Saturday, December 8, 2007

porsche girl

Tonight, Friday Dec. 7, 2007, ABC 20/20 did a report of more disturbing misuse of the Internet. (The talk is about the porsche girl Nikki Catsouras case).

The case of impersonation and harassment in Missouri that led to the death of a 13 year old girl is covered on my Internet safety blog, here.

The show started with an account of a horrific teenage girl's auto accident in her dad's Porsche, and then the posting of tasteless pictures of the incident apparently leaked by the California Highway Patrol. The story by John Avila, Eamon McNiff, Scott Michels, "A Family's Nightmare: Accident Photos of Their Beautiful Daughter Released
Family of Nikki Catsouras Has Sued Investigators for Allegedly Releasing Accident Pictures," here. The company Reputation Defender has tried to get "amateur" postings of the pictures on the Internet taken down as requested by the family, but with limited success because of First Amendment claims.

In another case, a Peruvian woman who was charged for manslaughter for a drunk driving accident in Austin, TX in 1996 fled to Peru, but has posted brazen pictures of her partying on the Internet, and a reporter found this online with search engines. A Texas congressman wants to strengthen the law to have people like her extradited back. The story by Emily Friedman is "Manslaughter Fugitive Lives High Life in Peru: On MySpace Page, Woman Who Fled Drunken Driving Crash Says Drinking a Favorite Pastime," link here.

Then Bill Ritter and Ann Varney have a report about school fight clubs on the Internet (e.g. the famous film "Fight Club"), "Teen Violence Made Popular Online Fighting, Pranks Made Popular on YouTube and MySpace," link here. Now teenage girls have their fight clubs. College admissions and employers will be able to see these unless they are removed.

Lynn Sherr and Chris Kilmer did a report on cell phones on planes, and found a theoretical risk of bringing a plane down that has never been verified. Engineer John Nance questions that there is a practical risk, and Jet Blue and other airlines are adding new shielding that may soon permit cell phone and Internet use on planes. The story is called "Cell Phones Are Dangerous in Flight: Myth, or Fact?; 20/20 Asks Whether or Not a Cell Phone Can Bring Down a Plane", here. - By Bill's TV Series News and Review

child was held and questioned at the Fairland police station for hours after her father was wrongfully detained following a shootout in which two hijackers were killed.

The father, Fungai, who wanted to give only his first name, was on Thursday furious with police and still in pain from being handcuffed.

He said that all he had wanted to do on Wednesday, when he saw a woman wrestling with a man in the carpark of the Fir Drive Centre in Northcliff, Johannesburg, was help.

'I was told that these are handcuffs, not bracelets'
"I was going to pick my daughter up from school when I saw this woman struggling with a man in the carpark. I wondered what they were doing. I drove into the centre," he said.

What Fungai didn't know was that the woman was Elmarie Wypkema, and two armed men were attempting to rob her and hijack her red Porsche.

Just as Fungai drove in, Marc Ishlove, a police reservist, opened fire on the two hijackers, killing both in the process.

"This all took place about five metres from me. I couldn't reverse my car as there was a car behind me. Suddenly the reservist comes up to me, pointing his gun and ordering me out the car.

"He said to me 'Get out the car or you will end up like those other two guys'," said Fungai.

'This morning my hands were still numb from the handcuffs'
He was told to lie spreadeagled on the ground and was handcuffed.

"I said to them that the handcuffs are too tight. I was told that these are handcuffs, not bracelets," he said.

After being kept in an unventilated police van for an hour, he was taken to Fairland police station.

This all happened, he said, while his daughter waited for him outside her school.

"A kid at the school told her that I had been arrested. How degrading and embarrassing is that, a child who looks to her dad as a hero, hearing something like that?" fumed Fungai.

Worse was to come when police picked her up and took her to the station. They asked her questions about her father.

"She asked them 'Why are you asking me these ridiculous questions?'," Fungai said.

It was not only Fungai's daughter who was questioned by the police, who also spoke to his wife and even a former girlfriend.

His daughter, said Fungai, was still at the police station at 7.30pm that evening.

Fungai said he was eventually released at 9.30pm. When he got into his car, he discovered that police had damaged its back-seat mechanism. "They told me to get a quote and submit it," he said.

Fungai said he was offered trauma counselling by the police only after he appeared on Talk Radio 702.

"This morning my hands were still numb from the handcuffs. I couldn't pick up stuff earlier," he said.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Lungelo Dlamini said: "If he feels that he was mishandled by the police, he must submit a statement and the police will investigate."
Not long after their 18-year-old daughter died in a car accident, Christos and Lesli Catsouras were forced to relive their grief.

They soon began receiving anonymous e-mails and text messages that contained photographs of the accident, including pictures of Nicole Catsouras' decapitated body, still strapped to the crumpled remains of her father's Porsche. A fake MySpace page was created, which at first looked like a tribute to Catsouras but also led to the horrific photos.

Young Life Cut Short "What type of individual would do that?" asked Christos.

Watch the story Friday, Dec. 7 on "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET

The pictures, taken by California Highway Patrol officers and e-mailed outside the department, spread around the Internet, making their way to about 1,600 Web sites, according to an investigator hired by family. The images became so persistent that Lesli Catsouras stopped checking her e-mail. Nikki's three younger sisters were forbidden to use the Internet, and 16-year-old Danielle was taken out of school to be home schooled out of fear that her peers might confront her with the pictures.

"There was threats that people were gonna put the pictures on my locker, in my locker," said Danielle. "I remember her in such a great way, I don't wanna see it and have that image stuck in my head."

"I've stopped using my e-mail," says Lesli Catsouras. "I don't want to see these every single day. …And you know, I take a risk every time I go on the computer."

We talk about Nikki all the time, " said Christos. "We've got pictures of her everywhere, We laugh about her, cry. I always called her Angel."

'A Life of Its Own'
A judge in California ruled that the Catsouras family's lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol for allegedly releasing the accident scene pictures can go forward. According to Catsouras family attorney Tyler Offenhauser, the ruling is a significant step toward getting justice for Nikki because a jury will now decide whether the CHP must take responsibility for its employees' conduct of disseminating the graphic photos outside the agency.

"They were crime scene pictures that never, ever should have gone out," Christos Catsouras said. "There was a big mistake made by the California Highway Patrol that was never really acknowledged, or they never wanted to help us once that mistake had been made."

The California Highway Patrol declined to comment on the case, citing the pending litigation. Though the CHP has admitted in a letter to the Catsouras family that its dispatchers violated department policy, it has said it is not legally responsible for the Catsourases' anguish.

According to state highway patrol reports, at approximately 1:45 p.m. last Halloween, 15 minutes after taking her father's Porsche 911 for a drive without permission, Nikki Catsouras was traveling 100 mph on State Route 241, near Lake Forest, Calif., when she clipped another car and lost control, slamming into a concrete tollbooth, killing her instantly
There were last minute dramas on the last day of the Kenya Airways East African Safari Classic Rally, but it wasn't enough to change the identity of the winning crew.

Victory went to Bjorn and Mathias Waldegård in a Ford Escort RS1600, who had led on Day One, momentarily relinquished their lead to Gerard Marcy and Alain Lopes in a Porsche 911 on Day Two, but then led all the way to the finish from the end of Day Three. For the ex-World Champion, already a four-time winner of the original Safari Rally, this was quite an emotional occasion since it is 30 years since he first won the legendary event.

The dramas centred on Marcy who struck problems in the second section, the infamous Usambara Mountains, when he hit a rocky bank and broke his front suspension. He tried to drive out of the stage but failed. Consequently, he had to wait for the other competitors to finish the section and for his service crew to drive 22 kilometres in to mend the Porsche.

Marcy set fastest times on both the first and third section of the final day and received an enormous cheer when he drove over the finish ramp, arriving after nearly all the other cars. Marcy fell back from second to fourth overall, to the benefit of two other Porsche drivers, Frederic Dor and Geoff Fielding, who occupied second and third places behind Waldegård.

Yet another Porsche 911, that of Paul-Eric Jarry, was fifth, just 10 minutes ahead of Waldegård's team mate and fellow ex-World Champion, Stig Blomqvist, who took sixth place after what had been, for him, a troubled event. Behind Blomqvist were the two South African Datsun 180Bs of Roddy Sachs and Wayne Kieswetter, whose steady performances were rewarded with seventh and eighth places respectively.

The best local driver was John Rose in the Datsun 240Z, built for his 60th birthday that he had celebrated at the beginning of November. Completing the top ten finishers was Australian, Graham Alexander with his Datsun 260Z which, in his opinion, was not destined to go much further.

In all, 42 cars from the 58 starters were classified as finishers and went over the ramp in front of the Sarova Whitesands Hotel north of Nairobi on Monday afternoon.

Final top ten positions

1 Bjorn Waldegard/Mathias Waldegard Ford Escort Mk1 15h34m08s
2 Frederic Dor/Didier Breton Porsche 911 16h04m45s
3 Geoff Fielding/Preston Ayres Porsche 911 17h05m02s
4 Gerard Marcy/Alain Lopes Porsche 911 17h14m18s
5 Paul-Eric Jarry/Craig Redelinghuys Porsche 911 17h29m11s
6 Stig Blomqvist/Ana Goni Ford Escort Mk1 17h39m47s
7 Roddy Sachs/Peter Young Datsun 180B 18h13m20s
8 Wayne Kieswetter/Rob Hellier Datsun 180B 18h36m22s
9 John Rose/Michael Borrisow Datsun 240Z 19h02m20s
10 Graham Alexander/Ross Runnalls Datsun 260Z 19h06m05s

Driver Quotes:

Car No. 1 Bjorn Waldegard

"It was quite a long day since the driver was not allowed to make a mistake and the co-driver was not allowed to make a mistake. The first section today was quite tricky and I would have liked to have attacked in the Usambaras but there was a bit too much traffic these days. I was a bit nervous all day but when I pulled up at Whitesands I felt fantastic. It's been thirty years since I won my first Safari. The car's been perfect all day."

From co-driver Mathias Waldegard: "I feel great to make it to the end and to win. We took it quite carefully as we knew we had to finish."

Car No. 2 Gerard Marcy

"Our problem today came out of the blue on an uphill left-hander at not much more than 50 or 60 kph. The car slid a little and I corrected and suddenly it turned sharp right and hit the rock. We tried to drive out of the section but after about 8km we realised that we were doing too much damage. The service crew came in when they could and found that we had broken the outer tract control arm joint so that the strut was completely free. They fixed it and we continued and did the last section where we did fastest time, as we had done on the first section. I'm very happy to have finished. This Porsche is fantastic and I've really enjoyed driving it on these roads."

Car No. 3 Stig Blomqvist

"That was a long hot boring day but we did it mainly without problems. It's a shame about our problems that came earlier as it meant that we were never really able to challenge for the lead but I've enjoyed myself and enjoyed the driving."

From co-driver Ana Goni: "Today was tough. The steering became loose half way through the Usambaras. I'm relieved to have finished. Compared to the other Safari Classics the event has been just as good as always."

Car No. 4 Frederic Dor

"It's not been a perfect day because we first had a front damper seize and then actually broke a rear one in the Usambaras. We were starting to run out of these special XTC dampers from New Zealand and therefore when we changed three before the last section, they were all pretty well used. The car is very soft now, nice to drive in traffic but not so good on the stages. When you drive fast on these roads the suspension needs to be stiff so that when you hurt your back you know you're going too fast."

Car No. 7 Keith & Mary-Ann Callinan (Escort, Australia)

"I'm a very happy competitor to finish. We lost the clutch right at the beginning of the second section which made it pretty difficult, but the section would have been just sensational if we'd had a clutch. We didn't have time to fix it so we had to do the third section with no clutch as well and get back to Mombasa. It's a fantastic feeling to finish. The East African Safari Rally is a true marathon."

Car No. 10 Geoff Fielding

"We took it good and steady. We bust a rear damper in the second section quite near the beginning and we had to nurse it through. I'd hoped to be in the top ten but to be on the podium is beyond words. It's absolutely fantastic, brilliant. The car is in perfect condition and I am just overwhelmed. What an event."

Car No. 11 Graham Alexander

"The car's been losing water all the time. We've had to top it up before a section and then sit on the start line with all the fans going to try and keep the temperature down. We've only used fourth and fifth gear in most of the sections. Frankly, I don't think the old girl would have done another day, but we're naturally delighted to be here and to have finished in the top ten."

Car No. 34 Ian & Val Swan (Volvo, Australia)

"Well, the car held together, although there must be a bush gone on the front of the axle because you can feel it moving in the body when you accelerate. Today we just kept our fingers crossed and gritted our teeth all the way. To be honest I drove like I was a 110 . We started today with the objective of finishing and we did. It was a lot tougher than I expected and we've never been so glad to finish an event."


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