tv News4 This Week NBC September 12, 2015 5:30am-6:01am EDT
welcome to "news4 this week." >> hi, everyone. i'm veronica johnson and we're going to show you some of the more interesting local stories making news this week. among them a wild encounter raising questions on the safety at the national zoo. what happened after a man climbed into the lion's den, right over the fence. because i want to feel, you know, respected just like anybody else. >> hardships with health care. what transgender patients say they experience in the exam room, and what doctors in washington are doing to help. and she's on top of the world. a virginia woman sets out to do what no other woman has ever done. and we go along for the daunting climb.
first, unreturned phone calls, long waits and late payments from the government. more army parents are getting stuck in red tape just trying to use a federal day care program. weeks ago the news4 i-team revealed big problems for some local army families. as scott mcfarland reports, a new internal review released finds that those problems have only gotten worse. >> reporter: the army fee assistance program is for army parents who can't find day care on the military post. instead, they find private, pricier day care in the community and the federal government cuts them a reimbursement check. the thing is, sometimes those checks are months late. the news4 i-team broke this story this summer, showing several u.s. army moms like carmen deeks of montgomery county were going broke, waiting and waiting for the u.s. general services administration to send her the money she had been promised to pay for her day care. >> we'll be three months behind and have to catch our day care provider up three months, which
puts us out a big chunk of money. >> reporter: deeks is one of dozens of army parents who filed formal complaints with the agency saying not only are the checks late but that they can't get their phone calls or e-mails returned. when the i-team story first aired this summer the backlog of unreturned calls and requests had reached 11,000 nationwide. an internal agency auditors warned there weren't enough staffers to keep up. according to another internal audit released today, the backlog has grown far worse. now 26,000 unreturned requests for help from army families. and it found so many unreturned calls were piling up, the agency deleted 4,000 unreturned voice mails from parents. the audit says the problems happened because of an underequipped i.t. system and a lack of planning and staffing inside the gsa, which took over the army fee assistance program last year. the internal audit said one family reported filing for bankruptcy because of late payments. the gsa says it's making improvements and adding staff to reduce the backlog, but the u.s.
house oversight committee saw our story and has ordered an agency official and those two moms to appear at a hearing thursday, as it now investigates this troubled program. scott mcfarland, news4 i-team. >> trouble for sure. sounds like a big mess. well, if you feel like your commute on metro got worse this summer, you're probably right. metro says in june only the yellow line met the agency's goal of having more than 91% of the trains arrive on time. the orange line had the worst record with just 79% on time. the newer silver line was about 82% on time. you can check out a full breakdown of those wait times on every line month by month on our nbc washington app. well, we've got a look at the teamwork that saved a man from this dangerous and fiery car wreck in prince george's county. all those flames that you see there in the background of this dash cam video came from a car on fire along lakewood street in
suitland. you can see officers rushing to help. firefighters also helped pull the driver out. the officers were quick to shrug off too much praise when we went to talk to them. >> i wouldn't say heroes. brave, yes. but we're first responders and it's our job to do that. i think the fact that we put others' lives before ours is what we're trained to do. >> the man they saved is expected to survive. now to the images that generated a lot of buzz on social media and a scare at the national zoo. he climbed over a fence at the lion's den. news4's darcy spencer obtained the photos and asked zoo officials if any changes need to be made to keep intruders out. >> reporter: a spokesperson says this happens very infrequently at the zoo. someone climbing over the first line of protection between the public and the lion's den. the spokesperson says the man had no access to the lions and
they could not attack him, and there are no plans to update security or the enclosure. >> nuts, nuts. why even attempt it. they'll shred you to pieces in a matter of seconds. >> reporter: this photo obtained by news 4 shows the man after he climbed over the protective fence of the lion's den and was scaling a wall. fortunately, authorities were able to get him out of there before he could be attacked. there's also a moat separating the public from the lions. >> that's what the fences are there for, so i think everybody -- i think everybody should feel safe here honestly. >> reporter: we are not showing the man's face because he was not charged with a crime. he was taken into custody by zoo police, and then involuntarily taken for a psychiatric evaluation. a d.c. police report says the man later stated that he hears voices in his head telling him to hurt himself. there are safety precautions here at the zoo. you've got the fencing, you've got this little garden area, and down here you have a moat
separating the lions from the public. everyone we spoke to here today say they do feel safe and that was one man's bad decision. the zoo spokesperson says the den meets or exceeds safety standards set out by the association of zoos and aquariums. >> do you think any additional precautions are needed? >> no, i just think that we need to use common sense. these are wild animals, they're not -- you know, they're not pets. >> reporter: at the national zoo, darcy spencer, news4. >> well, you'll notice a very slight change around an iconic washington landmark. workers drained about 30 feet of water from the reflecting pool at the lincoln memorial this week. the plan is to fix damage caused by construction at the world war ii memorial just a few years ago. the work is expected to be completed by next summer. until then, the walkway between the memorial and pool will be closed, and a 95% of the reflecting pool will remain filled. so that's the good news. well, they power your
gadgets, but do they have the power to burn you? coming up in "news4 this week" the warning you need to see concerning laptops and tablets. and this is closed for the season, but we'll show you why you may need to revisit that popular exhibit, especially if you're missing something when we return on "news4 this week." ♪
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well, there's a ton of excitement building for the pope's visit to washington, including a local catholic schools. our lady of victoria school in northwest, the new school year kicked off with students, teachers and parents taking the pledge to, quote, walk with francis. they're promising to follow the pope's example of faith in service. some kids will get a chance to see pope francis in person. >> our principal told us the group who's going and i was just really excited and then after
school i rushed home and told my mom and she was happy too. >> as part of their commitment to faith and service, teachers have started a planting project on campus to help students learn about god's creation and respect for the earth. well, this week the kids started bringing home class work, papers and other assignments and chances are they're using a tablet or laptop to get it done, but there are burn concerns when it comes to where they place these electronics. take note, consumer reporter erika gonzalez has a warning. >> reporter: school is on again, and with it lots of students doing homework on these, and these. but where they are working, like a plush bed or the family couch, could pose a safety risk. patty davis with the consumer products safety commission. >> laptops and tablets both have ion batteries. they're very powerful in a very
small space so you need to respect that battery, that powerful battery. >> reporter: just a couple of years ago, this apartment in manassas, virginia, caught fire. the culprit, an overheated laptop battery which at the time had a recall. the cpsc says it's aware of 674 reports of incidents with laptop computers between 2001 and june of 2015 overheating, smoking or catching fire. while they are called laptops, davis says your lap isn't the best place for it. >> it can get hot on your lap. use it on a desktop, use it on a hard surface so that it can have some air flow. >> reporter: in fact some medical journals say over time the heat emitted from the device can cause a mottled skin condition known as toasted skin syndrome. thousands have battery packs have been recalled because of overheating. even if you aren't having problems with your device, check the consumer product safety
commission site for any open recalls. you can find a link on the consumer watch facebook page. erika gonzalez, news4. >> get ready for some star sightings around washington. we'll tell you who's coming to town for the american humor ceremony at the kennedy center. and more on what's drawing transgender men and women to d.c. to find the health care they desperately need.
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bruce jenner's very public transition to caitlyn jenner has given all of us new insight into what it means to be transgender. and the district has a special appeal to transgender community. news4's doreen gentzler has more on what's bringing them here. >> it's just like black and white. you're not going to go to a place where someone is going to use a racial slur that's going to be disrespectful to you.
>> reporter: 45-year-old atjim howard said when he used to go to the doctor one of his biggest fears is that he would be referred to as she instead of he. he is a transgender male. and when doctors use the wrong pronoun, he says it's like a slap in the face. >> because i want to feel, you know, respected just like anybody else. >> reporter: this lack of understanding, this insensitivity deters transgender people from getting the health care they need. one survey done by the national center for transgender equality found that 30% of transgender patients postpone medical care because they feel discriminated against. 50% of those surveyed said they had to teach their own doctors about transgender care, because they didn't know enough about it. >> unfortunately, even d.c. being the wonderful city that it is does not have enough culturally competent providers that can take care of transgender people for primary
care, do surgeries like sexual reassignment surgery. >> reporter: and that's why dr. raymond martin says he's seeing growing numbers of transgender patients here at whitman walker health, one of the few centers in the country that specializes in transgender care. >> right now we take care of about 800 patients, which makes us one of the largest providers. i think that's a great testimony to who we are here and hopefully they're coming here because of our cultural competency and our care of everyone overall. >> reporter: dr. martin says that means much more than using the right pronouns for patients. it also means knowing about the major health problems impacting transgender people, including issues with administering hormones and mental health. while patients travel from across the country to get care here at whitman walker, dr. martins also says it's not enough. >> you know, i think what we're doing here we should try to replicate not only here in d.c. but across the country. i think transgender people are not accessing care. >> reporter: as an activist for the transgender community,
that's something atjim howard hears all the sglitime. >> they're not getting the proper health care because of the fear of being discriminated as well as just being disrespected. if you're in the health care profession, you should have that culture competency in order to treat your patients well. >> reporter: doreen gentzler, news4. and now to the unexpected part of a wildly popular washington exhibit this summer. according to the "washington post" nearly a thousand items have been reported lost or unclaimed from the beach exhibit at the national building museum. many of the items are phones, but there's at least one engagement ring, dozens of shoes, sunglasses and fitness trackers also washed up. the museum will try to return the items or donate anything that goes unclaimed. wow! well, she's the first woman to ever do it. coming up, how a virginia native
i'd love to go to this. an impressive lineup of comedians will be in town next month to honor eddie murphy. he is receiving the kennedy center's mark twain prize for humor on october the 18th. now, among the guests are dave chapelle, whitney cummings, trevor noah, jay pharaoh, joe piscapo and chris rock. well, she's 5'2" and weighs just about 100 pounds and just conquered one of the toughest mountains in the world. the north face of the eiger in switzerland. sasha is a world class rock climber who started her ascent right here in our area. wendy rieger spoke to her about her stunning feat. >> reporter: the eiger means
ogre in swiss, and it can be mean and ugly, especially to humans to try to crawl up its side. many have felt its lethal breath, as they have been blown off or frozen to death in their quest. >> that sunset is unreal! >> reporter: this is sasha dejulian, becoming the first woman to free climb the north face of the eiger last month. it is a complicated passage known as murder wall because of its forbidding nature. >> this entire encompassing of me stepping out of my comfort zone of what i knew and trying something that i didn't know. and i didn't know if i could do it. >> reporter: in free climbing, one uses a rope and gear only to catch your fall, which means your ascent is determined by your strength and the mountain. >> let's finish this! >> reporter: dejulian is lucky. her passion seized her quite early. she grew up in the washington area, attending the potomac school in mclean.
she started climbing at age 6, ventured in competitive climbing when she was just 8 and she never looked back or down. >> i've never really had to question who i am and what i want, because i'm so happy with what i am that i'm most passionate about. >> reporter: her ascent took a month and included her climbing partner. the two spent nights making karcamp in the crevices. >> we are about to dig our beds. >> reporter: and had a few setbacks from weather. >> today was a smackdown. >> reporter: the greatest danger is storms that can ambush a climber. the other danger comes from within, fear. >> this climb was probably the peak of my fear. i was scared just about every day. it was focusing on not thinking about falling, really, and focusing on what i could
control. >> reporter: while physical strength and agility gets you on the mountain, dejulian says your mind gets you to the top. >> your mind is overruling your body's exhaustion, so you're convincing yourself that you can keep going, when you don't know if physically you can. >> reporter: on august 29th, they reached the summit and what a mountaintop. just breath taking. rock climbing is clearly for the rare free ranged human, but the tenacity to reach our individual heights applies even to us mortals down below. wendy rieger, news4 washington. >> she is the real deal. cannot wait to see what she does next. definitely inspiring. well, that's all for "news4 this week." we leave you with this incredible moment captured by a professional photographer from levittsville, virginia. he recorded a monarch
announcer: news 4 today starts now. right now at 6:00 a.m., a sex assault suspect runs into a metro station and through a train tunnel. still, this morning, police don't know where the man is. we have a stretch of perfect weather on the way. today, we have to deal with quite a bit of rain. looks like overcast skies, we are dealing with it all today. i'm gos gangie gosk. >> i'm david culver. first, let's turn to the weather and storm team 4 metlo