-year trial, which began in 1994, about 800 of the subjects were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. 

When the University of Washington researchers took a closer look, they found patients with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma were 40 to 50 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, compared to those without these eye conditions. There did not find a connection between cataract and Alzheimer’s.

“What we found was not subtle,” coauthor Paul Crane said in a statement. “This study solidifies that there are mechanistic things we can learn from the brain by looking at the eye.”

While the analyst do not know why there is a relationship between the three eye illnesses and the memory loss disease, they wrote, “anything happening in the eye may relate to what’s happening in the brain, an extension of the central nervous system.”

A better understanding of neurodegeneration in the eye and the brain could help diagnose Alzheimer’s early, but they said the connections need to be investigated more. 

“We don’t mean people with these eye conditions will get Alzheimer’s disease,” lead researcher Cecilia Lee added. “The main message from this study is that ophthalmologists should be more aware of the risks of developing dementia for people with these eye conditions and primary care doctors seeing patients with these eye conditions might be more careful on checking on possible dementia or memory loss.”

Man freed by Innocence Project now faces child sex assault charges

A man recently granted a new trial after serving 27 years in prison on a rape conviction was arrested Thursday on new charges that he sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl known to the victim’s family in McKees Rocks.

The assault allegedly happened the same night John Kunco was released from jail, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 

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According to the criminal complaint, the girl, referred to as Jane Doe, told police

she awoke to Kunco assaulting her. When she asked him to stop he didn't, according to the complaint. 

Kunco was found guilty of rape and other charges for a 1990 attack on a woman in her New Kensington home. He was sentenced to serve 45 to 90 years in prison.

The Innocence Project took on his case. New DNA evidence convinced a judge to grant Kunco another trial. He was released from jail in May. 

He is now being held without bail in the Allegheny County Jail on numerous counts of crimes against a child and is awaiting a preliminary hearing later this month, according to investigators.

A team of attorneys from the Innocence Project said Kunco voluntarily turned himself into police and denies the recent allegations. 

Karen Thompson, senior attorney with the Innocence Project, released the following statement:"Mr. Kunco denies these allegations and has, and will continue to, fully cooperate with the police. These allegations have absolutely no relation to Mr. Kunco’s 1991 conviction that was recently vacated based on DNA and other evidence proving his innocence."

Massachusetts beach closed to swimming indefinitely after shark activity

Truro Police announced on Friday night Long Nook Beach will remain closed to swimming until further notice due to continued shark activity.

Recent shark sightings and even a shark attack on a man have prompted many beaches along the Cape to be on high alert.

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Shark sightings have become commonplace along Cape Cod since the beginning of summer, but recent sightings have some experts on edge.

On Wednesday, a shark bit a 61-year-old New York man on the torso and leg just 30 yards away from the shore. He is currently being treated at Tufts Medical Center and is expected to survive.

After the attack, more sharks were spotted along the Cape, prompting temporary closures to other beaches.

According to the Cape Cod National Seashore, a shark was seen in the waters off Race Point Beach in Provincetown Thursday afternoon. Video shows the shark feeding on a seal near the shore.

Meadow Beach in Truro was closed earlier in the day when several sharks were spotted in the water.

Despite the public's primal fear of sharks, the odds of being killed by one are roughly 1 in 3.7 million, according to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.Truro was the site of the last shark attack in Massachusetts, in July 2012, when a Colorado man on nearby Ballston Beach suffered a bite that required 47 stitches. The state's last shark attack fatality was in 1936.

Youths take school bus on joy ride, police say

Police are searching for at least three youths who stole a school bus Saturday and took it on a joy ride before abandoning it in a field, officials said. 

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A group of kids, whose ages have not been released, were seen at 12:30 p.m. driving the East Baton Rouge school bus, The Advocate reported

Police later found the bus in a field. Investigators are also trying to determine how they gained access to it.

Tent collapse injures 14 fans at Backstreet Boys concert

Fans were injured when a storm caused a structure to collapse at a Backstreet Boys concert Saturday at the Winstar World Casino and Resort, officials said

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A storm with nearly 80 mph winds knocked over trusses at the venue entrance injuring 14 fans inside the outdoor coliseum to see Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees, the resort said. They were treated at the scene and taken to hospitals. 

“We know that fans often suffer through inclement weather for their favorite acts, but this was an unusual event and our thoughts are with those who were injured during this storm,” resort officials said in a statement.

“Severe weather, high winds and rain just passed (through) here,” Backstreet Boys member Kevin Richardson tweeted. “Emergency crews are on the (scene) as tent (collapsed) and some folks who were seeking shelter were injured. Waiting to determine damage to our stage and production.”

The resort said the show will go on, rain or shine. 

But ultimately, the show was canceled. 

Shooting survivor forced to sell business after robbery, family says

Vipin Sharma visited his Arlington Expressway BP service station on Friday for the first time since he was shot in an armed robbery in July. 

“Awesome," Sharma said. "I never thought I would be able to make it.”

He told Action News Jax the bullet is lodged in his pelvis and he has a blood clot in his leg.

>> Read more trending news 

“I have no insurance. I don’t know how God is going to help me,” Sharma said.

His wife, Jayshree Sharma, says the medical debt is too much to carry, and running the store on her own isn’t possible. She suffers from breast cancer.

“I don’t think we can operate it, so we have to close the business down," she said.

Jayshree Sharma said they have to sell the business in the near future to stay afloat. The couple laments having to part ways with the store they worked at every day for three and a half years.

When working, Vipin Sharma was known for wandering outside of the bulletproof glass to meet his customers. Alleged shooter Sherwin Birt took advantage of that and appeared to approach Sharma from the opening.

“I tried my best to give my customers the best service I can, friendliest service I can," he said. "And the end result is, I got shot.”

Nonetheless, he says he wouldn't treat his customers any differently if he could do it over again.

“I would not change my approach, meeting people, greeting people, and if I treat them badly, then I’m treating my god badly,” Vipin Sharma said.

He credits God -- and the staff at Memorial Hospital -- for being able to walk.

Mother furious after son, 5, found walking home from school alone

An Orange County woman said she is upset after her 5-year-old son was sent walking home by himself on the third day of school.

>> Read more trending news 

Sara Tavares said her son, Joey Hoffman, wandered for about 45 minutes Wednesday before a school resource officer found him a mile away.

"I'm furious," she said. "I mean, I'm so -- I'm still shaking about it."

Larianne Warner, Joey's grandmother, was at Winter Garden's Sunridge Elementary School waiting for him so she could walk him home, but he was nowhere to be found.

"(I felt) sheer panic and terror. (I was) scared to death. No one knew where he was. No one had a clue," she said. "Anything could have happened. Come on now. (For) an hour he's been walking around Tildenville looking for our house."

Joey said he was surprised to see the officer.

"The cop found me," he said. "I thought I was going to jail."

Orange County Public Schools said there was a breakdown in communication.

Joey was listed as a walker and sent away with other walkers. His family said they had a plan that was clearly communicated to his teacher.

"That would be the third time I would have picked him up in front of the office," Warner said. "That was our designated spot. She knows I want to pick him up myself right there by the office."

A school district spokeswoman said the incident serves as a reminder for all parents to have clear communication with their children and teachers about what should happen before and after school.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show that 22 sexual offenders or sexual predators live within a 2-mile radius of the school, about half of whom live near where Joey was found.

Florida woman arrested after stealing donations for slain girl, police say

A woman accused of stealing a donation jar with at least $600 meant for the family of a young girl killed earlier this week has been arrested, authorities said.

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Heydi Rivas-Villanueva was shot while sitting in a car, caught in the crossfire of a shooting, investigators said. She died at Wolfson Children's Hospital.

A deputy with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was waved down on Friday at the El Tapatio Restaurant when a person said the donation jar had been stolen the previous day. The person said no one had noticed it was gone before then, according to investigators.

Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel, to hang up skis in Florida

One of the animal world’s most recognized stars is hanging up her skis in her hometown of Orlando this weekend. 

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Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel, is giving her final performances at the Orlando Boat Show at the Orange County Convention Center. 

For years, Twiggy has entertained fans around the world.

In 1979, WFTV covered the squirrel's water-skiing antics when Chuck and Lou Ann Best first brought her onto the water-skiing scene. Since then, multiple squirrels have served the role of Twiggy.

Catholic day care under investigation after classroom aide throws ball at child

A Catholic day care in Jacksonville, Florida is under investigation for allegations of inappropriate discipline after a mother claimed a teaching assistant hit her 4-year-old son with a ball.

She told Action News Jax the boy spent two days in the hospital recovering from his injuries. 

>> Read more trending news 

Action News Jax learned that aide was fired Friday morning, and a letter was sent to parents. 

The letter said the teaching assistant was fired for violating the day care’s code of conduct, but the school claimed there was no malicious intent. 

The mother, who didn’t want to be identified because there is an active investigation, said she pulled her son out of the day care, but he now goes to the church’s kindergarten.

She gave Action News Jax cellphone video of her son that was taken just days after he claimed an assistant teacher hit him in the face with a ball.

“He was jerking, he was blinking, he was humming, he was doing all these different things I’ve never seen him do and he’s almost five,” she said. 

She said he spent two days in the hospital undergoing tests.

“They said everything was fine, but that when they experience stress or trauma they can react in this manner,” she said. 

The woman said the problems started when she picked up her 4-year-old from Christ the King Child Care Center in July. 

“He said, ‘Mommy someone hit me,’” she said. 

That’s when she said she went to speak with the teaching assistant about what happened. 

“I’ve been hit with a ball multiple times, and I’m not going to take it out on a kid,” she said.

The Florida Department of Children and Families is now investigating allegations of inappropriate discipline. 

“I love my son to death and to know that someone hurt him, it’s not OK with me. It’s unsettling,” she said. 

Action News Jax reached out to the Catholic day care and was told that the teaching assistant was immediately removed from the classroom. 

“I’m thinking this entire time, what if this was your child?” she said. 

Friday morning, about a month and a half after the alleged incident happened, the employee was terminated. 

The mother said she thinks this should have happened back in July. 

“How they handled everything was insane to me,” she said. 

Action News Jax dug into the day care’s inspection records with the state and found three DCF violations since it opened in 2009. 

They are all minor and had to do with paperwork and training. 

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